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OhioTom 06-30-2009 01:34 AM

Adjustable backstay of a masthead rig?
I'm starting to renovate a sailboat and I have a question regarding its rig.

The boat has a masthead rig, a rod backstay (versus wire standing rigging elsewhere), and an old Stearn hydraulic backstay adjuster.

I thought there was really no point to an adjustable backstay on a masthead rigged boat.

My inclination is to ditch the hydraulic backstay adjuster and replace the rod rigging with a wire backstay and a turnbuckle.

Am I missing something here or is there some use to an adjustable backstay on a masthead rig?


blt2ski 06-30-2009 02:09 AM

WHile you do not get the control etc of a fractional rig, you can still tighten up the forestay a bit more, which IIRC pulls the draft forward some{it might be back, but don't quote me], removing/lessoning weather helm a bit. I have pretty good success with my MH rig tightening up the back stay. I am able to bend the mast some, not like a fractional can, but I can create some mast bend, to help the sail in heavier winds.


knuterikt 06-30-2009 03:59 AM

You dont say what kind of boat you have, it could be helpful.

The backstay is used to controll the bend in the mast and to a degree the forestay tension.

But to make this possible you will need a masthead fitting on the mast where the attachement of the backstay are placed some inches (6?) further aft than the aft wall of the mast section. These masthead fittings are also angled so the aft part sits higher than the forward part.

With a setup like this the mast should be adjusted with a little bit of prebend in the mast.

I would gess that since you have the setup you described your mast is of this construction.

I would not remove the hydraulic backstay adjuster on my boat. If necessary it should not cost so much to service the adjuster.

You can replace the rod with wire (I have a wire backstay with hydraulic tensioner).

On my boat adjustable length on the backstay tensioner is so short that I have to put in some bend in the mast before I can connect the backstay to the backstay tensioner (the base prebend)

OhioTom 06-30-2009 06:48 AM

The boat is a Soverel 26. It also has a baby stay with a fiddle block for tensioning. Again, I'm wondering if this setup can really bend the mast enough - without causing too much strain on the rig/boat - to actually flatten the sail enough to make any practical difference.

paulk 06-30-2009 08:47 AM

If you have a Soverel 26, the mast is designed specifically to be tweaked to accommodate various conditions you will encounter. It has a rather spindly spar, on purpose, to allow for this. Removing or degrading equipment will not enhance the boat's performance and will likely reduce potential resale value. Go to the Soverel 26 website to learn more about how to use all the bells, whistles and strings. There are lots on Soverels.

tommays 06-30-2009 08:49 AM

I sail on a masthead C&C 35 with hydraulic backstay and baby stay and it bends like a J24 mast :)

SEMIJim 06-30-2009 09:05 AM

Yes, a backstay adjuster does make sense on a masthead rig. While it can't perform to bend the mast like it can on a fractional rig, it will bend the mast a bit, and it'll definitely tighten the forestay. We have a backstay tensioner on our Pearson P30, and we use it. In fact: I used it in a race two weeks ago Sunday: Tightening it on the beat and easing it somewhat on the reach.


OhioTom 07-01-2009 12:55 AM

Thanks for the replys. I think I'll take a good look at the hydraulic adjuster to see if its worth it to rebuild. If not, I'll just convert it to a block and tackle adjuster. Any idea what mechanical advantage I would need?

j34035 07-01-2009 01:26 AM

It takes a lot of mechanical advantage to = a hydraulic adjuster. While I had mine off for a rebuild, I had a 4/1 (not really much) on the backstay and it would not even affect the headstay sag. The hydraulic will pull the headstay, and I can bend the mast on my J/34c (masthead rigged) completely out of column if I want. I like my hydraulic. I had Westmarine rigging shop rebuild mine.

blt2ski 07-01-2009 01:39 AM

You might look at the Harken site, their is a "compuspec" link, that will spec out an appropriate adjuster for you, based on your boat, type of sailing you do ie heavy air, racing etc.

Otherwise, it is a complete SWAG on all our parts.


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