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Old 06-29-2001
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Topping Lift

Can anyone help me with details of how one is supposed to use and rig a topping lift? I believe(?) it serves no purpose while under sail, but am I supposed to leave it attached to the boom (but loose) while sailing, or remove it? If removed, what should I do with it then? What is the most efficient way to rig a topping lift? Am I better off with something like a Boomkicker?

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Old 06-29-2001
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Topping Lift

Much of this answer depends on whether you are a racer or a cruiser. On cruising boats the boom is often used for a variety of functions. They are sometimes used as a cargo boom to haul people and gear and sometimes dinghies aboard. In that situation the topping lift needs to be sturdy. Having it rigged permanently means that you can reef on the fly and not worry about dropping the boom into the cockpit. In that case the topping lift should be chosen to be low chafe to the sails.

On a race boat the topping lift is really pertty temporary and efforts are made to reduce weight aloft so you see a lot of things. Often the main halyard is used as the topping lift on smaller race boats. Even when there is a topping lift on a race boat it is unhooked from the end of the boom and run to the base of the mast and tensioned in the the lee of the mast to reduce the windage of the lift.

There are a lot of ways to rig a topping lift. On a cruising boat, my favorite way to rig a topping lift is to rig it as a spare main halyard. This has the disadvantage of a lot of extra weight aloft so alternatively it can be rigged to serve as a messenger line for a spare main halyard.

You also see a set up where there is a fixed wire rope to the end of the boom or to a block and tackle at the end of the boom that is lead forward to be adjusted.

To some extent a rigid boom vang can do some of the functions of a topping lift such as preventing a boom from dropping completely when the sail is dropped. But in general it is not a great idea to leave the boom suspended for long periods of time on the rigid vang. In race boats with rigid vangs the main halyard is often used to hold up the end of the boom.

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Old 07-02-2001
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Topping Lift

You are right that under sail the lift serves no purpose. You''re fine to leave it a bit slack, so it is not fighting against the mainsheet or the vang. You just have to remember to re-tension it before you drop the mainsail.
You don''t need to replace it with a solid vang, but I prefer a solid vang (not the boomkicker) for the sole purpose of getting rid of the lift and the required adjustments when dropping the main. I disagree with the previous post in that I would not be worried about leaving the weight of the boom, even when tensioned by the mainsheet, against a solid vang.
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Old 07-12-2001
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Topping Lift

My last boat was a 25 ft Cape Dory rigged with a topping lift. The best function this set up had over a rigid vang was to raise the entire boom high up out of the cockpit,(raising the gooseneck up the boom while leveling the boom with the topping life)so we could more comfortably entertain guests while at anchor or dockside without hitting our heads on the boom. Also helped avoid hitting our heads while scrubbing the topsides, . I don''t believe a rigid boom vang would have given us this range of height adjustment..
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Old 07-24-2001
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Topping Lift

I replaced the topping lift on my sloop rigged Bermuda 40 with a custom solid vang built by Garhauer. They will work with your measurements and send you extra springs of varying strengths so that you may obtain the lifting moment and degree of motion you desire. I can raise my boom some 10-12 feet above the cockpit (aft cockpit if you''re not familiar with the B-40) although that should never be necessary and I can retract it almost down to the helm using the springs for lift and a multi-purchase control line lead through a variable release line stopper for retracting. I have used the rig in winds of 20-25 knots w/o use of a winch although, if necessary, I can run the control line to one of the unused secondaries in the c/p. At the present I am using a 24:1 purchase but can easily double that by doubling the end of the control line if that proves to be necessary. When cruising I usually leave the boom (and flaked main) supported by the vang for ease of use. However, if I leave the boat for any extended period, say a week or two, I will generally support the boom weight with the main halyard lead to a bail for that purpose. I heartily recommend a solid vang for sail shape much easier and precise than fussing with other methods.
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Old 03-07-2013
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Re: Topping Lift

The topping lift greatly helps tune & controls mainsail shape; mainly twist, and is a really really great asset in light aires, It's not just there to hold up the boom!
Interesting and important thread in sail trim , thanks mates!
Dony s/v "Pretty Girl"
Alex W and Dave_E like this.
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Old 03-07-2013
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Re: Topping Lift

If you have one rigged with a masthead sheave, a topping lift can function as an emergency mainsail halyard, with a tagline they be used for hoisting flags, lights, radar reflectors etc. they make a good safety or tool bucket line when using a bosun's chair, when run through a block at the end of the boom, they can be part of a MOB retrieval system. etc etc. So. . . a topping lift can be a very useful thing.
dony s/v "Pretty Girl"
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Old 03-30-2013
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Re: Topping Lift

dony, my undrestanding of of topping lift is: a line attached to the end of the boom to hold the boom off the top of the house. There are better ways to control twist and sail shape ie; vang, out haul, cummingham main sheet and halyard.
Quote: The wind and waver are always on the side of the ablest navigator.-Edward Gibbon, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"
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Old 03-30-2013
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Re: Topping Lift

luck: the topping lift is used to add a little fullness to the sail when sailing in extremely light air. The boom weight will pull flatten the sail in the leech (like pulling the vang very hard). The topping lift is used to counteract that.

Most of the time I leave my topping lift looser than the main sail's leech, but tight enough to keep the boom off of the dodger when the sail is lowered. This means it basically doesn't need to be touched. However in light air I will use it to adjust sail shape.

If your main sail has a lot of roach then you may need to loosen the topping lift even more to prevent the sail battens from hanging up on the topping lift during tacks.

My topping lift is a fixed piece of 1/8" amsteel with an eye splice at each end. The lower eye splice goes around a small block, and 1/4" line goes from the boom, up to that block, and back to the boom and forward to a cleat. Amsteel is very soft on the sail leech (so chafing isn't a problem) and this setup is inexpensive, light weight, and easy to adjust.
boats that I sail on regularly: Pearson 28-2, Rondar 505, Yankee 30, Blanchard Junior
Seattle, WA
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Old 03-30-2013
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Re: Topping Lift

This is definitely a zombie thread - 2001.
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As I sail, I praise God, and care not. (Luke Foxe)
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