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This winters project is all new standing rigging. While I'm doing it I was thinking about adding something so I can adjust the back stay. since I've owned the boat there has been no way to adjust it on the fly. The boat is a 26 ft fractional trailer sailor with a swing keel. I sail on lake Erie and I stay inside the break wall unless the weather is clear. I hear a little about how it can be used to take some power away from your main sail but is it really worth it on such a small boat.
 

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A backstay adjuster works two ways - it enables you to depower the rig when sailing to windward in strong winds, and to power up when sailing in light air or off the wind. I had one on my 25 and used it alot. I currently race on 40 footers and we use them frequently. It enables you to re-tune your rig quickly and easily to match the wind speed and sea state.
 

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It is used in concert with the outhaul and jib cars to control the depth of the draft of both sails. If you use those controls (and you should) then a backseat adjuster is very useful. I added one to my boat and it was a great upgrade.
 

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IMO a backstay adjuster is a near imperative on small (or big) fractional rigs.. without it much of the advantage of that type of rig would be lost.

With more control and finesse in your sailplan you'll be inspired to spend more time outside the breakwater!
 

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Get a backstay adjuster. Especially if you're already replacing the cables. It's not that expensive and, once tuned right, it makes a big difference.
 

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As faster recommends, an easy and strong backstay adjuster on such a fractional rigged boat will vastly improve performance ........ and safety.
The 'upwind' benefits are the ability to FLATTEN the mainsail in both 'light' winds and heavy winds or when you deem that that youre overpowered. You will also have the ability to better control the amount of mainsail draft ... able to add a bit more mainsail draft for punching through waves in the 12-15kt range. Your amount of desired (tolerated) amount of heeling will be better under control. The amount of increased backstay tension resulting in forward mast 'bowing' - results in mainsail flattening.

Adjustable backstay tension also will enable you to easily control the leading edge SHAPE of the jib. Any boat will not 'point' to its optimum if its forestay (controlled by backstay tension) is not 'matching' the forestay sag with the amount of 'leading edge curve' that the sailmaker designed into your jib. If the forestay (backstay) tension is too loose the boat will point poorly (even skid off to leeward), it will heel over aggressively and be SLOW when pointing. With the forestay 'overtightened' the jib will tend to 'curl' at the luff and the draft will tend to move forward with the leech sections becoming flatter .... probably the best shape for 'high speed' in FLAT water; but, 'decreased' power to punch through oncoming waves in the higher wind/wave times.
Here's an article I wrote about the interaction between the forestay (backstay) tension and optimizing JIB/GENOA 'shape' ... how you then 'trim' is up to your 'tastes' and abilities, http://www.ftp.tognews.com/GoogleFiles/Matching Luff Hollow.pdf

For a frac. rig, or even a masthead, the ability to easily adjust backstay tension is a BIG plus .... as it controls the SHAPE of your foresail !!!!!!!
 
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