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THOUGHTS ON LOOSE FOOTED MAINS

Q: Our J/Boat mainsail has a bolt rope that feeds directly into the slot on the mast. Another rope feeds into a similar slot in the boom. I have always wondered: do boats sail better with a loose-footed mainsail not attached to the entire length of the boom, or with a mainsail that is attached along the boom’s entire length? My own guess is that a loose-footed main has a better shape and might point better on some angles of sail, but that does not necessarily mean it is faster overall. Have you ever experimented by comparing a loosed-foot main with a mainsail fixed in place with a bolt rope on the same vessel on the same day under the same wind conditions?

— Brad Ferguson, St. Louis, MO

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