North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Alex Curtiss


The Best Sails To Use When Sailing To And From The Island


Part two of North Sails experts Alex Curtiss and Bill Herrschaft advice for which sail is the best to use when heading to Catalina Island from Marina del Rey.

Catalina Island is a fixture in Southern California. North Sails Bill Hershaft had an incredible article on efficient, fun sailing from Marina Del Rey. Now we build on that by talking about sailing from Long Beach and San Pedro over to the island. With summer right around the corner people will be eager to get over to the island faster. 

My good friend Erik Shampain used to have a fun way to know if you need new cruising sails. He says, “If your partner likes drinking wine, and sailing, the quickest way to ruin that is to have baggy sails. That’s because baggy sails make the boat tip over and the wine will spill. New sails are flatter and will keep the wine in the glass.” This is especially the case when sailing from Long Beach. If you are traveling to Whites Cove from San Pedro, you are probably sailing with a TWA at 90 degrees and your AWA is probably closer to 45 degrees. With this in mind a nice 135% genoa is the correct head sail to have. 


In racing we always say the quickest way to get faster is a new genoa. This is the same case when cruising. New technology which has been developed the last few years even allows sailors to take away sail area with what is called a “foam roller reefing pad” which is along the luff.  That way if it is above 17 knots and you are feeling overpowered? No problem just roll the sail up a little and you are instantly more stable. 

When it comes to materials, North Sails offers several levels of high quality material based on budget. For those who maybe aspire to head to Mexico or beyond one day, the 3Di material is a low stretch, high durability option. For those who are intending on just heading over to the island a few times a year, the cross cut may be the sail for you. Head to North Sails cruising page for more information.


I also want to talk about the way home from Moonstone cove to Newport Beach. Some of the most fun I have had sailing in my life is that sail. Usually, in a traditional westerly, a running spinnaker is the way to go. Spinnakers can be a little intimidating but with the invention of the Snuffer, spinnakers are now very easy to use. 

Usually when sailing back to Newport, you are usually sailing TWA 125-145 depending on the day.  For that angle of sail we would recommend a G2 runner.

In part one of the Catalina series, Bill talked about how these lightweight nylons make any sail home perfect. If you don’t have a tack point, feel free to contact your local North Sails rep to discuss possible options. There is a surplus of low cost ways to create tack points. But making sure you set it up properly will prevent headache down the road.

Story Contributors

Sail To Catalina: Part Two headshot
Alex Curtiss

One Design Expert — Long Beach, California San Diego, California

A self-described “one design guy,” Alex Curtiss grew up in Chicago sailing Optis, 420s, and Lasers, as well as other one design and PHRF boats. In 2016, he graduated from St. Mary’s with an economics degree and two All-American awards,...

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