GP14 Sailing Forums Forum Adding reefs to a GP14 main sail.

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    • #26304

      I’ve bought a GP14 with no means of reefing and I’m interested in learning how to alter sails. I want to add two reefs to the main sail and I’m wondering if anyone can recommend any books on the subject as I’d like to know how much reinforcement the reefing points will need and the best method for fitting cringles.

    • #26306

      Hi EightMegs,

      This can be a relatively easy thing to do if you are prepared to compromise… Fitting cringles like the sailmakers use requires equipment that is outside the range of amateurs, and don’t bother with the cringles that you hammer in yourself – they are flimsy and of little use in this case.

      The big question is – do you have access to a strong sewing machine with zigzag stitch? If not, the desk is stacked against you and I recommend you contact Edge Sails (other sailmakers are available). I know Edge Sails make good GP14 cruising sails with reefing points, post your sail to them and they’ll post your sail back with support for two slabs of reefing if you ask and part with money.

      If you do have access to an industrial or sailmaking sewing machine with a zigzag stitch (not straight stitch) you can cheat and graft the clew and tack from two old GP14 sails onto your current mainsail at the right places and all the reinforcement is already built in, or use another sail as a template and reinforce your sail using sail material to similar specifications. Use double sided sticky tape to assemble the sail pieces before sewing – materials available from Kayospruce and the 9mm wide tape is fine for this use.

      The cringle is difficult, and not insurmountable – see youtube for videos of how to sew a cringle into a sail.

      If you have a sewing machine you can also not bother with cringles through the sail and attach a short loop of dyneema or a short tape with a block attached so that you get 2:1 purchase just on one side of the sail where a cringle would go through the sail itself.

      It’s a lot of work, and you need to ask yourself how confident you would be of your DIY reefing point given that you are applying a safety item to your sail which you are planning to rely on when sailing gets difficult. i refer you to my first sentence… is this something worth compromising?


    • #26307
      Oliver Shaw

      I broadly concur with Steve’s response,  with the added comment that I personally would prefer to have the job done professionally,  and I would not expect it to cost the earth;    but you could ask your chosen sailmaker for a quote before you commit yourself.

      If you are supremely confident of your abilities and you have access to a heavy duty suitable sewing machine with zig-zag stitch,  then fine;   but unless you tick all the boxes in that department don’t take the risk of spoiling a good sail.

      And if you were thinking of doing the work on a clapped out sail it is probably never going to be satisfactory.

      I can warmly recommend Edge Sails,  who seem to be the preferred sailmaker for cruising sails in the class.

      Another option is to look for a good secondhand sail with reef points already fitted.   If you find one in good condition,  at the right price,  and especially if it is by Edge Sails,  snap it up.

      If you are having the work done on an existing sail,  or doing it yourself,  it would pay you to have a look at my paper on reefing systems,  in the Members’ Library,  which amongst other things suggests suitable depths for reef points.    I came upon these depths more or less by chance,  when I bought a cruising GP14 and thought that the depths of reefs were surprisingly deep,  but I very soon learned the wisdom of that arrangement,  and I replicated it when I ordered new sails for A Capella.   In effect they are a traditional second reef and third reef,  with no traditional first reef.

      When cruising,  you never need to optimise the amount of reef that you take in;   if you need to reef at all,  then make it plenty,  in the hopes that you won’t soon afterwards need to take in yet more.

      And even with these unusually deep reefs the boat still goes very well indeed.   There have been occasions when I have led the cruising fleet on a course to windward while sailing reefed,  with at least some other boats in the fleet sailing on full sail.   And I have occasionally had the boat planing hard under deep reefs,  equivalent to a traditional third reef,  on one occasion off Anglesey even having a close escort of a school of dolphins;   I think it likely that they were attracted to us because we were moving fast enough to interest them.

      Hope this helps,



    • #26308

      IF your sail is not the best and you’re not racing seriously, then IMO it’s doable.  My sail ticked those boxes…

      A good book is The Sailmaker’s Apprentice by Emiliano Marino* (sp?) but I gleaned most of the info WRT positioning etc from here (probably mostly from photos of Oliver’s boat) & the US Wayfarer site**.

      An older (say pre-1970’s ) sewing machine with metal innards can cope with most of the stitching.  I have a Necchi Lycia, which cost me about £30 from ebay and I used 1 #16 needle with V69 bonded dacron marine thread.

      I skirted the cringles problem, by sewing tape & D rings which is a perfectly valid method of sail attachment.  The US company Sailrite has a wealth of useful videos on sail making, repair, modification etc and can be useful.

      Here are pix of my efforts.  Won’t necessarily win prizes for style, but very serviceable.  The double-sided basting tape was more trouble than it was worth as it gummed up the needle.

      * He recommends using used sailcloth on a used sail, which is a win as you can usually scrounge an old sail. Mine was probably from a Topper sail.


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