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post #1 of 7 Old 08-28-2013 Thread Starter
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standing rigging question

Went out sailing this week, nice day with 10-15 kts. Sailing on a reach I notice the leeward shrouds (main and lower) were slack. I know some slack on the leeward shrouds is normal, but how do I know when the slack becomes too much? I inspected the standing rigging at the bottom and also climbed the mast and inspected them at the top side, all looked well. I recently replaced the forestay myself.
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Re: standing rigging question

from my experience, if you can see the slack, it's way too loose, a turnbuckle came totally undone on me a few months ago, I suggest checking them before you head out the next time
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post #3 of 7 Old 08-29-2013
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Re: standing rigging question

On my club's Cal 20s, we have run a string up a halyard and measured the distance from side to side to first get the shrouds even. Ours are fairly loose, but not extreme. I heard that in Southern California, they keep them really loose because of the lighter winds there. My guess is that whatever you do, some slack is good and there will be more of it in the leeward shroud in higher winds. You should be able to do a Google search and find more info. One article that I found to be pretty good is, "Basic Rig Tune for Most Sailboats" by Dan Dickison.

It's definitely a good idea to check all rigging and connections periodically just as a matter of course.
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post #4 of 7 Old 08-29-2013
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Re: standing rigging question

Sight up the mast from the gooseneck. It should be straight under sail. If it's bending off to leeward significantly then the windward side needs tightening. Often boat class associations have a website, and they can give your class specific info on tuning rigging.

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post #5 of 7 Old 08-29-2013
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Re: standing rigging question

Rig tuning is a complicated and detailed subject. Here are the general guidlelines for a basic tune (does not include rake, bend, prebend, etc).

Others are telling you how to check to see if your mast is in column (same distance between port and starboard chainplates using a halyard is the way to do that).

Also check to see a halyard run against the back of the mast follows the luff groove of the mast. Any deviations would indicate a pull to port or starboard by the lowers. Adjust them until it's straight in column all the way up and down.

Next snug up the uppers (turn each side same number turns), and release any adjustable backstay (set rake now, whatever that is, by hanging a weight - hammer say - from the main halyard, the distance the hammer falls away from the back of the mast measured at the gooseneck is rake).

Now you can tighten your uppers to recommended Loos tension (generally it'll be with a light twang, for those of us without Loos guages).

If you have a single lower (sounds like it), then tension both lowers to snug with light backstay on, again tighten evenly, check for in column, and also check for straight against the luff groove... Bring the tensions up to the recommended tension by Loos, or with slightly less tension than your uppers (by feel).

NOW you sail (with light backstay on)! Sailing on a windward starboard tack in light-moderate breeze, tension the leeward shrouds, first the upper (assuming it's flopping), and count the number of turns it takes to take the slack out of it. Do the same on the lower.

TACK! Take the same number of turns on the opposite side now (it'll be easier sailing doing this as most tension should be off of it).

You now should have a decent basic tune on your boat.

Some hints... More rake isn't always better, but SOME rake is usually designed into the cut of most sails. How much rake your boat will perfer will be dictated by the boat first, then by the sail manufacturer.

If for some reason you don't have an adjustable backstay it's Ok, tension it enough early on to JUST take the slack out of the headstay and perhaps 1 extra turn, to do the rest of the tune (this assumes you have one upper and one lower per side, therefore you have swept spreaders, so the backstay isn't the only thing keeping the mast from falling forward).

when you set rake you'll need to ease the forestay and backstay in concert, keep in mind if you set a lot MORE rake all your shroud tensions will ease some.

AS the winds pipe up you'll want to bring up tension on a windward tack to take out that slack.

As for floppy shrouds in light winds... well sort of? If you don't want to tune every time you sail, you'll likely want to tune for JUST above your average winds for your area. Floppy in light air allows more power for sure, but if your winds pipe up a bit, a pumping mast is tough on rigging.

By the way, your sail manufacturer should be able to give you a tuning guide for your boat. They might be able to give you ballpark loos settings, and also rake, bend and prebend settings.

"Rum Line" a 1982, S2 7.9 - Production boat limit tester, blue-water bucket owner, with wine taste on a beer budget.
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Re: standing rigging question

Thanks so much Shnool, that was some great info I'm heading to the boat this week and will try out your suggestions. I have two lower shrouds and the one upper shroud with a single straight spreader. I figure with two lower shrouds the process is the same, but the aft lower tighter than the fore lower, right?
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post #7 of 7 Old 08-30-2013
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Re: standing rigging question

More reading material:

Brion Toss Tuning Tips
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