Backstay

As we discussed under mainsail controls, tightening the backstay pulls the top of the mast aft. So if you are able to keep the mast either straight or at a fixed amount of bend, continuing to tighten the backstay will have a direct effect on the head-stay. Specifically, as the top of the mast comes aft it will apply tension to the forestay, reducing the amount of sag and bringing it forward and inboard. If you ease the backstay allowing the top of the mast to move forward, it will reduce the amount of tension on the forestay, increasing sag and allowing it to curve to leeward. While it's impossible to eliminate sag completely from a freestanding wire, applying tension can reduce it appreciably. Among other things, more sag means that the luff of the headsail moves closer to the leech adding shape to the sail (Figure 11.1). Conversely, tightening the headstay reduces sag and by moving the headstay away from the leech flattens the overall shape of the sail. This is a reasonably effective way of adding or reducing camber, and therefore drive from the sail. As with the mainsail, however, it's important to remember that changing the amount of depth in the sail also affects the location of the camber, since as you apply tension to the headstay, it pulls fabric from the front of the sail and the location of maximum draft drifts aft. In order to keep it at the desired 33 to 38 percent aft, you need to do the same as you did with the mainsail: either apply tension to the halyard or take up on the Cunningham.

Figure 11.2

Moving the lead forward adds depth to the bottom of the sail. At the same time it pulls down on the leech, reducing the amount of twist. Moving the lead aft has the opposite effect.

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