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Thread: "Running Backstays For The Staysail?"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Running Backstays For The Staysail?


A rigger, in passing, told me I should have them as there would too much tension on a part of the mast where there is no support on the other side.

Has anyone found this to be true?

Gary and Charlotte Burton

I'm no expert but if you have your staysail up without the headsail you need the running backs to stabilise the mast. Otherwise the mast will be pulled out of column.

Norm Rhines

The title trew me :

But I think the answer is yes.
I have running back stays which I employ when I go to a second reef in the main and roll up the jib. One reasion is, if you look up the mast the stay sail stay is pulling forward on the mast and there is no countering force (Less the running backs and the main sail) so the mast bows a bit without the back stays in place. i.e. I believe they (running backs) are a good thing.

A side note: below 18Kts I don't bother with them (they are just parked in eye bolts just behind the lower aft stays) I guess I am a bit of a lazy sailor but hey it is the way I am.

They do kind of get in the way but Mid ocean it is more important to keep the rig than serve drinks.

Hope this helps:

P.s I think Bud sells these?

Brian Duff

bud sells runners consisting of a pair of fiddle blocks and a wire pennant to the mast. while this works, the system is cumbersome and requires leaving the cockpit to set and deploy. Consult a rigger for a cockpit controlled, blockless system that will be much cheaper and easier to use.

Norm Rhines

Brian: the other down side to Bud's setup is that they double as a lifting device for MOB, can be tensioned with the winch and are easy to use and also store out of the way when not in use.

I also want to point out if you don't feel comfortable leaving the cockpit to set these YOU WAITED WAY TO LONG. I have found sailing to be a planed process with out the planning for what is ahead the ocean some how seams to find a way to kick your ##$ but maybe it is only me that finds this to be true.

Brian Duff

Take a look at my website. One of the first statements is that a boat should be safe enough to work all around the deck, and that this is the best way to learn about your boat and sailing.

That said, runners consiting of 4:1 tackles are dangerous and expensive, often casuing damage to sails, booms, and people. If used on a winch the cam cleat becomes nearly impossible to uncleat loaded.

There are better ways, as shown by what is used on most offshore cruisers and racers. In this case as others, cheaper can be better.

Have you ever tried to lift a man aboard with a runner tackle?

Carl & Ruth

Just following this post and have a quick question. I have been experimenting with the running backstays on my new (to me) westsail 32.

I keep the running backstays secured when not in use just behind the most aft of the three stays mid ship. When I was using the running backstay I bring them further aft to a mounting point which is normally where I have the jib sheet pulley mounted. This is positioned between the cockpit and the three mid backstays.

My question is whether you would normally use both running backstays or only a single running backstay when going downwind. The reason for this question is that it appears when running downwind with both backstays deployed that the mainsail will rub against the running backstay on the side the mainsail is deployed. This would appear to put the mainsail under stress in stronger winds.

The only solution I have is to only use a single running backstay which is on the opposite side of the mainsail.

Can someone please educate me on the proper use of the running backstays as I can't seem to find anything in Bud's documentation or on the web which helps me with this.



Norm Rhines


My 2 cents.

If you reread my post you will note I only deploy the running backstays above 18Kts. So if I am running down wind 165 to 195 deg. off, I use the fore sails for all of the power and my normal setup has the main all the way down. That said: when I run bit more tward a reach I do use the main Reefed and as you point out I use only one running back at a time (I also use a preventer) Note: the main sheet is acting somewhat like the second running back in this config. Yes tacking takes some effort but on a long voyage this is a good thing, as it gives you something to do.

So my thoughts are if you are in light enough wind to have the main and jib up the running backs are optional but if it is strong enough to take the jib down then they are a good idea.

Hope this helps:

Aaron Norlund


In short, just use one running backstay at a time.

Use that tack's backstay - so if you're on starboard tack (AKA, boom off to port), use your starboard running backstay. ALWAYS prevent the main when going with the wind with your running backstay up.

The only exception I can think where you'd use both backstays is if you have a storm jib hoisted on your stays'l stay in gale force or above winds, with no trys'l/main up. I'd want both running backs opposing the lone storm jib on the stay'sl stay.

Fair leads!
Aaron N.

Carl & Ruth

Norm and Aaron,

Many thanks for the clarification on that. That helps with the setup greatly. My first deployment of the running backstays was in very light wind so they were mostly there for testing purposes. The way you describe running only a single back stay at a time with the main up makes sense. Thanks for helping with that, I'll remember to use a preventer when they are deployed as well.


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