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Old 10-21-2013
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Front or back grommet to attach main halyard?

Hello,

This is my first post and I am excited to join the community.
OK, I have a burning question which brings me here today:

A few years ago during sailing classes I remember asking my instructor what the difference was between the "front" grommet (the one nearest to the mast) on the mainsail head, and the back grommet, and how I should decide which one I should attach the mainsail halyard to...

The instructor's response was as follows: "Always use the front grommet unless you need to put a reef in, in which case you want to use the back grommet". The reason I was given was that you could get a better pull using the second grommet when the mainsail is not fully hoisted, due to the greater angle between the halyard and the mast. I just took that for granted until about a week ago...

With a steady 10 kn wind I decided to attach the main halyard to the back grommet with a fully hoisted main sail (on my own boat), just to give it a try...
What I observed was that doing so actually increased the tension on the leech and gave me a fuller sail shape (compared to using the first front grommet), which suited the wind conditions perfectly, and which meant I did not have to use as much vang tension. I tried that again in similar wind conditions a few days later and was quite please with the result again.

So I would appreciate any insight on this: which grommet to use in what conditions?

Thanks.
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Old 10-21-2013
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Re: Front or back grommet to attach main halyard?

What's most important here is the exit line/angle of the masthead sheave.. if the sheave protrudes you may need to use the aft hole in the headboard to avoid having the halyard tension try to pull the top slugs out of the track. I don't really think there's a time to use one or the other beyond that criteria.. most boats use the forward one, but on our last boat if we did that the upper slides would jam.

I find it hard to credit the idea that choosing whichever hole will reduce the load on the vang or any other sail control....
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Re: Front or back grommet to attach main halyard?

Thanks Faster, interesting.
Looking forward to more comments from other members hopefully...
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Have always used the forward hole unless it didn't allow a full hoist, then the aft. Doesn't seem like it would make a difference when reefed.
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Re: Front or back grommet to attach main halyard?

I always wondered why they even put more than one grommet on the headboard, but what Faster says makes sense. On the other hand what your instructor said makes NO sense. I can't imagine how changing the headboard attachment point could have any significant effect on sail shape unless the other attachment causes the headboard to bind, preventing you from getting the desired luff tension.

Having said that, if you feel the aft hole is better, by all means use it!
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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Front or back grommet to attach main halyard?

Headboards are generic hence they have to be adaptable for the different halyard arrangements on the yachts on which they might/will be used. On some yachts, the main halyard passes through a block suspended from a masthead crane on the aft side of the mast hence the working line is several inches or more from the face of the mast/sail track. To insure the lift of the halyard is as vertical as possible, one would use the aft headboard hole. On other masts, the halyard passes over a sheave within the masthead itself with the fall of the working end of the line quite close to the mast, in which case one would use the hole closer to the mast. With such a sheave arrangement, using the after-most hole will increase the angle of the halyard to the mast as the sail is raised making it more and more difficult to get a tight luff and actually hoist the sail as it approaches the top of the mast.

FWIW...
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Last edited by svHyLyte; 10-22-2013 at 06:10 PM. Reason: Correct typo
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