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Old 02-09-2014, 16:20   #1
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Twin headstays

Anyone one with firsthand experience with twin headstays?

I am a former and wannabe cruiser with a full time job keeping me close to home for the next few years at least. To keep me entertained, justify the boat expense and build skills, I have been racing. I use hank on sails (110 and 135) and am considering dual headstays. I would like the new added stay to be a headstay, that is to the top of the mast. Do not care for foils and furlers. For racing, it allows raising one jib before dropping the other, which is my immediate interest. For cruising, I am aware of twin headsails although this seems to be out of favor with modern assym downwind sails. I would like to eventually convert to a removable inner forestay for a storm sail, repurposing as much gear as possible. I have an old ABI forestay lever as well as a wraparound tang with halyard block hole and spots for running backs.

Current set-up has headstay going to masthead toggle. There is not a second clevis pin attachment hole on the front of the masthead. There seems to be room to mount the tang fitting I already have. Two sheaves for internal halyards, but the one directly under the headstay is empty as it is tight and likely to chafe the line. A different style toggle might improve that a bit. I do have a spin halyard, although it would not be a fair lead and might be troublesome if the jib is hoisted on it and the chute needs to go up. There is an unused entrance block fitting below the masthead (and a spare exit above the winch) so a free hanging block could work for the second halyard. At deck level there is an extra hole in the stemhead about 6 inches aft of the headstay attachment.

A couple of arrangements I have considered. Twin (side by side) headstays hanging off the same toggle via a plate at masthead (think split backstays) and attached to another plate at the turnbuckle. Alternate would be tandem (one behind other) with second turnbuckle or ABI lever at bottom. This would require mounting the tang at the masthead, then moving it at some future date which is not too appealing.

I will post some pics of current arrangements.
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Old 02-09-2014, 16:29   #2
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Re: Twin headstays

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Old 02-09-2014, 16:32   #3
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Re: Twin headstays

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Old 02-09-2014, 16:34   #4
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Re: Twin headstays

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Old 02-09-2014, 18:11   #5
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Re: Twin headstays

Adding a fitting at the top with a block attached and an external halyard would be an easy solution for another forstay. I would be careful about setting it to close to the headstay. It's easy to get a sail wrapped around the other stay.
FWIW, I replaced our inner stay (Solent) which had a quick release lever with a furler. My sailmaker, Luigi, says the English have their Solent stay parallel to the headstay and the French have theirs at an angle.
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Old 02-09-2014, 19:46   #6
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Re: Twin headstays

I may be a less than experienced person, since I have only sailed on one boat with twin (side by side) headstays, but I hated it. It was on San Francisco Bay, and only took one tack before we had hanks tangled in both stays. Then it was difficult to drop the sail and free things up. Maybe with much more tension it would have worked, but I dont really like guitar string tight stays. Treasure your ABI release lever, and do a removable Solent, or regular inner forestay and avoid getting tangles. That is just my opinion based on one sail, so maybe is not valid. My last boat (44 foot) I installed a normal cutter rigged inner forestay (removable) and whatever my next boat is, will have a removable solent or regular inner forestay. I hope to get a sail on a boat with a solent rig before I have to make that decision. I recently saw an add for an inner forestay storage bridle at Home - C.S. Johnson. It looked good to me. On my 44 I never bothered with the staysail when doing daysails. I considered it a passage sail. Best of luck. _____Grant.
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Old 02-09-2014, 21:55   #7
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Re: Twin headstays

for the first ten years on our current vessel we used hanks on sails. I converted her to twin (side by side) forestays after about five years and it was a godsend.
My wife and i were cruising the med at that stage and it made sail changes far quicker. As we didn't have any foredeck sail storage we also made custom bags lashed down both the port and starboard lifelines (easily removable in any sea way and with long YKK zippers along the top) so that our two main headsails: 150% and 120% could be easily dropped into the bags and zipped up for sun protection. Yeah I know not a racing option but it probably extended the sails life for several years.

I did the forestay conversion with a triangular tang at the lower end with a turnbuckle for each forestay so that tension could be maintained. Don't have independent dual forestays as you'll be forever chasing your tail trying to get the tensions right.
From memory the gap between forestays was about 4 inches at the bottom and 3 inches at the masthead. Never had an issue with the removable hanks getting caught up but I'd recommend experimenting with the gap to get it right.

The rot set in 4 years ago when we converted to a furling headsail but it was either that or stop cruising as my wife lost some arm strength and she couldn't change and reef as easily. Now i have two detachable inner forestays one 4-5 inches aft of the furler (for the 150%) and one for our hanked on reefable staysail.

I miss the sail shape and drive of the hanked on working headsails but i have really appreciated the speed of reefing and unreefing when we sailed the tropics where we often only had 5 minutes warning before a squall hit with a jump in wind speed of 20 knots or more. I am sure the furler kept our averages up especially in the tropical heat on passage where fatigue issues when sailing short handed become a priority.

Have a chat to some riggers in your area and they should be able to come up with a solution for your masthead arrangement. Fair winds
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Old 02-09-2014, 22:39   #8
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Re: Twin headstays

I have sailed with both now, and I much prefer the fore and aft twin headstays, with plenty of separation.

We had side by side on one boat, a Van de Stat 27, and they were too close together for the sail hanks to avoid snagging one another. So getting two sails up, wing on wing, just didn't work.

Our current boat was rigged with a very generous separation between the two forestays (approx 12") fore and aft and this seems to work well. Admittedly the rear forestay has a furler on it, so I am not sure how things would work with twin hanked sails.

I found that you could easily hank another sail on the forward forestay with or without the furled headsail deployed. To tack I just pulled the sail around the front of the stays, in much the same way I tack the MPS.

At the mast head we have the inner forestay terminating on the front of the mast itself, and the forward stay terminating on the plate-doohickey at the top of the mast a bit forward. (Yeah, ok, I should know the PROPER name.)

A picture is worth a thousand incorrect terms.... so see attached picture.
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Old 02-09-2014, 22:51   #9
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Re: Twin headstays

You're going to be better off adding a combination Solent/Cutter stay (see my first couple of posts). As twin headstays are notorious for being impossible to get & keep equal tension on. Not to mention that it's a rare masthead which can be retrofitted for twin, side by side, internal jib halyards... or even external ones for that matter.

If you go with a Solent/Cutter stay, even if you keep a jib on a furler on your primary headstay, you can fly: a Genoa, a Reacher/Blast Reacher, Solent, Staysail, Storm Staysail. And if you like, add a furler drum with a QR pin out in front of your headstay, & you can fly anything you like which has an integral luff rope cum headstay, like: a Code 0, Assymetric Kites, BIG Drifters..
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Old 04-09-2014, 15:44   #10
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Re: Twin headstays

Had twin headstays on a trimaran i had in New Zealand – fantastic idea, liked it so much I fitted a 2nd stay on the ketch i have now -
i climbed up the mast and hooked it up to an existing fitting , which was somewhat below the main fitting that holds the roller furling genoa. On the deck i drilled through the main plate a foot behind the genoa furler, bolted in an 'o' and use a quick release fitting so i can get the 2nd stay out of the way when using the genoa. At sea i mostly use the 2nd stay with hanked on sails and can use the genoa with it for double headsailing down wind. Also gives a nice feeling of confidence having 2 supports for the mast.
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Old 04-09-2014, 16:08   #11
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Re: Twin headstays

We had twin (side by side) headstays on our first RTW, and liked it, but now use a 2:1 halyard hoisting spectra luff furling sails (aka "code zeros") and like it even better.
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:48   #12
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Re: Twin headstays

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanibel sailor View Post

A couple of arrangements I have considered. Twin (side by side) headstays hanging off the same toggle via a plate at masthead (think split backstays) and attached to another plate at the turnbuckle.
DO NOT DO THIS!!!!!

We had this arrangement when we bought our boat (except the stays had separate fittings at deck level). One of the stays had a roller furler on it.

The whole lot collapsed on us 1,000 miles out of Barbados on our first crossing.

We think that with the amount of squalls we encountered and having to use the furler to reduce sails regularly, the twisting effect on the stays and the plate at the top of the mast managed to cut through the split pin holding the plate on.

Net result, the both forestays over the side in the water. Think Single point of failure!

When we came to repair the damage, the only things missing were the Stainless steel plate, the split pin and the clevis pin.

We are now rigged as a cutter/ketch with a removable inner stay.

Twin forestays without furlers would not have this problem
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Old 05-09-2014, 14:17   #13
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Re: Twin headstays

For those of you who've run side by side, twin headstays, how difficult was it to keep them properly tensioned? I've read that such can be a problem.
Not that I'm for such a rig per say, as noted above, but I'm just curious. And for the OP, here's a Very relevant thread which you might want to check out... Removable Cutter Stay vs Solent Stay
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Old 05-09-2014, 15:23   #14
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Re: Twin headstays

I'm sure someone on the forum can confirm - I think Chichester used twin, side by side, headstays in his circumnavigation on Gypsy Moth IV. I do know he used twin head sails and winged them - creating a form of self steering that he used for much of his passages. Clearly, one would want enough separation between the 2 stays to avoid fouling the hanks of each sail. It would be best, IMO, that the stays be independently affixed at the masthead and the foredeck fitting so that if one stay fails it doesn't take the other with it. It sounded like one poster had a roller furler on one of the stays. Not sure why you would do that - most furling foils have 2 slots, no need for a twin headstay.

It's a somewhat outmoded way of doing things what with the advent of twin track furler foils. It is perfectly serviceable if installed correctly.
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Old 05-09-2014, 15:44   #15
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Re: Twin headstays

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
For those of you who've run side by side, twin headstays, how difficult was it to keep them properly tensioned? I've read that such can be a problem
A racer might not be happy, but for a cruiser the side by side stay tension was not a problem (for us).
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