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New Mainsails: How Many Reefs Should I Order

New Mainsails: How Many Reefs Should I Order

The number of reefs you should add when buying a new mainsail depends on your sailing conditions and preferences. Here are some guidelines to help you decide:

  1. One Reef: Suitable for light to moderate cruising where you don’t expect to encounter very heavy weather. It allows you to reduce the sail area in moderate winds.

  2. Two Reefs: Common for most cruising boats. It provides flexibility for a wider range of wind conditions, allowing you to handle stronger winds more safely.

  3. Three Reefs: Ideal if you sail in areas known for strong winds or if you plan to undertake long offshore passages. It gives you an additional option to reduce sail area significantly, enhancing safety and control in heavy weather.


  • Local Weather Conditions: If you sail in areas with variable or strong winds, more reefs can be beneficial.

  • Sailing Experience: If you are an experienced sailor, you might feel comfortable handling a sail with fewer reefs, relying on your skills to manage sail area.
  • Boat Size and Design: Larger boats and certain designs might benefit from additional reefs for better handling in heavy weather.

  • Cruising vs. Racing: Cruising sailors often prioritize safety and comfort, while racers might prefer fewer reefs to maximize performance under varying conditions.

It’s often a good idea to consult with a sailmaker or an experienced sailor in your area to get advice tailored to your specific boat and sailing environment.

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