Title:
Sail flaking system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sail flaking system, comprising attachment points for receiving resilient band or elastic cord material. The attachment points are to be affixed in sets to a boat sail, the sets alternating from side to side on the sail. Each set of attachment points can then be joined by elastic cord/resilient band material, the elastic cord/resilient band material preferably sized to be under tension when the sail is raised. As the sail is lowered, the action of the resilient band/elastic cord material will pull on each set of attachment points creating a fold in the sail on the opposite side. The side-to-side alternation of these folds result in a flaked sail when the sail is fully doused.



Inventors:
Serpa, Michael Lawrence (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/498518
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
08/03/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63H9/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BASINGER, SHERMAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL L. SERPA (P. O. BOX 478, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 94104, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A sail flaking system comprising attachment points for receiving segments of elastic cord material; the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material to be affixed to a boat sail.

2. The sail flaking system of claim 1, wherein the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material are in sets; each set being joined by a segment of elastic cord material.

3. The sail flaking system of claim 1, wherein the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material are in sets, each set being joined by a segment of elastic cord material; the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material further being affixed to a boat sail.

4. The sail flaking system of claim 1, wherein the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material are in sets; each set comprised of at least two attachment points for receiving elastic cord material.

5. The sail flaking system of claim 1, wherein the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material are affixed to a boat sail; the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material further being in sets; the sets alternating from side-to-side on the boat sail.

6. The sail flaking system of claim 1, wherein the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material are arrayed in sets along more or less a single column situated at or near the luff of a boat sail.

7. The sail flaking system of claim 1, wherein the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material are arrayed in sets along more or less a single column situated at or near the luff of a boat sail; the sets of attachment points further being in a side-to-side alternating configuration.

8. A system for producing a self-flaking boat sail, comprising attachment points capable of being affixed to a sail; the attachment points further being capable of receiving resilient band material.

9. The system for producing a self-flaking boat sail of claim 8, wherein the attachment points are in sets of at least two attachment points.

10. The system for producing a self-flaking boat sail of claim 8, wherein the attachment points are in sets of at least two attachment points; the sets of at least two attachment points being fastened to a boat sail.

11. The system for producing a self-flaking boat sail of claim 8, wherein the attachment points are in sets of at least two attachment points; the sets of at least two attachment points being fastened to a boat sail; the sets of at least two attachment points further being joined by one or more segments of resilient band material.

12. The system for producing a self-flaking boat sail of claim 8, wherein the attachment points are in sets of at least two attachment points; the sets of at least two attachment points being fastened to a boat sail; the sets of at least two attachment points further being joined by one or more segments of resilient band material; the sets of at least two attachment points alternating from side-to-side on the boat sail.

13. The system for producing a self-flaking boat sail of claim 8, wherein the attachment points are in sets of at least two attachment points; the sets of at least two attachment points being fastened to a boat sail, the boat sail having a luff; the sets of at least two attachment points further being joined by one or more segments of resilient band material; the sets of at least two attachment points alternating from side-to-side on the boat sail; the sets of at least two attachment points also being situated at or near the luff.

14. The system for producing a self-flaking boat sail of claim 8, wherein the attachment points are in sets of at least two attachment points; the sets of at least two attachment points being fastened to a boat sail; the sets of at least two attachment points being situated at locations on the boat sail where a fold is desirable.

15. A sail flaking system comprising attachment points for receiving elastic cord material; the attachment points for receiving elastic cord material being affixed to a sail in sets; the sail having a luff and a leech; the sets forming rows extending generally from the luff to the leech.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to a system for producing a self-flaking boat sail.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Sails are properly folded in alternating accordion-like layers. This is true both for when the sail is left attached to the boat as well as when the sail is to be rolled up and stored in a sail bag or other protective covering. The term “flaking” is commonly used to describe this layering technique.

If it is attached to a boom (a horizontal spar controlling the foot of a sail), the sail, when not needed, can be flaked on the boom. On many boats the mainsail is handled in this way. A sail attached to a stay, such as a jib, can also be flaked. This is the preferred method of folding a headsail for storage. And if the jib is “hanked on” (as opposed to being attached to the stay with a slide track), the flaking can be done as the sail is lowered while still attached to the stay.

Two popular prior art devices for quickly and easily flaking a sail are the Dutchman and lazyjacks. These devices are both practical and useful. They make sail handling easier and enhance safety—especially in situations when a sail must be brought down quickly. Lazyjacks and the Dutchman control the sail and stow it in an orderly fashion. This eliminates the need for the crew to leave the safety of the cockpit and expose themselves to potentially hazardous conditions. Yet there remains room for improvement. The Dutchman and lazyjacks are not suitable for use with stay-supported sails, and the Dutchman can only be installed on a sailboat having a boom topping lift (which is replaced on many modern sailboats by rigid boom vangs). Furthermore, lazyjacks entail extra lines that could become fouled or otherwise affect a boat's performance.

A simple and reliable arrangement that results in a self-flaking sail would therefore be of value. The present invention provides such a solution. It results in a novel sail handling aid suitable for use with all types of sailboats—including racing or high-performance craft—while also being adaptable for both mast-supported and stay-supported sails. The preferred embodiments do not require a boom topping lift as does the Dutchman, nor do they necessitate joining lines to the mast like lazyjacks.

Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description and drawings of the preferred embodiments.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention consists of attachment points for receiving elastic cord or resilient band material. The attachment points are to be affixed to a boat sail. In a first embodiment, the attachment points are arrayed in sets along a single column situated at or near the luff (or leading edge) of a sail. At least two such attachment points occur between the slugs or batten cars of a mast-attached sail, or between the hanks of a hanked-on sail, more or less aligned parallel with the luff. Sets of attachment points should alternate from side-to-side on the sail. For example, two attachment points can be located on the starboard (i.e. right) side of the sail between the tack of the sail and the first hank, and the next two attachment points can be located on the port (i.e., left) side of the sail between the first hank and the second hank, and so on, for the full length of the luff—or for lust the portion or portions of the luff that is/are intended to be self-flaking. In short, a set of attachment points is preferably situated at every spot where a fold is desirable; the fold will occur on the side of the sail opposite the set of attachment points.

Each set of attachment points can then be joined by a length of elastic cord or resilient band material, such as that used for bungee cords. Because the sets of attachment points are arranged parallel to the luff, the elastic cord material will also be parallel to the luff if the sail is up. The lengths of elastic cord material are preferably sized so that each is stretched—and therefore under tension—when the sail is raised and the sail's halyard is cleated. As the sail is lowered, the tension of the elastic cord segments—due to the port/starboard alternating configuration of the sets of attachment points—will create alternating folds in the sail and thereby cause the luff to flake properly (provided the sail is luffing at the time).

At small amount of straightening, usually amounting to some tugging at the leech of the sail, is all that is then required for a perfectly flaked sail.

When the sail is all the way down, and flaked, the lengths of elastic cord material will be in a relaxed, non-tensioned, state.

As an additional benefit, the tension provided by the resilient band or elastic cord material will assist in the dowsing of the sail by providing a downward force in precisely the direction needed to pull the sail down. This downward force will to an extent counteract excessive halyard friction and/or friction between slugs (or batten cars) and the mast track. Neither the Dutchman nor lazyjacks can do this.

Furthermore, servicing and maintenance is easier than with prior art methods because the attachment points and resilient band material can be accessed while the sail is lowered, whereas the Dutchman and lazyjacks can only be serviced by going aloft.

An alternative embodiment may include sets of attachment points arrayed in side-to-side alternating rows extending along the sail from the luff to the leach for providing a more thorough self-flaking effect, as will be described in detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of a sailboat's mainsail employing a preferred embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a preferred embodiment in operation on a partially lowered mainsail.

FIG. 3. is a side view of a stay-supported sail employing a preferred embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a front view of a preferred embodiment in operation on a partially lowered stay-supported sail.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a flaked stay-supported sail.

FIG. 6 is a side view of an additional preferred embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In FIG. 1 is shown the port side of a mainsail 20 for a sailboat. The mainsail 20 has a head 21, being the top, a tack 22, being the leading edge bottom corner, and a clew 23, being the trailing edge bottom corner. The mainsail 20 further has a luff 24, being the leading edge, a leech 25, being the trailing edge, and a foot 26, being the bottom. A boom (not shown) typically supports the foot 26 of this type of sail.

More or less evenly-spaced along the luff 24 are slugs 27 which engage a track (not shown) in a mast (not shown). On larger sailboats, batten cars are sometimes used in place of slugs 27 to reduce friction in the mast track. Between the tack 22 and the lowermost (i.e., the one nearest the foot 26) of the slugs 27 are attachment points 28. For this embodiment the attachments points 28 are in sets of two forming a single column at or near the luff 24 and substantially parallel with the luff 24. For other embodiments, the sets might be comprised of more than two attachment points 28.

Each set of attachment points 28 is joined by a segment of elastic cord material 29 of suitable length and strength. Sets of attachment points 28 can be joined by more than one segment of elastic cord material 28 if beneficial for a given application.

In a simple embodiment of the present invention, the attachment points 28 can be just cringles (reinforced holes) or thimbles in the sail through which the segment of elastic cord material 29 is reeved. (A knot in the end of the segment of elastic cord material 29 on the other side of the mainsail 20 will keep the segment of elastic cord material 29 in place.) Alternatively, a loop of rope sewn to the mainsail 20 would also work; the segment of elastic cord material 29 could then be tied to the loop. More sophisticated embodiments can employ attachment points 28 constructed in one or more pieces from metal or a high-strength plastic. These could then be sewn or glued to the sail. Any suitable material is acceptable for the attachment points 28, as is any suitable means or method for fastening the attachment points 28 to a boat sail.

Similarly, each segment of elastic cord material 29 can be tied, clipped, or otherwise attached to its set of attachment points 28 by any acceptable means or method. The primary consideration is that the attachment points 28 are both: (i) capable of being affixed to a sail; and (ii) capable of receiving resilient band/elastic cord material.

The size and shape of a particular sail, or the conditions in which the sail is to be put to use, might dictate the configuration and/or construction of the attachment points 28, as well as the means or method of attaching each segment of elastic cord material 29 to its attachment points 28.

Returning to FIG. 1, while there are attachment points 28 situated on the mainsail 20 between the tack 22 and the lowermost of the slugs 27, there are no attachment points on the port side between the lowermost of the slugs 27 and the second lowermost of the slugs 27. The reason for this is that the attachment points 28 between the lowermost of the slugs 27 and the second lowermost of the slugs 27 are located on the opposite (i.e., starboard) side of the sail 20, in this particular embodiment. On the mainsail 20 of FIG. 1, the next attachment points 28 on the port side occur between the second and third lowermost slugs 27. It is this side-to-side alternation of the sets of attachment points 28 that produces the flaking effect when the sail 20 is lowered.

As the halyard (not shown) for the mainsail 20 is eased, the luff 24 will begin to slacken and each segment of elastic cord material 29 will begin to pull its set of attachment points 28 towards one another. This is illustrated in FIG. 2. The action of each segment of elastic cord material 29 creates a bulge—the beginning of a fold—in the mainsail 20 on the side of the mainsail 20 opposite the attachment points 28. Due to the alternating configuration of the attachment points 28, these folds alternate from side-to-side. The leech 25 begins to collapse. When the mainsail 20 is fully lowered onto the boom (not shown), the luff 24 will be flaked. If needed, pulling on the leech 25 at the areas corresponding to the folds will result in a completely flaked sail.

The flaked mainsail 20 can then be tied to the boom with sail ties or gaskets.

FIG. 3 shows a preferred embodiment adapted for use with a stay-supported sail. A sail 30 is attached by hanks 31 to a stay 32. (Though not illustrated here, the two ends of the stay 32 are secured to a boat.) The sail 30 has a head 33, a tack 34, and a clew 35. The sail 30 also has a luff 36, being the leading edge, a leech 37, being the trailing edge, and a foot 38 being the bottom. Similar to the mainsail 20 of FIG. 1, affixed to the sail 30 are attachment points 39 in sets of two arrayed in a single column at or near the luff 36 and more or less parallel with it.

The sets of attachment points 39 are situated between the hanks 31 and alternate from side-to-side on the sail 30. (There is also a set of attachment points 39 between the tack 34 and the lowermost of the hanks 31 and between the uppermost of the hanks 31 and the head 33.) Generally, a set of attachment points 39 is placed at each location where a fold in the sail 30 is desirable when the sail 30 is flaked. Each set of attachment points 39 is joined by resilient band material 40. (More than one segment of resilient band material 40 can join a set of attachment points 39 if deemed appropriate for a given application.)

FIG. 4 shows the operation of this embodiment in a view from in front of the stay 32. This perspective shows the effect on both sides of the sail 30. Because of the side-to-side alternation of the attachment points 39, a side-to-side folding (i.e., flaking) of the sail 30 begins to emerge as the sail 30 is lowered. The tension of each segment of resilient band material 40 acts to create a bulge in the sail 30. These bulges become folds as the sail 30 is lowered further.

When the sail 30 is all the way down as illustrated in FIG. 5, the luff 36 flaked, and the resilient band material 40 is slack. At this point straightening tugs can be applied, if needed. The sail 30 can then be unhanked from the stay 32 and rolled up.

In FIG. 6 is drawn another embodiment wherein a sail 50 includes attachment points 51 arrayed in sets. The sail 50 has a luff 52, being the leading edge, and a leech 53, being the trailing edge. The sets of attachment points 51 form rows extending generally from the luff 52 to the leech 53. The rows alternate from side-to-side on the sail 50 (i.e., from port to starboard). Each set of attachment points 51 is then joined by one or more segments of resilient band material 54. Having multiple sets of attachment points 51 in rows as depicted in FIG. 6 will provide a more complete self-flaking action when the sail 50 is lowered.

The preferred embodiments are also compatible with stay-mounted sails having a boltrope along the luff that is fed into a luff foil, as opposed to hanks. As a sail of this type of sail is lowered the portion of the sail below the bottom end of the luff foil will flake on the sailboat's deck by action of the resilient band/elastic cord material. As long as the sail is luffing, the crew lowering the sail need only pull the sail down from the luff foil; the preferred embodiments will flake the sail.

Other modifications to the present invention are possible. For example, the lengths of resilient band or elastic cord can also be enveloped within panels of a flexible membrane affixed to the sail to minimize the possibility of the resilient band/elastic cord material snagging, or becoming otherwise fouled, on an extraneous obstruction.

Although the description above contains several specificities, these should not be construed as limits on the scope of the present invention. The details given are intended merely to provide illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments. It is to be therefore understood that many changes and modifications by one of ordinary skill in the art are considered to be within the scope of the invention. Thus, the full scope should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by examples given.





 
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