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Old 04-06-2007
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In addition to what sailingdog said, I would caution you that most real racing boats are "purpose built" meaning they are built for a specific purpose, including a specific range of wind and sea conditions. I once had the pleasure to visit Drum New Zealand in the US and when I asked if they had sailed it over, the crew laughed and said I had to be kidding--it could never take offshore weather, the rigging would snap like kindling.
Similarly, you'll find that most race boats built with running backstays are simply not designed to keep the rigging up without them. In light to moderate winds, or with reefed sails, you may be fine. But unless you have a rigger go over the entire rig (shrouds, stays, spreaders) you may find the whole thing coming down suddenly one day.
You're right, you don't have to use all the fancy stuff, vangs and tweaks and cunninghams and all the trim lines. But the rigging is NOT designed to hold up the mast without those backstays. For short-handing, you can often have them rigged with shock cords and run back to the helm so they are easier to short-hand. Again, a rigger can show you how to set this up.
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