Title:
Simple but effective sail handling system that allows sail control to be carried out single-handed from the safety of the cockpit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Sail handling system and associated methods for sail raising, dousing, reefing, and stowing when operating sail-powered craft. The present invention allows these operations to be carried out single-handed from the safety of the cockpit in a wide range of wind and water conditions. The sail shape can be controlled continuously at any position as the sail is raised and lowered, offering a much wider range of sail configurations to suit wind conditions. The sail can self-fold/pleat neatly on top of the boom when lowered, ready to be covered. Preferred embodiments of the system incorporate one or more self-adjusting lazy jacks.



Inventors:
Ma, Yamin (Roseville, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/340807
Publication Date:
08/10/2006
Filing Date:
01/26/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63H9/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AVILA, STEPHEN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KAGAN BINDER, PLLC (STILLWATER, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sail handling system, comprising at least one control line routed along a leech and a head of a sail in a manner such that a tension on the at least one control line helps to support the leech and exerts a downward force on the sail head.

2. The sail handling system of claim 1, further comprising a block is coupled to the sail head in a manner such that the block moves up and down with the sail head, and wherein the at least one control line is routed through the block.

3. The sail handling system of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of blocks are coupled to the sail head in a manner such that the blocks moves up and down with the sail head, and wherein the at least one control line is routed through the blocks.

4. The sail handling system of claim 1, further comprising a bridge coupled to the sail head in a manner such that the bridge moves up and down with the sail head sail head, wherein the bridge has a first end and a second end, and wherein a luff block is coupled to the first end and a leech block is coupled to the second end, and wherein the at least one control line is routed through the luff and leech blocks.

5. The sail handling system of claim 1, further comprising a bridge coupled to the sail head in a manner such that the bridge moves up and down with the sail head, wherein the bridge has a first end and a second end, and wherein a block is coupled to at least one of the first and second ends and at least one block is coupled to the bridge in a position generally intermediate between the first and second ends, and wherein the at least one control line is routed through the blocks.

6. The sail handling system of claim 1, wherein the at least one control line constitutes a component of at least one lazy jack.

7. The sail handling system of claim 6, wherein the at least one lazy jack is self-adjusting.

8. The sail handling system of claim 1, further comprising a rope basket line having first and second ends attached to a rig incorporating the sail and at least one rope basket block attached to the rope basket line, and wherein the at least one control line is routed between the at least one rope basket block and the sail head.

9. The sail handling system of claim 8, further comprising a boom block positioned proximal to an aft end of a boom, and wherein the at least one control line is routed between the at least one rope basket block and the boom block.

10. The sail handling system of claim 9, wherein the at least one control line is routed along the leech between the boom block and a block coupled to the sail head.

11. The sail handling system of claim 1, wherein the at least one control line is routed along the leech between a block attached to a boom and a block coupled to the sail head.

12. The sail handling system of claim 1, further comprising a bi-directional, auto-stopping winch, and wherein the at least one control line is routed from a cockpit to a rig incorporating the sail through the winch.

13. A sail head bridge, comprising a) at least one bar member; b) at least one block attached to the bar member, wherein the bridge is attached to a head of a sail in a manner such that the bridge moves up and down with the sail head.

14. The sail head bridge of claim 13, further comprising one or more additional blocks attached to the bar member, wherein at least one of the blocks is coupled to the bridge proximal to an end of the bar member.

15. A method of sail handling comprising the step of using the sail handling system of claim 1 to lower a sail.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the sail is partially lowered and the method further comprises the step of reefing the sail.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

The present non-provisional patent Application claims priority under 35 USC §119(e) from U.S. Provisional Patent Application having Ser. No. 60/649,940, filed on Feb. 4, 2005, by Ma and titled SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE SAIL HANDLING SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS SAIL CONTROL TO BE CARRIED OUT SINGLE-HANDED FROM THE SAFETY OF THE COCKPIT, wherein the entirety of said provisional patent application is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to an improvement in sail raising, dousing, and stowing. It allows these operations to be carried out single-handed from the safety of the cockpit. The sail shape can be controlled continuously at any position as the sail is raised and lowered, offering a much wider range of sail configurations to suit wind conditions. The sail can self-fold/pleat neatly on top of the boom as lowered, ready to be covered.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A conventional main sail set-up in the representative form of Bermudan rig 1 is shown in FIG. 1. The rig 1 includes a mast 2, boom 3, and sail 4 rigged to the mast 2 and boom 3. The sail 4 includes a leading edge or luff 5, a bottom edge or foot 6, a trailing edge or leech 7, a lower forward comer or tack 8, a lower rear corner or clew 9, and a top corner or head 10. The sail is raised or lowered by controlling tension on the halyard 11.

Sail handling further involves operations such as partially lowering and reefing sail 4 when underway. This reduces the effective size of the sail 4 for de-powering depending upon wind conditions. As sail 4 is lowered, the sail tends to fold, collapse, or otherwise lose its shape unless tension is maintained along leech 7. Conventionally, leech tension is restored by tying off reef points 12 at boom 3. Sail 4 may include one or several lines of reef points 12. For purposes of illustration, sail 4 includes a single line of these.

The lowering of sail 4 typically requires at least one crew member to be on the deck in any weather conditions to fold/pleat or otherwise gather the sail 4 manually along the boom 3 and then tie it down using sail ties via the reef points 12. This operation has been awkward at least and often is dangerous in a rising sea and in windy conditions. Sail lowering also is a difficult and risky activity when sailing short handed, especially single-handed. This method of sail lowering also is uncontrolled, relying mainly on gravity. The loose sail itself is a hazard and may injure or knock crew overboard, block the view, fall onto the deck affecting the performance of other duty, and/or fall overboard into the water.

The lazy jack systems (not shown) are an inexpensive way to control a main sail and boom when lowering a sail. A wide variety of lazyjack systems are known, but all generally are intended to help support the main sail up on the boom, out of the way, until the sail is folded and covered. Lazy jacks are effective for fully battened sails. U.S. Pat. No. 4,741,281, for example, uses lazy jacks to guide the sail when it is lowered and uses a sail cover (bag) to catch the sail. U.S. Pat. No. 5,327,842 constructs a multiple-line lazy jack on each side of the sail to form essentially a basket or nest to effectively catch the sail as the sail is lowered. Inconveniently, the height of the lazy jack lines of this system are not self adjusted with the falling sail. The sail also lacks a self-flaking system. This highlights a drawback of the lazyjack systems in that the sail still needs to be folded/pleated manually along the boom.

The roller furling system offers another way to manage sail handling. In these systems, a sail can be furled around a mast or boom. These furling systems have been described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,371,037 and 4,057,023. Both forms of this technology, boom furling or mast furling, are relatively convenient to use. They do not require crew to leave the cockpit to operate. However, they are expensive, require complete replacement of the existing rigging system, and they affect sail shape especially in light air. In addition, furling is not as suitable as might be desired for battened sails.

Other sail handling systems are also known. U.S. Pat. No. 4,688,506 uses two or more lines threaded back and forth through vertically aligned rings in the sail to fold and hold the sail on to the boom when it is lowered. This system is for a fully battened sail and requires sail cover modification.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,119,750 uses luff shackles and leach flaking devices to pleat the sail. U.S. Pat. No. 4,864,952 flakes the sail using brailing lines to suspend the sail leech to the topping line. However, these two systems lack a mechanism to prevent side blowing of the sail when not tied to the boom.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention provides a sail handling system and associated methods for sail raising, dousing, and stowing when operating sail-powered craft. The present invention allows these operations to be carried out single-handed from the safety of the cockpit in a wide range of wind and water conditions. The sail can self-fold/pleat neatly on top of the boom when lowered, ready to be covered. Preferred embodiments of the system incorporate one or more self-adjusting lazy jacks. The system is useable for many types of sails, including fully battened, short battened, no battens; main, jib, Bermudan or Marconi rigs, lug sails, sprit rig sails, combinations of these, and others.

The system may be easily fit onto new or existing rigging systems without alteration of existing rigging. In other words, the system adds to, but need not supplant existing rigging components. This invention is non-intrusive to conventional sailing activity, i.e. friendly to conventional sail reefing operation. Thus, this invention can be seamlessly employed or detached with no impact on the normal sail operation. This invention is simple, easy to handle, economical, and light weight.

In one aspect, the present invention relates to a sail handling system comprising at least one control line routed along a leech and a head of a sail in a manner such that a tension on the at least one control line helps to support the leech and exerts a downward force on the sail head.

In another aspect, the present invention relates to a sail head bridge. The bridge includes at least one bar member and at least one block attached to the bar member. Bridge is attached to a head of a sail in a manner such that the bridge moves up and down with the sail head.

In another aspect, the present invention relates to methods of using the sail handling system and/or the bridge for sail handling.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a conventional, Bermudan main sail rig of the prior art.

FIG. 2 shows hardware components and rope basket lines of a sail handling system of the present invention incorporated into a Bermudan main sail rig.

FIG. 3 shows the sail head bridge used in the sail handling system of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 4a though 4d show how a control line is incorporated into the sail handling system of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 5a and 5b show how sail lowering is carried out using the modified Bermudan rig of FIGS. 2, 3, and 4a through 4d.

FIG. 6a shows an alternative embodiment of a sail handling system of the present invention incorporated into a Bermudan main sail rig that includes additional side rope rails/lazy jacks and sail catching rope nests/baskets on each side of the sail.

FIG. 6b shows the sail head bridge used in the sail handling system of FIG. 6a.

FIG. 7a shows an alternative embodiment of a sail handling system of the present invention incorporated into a Bermudan main sail rig invention that uses multiple control lines.

FIG. 7b shows the sail head bridge used in the sail handling system of FIG. 7a.

FIG. 8a shows an alternative embodiment of a sail handling system of the present invention incorporated into a Bermudan main sail rig invention that uses multiple control lines with additional side rope rails/lazy Jacks and side sail catching rope nests/baskets on each side of sail.

FIG. 8b shows the sail head bridge used in the sail handling system of FIG. 8a.

FIG. 9a shows an alternative embodiment of a sail handling system of the present invention incorporated into a Bermudan main sail rig using additional side rope rails/lazy Jacks and side sail catching rope nests/baskets on each side of sail.

FIG. 9b shows the sail head bridge used in the sail handling system of FIG. 9a.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The embodiments of the present invention described below are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed in the following detailed description. Rather the embodiments are chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may appreciate and understand the principles and practices of the present invention.

The present invention can be used to enhance sail handling and control of a wide range of sailing rigs. For purposes of illustration, FIGS. 2 through 5b illustrate use of one embodiment of a sail handling system 20 of the present invention with respect to a Bermudan rig 22. The rig 22 includes a mast 24, boom 26, and sail 28 rigged to the mast 24 and boom 26. A portion 29 of sail 28 has been removed for purposes of illustration to allow components of system 20 to be seen more readily on the other side of sail 28. The sail 28 includes a leading edge or luff 30, a bottom edge or foot 32, a trailing edge or leech 34, a lower forward comer or tack 36, a lower rear comer or clew 38, and a top comer or head 40. The luff 30 is attached to the mast 24 via luff hanks 46. Luff hanks 46 are attached to sail 28 via grommets 45. Luff hanks 46 are also slidably coupled to mast 24 for smooth raising and lowering of sail 28. The sail is raised or lowered by controlling tension on the halyard 42 led to head 40 through halyard block 44 fixed to the top of mast 24. Deck block 49 directs the main halyard toward the cockpit for easy operation.

System 20 also includes an optional, but preferred, lazy jack functionality that helps to gather and support lowered portions of the sail 28 at the boom 26. As the sail is lowered, the folds, or pleats, of sail 28 gather in “rope baskets” provided by the system 20. The lazy jack functionality is self-adjusting, and, therefore, is retained regardless of sail position.

System 20 is easy to fit or retrofit onto a new or existing rig 22, as its hardware and rigging components are easily attached to rig 22 with minimal modifications being required. Advantageously, the sail handling system 20 is fit or retrofit to a new or existing rig without any alternation of the original rigging. The system can be used with a wide variety of sails, including main, jib, or other sails that are full, short, battened, boomed, boomless, batten-less, and the like. The system does not interfere with sail shape, but rather helps maintain useful sail shape over a wider range of positions than is available with conventional rigs. Thus, system 20 is simple to implement as well as simple to use.

In more detail, system 20 includes a bi-directional, auto stopping winch 52 that is used for taking in and paying out a portion 53 of leech tension control line 54 from the safety of the cockpit (not shown) while raising or lowering the sail 28. The bi-directional auto-stop winch 52 helps to take in and pay out the control line 54 and provide suitable tension to the line to prevent it from tangling up. Winch 52 is conveniently mounted to a deck or cockpit top. The attachment is desirably reinforced sufficiently to handle loads from line 54. Deck block 55 takes the control line 54 from winch 52 and sends the line upward to the sail head bridge 56. Sail head bridge 56 advantageously moves upward and downward with head 40 of sail 28 and serves as a dynamic control point for rigging lines to be routed to and from sail head 40 regardless of the hoisted position of sail head 40. The ability of bridge 56 to follow head 40 up and down is an important factor in maintaining leech tension as well as in allowing the lazy jack functionality to be self adjusting. Preferably, therefore, sail head bridge 56 is most desirably attached to sail head 40, although bridge 56 could be slidably coupled to mast 24. Aft boom block 58 redirects the control line 54 from boom elevation upward to the head bridge 56. Terminal 60 is used to fasten the fixed end of the control line 54. Blocks 62 and 64 are hardware constituents of the self adjusting, lazyjack functionality. These blocks 62 and 64 are attached to lines 66 and 68, respectively. Lines 66 and 68, in turn, are attached to boom 26. Rope baskets are thus formed at least in part by lines 66 and 68 on each side of boom 26 for gathering lowered portions of sail 28 as will be described further below.

Leech hanks 67 are attached to leech 34 and help guide line 54 along leech 34. As shown in the Figures, the leech hanks 67 desirably are long enough to let the sail 28 take its shape freely when loaded with wind. On the other hand, leech hanks 67 are desirably short enough to confine the leech movement when the sail 28 is loose. By way of example, leech hanks 67 having a length of 15 cm have been found to be suitable for an exemplary sail have an area of 140 ft2, a foot having a length of 10 ft, a luff having a length of 28 ft. and a leech having a length of 31 ft.

Preferably, each leech hank 67 is preferably matched to a corresponding luff hank 46 so that each leech hank 67 and luff hank 46 of a corresponding pair are at the same height above boom 26. In other words, an imaginary line connecting each leech hank 67 and its corresponding luff hank is preferably parallel to boom 26 when a portion of sail 28 including the pair is raised. This correspondence is shown by the interconnecting dotted lines among corresponding hanks 67 and 46 in the Figures. This correspondence greatly facilitates self-folding/pleating of the sail 28 as sail 28 is lowered.

FIG. 3 shows features of sail head bridge 56 in more detail. Bridge 56 includes bar member 70 having first end 72 positioned relatively proximal to luff 30 and second end 74 positioned relatively proximal to leech 34. Luff block 76 is pivotably mounted to first end 72, and leech block 78 is pivotably mounted to second end 74. Shackle 80 is attached to bar member 70 at a convenient location intermediate between ends 72 and 74. Shackle 80 may be used to attach bridge 56 to sail head 40. The halyard 42 may also be attached directly to shackle 80 if desired, or alternatively directly to sail head 40. Bridge 56 helps to manage control line traffic at the sail head 40. The length of the bar member 70 and the location of the shackle preferably are selected such that luff block 76 sticks out from the luff 30 while leech block 78 is positioned rearward a short distance from leech 34.

FIGS. 4a through 4d best illustrate how sail handling system 20 is rigged. As will become apparent from the following discussion, control line 54 advantageously performs many functions within system 20. Referring first to FIG. 4a, control line 54 is routed from the cockpit to winch 52. Line 54 leaves winch 52 and is routed through deck block 55. By passing deck block 55 and going upward, it reaches luff block 76 on bridge 56. Luff block 76 directs line 54 back down towards block 62.

As shown in FIG. 4b, block 62 directs line 54 aft towards boom block 58. Boom block 58, in turn, directs line 54 up along leech 34.

As shown in FIG. 4c, line 54 follows leech 34 upward towards leech block 78 of bridge 56. Line 54 is routed through each of luff hanks 67 along leech 34. This allows line 54 to be tensioned as desired to control leech tension. At the head of the sail 28, leech block 78 helps direct line 54 downward toward block 64. Thus, tension on line 54 lifts block 62 (and block 64 on the other side of sail 28), causing line 66 (and line 68) to form a rope basket constituent of a lazy jack system.

As shown in FIG. 4d, block 64 helps to direct line 54 back at terminal 60 where the end of line 54 is secured. Respective portions of line 54 extending aft toward block 58 or terminal 60 from blocks 62 and 64, as the case may be, thus provide respective rope rails for additional sail catching nest/basket functionality along the boom 26 as part of the lazy jack system. Because line 54 is attached to bridge 56, which moves up and down with sail head 40, the resultant lazyjacks continuously self-adjust as the sail 28 is raised and lowered. Additionally, by selecting the length of lines 66 and 68, the location of attachment points of these lines along the boom 26, and/or the location of attachment points of blocks 62 and 64 on these lines, one can easily adjust and achieve optimal sail catching/gathering over the boom 26.

Another rope rail is formed by portions of line 54 that extend along leech 34 in the preferred embodiment. This rail confines the movement of the leech hanks 67 at all times. This rail also helps to prevent the leech 34 from falling away from the boom 26 when the sail 28 is lowered.

System 20 is easy to use and most if not all sail handling operations can take place single handed from the safety of the cockpit. FIGS. 5a and 5b illustrate sail 28 being completely lowered. As a preparation step, it is preferred to sail the boat into the wind, as has been done conventionally. In order to lower the sail, one releases the halyard 42 while maintaining a tension on the halyard 42 to prevent the sail 28 from falling freely. At the same time, winch 52 takes in and maintains some tension in control line 54. As shown in FIG. 5a, the tension of line 54 can be moderate for sail dousing. With halyard 42, the head 40 and bridge 56 are pulled down under the downward force exerted by line 54. The lazy jacks and rope rails formed by line 54 along the boom 26 self-adjust automatically. The leech section of the control line 54, or leech rail, takes a new angle, but is shortened as well. The lowered sail 28 is therefore being confined within boundaries formed by the two lines 66 and 68 (functioning as lazy jacks), the rope rails formed by portions of line 54 extending aft of blocks 62 and 64 to the end of boom 26, and the leech rail portion of line 54. Within the limited space of these boundaries, the lowered sail takes a natural wavy shape with the help from each of the leech-luff hank pair alignments, as well as the fabric conformability of the sail 28 itself.

Referring now to FIG. 5b, while continuing to take in the control line 54 while maintaining some halyard tension, the head 40 will come down toward the boom 26 with corresponding leech hank and luff hank pairs aligned with each other. As a consequence, the sail 28 self-pleats/folds and gathers within the cradle/basket of the lazy jacks and rope rails over top of the boom 26. The sail 28 is therefore well nested on the boom 28, ready for the sail cover (not shown).

For reefing, the sail 28 is only partially lowered. Also, more tension is maintained in line 54 in order to tension the leech appropriately and thereby establish good sail shape in the reefed sail. If sea conditions require reefing, the reef points 33 are fastened to the boom 26. Because the pleated sail 28 is well supported by its rope supports, this is safer to do than with a conventional sail rig.

Raising the sail 28 is also simple. One uses the halyard 42 to pull up the head 40 of the sail 28 while letting the winch 52 pay out the control line 54. As the sail 28 gradually moves up, the control line 54 is extended accordingly. The auto stop mechanism of the winch 52 can maintain a proper level of tension on the control line 54. This helps to avoid having an excessive amount of line 54 foul or otherwise entangle the sail 28 or other hardware or rigging. In short, the system 20 of this embodiment allows sail raising to occur in a conventional manner and its presence is transparent to the user. On the other hand, if in some urgent situations the sail 28 needs to be lowered quickly, the only task that needs to be done is to release the halyard 42 and let the sail 28 drop. There is no need to deal with the control line 54 at that moment and it will fall together with the sail 28.

In order to test the operability of the invention, the Bermudan main sail of a MacGregor 26 sailboat was rigged in accordance with the principles of system 20 described herein. Sail raising and lowering were performed successfully from the cockpit in 15 to 20 knots windy conditions.

An alternative embodiment of a sail handling system 120 is shown in Figs.6a and 6b fitted to Bermudan rig 122. Features of rig 122 similar to that of rig 20 described above are identified by a similar reference numeral incremented by 100. Thus, whereas rig 20 includes mast 24 and boom 26, rig 122 includes mast 124 and boom 126, etc. However, as compared to system 20 described above, system 120 includes additional, self-adjusting lazy jack functionality added to each side of the sail 128 to enhance the sail catching performance of the device. A modified bridge 156 also is included to handle the additional rigging traffic at sail head 140. Specifically, the additional lazy jack functionality is accomplished with additional blocks 169 (starboard side) and 171 (port side) and lines 186 (starboard side) and 188 (port side).

The modified bridge 156 is seen best in FIG. 6b. Bridge 156 includes starboard and port bar members 170 and 177. A starboard, mid-bridge, starboard block 190 is mounted to starboard bar member 170, and a second mid-bridge, port block 191 is mounted to port bar member 177. Bridge 156 further includes luff block 176, leech block 178, and shackle 180.

In this embodiment, control line 154 still goes through blocks 155, 176, and then 162. However, instead of going back directly to aft boom block 158 as was the case for system 20, line 154 goes up to block 190 on the bridge 156 and comes back down toward block 169 to form one more lazyjack on the starboard side of the sail 128. Leaving block 169 and 158, line 154 turns back up and goes through the leech hanks 167 to arrive at block 178 to complete the leech rail as before.

On the port side of the sail 128, line 154 comes down from block 178. Line 154 goes through block 164 and turns back up to block 191 to form a first lazy jack. Line 154 comes down from block 191, goes through block 171, and then terminates at terminal 160 to finish the second lazy jack and the rope rail. With one more lazy jack on each side and the resultant denser rope nest, the system 120 can catch/gather sail 128 on the boom 126 more effectively.

Instead of using a single control line 54 or 154, multiple control lines can be used. Such an alternative embodiment of a sail handling system 220 fitted to rig 222 is shown in Figs.7a and 7b, where features in common with system 20 are identified by the same reference numeral incremented by 200 except as expressly noted herein. System 222 is identical to system 20 except (a) starboard and port control lines 254 and 257, respectively, are used instead of a single control line 54; (b) an additional port deck block 259 is used to help direct line 257; and (c) a modified bridge 256 is used. FIG. 6b shows single winch 252 being used to handle both control lines 254 and 257, but separate winches can be used for each of lines 254 and 257 if desired.

The modified bridge 256 is shown in FIG. 7b. Bridge 256 includes starboard and port bar members 270 and 277, respectively. A starboard, luff block 276 is mounted to bar member 270, and a port luff block 279 is mounted to bar member 277. Bridge 256 further includes shackle 280 and one or more line attachments 278 proximal to the sail leech 234.

One can see in FIG. 7a that the starboard control line 254 goes through block 255, block 276, and block 262 to form a starboard lazy jack. Line 254 then passes through aft boom block 258 and goes up through part or all leech hanks 267 to terminate at an attachment 290 on bridge 256, which completes the rope rail on the starboard side and at least a portion of the leech rail. Line 257 does the same on the port side of the sail 228 to complete port lazy jack and rope rail there. It also goes up from block 258 and passes part or all leech hanks 267 to terminate at attachment 278 on bridge 256.

The embodiment of system 320 shown in FIGS. 8a and 8b is similar to system 120 shown in FIGS. 6a and 6b with similar features being identified by the same reference numerals incremented by 200. However, system 320 uses separate starboard and port control lines 354 and 357. Additionally, system 320 includes an additional port deck block 359 to help guide control line 357. Further, a modified bridge 356 suitable for system 320 is seen best in FIG. 8b. Bridge 356 is similar to bridge 156 except that bridge 356 further includes starboard luff block 376 and luff block 379. The leech end of bar members 370 and 377 provide an attachment point 378 for the control lines 354 and 357, respectively.

More specifically, port control line 357 goes through deck block 359, then through block 379 on the bridge 356, and then through block 364 to form the first lazy jack. Line 357 then goes up to mid bridge block 391 and comes back to lazy jack block 371 to form the second lazyjack. From block 371, line 357 proceeds to aft boom block 358. From block 358, line 357 ends at attachment 378 after passing through all or part of leech hanks 367. Hence, line 357 finishes the port side formation of the rope rail and the leech rail system. Starboard control line 354 is routed through winch 352, blocks 355, 376, 362, 390, 369, and 358, leech hanks 367, and is secured at attachment 378 in a similar fashion.

Another embodiment of a sail handling system 420 is shown in FIGS. 9a and 9b. System 420 is similar to system 220 of FIGS. 7a and 7b with similar features being identified by the same reference numerals incremented by 200, except system 420 includes additional blocks 461 and 463. These additional blocks 461 and 463 allow portions of starboard control line 454 to perform the lazy jack function via portions of line 454 constituting lazy jack lines 466 and 468. In this case, unlike in FIG. 7a, after control line 454 leaves block 462 (upper roller), it goes to aft boom block 461. In stead of going directly up from block 461 along leech 434 to terminate at the bridge 456, starboard control line 454 heads for starboard lazy jack block 463. From this block, line 454 is split. One portion 454 is routed back through lazy jack block 462 and is secured to boom 426 by point 482 to form starboard lazy jack suspension 466, while the other split is routed through lazy jack block 464 and is secured to boom 426 at a point similar to point 482 to from port side lazyjack suspension 468. When sail 428 is lowered, the shortened control line 454 reduces the lengths of lazy jack suspensions 466 and 468 such that the sail catching/gathering basket/cradle/nest shrinks along with the lowered sail. In the meantime, port control line 457 is routed in a similar fashion as port control line 257 of FIG. 7a, terminating at 478 of bridge 456. The bridge assembly for this case is shown in FIG. 9b.

Other embodiments of this invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of this specification or from practice of the invention disclosed herein. Various omissions, modifications, and changes to the principles and embodiments described herein may be made by one skilled in the art without departing from the true scope and spirit of the invention which is indicated by the following claims.