Installing a new roller furling system
Installing a new roller furling system

Upgrade your sailboat's rigging and sail setup with a new roller furling system, making it easier and safer to manage your sails while sailing short-handed or with family.

Installing a New Roller Furling System

Welcome to another informative article in our Boat Modifications and Upgrades section. Today, we will be discussing the installation of a new roller furling system on your sailboat. This article is perfect for those who are looking to upgrade their current rigging and sail setup, or for those who are starting from scratch with a new boat. We will cover everything you need to know about roller furling systems, from the benefits of having one to the step-by-step installation process.

Table of Contents

What is a Roller Furling System?

A roller furling system is a mechanical device that allows you to easily roll up your sails, specifically the headsail or genoa, around a rotating foil or rod. This system makes it much easier to manage your sails, especially when sailing short-handed or with a family. With a roller furling system, you can quickly and easily furl or unfurl your sails without having to leave the cockpit, making it a safer and more convenient option for many sailors.

Benefits of a Roller Furling System

There are several benefits to installing a roller furling system on your sailboat, including:

  1. Ease of use: Roller furling systems make it much easier to furl and unfurl your sails, especially when sailing short-handed or with a family. This can be a huge advantage when you need to quickly adjust your sail area in changing wind conditions.

  2. Safety: With a roller furling system, you can manage your sails from the safety of the cockpit, reducing the need to go forward on deck in rough conditions. This can be especially important when sailing with children or inexperienced crew members.

  3. Sail protection: By keeping your sails furled when not in use, you can protect them from UV damage and prolong their lifespan. This can save you money in the long run by reducing the need for sail repairs or replacements.

  4. Improved sail shape: Many roller furling systems allow you to adjust the tension on the luff of the sail, which can help you maintain a more efficient sail shape in various wind conditions.

  5. Versatility: Roller furling systems can be used with a variety of sail types, including genoas, jibs, and even code zero sails, making them a versatile addition to your sailboat.

Choosing the Right Roller Furling System

Before you can install a roller furling system, you need to choose the right one for your boat. There are several factors to consider when making this decision, including:

  1. Boat size: Roller furling systems are designed for specific boat sizes, so it’s important to choose one that is compatible with your boat. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific boat model and size.

  2. Sail type: Some roller furling systems are designed specifically for use with certain sail types, such as genoas or jibs. Make sure the system you choose is compatible with the type of sail you plan to use.

  3. Budget: Roller furling systems can vary widely in price, so it’s important to choose one that fits within your budget. Keep in mind that more expensive systems may offer additional features or higher-quality components, but a basic system may be sufficient for your needs.

  4. Ease of installation: Some roller furling systems are easier to install than others, so consider your own skill level and the complexity of the installation process when making your decision.

  5. Manufacturer reputation: Finally, be sure to choose a roller furling system from a reputable manufacturer with a history of producing high-quality, reliable products.

Tools and Materials Needed

Before you begin the installation process, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Roller furling system kit (including foil, drum, swivel, and all necessary hardware)
  • Halyard and sheets (compatible with your chosen roller furling system)
  • Measuring tape
  • Hacksaw (for cutting the foil to length, if necessary)
  • Drill and drill bits (for drilling holes in the foil, if necessary)
  • Screwdrivers (flathead and Phillips)
  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Allen wrenches (if required by your specific roller furling system)
  • Marine sealant (for sealing any drilled holes)
  • Safety gear (gloves, safety glasses, etc.)

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions: Before you begin, carefully read the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer of your chosen roller furling system. These instructions will provide specific details and recommendations for your particular system, which may differ from the general steps outlined below.

  2. Remove the existing headsail: If you have an existing headsail on your boat, remove it before beginning the installation process. This will give you better access to the forestay and make it easier to install the roller furling system.

  3. Measure and cut the foil: Measure the length of your forestay and compare it to the length of the foil provided with your roller furling system. If necessary, use a hacksaw to cut the foil to the appropriate length. Be sure to file any rough edges and apply marine sealant to the cut end to prevent corrosion.

  4. Assemble the foil and drum: Following the manufacturer’s instructions, assemble the foil sections and attach the drum at the bottom. Be sure to use the appropriate hardware and tighten all connections securely.

  5. Attach the foil to the forestay: With the foil and drum assembly complete, attach the foil to the forestay using the provided hardware. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper attachment and alignment.

  6. Install the halyard swivel: Attach the halyard swivel to the top of the foil, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This swivel will allow the halyard to rotate freely as the sail is furled and unfurled.

  7. Attach the sail: With the roller furling system in place, attach your sail to the foil using the appropriate hardware and connections. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper sail attachment and alignment.

  8. Install the halyard and sheets: Finally, install the halyard and sheets for your roller furling system, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to use the appropriate hardware and connections, and adjust the tension on the halyard and sheets as needed for optimal sail performance.

  9. Test the system: With everything installed, test the roller furling system by furling and unfurling the sail several times. Make any necessary adjustments to the system to ensure smooth operation and proper sail shape.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

To keep your roller furling system in good working order, be sure to perform regular maintenance and inspections. This includes:

  • Checking all hardware and connections for signs of wear or damage
  • Lubricating moving parts as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Inspecting the foil for signs of corrosion or damage
  • Checking the halyard and sheets for signs of wear or chafe

If you encounter any issues with your roller furling system, consult the manufacturer’s troubleshooting guide or contact a professional for assistance.


Installing a roller furling system on your sailboat can greatly improve your sailing experience by making it easier and safer to manage your sails. By following the steps outlined in this guide and consulting the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific system, you can successfully install a roller furling system and enjoy the many benefits it offers. Happy sailing!