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Running Backstays - Suggestions for use


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I have running backstays on my fractionally rigged Ericson 33 . She also has a normal adjustable backstay . Can anyone recommend how to use them at different points of sail ?  For this boat , I also understand from other owners that they are not essential for safety of the rig under “moderate” conditions and  several have theirs taken off ( or boat didn’t come with them ) ...

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Upwind, tighten them enough that the forestay has 2-3 inches of sag.  Reaching, 4-5 inches  unless overpowered, in which case 2-3 inches like upwind.  Downwind, hand tight is good enough.   Send someone up to the bow to check the sag upwind.  If racing, set and mark the correct tension on both tacks before the race somehow so it is repeatable after tacks. If the wind strength changes during the race have someone run up and check the sag again.

Normal backstay is only used to depower in puffs or when overpowered and not able to reduce sail.  

It is more complicated than this by quite a bit, but this will get you started. 

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On a fractional headstay rig the runners mostly control tension in the forestay and as a result the fullness of the headsail. Depending on everything...the runners may be completely slack in light wind beats, increasing tension in heavier weather to reduce healing, reduce power and improve pointing.

The backstay controls both mainsail depth and headstay tension. I'd say it is thus the more active control compared to runners in variable weather beats. But the mainsheet also tensions the forestay some....

Both interact with the initial prebend setup of the mast at the step and deck blocking, as well as forestay length.

Generally, off the wind both runners and back would be considerably eased. Depends if there is a spinnaker and if it is masthead or fractional, too.

Like Rain Man wrote...it's complicated. If your sails are old it really won't make any difference. Sailing with a sailmaker or expert trimmer would be invaluable.

However, your Ericson 33 mast may be completely unbendable in which case leave them loose, or stowed forward, until the conditions are really heavy then tighten then a bit.

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Check stays or running back stays for an inner cutter rig headsail?

probably checks. I have checks on my boat. But I have a noodle for a rig. Here’s a cut/paste of another guy’s opinion.

of course, you could always ask your rigger...

 

Typically only on a fractional rig

They can have two purposes.  

In light air, ease the backstay a bit (lets top of mast forward) and pull on a bit of checkstay (pulls center of mast aft) to straighten the mast (not invert it, just get it more nearly straight and take out some of the bend). This makes the main fuller and more powerful.

In heavy air and waves, with the backstay cranked fully on (to flatten / depower the main), the middle part of the mast might pump forward and back. If so, a little bit of checkstay tension (not enough to straighten the mast) can stabilise it and stop it pumping.

Not very common these days, AFAIK. Typically only necessary or useful on a very bendy mast.

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32 minutes ago, Rain Man said:

Upwind, tighten them enough that the forestay has 2-3 inches of sag.  Reaching, 4-5 inches  unless overpowered, in which case 2-3 inches like upwind.  Downwind, hand tight is good enough.   Send someone up to the bow to check the sag upwind.  If racing, set and mark the correct tension on both tacks before the race somehow so it is repeatable after tacks. If the wind strength changes during the race have someone run up and check the sag again.

Normal backstay is only used to depower in puffs or when overpowered and not able to reduce sail.  

It is more complicated than this by quite a bit, but this will get you started. 

How do you measure forestay sag ? Do you just eyeball it by looking up the forestay on the foredeck ? 

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8 minutes ago, 964racer said:

How do you measure forestay sag ? Do you just eyeball it by looking up the forestay on the foredeck ? 

You can play with it at the dock and a halyard boned tight to see the difference.

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9 minutes ago, 964racer said:

How do you measure forestay sag ? Do you just eyeball it by looking up the forestay on the foredeck ? 

You put tape at 1" imtervals on liff halfway up

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33 minutes ago, 964racer said:

How do you measure forestay sag ? Do you just eyeball it by looking up the forestay on the foredeck ? 

Eyeball it looking up the forestay from the bottom toward the place where the forestay attaches to the mast.  Note that too tight on the running back (and little or no sag at all) when close-hauled is generally not a good thing - the boat will point well but be slow.   If there is too much sag the boat will have lots of power but will not point well.   You are looking for a happy medium.  Some boats like a bit less sag, others a bit more and it also depends on how much sag the sailmaker designed the sail for. 

If you have a bendy mast, a tight running backstay will also change the shape of the main.

Does your boat look like this or do the running backstays attach at the transom?  

ericson_33_drawing.jpg

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4 hours ago, Rain Man said:

Eyeball it looking up the forestay from the bottom toward the place where the forestay attaches to the mast.  Note that too tight on the running back (and little or no sag at all) when close-hauled is generally not a good thing - the boat will point well but be slow.   If there is too much sag the boat will have lots of power but will not point well.   You are looking for a happy medium.  Some boats like a bit less sag, others a bit more and it also depends on how much sag the sailmaker designed the sail for. 

If you have a bendy mast, a tight running backstay will also change the shape of the main.

Does your boat look like this or do the running backstays attach at the transom?  

ericson_33_drawing.jpg

The running backs attach to top of transom ( not shown ). The solid line attached to bottom of transom is where backstay is .I’m thinking the dotted line in this profile Is the Genoa . 

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38 minutes ago, 964racer said:

The running backs attach to top of transom ( not shown ). The solid line attached to bottom of transom is where backstay is .I’m thinking the dotted line in this profile Is the Genoa . 

Ok, thanks for confirming.  In that case your permanent backstay is just for shaping the mainsail by adjusting mast bend, and for adjusting the leech twist at the top of the main.  Your primary speed/pointing control is the running backstays.  Learning to set them correctly will enable you to get the most out of your boat.  Try the above suggestions and see how it goes.  You will likely have more questions, and this is a good place to ask them. 

1windward_LIGHT_1lowres.jpg

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I see you use a large genoa. Because of recent experience I foolishly assumed a small jib in my above comments. Your runners and headstay will need much more low wind tension than I implied above. I've never looked at headstay sag like Rain Man describes, but only sail shape. You should figure out what the maximum runner tension setting is. For a racer it is just less than the point where the mast pushes the keel off the boat :-) I realize that is hardly helpful advice. But the runners and forestay will be violin string tight at max. That will be the setting for maximum flattening of the genoa for pointing in a stiff breeze. Light wind pointing will be significantly less...around 25% of that setting which should make the genoa nice and round forward from headstay sag but not so loose the rig is moving around. I suppose a wire tension gauge could be used to help figure where the maximum and 25% values are.

Note that jib halyard tension figures into all this too. On a good new sail the halyard may not be very tight at all. Just enough to pull the wrinkles out.

Fun stuff.

 

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1 hour ago, El Boracho said:

I see you use a large genoa. Because of recent experience I foolishly assumed a small jib in my above comments. Your runners and headstay will need much more low wind tension than I implied above. I've never looked at headstay sag like Rain Man describes, but only sail shape. You should figure out what the maximum runner tension setting is. For a racer it is just less than the point where the mast pushes the keel off the boat :-) I realize that is hardly helpful advice. But the runners and forestay will be violin string tight at max. That will be the setting for maximum flattening of the genoa for pointing in a stiff breeze. Light wind pointing will be significantly less...around 25% of that setting which should make the genoa nice and round forward from headstay sag but not so loose the rig is moving around. I suppose a wire tension gauge could be used to help figure where the maximum and 25% values are.

Note that jib halyard tension figures into all this too. On a good new sail the halyard may not be very tight at all. Just enough to pull the wrinkles out.

Fun stuff.

 

This.  Way too many people sailing around with too much halyard tension because it makes the sail look nice.  The correct halyard tension for most conditions is as above.  Only add extra halyard tension in wind and waves large enough to require helm corrections - you won't point as high but the boat will be easier to steer and likely a bit faster overall.

This comment does not apply to blown out old dacron sails.  They need extra halyard tension.

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The runners belong to the headsail trimmer, they call the shots. Ok, I'm flattening off, more runner. Light sloppy patch ahead, ease runner. By the time it's blowing every fucker in the cockpit can lean over and give a hand on the winch, it can't be too tight.

The main backstay belongs to the main trimmer. More backstay flattens the top two thirds as described above.

To confuse the issue of you have checks they belong to the main trimmer, even though they're attached to the runners. They control power in the bottom half of the main. 

After a breezy day if the lads are too quick into the beers then it can get messy. Big day, max runner and max backstay. Someone slackens the runners as expected but forgets the main backstay. That bad boy is then fully loaded up, the rig's like a drawn bow. If someone then carelessly releases the main backstay you can shoot everything that was previously attached to the top of the mast a long way across the marina. Tomorrow you'll be racing without wind instruments, or a VHF, or a tri colour...

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10 hours ago, 964racer said:

How do you measure forestay sag ? Do you just eyeball it by looking up the forestay on the foredeck ? 

When you helm, you sit always exactly in the same spot, then you watch where the headstay disappear behind the mast (virtually intersect it), if this point goes down sag is increasing. Once you know your boat you know where this point should be.

Running backstay aren't that difficult especially when not "structural" like yours :

Going upwind

  • too much sag -> tighten it
  • wind goes up -> tighten it
  • want to point higher -> tighten it
  • Want to depower the boat and go in "high mode" -> tighten it + tighten the backstay
  • Helmsman  not very good -> tighter than usual
  • Need some power (typically a short chop situation) -> loosen a bit
  • Need to sail low -> loosen a bit
  • Very light wind -> keep it nearly loose

Going downwind

  • Not critical get it tight enough so that the mast doesn't move around

On a reach with white sail

  • Not too tight, if need be you can flatten a bit the headsail by increasing tension

The checkstay

This one is a "terrorist" that can bring your mast down if you don't understand what it does. It is just a stop that let you control the maximum bend you want to have in your mast. Do not ever ever over tension it as it would invert the mast bend and in breezy conditions the mast will come down! So what you do is that when you are about to take the first reef, you tighten the fixed backstay until the mast is nicely bent backward and the mainsail is super flat. That is your max bend, so you can tighten the checkstay (just tensionned no more) to stabilise the mast and don't fiddle with themafterward. OK there are reasons to fiddle, that is in a steep shop and light wind where the mast is still straight and you don't want it to move around like a noodle but until you really understand well how it works don't touch the bloody things and I suspect that your mast is stiff enough without the checkstay. 

That's what the "First class 8" university taught me!

image_scre_2_34.jpg

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Or a rule of thumb on upwind runner trim, as taught by one of the great offshore helmsmen on my first race with him on his 3/4 rigged kevlar Farr IOR boat,  with which he won just about every prize in Aussie racing,  grind it till the boat goes BANG & and then give it half a turn.  There was no mistaking that bang.

If the breeze got up it was an extra half turn.

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On 6/22/2020 at 5:48 AM, Panoramix said:

When you helm, you sit always exactly in the same spot, then you watch where the headstay disappear behind the mast (virtually intersect it), if this point goes down sag is increasing. Once you know your boat you know where this point should be.

Running backstay aren't that difficult especially when not "structural" like yours :

Going upwind

  • too much sag -> tighten it
  • wind goes up -> tighten it
  • want to point higher -> tighten it
  • Want to depower the boat and go in "high mode" -> tighten it + tighten the backstay
  • Helmsman  not very good -> tighter than usual
  • Need some power (typically a short chop situation) -> loosen a bit
  • Need to sail low -> loosen a bit
  • Very light wind -> keep it nearly loose

Going downwind

  • Not critical get it tight enough so that the mast doesn't move around

On a reach with white sail

  • Not too tight, if need be you can flatten a bit the headsail by increasing tension

The checkstay

This one is a "terrorist" that can bring your mast down if you don't understand what it does. It is just a stop that let you control the maximum bend you want to have in your mast. Do not ever ever over tension it as it would invert the mast bend and in breezy conditions the mast will come down! So what you do is that when you are about to take the first reef, you tighten the fixed backstay until the mast is nicely bent backward and the mainsail is super flat. That is your max bend, so you can tighten the checkstay (just tensionned no more) to stabilise the mast and don't fiddle with themafterward. OK there are reasons to fiddle, that is in a steep shop and light wind where the mast is still straight and you don't want it to move around like a noodle but until you really understand well how it works don't touch the bloody things and I suspect that your mast is stiff enough without the checkstay. 

That's what the "First class 8" university taught me!

image_scre_2_34.jpg

That is a nice looking little boat.  Beneteau? I once knew a girl from Rennes, she's probably a grandmother by now.

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4 minutes ago, BOKSAROX said:

That is a nice looking little boat.  Beneteau? I once knew a girl from Rennes, she's probably a grandmother by now.

It is a Bénéteau First class 8 : https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/first-class-8-beneteau

It is on this boat that many French people of my generation (those that were in their 20's during the 80's or 90's) learnt to race. Fleets were big, no engine so you had to get up early to be on time on the start line and you were the last fleet in but this was really good fun. In a way it was the French J24, but it behaved a bit more like a sportsboat.

Lot of women who love sailing in Rennes ;-)

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Many moons ago I sailed a Sigma 38, which was somewhat underwinched, and in most conditions upwind you just ground on as much runner as you could get. Downwind we tied them both forward to the shrouds, and often used a jib halyard to wind the mast more upright still.

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On 6/22/2020 at 9:14 AM, Raz'r said:

Check stays or running back stays for an inner cutter rig headsail?

probably checks. I have checks on my boat. But I have a noodle for a rig. Here’s a cut/paste of another guy’s opinion.

of course, you could always ask your rigger...

 

Typically only on a fractional rig

They can have two purposes.  

In light air, ease the backstay a bit (lets top of mast forward) and pull on a bit of checkstay (pulls center of mast aft) to straighten the mast (not invert it, just get it more nearly straight and take out some of the bend). This makes the main fuller and more powerful.

In heavy air and waves, with the backstay cranked fully on (to flatten / depower the main), the middle part of the mast might pump forward and back. If so, a little bit of checkstay tension (not enough to straighten the mast) can stabilise it and stop it pumping.

Not very common these days, AFAIK. Typically only necessary or useful on a very bendy mast.

I’m in the process of trying to get my head around a ‘noodle’ mast with inline(2) spreaders, Running backstays,checkstays and a very small single adjustable (antenna) backstay. 
 Having never sailed such a rig before, it has me nearly bluffed.. Other than taking it easy in light airs and learning the rig as i go, have you any other advice that may speed up the learning curve?

 I cannot afford to convert to swept back spreaders and move the chainplates etc and would kinda like to learn the rig how it is/has been for years, without bringing her down. 
This thread has been helpful already, so thanks.

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The first time I saw a boat with runners I asked the skipper what do they do. 

 

He replied, with no hesitation - "They make the mast fall down" 

 

I'm yet to get a more succint & accurate description

 

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42 minutes ago, FixinGit said:

I’m in the process of trying to get my head around a ‘noodle’ mast with inline(2) spreaders, Running backstays,checkstays and a very small single adjustable (antenna) backstay. 
 Having never sailed such a rig before, it has me nearly bluffed.. Other than taking it easy in light airs and learning the rig as i go, have you any other advice that may speed up the learning curve?

 I cannot afford to convert to swept back spreaders and move the chainplates etc and would kinda like to learn the rig how it is/has been for years, without bringing her down. 
This thread has been helpful already, so thanks.

It's not hard. There are 2 running backstays.  You should have 1 or 2 on at all times.  The check stays should be well eased until you know what you're doing.

 

Carry on.

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1 hour ago, FixinGit said:

I’m in the process of trying to get my head around a ‘noodle’ mast with inline(2) spreaders, Running backstays,checkstays and a very small single adjustable (antenna) backstay. 
 Having never sailed such a rig before, it has me nearly bluffed.. Other than taking it easy in light airs and learning the rig as i go, have you any other advice that may speed up the learning curve?

 I cannot afford to convert to swept back spreaders and move the chainplates etc and would kinda like to learn the rig how it is/has been for years, without bringing her down. 
This thread has been helpful already, so thanks.

Go out on a light to medium day,  have someone else steer.

Now stand at the base of the mast and have someone adjust backstay,  runner & check separately while watching the way the mast moves and how this affects the mainsail shape.  go through the whole process a few times until you think you are getting a good idea of what is happening.  Now sit down the back either steering or near the steerer and go through the process again so you get an appreciation of the effect on the main from where you will normally be.

Now go sailing & try to use what you have learned.  It amazing how much more you will learn by repeating this process a few times a month or two apart.

Once you have that mastered we can talk about all of the other stays holding up an old style noodle rig.

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4 hours ago, FixinGit said:

I’m in the process of trying to get my head around a ‘noodle’ mast with inline(2) spreaders, Running backstays,checkstays and a very small single adjustable (antenna) backstay. 
 Having never sailed such a rig before, it has me nearly bluffed.. Other than taking it easy in light airs and learning the rig as i go, have you any other advice that may speed up the learning curve?

 I cannot afford to convert to swept back spreaders and move the chainplates etc and would kinda like to learn the rig how it is/has been for years, without bringing her down. 
This thread has been helpful already, so thanks.

What I've written above applies to your boat with one extra caveat, one of the backstays need to be taught always.... including after a chinese gybe.

And as I've written above, the mast must never ever be inverted so don't ever ever over tighten the checkstays. Straight mast is still OK, but mast with the "belly" going aft is a big no no !

That was not due to checkstay mismanagement (lack of tension in mainsheet here I think) but inverted bending does this to your mast :

 

 

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I think i understand the physics and why etc, but theoretical physics is waaaaaaaaaay different from practical/actual sometimes. 

In the video you can see a definitive mast ‘pump’ on spinnaker reinflation that isnt caught by releasing the checkstays(or running a tighter mainsheet)

Excellent example and advice from all. Thanks.

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16 minutes ago, FixinGit said:


I think i understand the physics and why etc, but theoretical physics is waaaaaaaaaay different from practical/actual sometimes. 

In the video you can see a definitive mast ‘pump’ on spinnaker reinflation that isnt caught by releasing the checkstays(or running a tighter mainsheet)

Excellent example and advice from all. Thanks.

At time you may feel that your mast has "too many strings to tweak" but in the case of the Open 570, it is the opposite, as there is no backstay the mainsail does its job and if you chicken out with the mainsheet (like the mainsail trimmer did here a few seconds before the fatal puff), the upper part of the mast becomes unsupported! At least you have a backstay so on a violent spinnaker reinflation this can't happen as long as the backstay is tight enough and the checkstays aren't over tight.

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Point of order, on a fractional rig I don't think you can invert the mast with the runners - they typically attach at the same height as the forestay so they're pulling directly against the stay.

Checkstays are a different matter.

 

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964racer. Congrats on the 33. I always had a soft spot for those.

As someone said above, best way to gauge headstay sag is relative to the mast.  More runner on. More head stay you can see and vice versa.

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1 hour ago, TJSoCal said:

Point of order, on a fractional rig I don't think you can invert the mast with the runners - they typically attach at the same height as the forestay so they're pulling directly against the stay.

Checkstays are a different matter.

 

We think we did exactly that on a Soverel 33 (7/8 frac) going downwind in a big blow. Had some backstay and fractulator on to stabilize the rig. Pulled on the runners hand tight and cleated them. Runner pulled out once, put it back but didn't think about WHY. Second time it pulled out mast broke at lowers and then the partners. So the think is the chute was pulling forward at 3' above the hounds, but couldn't move the mast due to runners so mast came out of column. The thought is if we had left the runners off the out of column would have been spread across the whole mast instead of the upper third. All a bit of a guess but i did some vector diagrams at the time and it made some sense. 

But you need a mast head backstay, fractional runners and a fractional chute, and probably near the masthead but not at. 

Soverels did not have runners in the original they were added later to improve pointing and seems like that small difference in loads on the mast can do wierd things. 

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I get that the runners/checks thing likely came about due to the noodly frac rigs on later day IOR boats, but are they really necessary on other frac rig boats of that era?

Look at the J/29 frac.  Probably one of the better upwind boats you will come across.   Mild spreader sweep and quite long unsupported topmast (6-7 ft?) - yet no runners or checks.  How do they manage that?  Is it simply a matter of having the headsails cut to account for a fair amount of sag?  if that is the case, why didn't more builders do that.  Modern fracs can get away with it since they are barely fracs now with short unsupported top masts.

 

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6 hours ago, Icedtea said:

The first time I saw a boat with runners I asked the skipper what do they do. 

 

He replied, with no hesitation - "They make the mast fall down STAY UP”

 

I'm yet to get a more succint & accurate description

 

 

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21 minutes ago, Locus said:

We think we did exactly that on a Soverel 33 (7/8 frac) going downwind in a big blow. Had some backstay and fractulator on to stabilize the rig. Pulled on the runners hand tight and cleated them. Runner pulled out once, put it back but didn't think about WHY. Second time it pulled out mast broke at lowers and then the partners. So the think is the chute was pulling forward at 3' above the hounds, but couldn't move the mast due to runners so mast came out of column. The thought is if we had left the runners off the out of column would have been spread across the whole mast instead of the upper third. All a bit of a guess but i did some vector diagrams at the time and it made some sense. 

But you need a mast head backstay, fractional runners and a fractional chute, and probably near the masthead but not at. 

Soverels did not have runners in the original they were added later to improve pointing and seems like that small difference in loads on the mast can do wierd things. 

I believe the Sov 33 did not have runners - only checkstays.  At least the drawing of the Sov 33 from Sailboatdata only shows checks and this Practical Sailor article indicates they went with check instead of runners. https://www.practical-sailor.com/sailboat-reviews/used_sailboats/soverel-33

If only checks, then yarding in what you thought were runners doomed the rig.

Possibly blame the MORC rule since it effectively, or outright banned runners at some point in time, causing some to come up with some type of a checkstay solution to act in a similar manner as runners.

Soverel_33-2_drawing.jpg

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1 hour ago, 12 metre said:

I get that the runners/checks thing likely came about due to the noodly frac rigs on later day IOR boats, but are they really necessary on other frac rig boats of that era?

Look at the J/29 frac.  Probably one of the better upwind boats you will come across.   Mild spreader sweep and quite long unsupported topmast (6-7 ft?) - yet no runners or checks.  How do they manage that?  Is it simply a matter of having the headsails cut to account for a fair amount of sag?  if that is the case, why didn't more builders do that.  Modern fracs can get away with it since they are barely fracs now with short unsupported top masts.

 

Before the IOR there were Stars - the textbook definition of noodly rigs.

Swept-back spreaders with aft chainplates mitigate the need for running backstays and checkstays (which are just lower running backstays with the functionality worked into the name.) The swept-back spreaders / aft chainplates design goes back at least 1,000 years. In boats that went primarily downwind, there was a benefit in not having to attend to runners. There was enough running rigging to deal with during a gybe as it is!

clipper_standing_rigging_800px.png.93616d3f6a6007f50de701ae48104dc0.png

Given the available materials and construction methods, the springiness of wormed, parceled, served and tarred hemp standing rigging was a safety valve of sorts, allowing the rigging to stretch a bit in puffs and thus keep the rig in the boat a bit longer. Look to the very old ships and think about why they are rigged the way they were. The whole idea was to have the spars that were easiest to replace be the ones which would break first. And break they did! It was an everyday part of life at sea to replace broken spars while still underway -- without even taking the foot off the gas pedal, so to speak.

There are three (or more) conflicting goals in a racing mast:

  1. Keep the mast from breaking.
  2. Make the mast bendable to allow for adjustable mainsail shapes.
  3. Act as a strut (spreader) to provide forestay tension.

The easiest way to accomplish #1 is to make the mast and thick heavy log. One that causes the boat to heel more, has more windage, and is not adjustable. On a cruising boat you can pretty much end the compromise right here.

For racing you want light weight, low windage, and adjustable bend. The way to do that is with lots of stays and adjustments. If you rely only on the running back to provide headstay tension, the compression load makes it easy to over-bend the mast which undoes everything you're trying to accomplish. The "checkstays" keep this over-bend in "check."

On the J/29 frac, you've got a fairly stout mast with minimal fore and aft stabilization from the shrouds (minimal spreader sweep). The rig should ideally be tuned before each regatta depending on what kind of wind strength and sea state is expected. But with such a sturdy mast and tall unsupported area above the hounds, you're got a lot of adjustment just from the permanent backstay. The lower shrouds serve as low-leverage checkstays with enough give to still allow a fair amount of depowering bend.

 

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Mo

3 hours ago, 12 metre said:

I believe the Sov 33 did not have runners - only checkstays.  At least the drawing of the Sov 33 from Sailboatdata only shows checks and this Practical Sailor article indicates they went with check instead of runners. https://www.practical-sailor.com/sailboat-reviews/used_sailboats/soverel-33

If only checks, then yarding in what you thought were runners doomed the rig.

Possibly blame the MORC rule since it effectively, or outright banned runners at some point in time, causing some to come up with some type of a checkstay solution to act in a similar manner as runners.

Soverel_33-2_drawing.jpg

Most Soverels added runners at some point. They were absolutely needed to make the thing point. Lose 2" of tension on the runner and we lost 5d of point. We also had integrated checks. First mast they came back to the runners with a separate block/cleat (1:1) second mast they went down the mast to a 4:1 tackle at the partners. We didn't really use them much as with the back stay off the mast straightened up pretty well. Standard upwind was 4 turns of the primary on low gear to tension them. 1.5-2 more turns if windy. Downwind just cleated. 

Below showing checks in front, runners in the middle fixed bs in the back

3-Tree 2012.jpg

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6 hours ago, 12 metre said:

I get that the runners/checks thing likely came about due to the noodly frac rigs on later day IOR boats, but are they really necessary on other frac rig boats of that era?

Look at the J/29 frac.  Probably one of the better upwind boats you will come across.   Mild spreader sweep and quite long unsupported topmast (6-7 ft?) - yet no runners or checks.  How do they manage that?  Is it simply a matter of having the headsails cut to account for a fair amount of sag?  if that is the case, why didn't more builders do that.  Modern fracs can get away with it since they are barely fracs now with short unsupported top masts.

 

Remember that not only were these rigs thin and soft,  the side stays were in line with the mast and many of the spreaders had no sweep,  so there was no fore & aft support for the rig from the shrouds.

This meant that ALL of the support from aft was provided by,  backstay, runners & checks.  Sure it was a pain but you could make your rig do just about anything so even the then stretchy mains could be adjusted through the wind range.  

And we haven't even mentioned playing with the tensions on the forestay, inner forestay, baby stay or fore & aft lowers yet!

I think I like swept back spreader fractional carbon rigs with carbon sails a little more now.

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Don't be afraid to power up a rig by taking tension off  the runners on a boat with swept back spreaders and a strong perm. back stay on it in Big Seas to keep the thing in over-drive powered up, up wind in nasty conditions.

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4 hours ago, TUBBY said:

Remember that not only were these rigs thin and soft,  the side stays were in line with the mast and many of the spreaders had no sweep,  so there was no fore & aft support for the rig from the shrouds.

This meant that ALL of the support from aft was provided by,  backstay, runners & checks.  Sure it was a pain but you could make your rig do just about anything so even the then stretchy mains could be adjusted through the wind range.  

And we haven't even mentioned playing with the tensions on the forestay, inner forestay, baby stay or fore & aft lowers yet!

I think I like swept back spreader fractional carbon rigs with carbon sails a little more now.

My query was more rhetorical than anything.

Like I said, I get the reasons for runners and checks, but boats like the frac J/29 for example show it wasn't really necessary for good upwind performance on a production boat of that era (i.e. ones that had fairly long and often unsupported top masts compared to more current designs). 

So why put a rig on a production boat that makes it more complex for the average Joe Racer to sail effectively and safely? 

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Some boats had slightly swept back spreaders, so probably wouldn't drop the rig without backstays. They still went upwind better with them.

We haven't got rid of them because they're no longer required. We've got rid of them because the current rating systems don't like them.

It's a shame because they're good tools, and much simpler that many people seem to think.

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6 hours ago, European Bloke said:

Some boats had slightly swept back spreaders, so probably wouldn't drop the rig without backstays. They still went upwind better with them.

We haven't got rid of them because they're no longer required. We've got rid of them because the current rating systems don't like them.

It's a shame because they're good tools, and much simpler that many people seem to think.

All of this is true.  But most serious race boat rigs of the period wouldn't last long without the runners in anything but light air and a flat sea.

For cruising (& even cruiser/racing),  it is nice to be able to go into a gybe in moderate+ weather without the stress of watching for the runners to be worked, knowing that if either one got it wrong there was likely to be an expensive noise.

For ultimate speed the rig control was great,  which is why the rating rules punish them,  but modern rigs can be made so that the rating hit is not worth while,  particularly when the windage and extra weight are considered.

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2 hours ago, TUBBY said:

All of this is true.  But most serious race boat rigs of the period wouldn't last long without the runners in anything but light air and a flat sea.

For cruising (& even cruiser/racing),  it is nice to be able to go into a gybe in moderate+ weather without the stress of watching for the runners to be worked, knowing that if either one got it wrong there was likely to be an expensive noise.

For ultimate speed the rig control was great,  which is why the rating rules punish them,  but modern rigs can be made so that the rating hit is not worth while,  particularly when the windage and extra weight are considered.

Of course an old timey solution was jumper struts which stiffened up the top mast so the backstay could provide headsail luff tension.  You don't see them much today but the old T-Birds used them circa 1958.  Still a tough boat to beat today in PHRF when they are properly sailed and kitted out.

T-Brid.jpg

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19 minutes ago, European Bloke said:

Many of the tonners had diamonds. In the Dragon we didn't just adjust them we tacked them... 

Yes, but while jumpers are a type of diamond stay, the diamond stays you are referring to in the tonners, did not perform the same function as jumpers.

Jumpers support the top mast both laterally and fore/aft.  I believe the diamonds on the tonners only provided lateral support.

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