Originally Posted by sailingdog
Generally, the shrouds should never be sagging... slack on the leeward side might be okay, depending on the boat and design...but sagging or loose is generally a bad thing.
I was just wondering about the spreaders, because I don't recall seeing many boats that have forward swept spreaders.
Remember when you first lobbed in here I sent you a post re rig tightness ??
What is (I guess) happening to you is that because your rig is not set up correctly you are getting a lot of belly in your main. This is fine for light air drifting conditions as it gives the sail more power but it's not terribly aerodynamic which is what you need as the wind pipes up. Then your main will act like a wing rather than a bag of air. With forestay(s) taut you will have both sails , winging it, so to speak. The effect of this is to give you efficiency (lift) without the bagging causing the boat to go sideways. The boat will stand up to it's canvas better than it did before. (by winging it I mean both your fore and main sails with be acting like wings, I don't mean running wing and wing)
As it is now, because your main is overpowered its pushing the bum of the boat to leeward and so you will have all that weatherhelm. Tightening up on the rig (usually achieved by adjustable backstay) will improve your lot as the wind pipes up. If you have a mainsheet traveller then you will also help the situation by letting the car slide down to leeward which is a preferable method of losing wind from the sail than simply letting out the sheet. Letting out the sheet allows the boom end to rise which is not what you want.
Make sure the luff and foot tension on the main is good and tight for windy conditions, loosened off for drifting.
Finally you will also find that as the wind increases and a certain amount of weatherhelm reappears, don't fight it or you will stall the rudder. You can either ease that car to leeward which will help or , and this is one from the racing boys, use the weatherhelm to point higher into the wind, Let her ride up as the puff comes in and drop off in the lulls. It will take you awhile to get the hang of it but when you do you will also discover that it's a lot of fun. You will point higher and go faster.
The forward facing "spreaders" are I think called something like diamond stays. On a smallish fractional rig they stop the mast from bending forward and are effectively an alternative to running back stays. 30 years ago I had a small (21') keel boat which was a 7/8ths rig and it had this setup.