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Ask SAIL: Staysail Support

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Max Reber of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts asks: 
I am retrofitting a removable staysail stay to a 1982 Bristol 40 sloop. The existing standing rig has both forward and aft lower shrouds. Do I need to add more support behind the mast to support the staysail stay when it is set up? I would like not to have to do this. If I do have to do it, what’s the most efficient, least expensive way to go about it?

Win Fowler replies:
I can’t recommend fitting a staysail stay to the middle of a mast panel (between the spreaders and hounds) without support.

If your stay will only be used for flying a heavy-weather staysail and not in conjunction with another headsail, you might consider attaching the stay near the masthead, where it will be well supported. 

If you do mount the stay mid-panel, you should also fit running backstays. These can be short enough to be secured to the aft lower shroud chainplates with shock cord when not in use. When deployed, the weather stay can then be tensioned with a self-contained three-part tackle to a car at the aft end of your genoa track. I would suggest using 12-strand Dyneema rope for the backstays and staysail stay for strength, light weight and chafe reduction. Note that with Dyneema, any staysail you use will have to be fitted with soft hanks.

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