#1 2020-05-09 17:27:14

Registered: 2017-05-26
Posts: 22

Dimensions for a Frances 26 (cutter) staysail


I hope someone can help please.
Does anyone have the dimensions of their staysail from their Frances 26 cutter ?
...and how the self-tacking element is rigged ?

On my boat the previous owner has taken off the old self-tacking boom and installed a furling rigged staysail.
This works really well in being able to put the staysail in and out but does make tacking busier especially single-handing !

I'm interested in experimenting with implementing a self-tacking system albeit that reinstating a boom may be prohibitive cost-wise.
But ... I may be able to borrow some of the principles from the original setup as I'm sure the fittings are still there.

I'm also interested in the dimensions of the original staysail to see how different mine may be.
I'm concerned that my staysail appears to have been cut very high which means that the clew and foot are blinded under the jib.
This higher cut staysail MAY be an improvement but my knowledge is a little scant in this area.  My naive understanding is that on cutters  the jib is cut higher than a sloop in order to provide some flow across the foot of the staysail ?  ... but very happy to have information / advice on this.

I'd also be very interested in any comments owners may have in the use and effectiveness of the self-tacking staysail.

Many thanks,

Kevin Misselbrook


#2 2020-05-13 12:18:52

Registered: 2004-03-23
Posts: 98

Re: Dimensions for a Frances 26 (cutter) staysail

Kevin -

I think my original staysail was:
Luff 6.9m
Leach 6.17m
Foot 2m

though I changed this for the biggest one that would fit about 4 years ago, which I don't have the dimensions to hand for.    Since it is hanked it also has a slab reef, which has been useful on several occasions.  Using the bigger staysail I have found that it is possible to sail without yankee if the conditions are fresh enough, with a much tighter wind angle when beating, and Francesca is much less likely to miss a tack without the yankee than before.

Not knowing what the physics are, the Thames barges often have very low down full staysails with higher cut yankees, and they seem to know what they are doing!   However, with the staysail boom there is a limit on how low the clew will go - too low and it will foul the guard rail.   It may be that you have more options of sail size without the self tacking boom.

With regarding effectiveness - it is so dependant on conditions and point of sail.   It certainly helps to balance up the rig in some conditions.   It is also my sail of choice when it is windy (on the wind), so if in for a long beat in rising weather then the staysail will go up early in the knowledge that it gets really windy the yankee can get wound virtually right in.  Being self tacking makes life easier, particularly in bouncy conditions, especially if you have both headsails up.   The mix of having a roller furling yankee and a hanked on staysail is useful in terms of sail shape.   If you put the staysail up in say F3, it is possible you will see no difference in boat speed, however often she will just 'feel better', though you probably find that already.

On how to rig it, I will see if I have any useful photos and email them to you.



#3 2020-05-15 14:17:10

Registered: 2017-05-26
Posts: 22

Re: Dimensions for a Frances 26 (cutter) staysail

Thanks Jonathan,
I've taken your dimensions provided and drawn out both your (original) sail shape and my own.
The results are interesting and confirm my suspicions.

My staysail dimensions are ...

Luff : 6.9m (as one would expect same as your own)
Leach : 5.3m (as opposed to your 6.17m)
Foot :  2.4m (as opposed to your 2.0m)

As expected I have a very highly cut foot on my staysail.
If I do calcs on each, even on your original sail, yours comes out at 6.1 sq.m and mine at just over 5.3 sq.m ... and from what you are saying your new sail is larger still than the original. 

It may well be that the sailmaker for my boat cut the staysail high in order to provide a good sheeting angle back to the cockpit from the clew of the sail ... but I can't help but think this may be choking the drive off this sail.  (which to date has been disappointing / ineffective)
As you have stated in the old days staysails used to be low-footed and effectively "working"sails.

If you can email me pics of the self-tacking arrangement I think I may have a play with some self tacking arrangement (albeit without a boom).  However I suspect that this will only work well with a low-footed sail where the clew tacks across the foot of the mast.
I suspect that with the current foot being a good way up the mast the opportunity for tangles is going to be pretty high.
I'm thinking a trip to the sailmaker may be required once they re-open for business !

Any other info greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,



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