Highlander Rigging Roundup
Make Your Jib Jingle
By: Mike Perakis
You are rounding the leeward mark right in front of Speedy Spinnaker in the last club race of the season. You and Speedy are tied for the season championship and it all comes down to this last beat. The wind has just decreased to one-on-the-rail stuff and you are re-adjusting all of your controls for the light air but, you still can't point with Speedy. What's wrong???? Check you Vari-luff (jib cloth, cunningham, downhaul, whatever...), chances are, you forgot to ease it out to match the conditions. Remember, you should always have slight "crow's feet" coming off each snap on the forestay. This visual applies in light and heavy air. This ensures that the draft (the fat part) of the jib isn't too far forward. Too far forward means you can't point. Although, the jib will be very easy to steer, it won't point very well. Hey!!! You smoked not-so-Speedy and won the fleet championship, Congratulations!!!
To get the vari-luff working well, we have to remember our golden rules: Use good blocks of adequate size, use the smallest, least stretchy line you can stand and most of all...Use it!
Start by moving the controls to an easy to adjust location and replace those horrible metal v-jam cleats that came stock on the boat with some of the new mini cam cleats (I use the Harken ones but, Servo and Ronstan make good ones too). The side deck just forward of the shrouds is an excellent place to put two or three cleats for several different systems (we already put the topping lift out there). Again, glue an epoxy coated backer block under the deck. Use thickened epoxy and SEAL THE HOLES IN THE DECK WITH EPOXY!!!! The balsa core will rot otherwise. Check out the drawing for all the part numbers. The upright lead at the bow is screwed up into the plywood pad under the bow plate. Make sure the line will run straight down into the block from above. The line will bind and chafe if not. Use a stainless steel lined plastic bushing in the hole in the deck plate. This will keep the line from fraying. Just tie a stopper knot inside the shackle and you're done!! The system, as shown, gives a 4 to 1 purchase, which is very easy to use.
I can't emphasize enough that the purchases be easy enough for EVERYONE who will EVER sail with you to use!! It makes no sense to set up a system so that your 200 lb. linebacker nationals crew can use it while your 90 lb. daughter who sails with you in every other race of the year has to use two hands, two feet and her brother to pull on a 2 to 1 purchase on the outhaul or the cunningham or whatever... You shouldn't have to exert more energy pulling a string than hiking for an entire leg.
I had to get up on my soapbox there for a minute. I can't help it when I see boats rigged for the person standing in the middle of the cockpit...think about it. Is every control in your boat within arm's reach? No leaning!!
See you on the water.