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Old 29-12-2015, 20:11   #1
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running back stays? how to use??

A friend just showed me over his Roberts 38.
He is not very experienced sailor; told me he has never raised the mainsail.
Asked me "what are these?" and pointed to what look to me like 'running back stays'. Yet they are NOT attached at the stern, rather a metre or so forward - meaning that = at anchor, and with them both set up relatively firmly, the boom can only travel a metre or so either way before hitting / fouling one or the other.
The yacht is set up as a cutter, meaning it has a 'staysail stay' and halyard. So far, he only ever has sailed with the (furling) Jib out.

These back stays join the mast opposite where that staysail stay attaches to the mast.

I'm thinking that therefore these running stays would only need be 'set up' if the staysail were set. And ought he be looking for an attachement point right aft, to lessen / prevent boom fouling issues?
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Old 29-12-2015, 20:35   #2
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

Only one runner is used at a time, the one on the windward side; thus "running backstay." It counteracts the forward tension of the staysail. The staysail tends to pull the mast out of column. The leeward-side runner is released and kept in a forward position out of the way of the boom.
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Old 29-12-2015, 20:39   #3
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

Generally you ease the running backstay on the leeward side when sailing.
When you tack or gybe, you have to co-ordinate releasing one and tightening the other as you come through the wind.

Runners are great when racing, but a PITA when cruising
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Old 29-12-2015, 21:15   #4
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

Not a PITA at all when cruising. Cruising boat sticks are hefty enough that the running backs are usually just insurance to counter act the forward pull of the staysail stay. Know a guy who did a circumnavigation of the Pacific without runners on a cutter rigged boat. They can be set up after the boat has tacked at the crews leisure. If you are cruising on a boat with one of those limp noodle sometimes found on racing boats, you have to be little quicker setting up the runners.
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Old 29-12-2015, 21:44   #5
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Not a PITA at all when cruising. Cruising boat sticks are hefty enough that the running backs are usually just insurance to counter act the forward pull of the staysail stay. Know a guy who did a circumnavigation of the Pacific without runners on a cutter rigged boat. They can be set up after the boat has tacked at the crews leisure. If you are cruising on a boat with one of those limp noodle sometimes found on racing boats, you have to be little quicker setting up the runners.
OK, let me rephrase that.

A PITA if you are cruising short handed on a boat built for racing (like a several hundred mile trip on a 1980s Farr IOR 1/2 tonner).
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Old 29-12-2015, 22:17   #6
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

The running backstays tighten up the forestay, jibstay, staysail stay (3 stays) on our boat. Ours attach to the top of the mainmast and to the point where the foremast loads come in at the triatic stay. Only use the windward one and you can actually swap off using the unused (windward) sheet winch to tighten the windward runner if you don't have a winch or blocks for the runner. They're not a PITA unless you're short tacking (gibing) and short handed both. Not the boat that's the problem--the tack, tack, tack fast around the marks make the particular kind of sailing PITA.
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Old 30-12-2015, 08:29   #7
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
OK, let me rephrase that.

A PITA if you are cruising short handed on a boat built for racing (like a several hundred mile trip on a 1980s Farr IOR 1/2 tonner).
Agree totally. single handing a Farr is a lot of work without the need to keep fiddling with running backs. Otoh, with a big fat cruising boat like we had, we kept both running backs hooked in at all times. Of course we had a short main boom so it would not hit either when tacking or jibing.

Some of the older racing yawls up here in Maine have huge levers to manage the running backs, which are essential with the very long main booms they carry. In those cases its not the issue about a stay sail but the inability to have a backstay because of the mizzen rig.
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Old 30-12-2015, 08:37   #8
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

Running backstays don't have to "tension" anything. They work more like preventers. The weather one is "set up" just hard enuff to prevent the part of the mast where the forestay attaches, sort of like 2/3 or 3/4 of the way up, from sagging off to leeward under the tension of the staysl. Runners were essential on old fashioned wooden masts (in racing boats) of any size, but became rather obsolete with the introduction of the much sturdier metal masts.

Very often the running part was attached to a slider on a lever hinged on deck. To "set up" the weather runner you pulled the lever aft from its normal forward- pointing rest position. The "runner" was permanently adjusted so that when you laid the lever aft the runner was just taught and no more.

Going about ("coming through stays" in an old phrase) you set up the lee runner in preparation, laying the lever aft, basically on the call of "Helm Alee", and smartly jumped over to the new lee side of the boat and flipped the lever forward so the runner went slack on the new lee side as the slider went forward on the lever.

Sailing gets boring if you don't have things to play with :-)

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Old 30-12-2015, 09:08   #9
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

I have had them for downwind sailing with trisails with 2 poles. It gives the mast support .
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Old 30-12-2015, 09:18   #10
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

It's a shame an inexperienced owner doesn't know how to sail his Bruce Roberts...Help him and the boat out! Show him how!
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Old 30-12-2015, 09:48   #11
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

I have a little bit of experience with cutters:
I used to sail a 75’ Rhodes steel ketch, “Cybola”, down through the Caribbean running charters. She had wire runners and highfield levers for each one. The flying blocks were heavy, and wicked when releasing or setting them up in a bit of wind, I thought they were dangerous and a PITA but was happy to have them when the wind picked up.

I sailed an 80’ Frers cutter (now named Volterra) around the world with my wife, our runners were Spectra, the flying blocks were light and above head level, we would set them up on the windward spinnaker or staysail winch. Easy to use single handed and a pleasure to have.

I used to sail a 154’ ketch (I think she is named Asolare now) with hydraulic sheets and halyards, even the Spectra runners were on hydraulic captive winches. It would have been easier had they just been run through a turning block and to a regular winch, but it was not a problem, just takes time with slower turning hydraulic winches. I would not have liked to have sailed her without them, main mast was 200’ off the water.

I now have a little 46’ Kelly Peterson cutter now with spectra runners, they are on a 4 part tackle and easy to use as well.

You can set up the new runner before you tack, then just throw off the leeward runner as you tack, then when things are squared away and you have time you can square it away. Gybing you want to throw it off before the gybe, then again after the gybe take your time and set up the new one and square away the leeward one. Easy to single hand modern runners.

Don’t be afraid of runners, (unless they have heavy flying blocks and are on highfield levers) they are simple to use and very good to have when you need to support the rig.

A cutter is IMHO the best rig for offshore, easy to power down when the wind comes up and the center of effort is near the center of the boat with a staysail and reefed main. Easy to heave to, easy to roll up the headsail and roll out the staysail, and easy to do the opposite. Cutters need the support of runners otherwise the staysail will sag and the mast will start pumping as you come off swells, and when it blows like stink it is nice to have that extra support no matter what you have up.

Hope this helps,
Michael
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Old 30-12-2015, 10:06   #12
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

Some cutters are setup with (permanent, not runners) stays to support the staysail just aft of the aft lower stay chainplate. Never heard of a problem with that.
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Old 30-12-2015, 10:07   #13
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

"highfield lever"

Thank you - haven't seen one for so long that I couldn't think of the name :-)

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Old 30-12-2015, 10:09   #14
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bean View Post
Only one runner is used at a time, the one on the windward side; thus "running backstay." It counteracts the forward tension of the staysail. The staysail tends to pull the mast out of column. The leeward-side runner is released and kept in a forward position out of the way of the boom.
^^^ Correct!
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Old 30-12-2015, 11:12   #15
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Re: running back stays? how to use??

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Some cutters are setup with (permanent, not runners) stays to support the staysail just aft of the aft lower stay chainplate. Never heard of a problem with that.
Running backs are rather old fashion from the era of immensely long booms and fractional rigs or olden yawls. Doubt if most boats built since the 1980s have such, regardless of sailing rigs. Most cutters will nowadays have an extra shroud to do the work.
Outside of storm staysails or double jib configurations, doubt if you would notice any difference from using or not using running backs. You could always recut your main and shorten its boom so you can leave the running backs always locked down. They do make nice handholds.
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