The ultimate headsail pre-feeder
American Uber-bowman Sean Couvreaux has got tired of inefficient pre-feeders and so has fulfilled the dream of every bowman and developed his own.
“The pre-feeders in my opinion has been an issue because they are rarely designed by the people who use them. I have been unhappy with them for years,” says Couvreaux, who is currently running the pointy end of Hap Fauth’s Mini Maxi Bella Mente.
“The goal is to have one that doesn’t let the sail pop out and it is stable. Most of the ones that are on the market, once they bend once, they get soft and they keep bending open. And the ones on the market that open are just not really up to the job, they create a lot of friction and they heat up...”
A common issue is pre-feeders not allowing enough space forward of the luff tape while many also work at a 45° angle rather than the preferable 0°.
“The biggest thing we have seen is more and more boats going for 3Di sails and they are significantly stiffer than 3DL and so this has become more of a problem,” Couvreaux continues. “The sail is stiffer, so if it is back 3 or 4ft from the headstay, the pre-feeders have to work significantly harder. The goal with this was for something that would work without too much maintain or too much work while coming into the bottom mark. At this point I would say half our roundings coming into the bottom mark I am not even feeding the jib. It is hands off...”
Couvreaux’s pre-feeder is made in aluminium and has a spring clip to attach around the luff or the luff tape can simply be inserted in the gap between its fingers. The clip is adjustable to suit different sized luff tapes.
As normal the pre-feeder is lashed to the headstay with a couple of loops of 3mm, how tightly into the headstay depending on the preference of the bowman.
“The concern is that you don’t want to tear your luff tape so you have to keep it forwards, but right now our guys bounce the jibs at the bottom mark to get them up. It is not always a smooth transition, but so far so good,” Couvreaux continues. “I tested it on a Farr 40 a couple of weeks ago we spent pretty much the whole regatta never having to put my hands on it.
At present the pre-feeder is just coming out of prototype stage. They are in use on Bella Mente, and her sistership Stig. Price of the first units is US$ 500.
More information here - http://www.sailprefeeder.com/
Below: Doogie's set-up on Bella Mente.