- A short guide -
Also known as the mast with its standing and running rigging - the heart of any sailing vessel and must be fully functional. Besides the sails, the rig also includes the shrouds/wire cables that hold the mast upright, furlers, blocks, eye plates, pulleys, as well as repair kits for the sail.
On board, standing rigging comprises everything that serves to support the mast and reinforce the spars. As the name suggests, this type of rigging is fixed and not moved. It also includes backstays or running backstays that may consist of a combination of steel wires and ropes. The rig should be checked at regular intervals. The best time to do this is when repositioning the mast. If you notice any kinks in the wires, they should be inspected urgently. Under certain circumstances, faulty standing rigging can lead to a mast break.
Ropes, tackles and halyards that move or "hoist" the sails are part of a boat's running rigging, as are boom vangs and boom brakes. They should be checked at least once a year, but of course an experienced skipper will always keep a close eye on the running rigging, as it is subject to heavy wear during the season.
Winches bear the tensile forces of the halyards and sheets. For halyards (the lines that pull the sail up on the mast), the winches are attached either directly to the mast or to the cockpit, in the case of deflected halyards. Choosing the right winch size depends on loads to be carried and the size of the boat. Different types of winch include so-called self-tailing winches or simple standard winches, but now there are also electric winches that are particularly suitable for small crews or very large boats. Operated with winch handles, these are also available in different versions.
Genoa cars serve to lead the jib sheet to the winch. One can adjust the fairleads position by moving the car on the track to alter the sail's shape (move the genoa lead to change the power of the foot and leech of the genoa).
Cleats are mainly located at the bow and stern, where they securely fasten the ship while at port. A cleat in the middle of the ship, serves as a spring line cleat, which is a diagonal attachment of the vessel while docked that secures the ship against forward and backward movement caused by wind or waves.
Roller furlers are typically used for foresails but a mainsail may also be furled. In contrast to classic jib hanks or bolt ropes, roller reefers are very user-friendly. They are particularly popular with single-handed and cruising sailors, but are also a practical solution for small crews. In terms of handling, roller reefing systems get a big thumbs up. However, some compromises have to be made when it comes to performance, which is reduced due to less sail area and poorer sail shape, so sails usually cannot be adjusted to wind conditions as well. Options for changing sail are greater, but more complex and risky, especially in strong winds.
Blocks are used on board mainly to redirect lines and sheets, or in the form of a tack to reduce the pressure on a sheet. Modern blocks are mostly made of plastic, aluminium or steel. They have ball bearings or plain bearings so that lines run better. As with winches, you should look after your blocks and give them due care and attention. After each time you sail at sea, these should be rinsed once with fresh water, as should the deck, sheets and winches, which will extend their lives by a few years. On the plus side, you can do it all in one wash!
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