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14641Re: gaff rig running backstays

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  • adventures_in_astrophotography
    Apr 2, 2007
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      Hi Chris,

      > with the freestanding mast would it be an idea
      > to have running backstays for when you are sailing down wind.
      > There tends to be a lot of pressure put on the mast with a gaff
      rig
      > when sailing down wind.
      > Has any one any ideas from actual sailing experience.

      I sail a 23'-6" Bolger Light Schooner with a gaff cat schooner rig.
      The sails are identical at 103 ft**2 each. Although I enjoy running
      her wing-and-wing ("read'n both pages"), I don't do this in much
      wind to avoid the possibility of an unplanned jibe, which could be
      dangerous and destructive. Perhaps more practice with jibing would
      ease my mind, but I'd be concerned that with a running backstay, the
      chance for damage to the rig would be greater if she suddenly jibed
      with the backstay set up. Certainly you would be at more risk of
      taking a swim in this situation, since the backstay might prevent
      the boom from going where it wants to and thus cause a knockdown.

      In any case, all the driving force of the sail is shared between the
      mast and the sheet regardless of the point of sail. Beating and
      reaching, some of this force heels the boat, but then crew and hull
      weight is countering the heel, so there's still considerable bending
      force on the mast on those points of sail as well. If your mast is
      designed to be unstayed, I would leave it that way and possibly beef
      it up before adding a backstay, unless I planned to use it only for
      keeping a jib luff tight when sailing upwind.

      Jon Kolb
      www.kolbsadventures.com/boatbuilding_index.htm
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