Normally the highfields are combined with a block setup anyway, to help with this problem. They highfield itself should only put an inch or so of movement on the system as you noted. Without the block you would be needing some other method of setting the un-tensioned length as the rigging ages and stretches over time.
On the few highfield setups I have seen (not many), the highfields are detached from the chainplates and brought forward to a position out of the way of the boom, at which point they become big heavy clubs if they get loose, just ask around, it happens. I guess you could leave the highfield attached at the rear chain plate
, and detatch the running backstay from the lever... but the lever would be clunking around and would need to be secured in some way, plus I am sure it would get in the way of something else, as is the way with boats.
Ask the rigger about a block setup, with a tricing line to pull the downwind backstay forward to the stays (Many many thanks to SnowPetrel for that hint). I sail our boat solo most of the time, and this setup is a breeze, much easier than the highfields. Certainly in our case, the dyneema
line is doing as good a job as the highfields were, and the tricing lines mean I don't have to leave the cockpit
on a tack, wheras I had to with the highfields to stow them "safely" foward.
is that highfield levers have been made mostly obsolete by the availability of modern low strech rope
Also, I just thought about it some more, and our setup is now 3:1 purchase
from the blocks, plenty for our old rig.
P.S. Found that thread...
Maintaining Tension on Running Backstays