Rig prep before a long offshore can make or break your race.
1) Pull the rig and fully check all fittings and also sheaves for sharp edges
2) If you don’t have all line halyards install them – get rid of the wire rope halyards although they are cheaper they are not as light as wire and aren’t as flex resistant. High tech line is the way to go and you can save more weight by tapering them and make sure your rigger put spectra chafe gear where the halyard sits on the sheave.
3) What type of race is this? Upwind add in a spare jib sheet you can also use for change sheet. Downwind have a spare guy and chafe gear where the guy goes through the end of the pole. Carry an extra halyard and make all lines extra long so that in case of bad chafe you can resplice a few times.
MASTHEAD: The 2 most common masthead setups for spin halyards are externally hung blocks off of U-bolts, or a â€œTri-secâ€ type where the halyards exit straight off the sheaves over chafe bars or rollers.
If you have externally hung blocks, make sure the bracket that extends them out from the masthead goes far enough to allow the blocks to swing well clear of the headstay or anything else. Also check the wear at the interface of the U-bolt and the block shackle. These often tend to saw through each other. It is becoming very popular to use spectra webbing or lashing here instead of shackles. Many wraps of spectra can be incredibly strong, light, and can flex forever. Make sure that there are no sharp metal edges touching the line.
For a tri-sec style masthead, if you had wire halyards get rid of them (more on this later). These mastheads are fine as long as the chafe bars or rollers have enough smooth surface area for the rope to bend around and spread the load out. Install new rollers if needed.
Make sure you have 2 spin halyards. It is customary to run at least one spin halyard external for these downwind races. The extra windage wonâ€™t hurt off the wind. I prefer not to run more than one external to avoid having too much line flopping around.
AFTERGUYS: The afterguys take a lot of wear at the pole tip so one thing to check is the pole ends. For boats over 35â€™ or so I highly recommend an offshore style pole end with a lot of bearing area for the rope. For the guy itself it is hard to beat single braid spectra for its wear and flex life. Use a heavy â€œdonutâ€ to keep the shackle from messing the pole end or getting stuck. On larger boats you may need an aluminum donut that wonâ€™t split under high load. Svendsens makes a high load aluminum donut for boats over 50 feet.
SHACKLES: For both the spin sheet and the guys use large bail shackles. These bear on the donuts better and allow enough room to hook the guy into the sheet shackle bail. Use â€œinternal releaseâ€ style shackles that can be spiked open under load and also have less of a tendency to â€œflog offâ€. Use spectra chafe guard in high chafe areas i.e. where a halyard goes over a sheave or through a jockey or spinnaker pole.
If you have a jib furler, remember to keep the spin halyards out of the way. Flip them behind the shrouds when not in use. One good â€œhalyard wrapâ€ and a halyard can be messed up good.
JIBSHEETS: Go for a line with a high tech core. Dacron is too stretchy for jibsheets unless you want to constantly adjust them for every puff and wave. For Bay racing jibsheet shackles are nice for tacking, but for ocean sailingÂ bowlines are fine.
Line fiber types
SPECTRA: Best flex life. Very slippery so also great for chafe. Very low stretch under oscillating loads. Problem: Under steady high loads, spectra â€œcreepsâ€ or gets slowly longer. Usually not the greatest for main and jib halyards.
TECHNORA: Very strong and low stretch, with little or no creep. Does not have the flex life of spectra and should be protected from the sun. Great for main and jib halyards.
VECTRAN: Also very strong and low stretch, with little or no creep. A little better flex life than technora but not near that of spectra. Great for main, jib and universal (combo jib & spin) halyards. Rather expensive.