Storm Sails

Storm Sails

A number of cruising and racing regulations require a storm jib to be available. The guiding principle for these regulations is that the sail should be capable of being set by a “separate and independent means” furthermore the installation should be capable of taking the boat “to windward”.

Without a secondary wire forestay and an additional halyard, some boats, including Code boats, attempt to get around the issue by presenting a storm jib and a Dynema halyard, but this is not a stay and is unlikely to be effective.  Other boats, fitted with roller reefing systems, claim to be able to use the forestay, but in order to do that the entire sail would have to be unfurled and in bad weather this is hardly likely to be practical or safe.  Systems which rig around the furled foresail are unlikely to cope with storm conditions.

It is time that a sensible, practical and effective solution be agreed and implemented.




This suggestion was also referred to the RYA, who supplied the following comments:

It is true that a number of racing regulations and some organised cruises require a storm jib to be available. “Separate and independent means” along with “taking the boat to windward” are also often stated requirements.

What is not defined is either the construction of the “means” or the effectiveness of the movement to windward. It is at this point where the individual skipper’s responsibility takes over. Furthermore, it is unlikely that there could be one rule found which fits every circumstance or every boat.

Each skipper has to consider all the aspects of how it is rigged, its effectiveness, the safety issues of rigging it in a storm, its endurance, etc and it is not felt that CHIRP is in a position to make those decisions for the vast number of different boats in operation.  It is not as simple as legislating the fitting of secondary stays for all boats.

The RYA has agreed to cover the subject in its Safety publication C8 and in its quarterly magazine, along with encouraging the boating press to cover the subject.

The reporter also agreed to discuss this issue with the MAIB on a confidential basis, contributing positively to their safety effort.