The "Gerr Downhaul" System

When trying to devise a system for lowering the jib (or Genoa) from the cockpit of my sailboat I ran across an article from the "Small Boat Journal" many years back. It was described as a "Lazy Jack" system for the Jib, but it may also be called a "Jackline". This system was designed by Naval Architect Dave Gerr and the true name is the "Gerr Downhaul".

The purpose of this system is two fold:
1. To douse the jib quickly without having to lower it with the halyard.
2. To bring down the jib on the bow of the boat without having to go to the bow to accomplish this. This system brings the jib down into a compact ball on the bow.

Here is how I did it:

I have attached three rings clipped together on the forestay half way from the top of the jib to the bottom. The center ring is around the forestay and the left and right rings attach to the center ring.

I then clip a line to the top of the jib (or Genoa) where the jib halyard attaches to the jib. This line from the top of the jib is threaded through the left ring, run behind the jib and then through a clip where the jib sheets attach to the jib. This clip is attached to the grommet where my sheets attach to the jib and so the line runs freely though the clip.

Then the line is run in front of the jib and through the right ring. It is then run down to a block at the bottom of the forestay and back to the cockpit. I did not run this line through the jib hanks because on my boat it would not fit. It could also cause some binding when pulling on the line.

When I am sailing and want to douse the jib for a few minutes, all I do is pull on this line (not releasing the jib halyard). This pulls the jib up against the forestay without taking the sail down.

When I come into the dock, I release the jib halyard and pull on this line and the jib is gathered on the bow in a small "ball" without having to go up on the bow.

The following is a "crude" drawning of how the system is set up. Select the "green" circle for more details on the rings:

Click green circle for details.

I even had my wife make a triangular "bag" which I put the forestay through when I raise the mast. After the jib is pulled down, I snap this "bag" (jib cover) over my jib until the next time I go sailing. That way, I can leave the jib attached when at the dock and it is not exposed to the sun.

Unfortunately, this "bag" or jib cover was made before I got my 150 Genoa and I now need a larger bag. I also had to replace the line with a longer line to handle the larger sail. I keep the line slack when sailing so I do not affect the shape of the sail.

The only disadvantage to this method is that the jib (or genoa) is not neatly folded and could cause some sail damage, but I haven't really had a problem yet. For extended periods, I take the jib off and fold it neatly and put it in the sail bag.

You may select one of the following links to see drawings of how dousing the jib and storing the jib works.

Dousing the
Jib (Genoa)


Stowing the
Jib (Genoa)