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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 03-14-2010
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Adjustible backstay

We are thinking of purchasing an adjustible backstay for a 1979 Sabre 34' MKI. We are hoping it will help with stepping/unstepping the mast and beating to windward. Is that true? Any information would be helpful, pros and cons.
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A backstay adjuster on a masthead rigged boat doesn't bend the mast nearly as much as on a fractional rigged boat, so it doesn't improve the boat's pointing ability much, if at all. What it can do, however, is to allow you to ease backstay tension quickly, creating sag in the headstay, which increases the power of the jib when sailing in light air or off the wind.
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Not quite sure what you think an adjustable backstay will do with helping unstep/step the mast?
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Being able to tension the forestay is good to gain a few degrees of pointing, if you care about sailing performance it's a nice tool to have.
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Little tensioners help stepping

I have a small tensioner that is really more of a quick-release; it helps tremendously with stepping the mast. It's not able to be adjusted under load, though, so as a true tensioner, it fails the description.

But I can't believe I ever lived without it before!

-Dave
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A sailboat is limited by it's design in it's ability to point to windward. A backstay adjuster can't make a boat point higher than it's design will allow. If you don't have a backstay adjuster, you can tune the rig at the dock, adjusting each stay so that the mast has exactly the ideal amount of rake and bend, and so that the headstay has exactly the ideal amount of tension to enable the boat to sail as close to windward as it's design will permit in the amount of wind on any given day.

The value of a backstay adjuster, especially on a masthead rig, is not that it will make the boat point higher. The value is that you can instantly and radically change the tuning of the rig, on the fly, without getting out a handful of tools, so that, in one moment the rig is ideally tuned for maximum pointing ability, and in the next moment, it's ideally tuned for light air or sailing off the wind, or for any windspeed in between.

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I think you're talking more about something like a hyfield lever... not a backstay adjuster.
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Originally Posted by superdave View Post
I have a small tensioner that is really more of a quick-release; it helps tremendously with stepping the mast. It's not able to be adjusted under load, though, so as a true tensioner, it fails the description.

But I can't believe I ever lived without it before!

-Dave
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