I have a love hate relationship with my battens. When I bought Wisdom, she came with 20 year old sails. They were stretched and baggy, and in need of being replaced.
The Mainsail was a batten-less sail that had a hollow leech. This sail was roughly 400 square feet. I decided that I should increase the amount of sail area since I was planning on not being able to motor any significant distances. This prompted my decision to switch to a full batten main (522 square feet) with a as large of a roach as possible.
The sail works fine, and the battens help hold the sail out in light airs, giving as much push as we can get out of the sail. In heavy airs, the battens help control sail shape and aid in trimming the sail. They do their job wonderfully!
Everything I love and hate about the new main involves the battens.
The added sail area
The way it holds its shape in light airs
The way it holds the sail while reefing
When the battens get hooked on the lazy jacks
When the battens get hooked on the shrouds
When the battens get hooked on the flag halyards
When the battens get hooked on the topping lift
When the battens get hooked on the clew reefing lines
When the battens fall before the luff and prop the sail up rather than letting it all fall on the boom
When the battens rub on the shrouds
The old sail was 20+ years old and never had a hole chafed into it. The new sail is only 2 years old and has chafed in 4 areas, all along the batten pockets!
I never worried about the lazy jacks with the old sail either, it went up and it came down; never hooking on anything in the rigging. Now, I have to make sure everything is clear of the sail before raising it because the battens will hook on everything!
As much as I dislike the headache that the battens bring to sailing, they are certainly a necessary evil. You have to be much more aware of what is around them to avoid getting them hooked on something or chafing in areas.
I do not regret battens because I knew from the beginning that they would be the cause of all my problems, and I was willing to make that sacrifice for the extra sail area.
How do you guys feel about battens? Do you have them? Would you get them again? Let me know in the comments down below.