Originally Posted by Keegan
Is a tensioned topping lift, without the main, enough to support the mast from behind while flying a spinnaker?
Hi Keegan - I think the complete answer is boat dependent. But I don't claim to know the full answer for my own boat. I do like to fly the chute alone and in light air it's very effective.
Prudency dictates that some
aft tension be provided if the mainsail
aren't providing anything - once apparent wind
(coupled with the seastate) is high enough that a reasonably knowledgable skipper
gets concerned. But the mast is not taking all the force of the chute - it's also distributed to the hulls via the guys/sheets. (I won't claim to know in what proportion it's distributed.)
I replaced my topping lift with stronger Sta-SetX in part for this concern. I've adopted the conservative practice of making sure the main sheets
are tensioned pretty tight regardless of how much main I have up anytime I'm deep downwind with the chute and apparent wind
gusts to 10+. Running a double reef main works well, too.
In flat water
my boat makes a bit more than 1/2 the true wind speed DDW with just the chute. So apparent wind is <10 when true wind is 20 and I'm making 10+ knots. This does not feel rig-threatening, and in fact, is very pleasant. All bets are off when you're surfing/overtaking waves and boat speed and thus, apparent wind, can vary a lot. In those cases the risk of collapsing the chute would motivate me to not use it in addition to the risk of straining the rig too much if the boat suddenly decelerated in the back of a wave.
Another option if not carrying any main is to run the main halyard
back to some point on the boom.
But my thoughts keep coming back to these facts: My spi halyard
is not as strong as my topping lift and the spi is not as strong as either one. Despite my prudent practices to provide some
aft support for the rig, I bet something else will give first.