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I have recently returned from a mile builder trip in and around the Canary Isles and Morocco where I was a member crew. During the trip we had two fairly significant rigging failures which I believe were caused by the sail settings and sail configuration.

At the times of failures, the sail configuration and sail settings were at the express direction of the Skipper (to the extent that he personally re trimmed the sheets) despite a number of disagreements with various members of the crew including myself.

Having searched on line for similar failures I have been surprised that there does not appear to be reports of similar occurrences and so I thought that I would seek the advice of others more knowledgeable than myself
We were sailing a 2000 (year) Jeanneaeu Sun Odyssey 40 with Harken winches. The rigging had just had it's annual inspection by a professional rigger and was deemed to be in good order.

Incident No 1 - Shortly after changing tack and while beating upwind into a 3m sea - wind speed between 25 and 30 knots, the wire strop that connects the jib or foresail to the halyard snapped. The jib was reefed with probably about 50% showing, the mainsail had two reefs in it as we were sailing at night. The strop which was made up from 8mm stainless steel wire was in good condition and had been refitted the day before when it was moved from the foot of the jib to the head of the jib.

The strop failed because the wire was pulled through the crimp. The crimp was well formed. The wire showed obvious signs of distress where it pulled out. This suggested the strop failed simply due to the load put on it.

The jib sheet car was pretty far back on the traveler (towards the stern) and the jib sheets were tightened to a point they were slipping on the winch (low ratio with 3 turns on the drum).

I suspect that the force being exerted through the sheets was such that with the car being well back on the traveler the force was transferred to the top of the sail and was such that it caused the strop to break, but I cannot find anything on line which can support this theory or not.

Incident No 2 - While beating upwind, close hauled with only the Genoa up into a 3m / 4m sea - wind speed between 30 and 35 knots the top spreader on the windward side of the mast collapsed or rather deflected downwards and backwards through approx. 45 degrees. This caused the windward rigging to de tension and the yacht to be very nearly dismasted.

Why we were beating upwind, close hauled with just a full genoa up and no mainsail is another story and one that probably proves that just because you have a qualification to skipper a yacht does not mean you are competent to do so.

Anyway again I cannot find anything on line that discusses a rig failure in these circumstances.

My own thoughts are that the jib which again was tightened to a point where the sheets were slipping on the winch (low ratio - 3 turns), was exerting such an unbalanced load on the top of the mast that the mast was liable to a twisting motion which was exacerbated each time the yacht buried it's bow into a wave. The twisting of the mast (top) caused the force being exerted on the spreader to be moved to such a degree that the spreader wanted to re align itself and once having done so allowed the rigging to slacken. This in turn increased the bending of the mast and moved the force on the spreader even further off line.

The two failures above were fairly dramatic and although unusual are probably not unique. I was surprised not to find any information on line. Any thoughts on the above would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Sounds like you have gorillas on the winch handles. The strop failure could also have been due to halyard tension. Perhaps it was pulled up nice and tight by one of your gorillas, and then someone else decided the backstay was too loose and pumped up a few thousand more pounds on that. The shock loads on the sails from bouncing around in the waves can also be impressive. Beating with just a full genoa in those conditions doesn't make sense. The sail is pulling the boat's head off, pulling you to leeward, making it difficult to steer and - as you suggest - subjecting the rig to heavy shock loads on just about every wave. How much sheets slip on a winch depends upon too many variables: sheet diameter, how much pull by the tailers, how much torque on the handles, the condition of the scoring on the drum...to be much of an indicator. It happens all the time in situations less nasty than you describe. Don't know if I would sail with that guy again, even if he fixes the mast which is probably quite twisted at this point. That may be why you don't find much about situations like yours: people avoid skippers like that.
 

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The only time I was ever on a sailboat where there was a rigging failure, was on a 26 foot boat, that I was helping deliver, that the previous owner had re-rigged himself.

It bothered us when we inspected it before we left, but we stupidly decided it would hold up for 200 miles. It didn't and we were dis-masted in 30-35 knot winds, 20 miles from making it to our destination.
 

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I have recently returned from a mile builder trip in and around the Canary Isles and Morocco where I was a member crew. During the trip we had two fairly significant rigging failures which I believe were caused by the sail settings and sail configuration.

At the times of failures, the sail configuration and sail settings were at the express direction of the Skipper (to the extent that he personally re trimmed the sheets) despite a number of disagreements with various members of the crew including myself.

Having searched on line for similar failures I have been surprised that there does not appear to be reports of similar occurrences and so I thought that I would seek the advice of others more knowledgeable than myself
We were sailing a 2000 (year) Jeanneaeu Sun Odyssey 40 with Harken winches. The rigging had just had it's annual inspection by a professional rigger and was deemed to be in good order.

Incident No 1 - Shortly after changing tack and while beating upwind into a 3m sea - wind speed between 25 and 30 knots, the wire strop that connects the jib or foresail to the halyard snapped. The jib was reefed with probably about 50% showing, the mainsail had two reefs in it as we were sailing at night. The strop which was made up from 8mm stainless steel wire was in good condition and had been refitted the day before when it was moved from the foot of the jib to the head of the jib.

The strop failed because the wire was pulled through the crimp. The crimp was well formed. The wire showed obvious signs of distress where it pulled out. This suggested the strop failed simply due to the load put on it.

The jib sheet car was pretty far back on the traveler (towards the stern) and the jib sheets were tightened to a point they were slipping on the winch (low ratio with 3 turns on the drum).

I suspect that the force being exerted through the sheets was such that with the car being well back on the traveler the force was transferred to the top of the sail and was such that it caused the strop to break, but I cannot find anything on line which can support this theory or not.
With the car "well back" most of the sheet load will be along the foot of the sail.
It's unlikely that sheeting hard on a 50% furled sail should give such a load on the halyard.
Could you have had a halyard wrap?
Or a bad crimp?

Incident No 2 - While beating upwind, close hauled with only the Genoa up into a 3m / 4m sea - wind speed between 30 and 35 knots the top spreader on the windward side of the mast collapsed or rather deflected downwards and backwards through approx. 45 degrees. This caused the windward rigging to de tension and the yacht to be very nearly dismasted.

Why we were beating upwind, close hauled with just a full genoa up and no mainsail is another story and one that probably proves that just because you have a qualification to skipper a yacht does not mean you are competent to do so.

Anyway again I cannot find anything on line that discusses a rig failure in these circumstances.

My own thoughts are that the jib which again was tightened to a point where the sheets were slipping on the winch (low ratio - 3 turns), was exerting such an unbalanced load on the top of the mast that the mast was liable to a twisting motion which was exacerbated each time the yacht buried it's bow into a wave. The twisting of the mast (top) caused the force being exerted on the spreader to be moved to such a degree that the spreader wanted to re align itself and once having done so allowed the rigging to slacken. This in turn increased the bending of the mast and moved the force on the spreader even further off line.

The two failures above were fairly dramatic and although unusual are probably not unique. I was surprised not to find any information on line. Any thoughts on the above would be greatly appreciated.
The spreader end should have been secured to the shroud to prevent it moving down.

It sounds by your description that the boat was driven hard into the waves, this can start the mast pumping.
Pull on the mast from main sail & main sheet could have helped preventing this situation...
Or maybe the rig should have been fitted with additional stay's to stabilize the mast.
 

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does that boat having running backstays?

Im not a fan of single sail heavy weather sailing...while not exreme 30-35 knots can be a tremendous load on the mast while beating...

beating usually birngs out all the flaws certain rigs have, pumping like mentioned is a killer of rigs if not taken care of

the crimp on the wire rope that isnt all that uncommon...could be exactly what was mentioned before...someone tightened the backstay after really hammering on the jib halyard...since you were beating the thought is to tighten the backstay and keep things taught but if done after the winds have piped up damage can happen...

Im also not a fan of tighten stuff while on tension, especially beating...if it comes down to it id much rather run off the wind...even drop sails if need be, and however uncomfortable it may be to do this with no sails up...haul up sails again after tweaking rig and keep on going

sometomes its hard to get a little lull in waves and pounding to trim the jib sheet for example without it going awol but luffing into the wind a bit to ease pressure works well sometimes

again dependant on wave pattern and how often you are pounding each wave if you will

imrpoper sheet angle is a killer of sails, or jib in this case not necessarily the halyard per say...you could of easily ripped the foot of the sail if you kept hauling in...having said that was the leech flapping all around and ballooned out? if so I understand why crew was unhappy

regarding the spreader was it tied in? boot? tape something to clamp spreader to rigging?

I like bootsand simple zipties or wire...

in any case in 35 knots of wind I would of much rather have a very small foresail preferrably on an inner forestay and a triple reefed or deep reefed main

a lot of people forget that rig balance is essential in order to prevent premature rig failures...cause if you load one extreme and have the other unladden you cause uneven stresses...

anywhoo

hope this makes sense
 

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No offense to the OP intended, but his speculation as to the causes of the problems that occurred seem to reflect a limited understanding of sailing, and the blames assigned to the skipper need other justifications, if due.

For example,
...The jib sheet car was pretty far back on the traveler (towards the stern) and the jib sheets were tightened to a point they were slipping on the winch (low ratio with 3 turns on the drum).

I suspect that the force being exerted through the sheets was such that with the car being well back on the traveler the force was transferred to the top of the sail and was such that it caused the strop to break, but I cannot find anything on line which can support this theory or not...
The results of an aft car location are the opposite what the OP speculates, the leech of the sail would be slack, and the foot tensioned, if something were to break due to this configuration, it'd be the tack...
 

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I agree...tried to emphasize that

pulling on the foot will most likely always tear the bottom of the sail or pull a clew or tack etc...

the only cause for the crimp to fail was too much tension on the halyard to begin with exacerbated by crankinbg on the back stay or simply a badly crimped wire
 

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A properly crimped steel cable won't fail by having the cable pull out of the crimp, the steel cable will break first. By definition your strop was not properly made.

Your spreader failure incident is a little harder to understand. Was this a permanent failure, or the spreader bent and then went back into shape? It sounds like the spreader was overloaded and may have had a pre-existing issue. Do you have photos of the spreader from after the incident?
 

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I won't address the crimp failure more than saying that 8mm wire has a breaking strength somewhere in the 10,600 lbs range. A steady static load of 35 kts on a 2000 sf sail would be needed for that to fail. If it was new. But it's 14+ years old, so it broke. Such is life. That's fun with wire, hardly any warning before it fails.

The rig failure is another story. If the helm wasn't balanced than maybe, but that boat should've had a blade onboard and been using that. Also, you can close reach and unload the boat tremendously depending on wave action. Bottom line, don't beat up the boat unless you need to. If this was a delivery and not on a tight schedule, then it's pretty easy to sail slow at wider angles and preserve the boat.
 

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All this sounds to me like confirmation of the old saying, "Gentlemen never sail to weather".

Why does one choose to beat into near gale force winds and 10-12' seas?

(OK, call me a wuss.)

PS Maybe the boat wasn't built to take that punishment. A forty foot boat with an ex-factory price of ~<$190K is more suited for summer weekends on the bay or the Caribbean charter fleet. Can they be sailed across oceans? Sure. Gently.
 

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Was the strop (pendant, if you are speaking Californian) between the halyard and upper furling block or between the block and sail head? In either case, the correct position was between tack and stem fitting. What was the logic behind moving it? I’m assuming that it was crimped swaged and not machine rolled? You want the upper furling block to be next to the shiv wheel so the halyard doesn’t inadvertently twist when the sail is being furled (a problem when there is a lot of tension in the sail like in the case of “reefing” in a blow). A twisted strop (pendant) might have put an undue load on the swage causing it’s failure. But frankly, I’m surprised that it failed. Cranking on halyard tension doesn’t do much good in flattening a partially furled headsail as all the tension is being applied to original (buried) luff and not along the length of the new luff. Better to run up a purpose made blade or storm jib. The sheet tension and fairlead position are correct for gale conditions IMHO.

The Jeaneau 409 is a mast head, double spreader rig. Did the D-1 shroud fail? If it didn’t, the only thing I can think of is it was improperly tuned (relatively too loose) causing the mast to pump and invert at the 2nd spreader. That kind of pumping could cause the spreader to work itself downward after repeated cycles. You guys were lucky. That is a classic mast failure in the making. Spreaders are held into place by tension. Any Monel seizing is there to keep the upper stay from jumping out of its track, not to keep the spreader from sliding down. Note to do-it-yourself mast tuners: The shroud angle above the spreader should equal the angle below. That way the loads are equal on both sides of the spreader. And, please, never, ever stand on your spreaders!

In any case, I had considered buying a 409 last year after a brief infatuation. I am certainly glad that it wore off before I opened my checkbook.
 

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I'm thinking there is a progression of breaking strengths in any load-bearing system (mast, standing rigging, halyard-extenders, and sails in this case) such that in case of excessive force on the components, the first ones to fail should be the easiest to live with in the moment of failure, and repair thereafter.

My guess--sails and even sheets, should fail before the rig. And halyards fail before the standing rigging. And so on.

Sort of like, mooring lines should fail before the dock cleats, and cleats fail before the whole dock gets dislodged.

So without commenting on the sail choices and what may have been over-gorilla'd, I too would suspect a bad crimp on that pennant, and on whatever is supposed to inhibit the spreader tip from sliding downward and slacking the upper shroud. I would think "other stuff" should fail before these do. And ideally, none of it fails. We don't always get "ideal", though..
 

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your moving the center of effort AFT therefore balancing rig

has little or nothing to do with the leech of the mainsail....its not like the leech of the mainsail is in liue of the backstay

the reason most storm sails are rigged towards the middle of the boat is to move center of effort as close to the keel or aft if you will...you are trying to ride out a storm not actually slice through it like a blade

having a foresail way out there on a sprit for example alone would be a recipe for disaster on most rigs in high winds...its just too much focalized pressure on one part of the rig

that doesnt mean that you cant put up a storm sail on the forestay sheeted tight it just means that it would be better on an inner forestay preferabbly closer to the mast...

anywhoo
 

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"The strop failed because the wire was pulled through the crimp. The crimp was well formed. The wire showed obvious signs of distress where it pulled out. This suggested the strop failed simply due to the load put on it."

I would say the crimp was not well formed and that it was not tight enough, if the wire could be pulled back out. The only real way to tell is to make up an extra set, put it in a load jig, and pull it apart, observing how many pounds of tension are needed to destroy it. Obviously most of us won't be doing that.

But the failure of the strop might have been a very good thing. In really fine engineering, you design a system so that the first failure will be an intentional breakaway piece, i.e. a small cheap strop instead of something else--like a forestay. So you lose a sail instead of the rig.

On the spreader, who knows? If it dropped so much, obviously something wasn't set up right. But you may have to write that off as "**** happens" since there's no real way to determine what problem was. It just means the spreaders need more and specific attention in the future.

Ten knots and flat water...stuff tends to stay in good order. 30 knots and seas? Yeah, stuff breaks. A professional rigger just means he gets paid for it, not that he's very good at it, or that he wasn't just having a bad day.
 

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I remember in the early 70s watching a Swiftsure race. It was strong SW wind at the starting line, beating into a rough chop, with wind against the current. By 1pm , there were several boats back in the harbour with broken masts. When I asked them what happened , every one said they were beating into it and lowered the main, continuing under head sail alone. The masts all broke shortly after lowering the main. A well sheeted in main ,even deep reefed, makes a great running backstay, limiting how far forward a mast can pump in ahead sea. Dropping the main left nothing to stop the mast from pumping too far forward, while it was under the tremendous compression of the head sail.
I have never trusted swept back spreaders, for the reasons you mention. Seems they are naturally pre-dispositioned to collapse aft .
I have seen those rigging wires strands break just outside a stainless sleeve. Compressing the sleeve on fatigues them where they enter the sleeve. Copper ones have no where near the strength of the wire. Putting a quick splice on ( molly hogan) the putting the sleeve over it gives you nearly 100% strength.
I was just reading (in Ocean navigator) about a guy giving up his second attempt at a non stop circumnavigation, due to stainless rigging failure. My boats mostly use galvanized rigging wire for its far greater reliability than stainless, and I'm unaware of any having had a galvanized rigging failure in over 30 years of offshore cruising. I have had none in over 40 years of cruising.
 
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