Join Date: May 2002
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Re: Adjustable backstay on a masthead rig? Totally worth it!
I agree it's totally worth it. My previous boat had a masthead rig with a backstay adjuster and I used it all the time, and loved it. My present boat doesn't have it, and a backstay adjuster is on my list of upgrades.
I think people often expect an adjustable backstay to enable the boat to point higher, but I think that's mistaken. You can tune a rig with a fixed backstay so that the boat will point just as well as a boat with an adjustable backstay. The benefit that you gain from having an adjustable backstay is that you can instantly change the tuning of the rig from a taut forestay, which is better suited for sailing to windward and in stronger winds, to a loose forestay, which is better suited for sailing off the wind and in lighter winds.
There is a limit to the amount of tension you can put on the forestay without damaging the boat structurally. The benefit that you gain from a backstay adjuster is in being able to change the tension quickly, without having to get out your tools.
To tune a masthead rig properly, when the boat has a backstay adjuster and fore and aft lowers, the aft lowers should be considerably looser than all the rest of the stays. That enables the mast to bend a little when you tension it. If you have equal tension on all the fore and aft lowers, they will prevent the mast from bending in any direction. (You will never see as much mast bend as you will with a fractional rig, but you need some bend to make it work well.)
Last edited by Sailormon6; 12-10-2012 at 06:46 PM.