Monday, 4 January 2016


So despite being looked at like I've lost the plot, I have left the rig up this Winter, but not without some rhyme or reason. First of all I was so busy in the lead up to Christmas and trying to get the house done that I didn't want to spend days packing it all up and bringing it all home, It all has good varnish on and the standing rigging spent all last Winter in a bucket of linseed oil so its well protected. 
Next reason is we still don't have a sail cover and this is a good opportunity to get one made. I also want to get the topsail rigging sorted and do something to simplify the setting of the running back stays which is probably one of the toughest parts of sailing the boat and takes all the attention of the helmsman during a tack ( not to mention a gybe ). The main issue is that they have to be cleated off at the right tension before throwing the highfield lever while holding the mainsheet in tight and making sure she tacks through the wind and thats before dealing with the headsails. The saving grace is that once the helm is put over she carries way very well and rarely misses a tack unless there is a heavy sea to compound things. The levers alone don't give enough slack to allow her to sail so if the main sits on the leeward runner it simply knocks her on her ear until you get the other end uncleated. 
The thing is that they will always be set back the same length so a loop in the rope and a strong hook instead of a cleat would be one solution. another idea that was mentioned was a open cheek deck roller instead of the closed one and let the wire out. What ever the solution is it needs to be something I'm very sure of when the load is on it.
As if that wasn't enough reason I would like to have a sailmaker look at the staysail and see if it can be improved on before making a new one because it never sits very well on the shrouds.

This shows the running back stay fittings, The wire is permanently attached to the highfield lever then goes back through the roller and up through a block about half way to the mast head, then is spliced to a rope which comes back down to the cleat on the back deck,


  1. Hi Adrian,

    The dragons cleat off their running backstays(i think they are actually the checkstays on the dragons, I've always just known them as runners) with a cam cleat inside the cockpit under the coaming. The wire goes through a sheave/block set in the aft deck and is spliced to block. A line is lead to the block and then back to the cam cleat in the cockpit. It is located between the helm and the crew(the runners what the second crew member does on a dragon.) It only has a 2:1 purchase and it seems to work fine(though you pull it on before the sail has re-set on the other tack). Going with that system you probably wouldn't need to use the highfield lever(though it looks great!). I know cam cleats are probably a bit modern but the tufnel ones wouldn't look too out of place! The main thing is that they can be released and put on very quickly by inexperienced crew.

  2. Hi Tim, I think I get what your saying, As the dragons seem to have very little on the runner I assume the block purchases are all beneath the rear deck, ( Why do they need runners ? Just for mast tuning ? ) The highfield levers induce some serious leverage, They can lift the bowsprit and tension up the luff of the jib with ease and could probably rip off the rear deck if you were very brutal with them. The problem I have is that I need to let out maybe 10ft of slack to allow the boom right out (ie.on a run )and then haul it back to the same position, check the tension is about right then cleat it off and throw the lever before letting the other one off all during a tack or gybe. The most time is taken getting the tension right. I see how the way you say would be quick but would I be right in saying the amount of slack would only be the distance between the blocks under the aft deck. At the end of the day I would probably live with the nuisance rather that get rid of the levers but it would be nice to simplify it a bit

    1. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. The dragon runners clear the boom and finish 2/3rds up the mast. They only have to slacken enough on the run to get around the top third of the sail, so the purchase is all under the aft deck. It is quite a distance though due to the long counter. They are used the same way as yours: to tension the luff of the genoa.
      Is the tension the same each time? Could you mark on the line when it is cleated at the right tension in a clam cleat? The dragons have it marked on the runner line so it is not over tensioned. It would be quick and take the guesswork out if it could be set the same each time. Then the highfield lever wouldn't be that much extra work?

    2. No bother Tim, I was thinking the counter stern might help with the amount of slack needed. I imagine they have to be the same every time, Obviously it varies a bit each time the way it is but it shouldn't need too. Marking it would be a help alright, Tying a loop in were the mark is was my other idea and just hook it on, I need to change the purchase on the bowsprit to a double as well because I should be able to bend the bowsprit down with it and I can only just about bend it now by swinging it. Its just a shame the main won't set with just the lever thrown so she would get underway rather than get put on her ear when things take to long.