I went out to get some sailing time in yesterday. The forecast was a perfect 92° with winds at 14-16 mph. Feeling good about the wind and weather, I decided to go out with a full mainsail and the 115% genoa.

I got everything rigged up and was able to ‘back’ out of my slip unassisted by the outboard motor… I just let the wind push me out. I motored out into the lake and with the south wind, I set up on a beautiful point of sail somewhere between a beam reach and a broad reach on a port tack. It was great! I was making some good movement over the water without too much work. Sure, I had to work the mainsheet a little, but it wasn’t too much and was very enjoyable.

I stayed on that same tack for a couple miles until it was time to turn. I had to gybe and basically put myself on starboard tack broad reach, which was still very manageable.

After a while it was time to change course, so I came up into the wind and tacked. I put myself on a close reach port tack and all I have to say is WOW!! I really started feeling the power of the wind! I was having to really work the mainsheet at that point and the while it was still an enjoyable sail, the stress level definitely increased. What I hadn’t realized was that the wind had increased to about 20 mph sustained and was gusting upwards of 30-35 mph. All the while I’m under full mainsail and the 115 headsail.

No, this isn't me, but it's how I looked since I didn't reef!

No, this isn’t me, but it’s how I looked since I didn’t reef!


I quickly realized I should have at least reefed the main and probably should have used a smaller jib. Numerous times I was working against the wind which was causing some excessive heeling at times. I worked my way back into the harbor and ended the sail without further incident. I logged a little over 8 miles for this little trip. I’m using this sail day as a reminder to be more careful and to reef early, even if it barely crosses my mind.

Anyone out there have any input on what wind speeds one should start using which headsails? Any reefing or failing to reef stories?