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tdw 05-18-2008 10:43 PM

Main Halyard Tension
Being the old duffer cruiser that I is I tend not to play around a hell of a lot with halyard tension. I will adjust the main outhaul for heavy/light conditions, ease off a tad on the headsail halyard in light airs, move sheet blocks around but don't play with the main halyard too much.

What do you racing types do ? Loosen off in light airs ? Tighten up in heavy ? Or is the outhaul adjustment all that is required.

(Damn I wish Alex was here.)

max-on 05-18-2008 10:53 PM

I would set the halyard and use a cunningham for adjustment.

tdw 05-18-2008 11:34 PM


Originally Posted by max-on (Post 316343)
I would set the halyard and use a cunningham for adjustment.

That's something I've never fully understood. What is the difference between hauling the main up to tighten the halyard and hauling it down by using the cunningham ? The only thing I can think of is that using the Cunningham is less stressful is some way as in stress on the halyard or the sail slugs or chord.

Have to work this out I guess.

Current Womboat does not have a cunningham though I guess I could rig one using reefing point.

New Womboat is inmast furled and while that may not last its obviously not a system suitable for a cunningham.


NOLAsailing 05-18-2008 11:39 PM

Halyard on: upwind, breeze

Halyard eased: downwind, light air

blt2ski 05-19-2008 12:20 AM


You in last post said magic word(s) mast furling.

This of course is from a person that knows NOTHING about furling systems, but as I have heard, you want the halyard to be tight, and play with an outhaul to vary the shape etc. IF you had non in mast furling, then yes as NOLAsailing said.

Otherwise, yes you can tighten to a degree with the halyard, tighten more with a cunningham, which can change the CoE easier and better than tightening the halyard. I put a cunningham recently on my boat, a bit easier to work with than the main sail halyard to tighten up the luff if crinkling! or appearing to be loose.


tdw 05-19-2008 01:10 AM


Originally Posted by NOLAsailing (Post 316363)
Halyard on: upwind, breeze

Halyard eased: downwind, light air

So irrespective of wind strength , keep it tensioned upwind ?

I'm guessing here but is this to maximise aerodynamic shape ? Then easing or tightening outhaul is your tuning tool.

Downwind use both outhaul and halyard or cunningham because aerodynamic shape is not so important.

I've tended to be hard on in heavier breeze and ease off in light. Looks like this is not quite right going uphill.

One of problems with not ever racing. You keep on perpetuating errors year after year after year.

tdw 05-19-2008 05:21 AM

Good grief. I believe we have SailNets equivalent of the Phantom of the Opera.

A certain little ghost in the machine just whispered in my ear.


max-on 05-19-2008 06:49 AM

Does that mean you are all set?

Idiens 05-19-2008 07:44 AM

Alex has a video of this topic - see sticky.

NOLAsailing 05-19-2008 10:51 AM

The strength of the breeze of course plays a role. Tensioning halyard or cunningham will flatten the sail and, in light air, will be slow. Your halyard tension will vary by a couple inches on your halyard. Put the halyard on the winch, ease slightly, and check shape/boatspeed.

The cunnigham is less of a fine touch - in really light air or downwind, you can ease it all of the way (or nearly so, depending on your boat).

Be careful not to overtension the halyard. If you do, you'll notice a vertical shelf form along the luff. Ease until this disappears. If it's light, or you're heading downwind, ease some more and the sail will become a little more full.

Also, you'll adjust the outhaul for the same conditions. Upwind, breeze, outhaul one. Downwind and/or light air, outhaul eased.

Experiment to see what works on your boat in what conditions and, when you figure it out, marks your lines, so you can make fast and easy adjustments.

Just because you're not racing doesn't mean you shouldn't try to sail your boat as well (and as fast) as you can.

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