Sails - no mainsail anymore

The biggest improvement I made was to get rid of the mainsail. It was the cause of worry in a gale, made the boat heel uncomfortably, was dangerous to reef, and forced headsails changes to balance the reefed main. All recent yachts are designed with big mains and very small jibs. Even cruising designs have bigger mains, because it allows for more room below as the mast is pushed forward of the main cabin. With these designs you can’t dispense with the main.

Many IOR designs from the 70s and 80s  have very small mains.
The genoa is twice the main, and you can sail just as fast,  if the wind is above 15 kts. If you are in light winds you can switch to a chute or drifter. In the Caribbean the wind is almost always above 15 kts. It is usually 20 kts to windward of the Islands.  All you need is a big genoa - I use a 155% genoa. and I don’t have to change sails. You can only make this work if the mast is close to the center of the boat. There must be enough overlap so that the boat will balance  which is needed for the windvane to work. I took off the mainsail in the Pacific, and finally took off the  boom in the Caribbean. I have sailed main-less ever since.

I don’t like roller reefing/furling. The problem is that you can’t sail well to windward with a partially furled sail. The sail will have too much draft aft, and this causes leeway. When the conditions call for you to go to windward to avoid a danger, a partially furled sail may cause you to fall off towards the danger. My experience is that if you get rid of the main, even a big genoa can be carried wide open through 25 kts apparent, and kept flat with the draft forward (it has to be heavy enough material.) I never have to change headsails except when a gale was coming (34 kts +.) Then I switched down to a storm jib, or a #3. I recently commissioned a new 155% genoa made of heavier cloth, and with the tack 4 feet above the deck, so that I can see traffic to leeward.

If you leave the boat at anchor with the sail furled during a storm, you will probably lose the sail as it unwraps. I have seen a skipper swinging from a bosun’s chair, cutting down the sail which couldn’t be dropped, because the wind was forecast to reach storm force later, and he was worried the sail would completely unfurl and the boat badly damaged.

You can reduce your sail inventory and maintenance to:

Two 155% genoas, a storm foresail, a drifter or chute.

Sails - roller furling/reefing