Main Sail Foot


I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sail on a friends boat yesterday afternoon. It is a lot bigger than our 14.2s, the boat was about 40'. I noticed that they had the main rigged without the foot slid into the slot on the boom. When I asked about this they told me that having the foot loose ( it was just kept down and out with the outhaul) allows them to play with the shape at the foot more, something that when sailing in light winds allows them to create more shape in the main. I thought this was interesting and wondered if anyone has ever tried rigging their 14.2 like this?


A friend of mine sails a Catalina 27 with a "loose footed main', it is my understanding that you loose a lot of power because a lot of wind slips under the foot of the sail where it would be attached to the boom.


When I took sailing lessons at the UCLA Marine Aquatic Center, all of their Capri 14.2's had loose footed mains. Since these boats were used for Sailing I classes, we weren't expected to mess with the outhaul -- just pull it tight.

The Sailing II class there used Vangard 15's which also are rigged with loose footed mains. On these boats we set them initially so you could pull the foot away from the boom in the center by about 4 to 5 inches. For light air, we set them at 8 inches, which really made a difference in power. The 4 inch setting was for winds up to 20 knots.

I realize the Vangard is a quite different boat than our Capri's, but the experience convinced me to buy my next mainsail with a loose foot. I'd try it with my present main (you should!), but it is so old and stretched that I'm sure it wouldn't work very well.

Capri Joe

Loose Foot Vs Fixed Foot

There are pros and cons to both configurations. In light winds on the 14.2 the loose foot gives you more shape and when trimmed correctly better performance .... but not a lot better, maybe a 10th if a knot. On the other hand in higher wind conditions you'll never get enough tension at the clew to hold the foot firm to the boom. The result is you will loose performance but unless the winds are 15 + you wont loose enough to notice. The final word, try them both and go with the configuration that works best for you. For me I keep the foot slotted and I use a boom kicker to lift the boom to give me more twist in light winds.