Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: CT/ Long Island Sound
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Re: stays and shrouds too loose?
The general idea is that you don't want your mast moving around a lot when you tack, and you want the mast to be evenly centered on the boat: straight up, as far as port/starboard goes. If the leeward shrouds are really loose, the mast will be swaying around in mid-tack. Not only is this slow, with the mast's weight wobbling around, but it probably puts additional cycles on the standing rigging, tending to wear it out faster. If the leeward shrouds are loose it also means the mast isn't centered. On a keel-stepped mast, this puts a side-strain at the partners, where the mast goes through the deck or cabin top. This can cause damage and leaks. Loose shrouds also mean that the mast is actually falling off to leeward on whatever tack you're on. This is really inefficient going upwind: you want the airfoil (your sail) to be as close to right angles to the wind (straight up) as possible. If your mast is falling off 10º when you're sailing the boat with the hull flat, your competition with the mast straight up will be pointing higher than you. If you heel 10º, your mast is 20º off vertical: much slower than it could be. Instead of solely working to push the boat forward, a component of the sail's lift is actually pulling the mast down towards the water, making you heel more! Keeping everything snug, even the leeward shrouds, is probably a good idea even if you're not racing.