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Old 25-03-2020, 23:21   #1
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Running backstays

This is a question for a yachtsman (or yachtswoman) who has experience using running backstays. I'm new to having a cutter rig. This summer I rebuilt the mast and moved the shrouds outboard to the hull, an interesting project. Formerly there were 1/4" cable running backstays. I'm planning to replace them with dyneema. Also previously there were was a very clunky block and tackle system for tightening the stays with a snap shackle at the deck end so they could be moved out of the way or setup for use. I'm wondering if there are any other better systems that are lighter and easier to deploy. I've seen lever systems and the new thing seems to be low friction rings as a replacement for blocks. I'm an experienced sloop sailor but have never set up runners before and I'm wondering what my options are besides the traditional block and tackle system. (if there are any) This is for a heavy blue water cruiser and reliability and ease of use are the primary values. Should I just stick with block and tackle or try a different setup? Thanks for your advice.
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Old 26-03-2020, 00:10   #2
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Re: Running backstays

Some good discussion and pictures on this thread:

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...de-226233.html
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Old 26-03-2020, 00:13   #3
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Re: Running backstays

Highfield leavers are heavy, clunky, offer a limited range of adjustment and always seem to find my toes. The limited range of adjustment can make it fiddly to reattach the runner.

Low friction rings can work but you still have to clear and retrieve a long tail quickly at times - low friction sheaves are a better solution.

A sliding track can work well. It gets your purchase on the deck instead of flailing around the helm persons ears and by attaching the runner to the car with a snap shackle only the runner needs clearing & retrieving not the tail.

Hint car slides aft to increase tension.

Tacking with runners is not critical as the vang, traveller and mainsheet hold tension on the rig during the turn.

Gybing can be critical and a system that allows you to reliably separate the task loading to produce a smooth gybe with the available crew is required.

I'm running a fractional triple inline spreader rig with runners & checkstays with provision to run heavy weather sails from an inner forestay. It's all doable shorthanded but it takes some planning solo.
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Old 26-03-2020, 05:36   #4
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Re: Running backstays

I went though several different runner setups on my pilot cutter: first, a block and tackle with a camcleat. Worked fine, but tail had to be fed our manually, and there was an awful lot to pull back in.
Version 2: low-friction-ring tackle with less parts, but far stronger than the original tackle, which was all suspended from the tiny bow shackles that come with the fiddle blocks and don't inspire confidence. It was impossible to get good tension on this.
Version 3: Runner tail deadended on deck, passing though ring on runner end, back to a turning block and led to a winch. This is what many racers use, and it has the advantage of being a relatively short tail which can be pulled in super-quick, and set up as tight as you like with the winch. I'll keep this setup, but change out the friction rings for high-load blocks, which will make pulling in faster. Dedicating a winch to each runner is worthwhile, IMO.
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Old 26-03-2020, 06:27   #5
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Re: Running backstays

Our boat, a '86 Bene First 42, was originally equipped with wire rope runners connected to a 4-part block and tackle arrangement secured to pad eyes on the aft quarters of the cockpit. It was an awkward arrangement and, even with the tackles freed, cause the wire ropes to chafe against the boom when even slightly off the wind. As an alternative, I replaced the wire rope with 5/16" Spectra line (rated somewhat stronger than the original wire rope) with covers on the tails which pass through the same turning blocks used for our spinnaker sheets again at the aft pad eyes. The tails are led to our secondary, self tailing, winches which can provide the necessary tension to support the runners/mast. Thus far (17 years) this arrangement has proven very satisfactory. One can easily cast off the (soon to be) lee runner and take up on the (soon to be) windward runner when tacking and the boom easily pushes the cast off runner aside without any chafe or wear on the runner or the boom. While it may have been unnecessary, as a matter or precaution, I have replaced the runners every 6 or so years at a cost of only a few hundred dollars which doesn't seem like much on an annual basis, Eh?


FWIW...
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Old 26-03-2020, 07:41   #6
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Re: Running backstays

How big is the boat? What is the existing stay pattern? How large is the staysail? There are endless options likely for any particular boat.
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Old 26-03-2020, 07:49   #7
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Re: Running backstays

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Our boat, a '86 Bene First 42, was originally equipped with wire rope runners connected to a 4-part block and tackle arrangement secured to pad eyes on the aft quarters of the cockpit. It was an awkward arrangement and, even with the tackles freed, cause the wire ropes to chafe against the boom when even slightly off the wind. As an alternative, I replaced the wire rope with 5/16" Spectra line (rated somewhat stronger than the original wire rope) with covers on the tails which pass through the same turning blocks used for our spinnaker sheets again at the aft pad eyes. The tails are led to our secondary, self tailing, winches which can provide the necessary tension to support the runners/mast. Thus far (17 years) this arrangement has proven very satisfactory. One can easily cast off the (soon to be) lee runner and take up on the (soon to be) windward runner when tacking and the boom easily pushes the cast off runner aside without any chafe or wear on the runner or the boom. While it may have been unnecessary, as a matter or precaution, I have replaced the runners every 6 or so years at a cost of only a few hundred dollars which doesn't seem like much on an annual basis, Eh?


FWIW...
+1 Big improvement if you have the dedicated winches.
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Old 26-03-2020, 13:51   #8
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Re: Running backstays

KISS. Tackles make setting and releasing the running backs quick & easy. Pull, click; it’ set. Snap, release, it’s off. You don’t have to worry about installing winches, finding a winch handle, overrides, or having to use both hands to grind and cleat or uncleat and unwrap tails. Lighter weight high-load blocks might make the tackles easier to handle when you need them, but the ones you have obviously already work and are sufficient.
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Old 26-03-2020, 14:23   #9
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Re: Running backstays

Tackles seem fine to me. BUT, There are many cruisers out there designed with an "non-runner" that is set permanent to a chainplate just aft of the aft lower shroud. It must be enough of an angle I guess.
https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/baba-40
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Old 27-03-2020, 10:07   #10
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Re: Running backstays

Thanks to everyone for your input, some very helpful experience and information! I very much appreciate collective wisdom!
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Old 27-03-2020, 11:09   #11
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Running backstays

Have you considered not having running back stays at all. Their purpose is to keep the mast in column against the forward pull of the staysail stay. Another approach is to counter that bending force with jumpers. On this photo of my boat you can see the jumpers located at and above the inner fore stay. Admittedly, my boat was designed as a cutter from the start and the mast is big and stiff. The naval architect, Robert Harris, designed a somewhat unique bow spanning the jumper struts to keep the foresail from catching on the jumper struts.
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Old 27-03-2020, 11:49   #12
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Re: Running backstays

Wow! That is really interesting! I don't think I have seen that before, but a very innovative idea. It looks like the jumper stays rigidify the mast between the mast head and lower spreaders, kind of like on a cat... makes a lot of sense. It seems like a good way to remove the need for runners but retrofitting my boat to do this as opposed to buying runners would probably be a pricey proposition, the tangs would need to be redesigned and remade or seriously modified. I'm not sure that is a practical thing for my boat but I'm glad you posted this, more than one way to rig a cutter!
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