Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Gaff rigged boats used a number of techniques to 'set up' (tension) the running backstays. Very often there was a two or four part tackle that was used to grossly release the backstay. This had a lot of line and was eased out with each tack. The other end of that line went to a small tackle that would then be used to provide the mechanical advantage needed to fully tension the stays. Another technique used to tension the backstays was a highfield lever, which was a device that tensions the stay with mechanical advantage that come from simple leverage. Small boats often used a system that had a track that ran along the deck that the backstays attached to and a tackle was used to pull the stay aft and tension the stay.
It should be noted that gaff rigs generally do not operate at the high level of tension associated with Bermuda rigs so these systems generally work acceptably well. In small boats you quickly get used to dealing with the runners and they become second nature, the hardest part being the need for very careful jibes. In bigger boats the loads get very big and the timing more critical.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay