How to Reef a Roller Furling Mainsail

How to Reef a Roller Furling Mainsail

Reefing a mainsail is the process of reducing the sail area by partially lowering or folding it which is done by securing the sail to the boom and the mast. When there is a lot of wind, the main goal of reefing a mainsail is to reduce the sail area so that the sailboat stays under control and doesn’t tilt too much or capsize.

Reefing a roller furling mainsail involves preparing the boat, lowering the sail, wrapping the sail around the furler, then securing the sail. Proper reefing will help a boat keep safe and maintain stability when encountering rough weather.

Reefing is an important part of sailing safety and helps to ensure you’re prepared for any situation you might encounter while on the water. Here I’ll cover what you need to know about reefing a roller furling mainsail so you can sail with confidence and ease.

Steps to a successful roller furling mainsail reefing

Learning how to reef a roller furling mainsail is a relatively straightforward process, one that’s easy to master with a little bit of practice. With a few simple steps, you can reef and make sure your boat is safe and ready for any kind of weather. Here’s how it’s done:

How to Reef a Roller Furling Mainsail

  1. Prepare the Boat – Before reefing, make sure you are properly prepared. Trim the jib, and be sure your mainsail is centered and at the right angle. It’s important to note that reefing a mainsail in strong winds can put added pressure on the rig, so secure the boat against any sudden gusts.
  2. Lower the Sail – If you’re reefing while sailing, you’ll need to lower the sail partway to reduce its area before wrapping it around the furler. Make sure the lines that connect the sail to the boom and clew are loose enough to allow for a smooth wrap.
  3. Wrap the Sail Around the Furler – Pull down on the reefing line until the luff of the sail is just below where you want to reef. Then, start wrapping the sail around the furler from the luff end to the leech end. Make sure to keep tension on the sail as you wrap it around the furler.
  4. Secure the Sail – Once you’ve finished wrapping the sail, tie off the reefing line, making sure to keep it taught and secure. Then, check the tension of all the lines and check that the sail is properly trimmed.

Four Steps to Install a Furling Mainsail 

The tools needed when reefing a roller furling mainsail

Before you start reefing your mainsail, you’ll need the right tools and materials to get the job done properly.

First, wear a pair of gloves designed for sailing. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of lines, such as rope or paracord, a pair of line cutters, or scissors. You may also want to purchase a long-handled wire brush if your boat is older, as this can help remove dirt and debris from the deck that may interfere with the furling system.

You’ll also need a few other items like a flat-headed screwdriver, a hammer, and an adjustable wrench, all of which should be available in your local marine supply store. Having the right tools before you start reefing will help ensure the job gets done quickly and efficiently. Take some time to gather the necessary supplies before beginning your project.

Reefing in Heavy Weather

How to Reef a Roller Furling Mainsail

Reefing a roller furling mainsail is essential in heavy weather, as it allows you to reduce sail area and maintain control of the boat. A roller furling mainsail can be reefed quickly and easily while underway, but there are some important steps you should take to make sure that your sail is properly reefed.

Before attempting to reef the mainsail in heavy weather, it’s important to secure the boom to the mast. This will help prevent accidental jibes or gybes from occurring when handling the sail. Having at least one person on the helm who can keep the boat steady as you reef the mainsail is also a good idea.

Once the boom is secured, it’s time to start reefing the mainsail. Unfurl the sail to about one-third of its full size then take a line and attach it to the sail’s clew eyelet. Pull this line toward the mast so that it creates a girth around the mid-section of the sail. Finally, tie off the line securely to a cleat on the mast.

At this point, you should check that all of the reefing points are properly in place and secured. Once everything is checked and double-checked, you can continue to unfurl the mainsail until it’s just past halfway up the mast. This will provide enough power for the boat to make headway in most heavy weather conditions.

The benefits of reefing your mainsail

Aside from making sailing more manageable in high winds, reefing reduces stress on the rigging and sails, increasing maneuverability, and improving visibility. By reducing sail area, you’ll be able to sail faster and more efficiently, while also reducing the risk of accidental gybes. 

In addition to its practical benefits, reefing a mainsail is also important for safety reasons. It allows you to manage the power generated by your sail in heavy weather or when making a turn or tacking. This can help prevent unintentional broaching or capsizing, which can be dangerous for inexperienced sailors. 


How to Remove a Mainsail From an In-Mast Furler for a Beneteau Unit.

Reefing your mainsail is one of the most essential skills to have when sailing. This can be done by preparing the boat, lowering the sail, wrapping the sail around the furler, then securing the sail. Knowing how to reef your mainsail correctly is important for ensuring the safety of you and your crew while sailing in different weather conditions. 

Removing a Furling Mainsail: 4 Steps

Frequently Asked Questions

Which method, in-mast or boom furling, is better and why?

When compared to in-mast furling sails, furling booms are safer because the sail can be lowered to the deck and secured in case the furling system jams or fails. When an in-mast furler becomes jammed, a piece of the sail is left unfurled and flapping in the wind.

Is it possible to sail faster than the wind?

When the wind is coming from behind the boat and the sails are facing away from the wind, the boat moves faster. The wind speed on the sail is the difference between how fast the boat is going and how fast the wind is going. Once the boat matches the wind’s speed, it can’t go any faster.


This blog post is provided for informational purposes only. The information contained is not intended to constitute legal advice or to substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

Shawn Chun

Aloha! My name is Shawn and I Love the Beach and Ocean! From surfing to beach sports to boating and fishing I like it all. More importantly, I Love the people I get to meet who also share a passion for the sand and surf. Living and growing up near the ocean my heart has always been connected to the beach and its lifestyle. I wish to share my experience with those around the world. Mahalo (Thank You) for visiting and enjoy your stay here on my site!

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