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Thread: "Topping Lift & Sail Shape"

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


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Topping Lift & Sail Shape

John and Helena Almberg

Was sailing on A friends boat last weekend in no wind. Trying every thing, of course. Noticed leach was tight as wire. Just didn't look aerodynamic to me. Had brainy idea to tighten toppinglift to relieve tension, but got shot down by Captian. Was idea completely daft?

- john

George and Rayna Shaunfield

Hmm, no wind and leach was tight. A couple of possiblilities come to mind.
1. Did the sail have a leach line? Maybe still tightened up from when there was a lot of wind.
2. Maybe the sail was not made properly.

John, if number 1 was off bounds or number 2 is true, then tightening the topping lift should work to give the main a fuller shape under those conditions. Seems like a reasonable thing to me. As captain I tend to be pretty open-minded about suggestions of how make the boat sail more efficiently. Some may not be. In a regatta I might be a little less open.

David Wiencke

Good idea. The boom is heavy enough to flaten the sail in light wind when you want a fuller sail. Using the topping lift makes perfect sense, just as using a vang does in heavy wind to flaten the sail. I never hesitated to use the topping lift in light wind to shape my mainsl while racing my Cape Dory 25.

Never hurts to make sugestions, but the captain is "the decider", right or wrong.

Norm Rhines

I third that the toping lift may have helped, but also realize, if you were going down wind lifting the boom with the topping lift may have put it at a height that it would contact the back stay on a gibe? Or the sail was to old to take the poping, or???? (I was not there so any advice I give is based on your written description)

And as always, the captain is correct even if he is wrong. (He is the one who is responsible for the ship and crew which leads to gray hair on the captain)

A side note; as a captain (it is a bugger to keep my mouth shut when sailing with others on there boat) but I do, as I know how much fun it is to have a back seat captain who is just looking at one thing and complaining about it.

(I am not includeing you in this, but It has happened to me, which almost lead to a safety issue due to lack of timely reefing when it was required)


John and Helena Almberg

My policy is indeed that the captain is always right, to carry out orders to the best of my ability, and to keep my brilliant suggestions to myself.

This was a special case in that we were just sitting there, with maybe 0-3 knots of fluky air, trying different things.

This was a Moody 38 with a loose-footed, no-batten, furling main (one of those mains that rolls into the mast), with a hydraulic boom vang.

The leach line was loose... i.e., not tied off on the boom end.

My feeling was that either the vang was just too tight (it's never been adjusted whilst I was on the boat), or the weight of the boom itself was dragging down on the main. The leach was literally a tight, straight line from masthead to clew.

We had tried loosening the out haul, so there was some bag in the sail (loose footed), but the leach was still tight.

It just looked all wrong to me... Given the chance, I would have tightened the out haul just enough to straighten out the foot of the sail, then let off on the vang, and given a bit of topping lift.

Or maybe the hydraulic vang would have done the trick by just raising the boom up a bit. I never had such a gadget on one of my boats, so don't really know how they work.

Don't know if it would have made us go any faster, but it wouldn't have looked better :-)

Anyway, I made my gentle suggestion, then shut up when it got shot down, as a proper crewman should. We put on the engine shortly there after, anyway.

But I've been thinking about it ever since, wondering if it was just a plain stupid idea, or what!

-- John

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