North Sails LOFT NEWS
EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS WITH HELIX
J/145 Main Street Has A New Secret Weapon
When J/145 owner Bill Schanen III was looking to gain that extra edge for racing this season he knew he wanted something cable-less. He contacted North Sails expert Tom Pease on what his options were. Lucky for him, Tom has just the thing; enter Helix, a new cable-less system from North Sails. Bill added a Code 75 Helix sail to his inventory with a Harken bottom up furler, which was delivered in time for the Queens Cup and Chicago Mac Races. Main Street finished 2nd in the Chicago Mac for section 2 and used their new Code 75 Helix extensively during the race.
Tell us about the process in selecting the Code 75 Helix.
Our boat, which is a 48 foot J/145 has an extremely long centerline spinnaker pole that’s not supported by a stay to keep it firm. We’ve always wanted to have a Code Zero type sail, that we could fly from the end of the pole. We had others that we flew from other points, but to use the power that is inherent in our boat, we needed to get a Code Zero out on the end of the pole. But we didn’t want one that had a torsion cable in it because it’s extra weight and bother and plus we thought we couldn’t get the luff tight enough to make it work. When we learned North Sails had developed a Helix system with a luff of a sail that makes it easy to furl, and that Harken had come up with a new generation of furlers to work with a sail like that, we just pushed the issue. I rang up Tom and said, look, we need to talk about this Helix sail and at the same time we touched base with folks that we know at Harken. We ordered the sail and Harken produced the furler [a Reflex Unit 3 bottom up]. The best part of the story is that it worked great, and proved to be just what we expected it would be, which is a rather devastating weapon.
You used it at the Queen’s Cup and the Chicago Mac. Tell us what it was like.
In the Chicago Mackinaw race. It was particularly effective there. We sail on a very competitive class and beginning of the race was sort of close reaching. We were doing okay with our North Genoa, but the wind just freed a little bit. And then we set that Code Zero slash 75 and immediately just zoomed to the head of the fleet. Everything made sense. The only question about it was really in this design of the sail. We had no problem with that. We figured that out long ago that that was going to be an effective weapon on our boat. But what was rewarding was the fact that the furling part of it worked. Frankly there were some skepticism about that, that it would furl in all conditions without a cable. And so that was the only question mark, we expected the sail to perform, but was it going to furl properly, when we needed it, and the answer to that is yes.
“We figured that out long ago that that was going to be an effective weapon on our boat. But what was rewarding was the fact that the furling part of it worked.”
How long have you had this boat?
It was actually one of the first J/145’s, which is a carbon hulled boat, and we’ve had it since 2000.
Tell us more about your crew.
We have a crew of 12 and it just happens that a number of members of the crew are members of the family and that they’re all terrific sailors. Some of them are sort of professional level almost. So that all fits in my daughter’s husband, and my daughter and her husband are great sailors. My son is really, runs the boat and his wife is a terrific sailor and we’ve got some big strong grandsons who are here also. The crew is solid and we expect to do well, and often do. And these weapons, like the sail and the furling device make that easier.