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Backstay Tension?

Ernest Ashley

New Member
We are looking at several sail handling upgrades to our new-to-us 383 which I have to say may be a good example of original equipment (Morgan Yachts Owners Manual included). A rigid boom vang and traveler controls are a priority. We have a standard fixed, split backstay and I have noticed our headstay sags quite a bit. Is it advisable to add a roller down the split backstay tensioner and/or have others gone to hydraulic?
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
I have considered adding a roller type, but after a whole lot of sailing, I don't think it would make any difference. The Morgan is not a high performance boat. Start with getting the rig tuned properly, with the mast plumb and no or minimal bend. As is, the issue could be either the backstay, or the forestay is too loose. Fix that, but don't just assume the backstay is the culprit. Then get new sails, and talk to the sailmaker about bend. The amount of mast bend required, if any, is built into the sail. With good rig tune, and new sails, you should note a real difference performance. Adding an adjustable backstay is a specialty trim, that won't likely add any gain.

An interesting note on mast bend, that I have only recently figured out. When I left SF in 2018 in the Pacific Cup, my boat was set up with a fair amount of mast bend. I don't think it helped did anything noticeably. However, I have always had an issue with the mast "pumping" while at the dock with a mild cross wind. I would get as much as 4" of fore/aft movement at the spreader level. It was quite violent, even with only 10 kts of wind. Overtightening the lowers made no difference, nor did anything I tried. It became quite frustrating, and I even rigged a babystay to try and control it, which helped only a little bit.

Well, this past year I reset my rig tune, plumb with no bend. The pumping stopped. I have several ideas why. But I now really feel it important that the mast on our boats not have excessive bend, if any at all, and that the mast be plumb, without any rake.
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Ernest

I agree with Warren. The Morgan's mast is a 9 x 6 tree trunk. Mast bend is not a design feature.

Jim
 

dickkilroy

Richard Kilroy
Totally agree with Jim, I have no idea how you can initiate Mastbend in that tree trunk of a mast. we’re at 44 seasons (original owners ) over that timeframe we have had the back stay in some seasons extremely tight, this created no bend whatsoever on Vixen. We did not loosen the head stay while doing this. I feel all you’re going to do is try and move the mast base.
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
Totally agree with Jim, I have no idea how you can initiate Mastbend in that tree trunk of a mast. we’re at 44 seasons (original owners ) over that timeframe we have had the back stay in some seasons extremely tight, this created no bend whatsoever on Vixen. We did not loosen the head stay while doing this. I feel all you’re going to do is try and move the mast base.
The mast will bend quite easily. Assuming your rig is in tune, just adding backstay tension will *not* do it. You would also need to loosen your forestay, and tighten the forward lowers. A rigger would probably also move the mast partner forward. At one time, I had about 4-5 inches of bend, which was quite obvious even at a glance. I still have a tiny bit of bend (visible if I sight up the mast) that I would like to remove, but my backstay isn't long enough.

For trim, an adjustable back stay flattens the sails. But for cruising purposes, you can still do that with the outhaul, main sheet, and Cunningham. Few cruisers even do that though, and just sail with the boat a bit out of trim. If racing, bending the mast is more effecting at removing the last bit of draft to really get the sail flat and without wrinkles.
 

dickkilroy

Richard Kilroy
As I said in my post above I never eased the head stay to trim the main I feel that using a Cunningham as well as the traveler and the outhaul wil help flatten the-main sail . Seems Warren has done more racing than I have. May be more around the bouys as well.
 
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