Checkstays -click here to add to the discussion RE: Checkstays

From: Ian Duff, Invisible Cities Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2002
Subject: Checkstays

Here's a question for the group: I find the checkstays to be a PITA to use, since the slack one always seems to catch something. The end of the boom, my wife's baseball cap, the jib trimmer trips on it, you name it. They are necessary to get any pointing ability, so I'm faced with making them a bit more user-friendly.

I'm considering mounting two bullet blocks some distance up the backstay (distance to be verified on the boat with the rig in place, "Invisible Cities" is currently sitting on Brownell stands with the rig out for the winter) and another bullet block on the transom. Run some shock cord from the end of the rope part of the checkstay, up thru one of the bullet blocks on the backstay, down thru the bullet block on the transom, up thru the other bullet block on the backstay, ending on the rope part of the other checkstay. Snap the wire part of the checkstays to the end of the rope parts, and let the shock cord pull the connections up to the blocks on the backstay, getting the slack checkstays out of the way (drooping down from their attach point on the mast, looping back up to where the bullet blocks are attached to the backstay, with enough slack designed into the bullet block mounting point on the backstay to provide enough slack to be loose against the leach of the main on a run), and significantly reducing the likelihood that the slack one would get caught around the end of the boom.

What say ye? Might this work? What other solutions, if any, have you used?

From: Al Johnson, Pegasus Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2002
Subject: RE: Checkstays

I believe that most boats have that setup currently - mine does. We have the bullet block at the transom on a pennant, with the pennant cleated to a small cam cleat mounted on the stern pulpit. This lets us pull the shock cord relative tight for going upwind, but ease the shock cord well off for running so that the check stay has lots of slack. Going into a jibe we tighten up the shock cords to keep the checkstays up high so that they don't snag on the boom, then ease the pennant back out after the jibe is complete.

From: Kent Gardam, Foghorn Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002
Subject: RE: Checkstays


Our boat was set up somewhat differently when we bought it two years ago. It is Tartan hull #82 and I don't know for sure but I'm not positive that it is the original mast. The mast is rigged with both checkstays and running backs which is different than the other three local boats (Soverel built) that just have the checkstays. Our running backs end about at the top of the forestay and our checkstays end approximately midway between the spreaders (I's winter and I haven't looked at the mast since October). So we get direct forestay tension from the runners plus mast control from the checkstays. Both of those join together into a common tail on each side of the boat that run to the transom and then run internally to the coaming where they ended at winches for the runners. We have since removed those runner winches and mounted them on the cabin top to serve as halyard winches thereby freeing up the cabin top secondaries to be able to function as secondaries even when you need to raise a jib or tension the main halyard. The runner tails are now six to one with 1/4-inch line and terminate at Harken camcleats with roller fairleads where the runner winches used to be. The purchase is sufficient to tension the runners in all but the heaviest conditions and we have the camcleats chocked up so that the tail can be fairlead to the primaries for additional tension if necessary. It seems to work okay and reduces the number of winches in the cockpit.

Anyway, back to the original question. Our runners were/are rigged with one bungee cord tied on at each end of the bungee to the runners and run around the front of the mast at about steaming light height. This seems to work pretty well also. As you tension the windward runner, the bungee pulls the leeward runner forward and out of the way of the main and boom. We have also since added carabiners to the connections between the runners and the six to one tails so that when not needed (light air or downwind) we can disconnect the leeward (or both) runner(s) and secure it (them) at the base of the shrouds with a short piece of bungee and a snap hook that's there for that purpose.

The idea of raising runners and tails up and back does sound like it has some appeal though in minimizing potential clutter around the trimmers.

From: Bill Heintz, Deviation Date: Thus, 14 Feb 2002
Subject: RE: Checkstays

A more unusual solution to the Checkstay problem is to disconnect them when they are in the way.

We accomplish this by putting a snap shackle between the standing rigging (wire or in our case 3/16" Technora) and the running rigging.

When the runners are not needed we disconnect them and clip them to a tag line at the end of the boom.

This is especially convenient for maneuvering at starts and gybing down wind. (I suppose the rest of the crew appreciates not being clocked in the head as well.)

From: Ian Duff, Invisible Cities Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002
Subject: RE: Checkstays

Seems like high maintenance at a start or during a tack or gybe. What do you think of a setup to haul that same snap shackle, still attached to the rope part, up to some point high enough on the backstay to allow the main to run all the way out without interfering with the leech?

I'm envisioning a pair of small bullet blocks attached to the backstay at some height, like maybe 10' up from the deck (to be determined with the rig in the boat), and another bullet block at the transom, with shock cord going from the snap shackle junction of rope to wire on one checkstay, up to one of the bullet blocks on the backstay, down thru the bullet block on the transom, up thru the other backstay bullet block, and then back down to connect to the wire/rope junction (snap shackle) on the other checkstay.

I'd like to make it so three things happen:
1) They're ready for deployment at any time (as long as the wire snap shackle is attached to the rope. I leave the wire part snapped to the chainplates when in the slip, and hook them up ready for action whenever we're sailing).
2) Getting them out of the way only requires releasing the rope part from the winch and letting it run free. Detaching them and attaching the loose end to the end of the boom requires more expertise than my crew is likely to possess, and I wouldn't like to have one go loose during a race.
3) They're off the deck and out of the way of the crew during maneuvers, like starting, tacking or gybing.

My only concerns, at this point prior to having tried it, are:
1) The loose hanging loop might want to flip forward of one of the spreaders if I make it too loose by, mounting the pair of bullet blocks too high on the backstay, or interfere with the leech of the main if I make it too tight by mounting those bullet blocks too low on the backstay. This'll just require some playing with the bullet block height as I mount them, to make sure the leech is free, then some time sailing to ensure the hanging loop doesn't want to flip forward of the spreaders.
2) The shock cord will be either too loose and not pull the rope enough, or too tight and do funny things to the backstay tension, but that's just a matter of playing with the shock cord length.

I have every intention of trying this setup this summer. I'll report results when I'm satisfied that that I have a conclusion, either good or bad.

From: Mark McCarthy, 2 Thirsty Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002
Subject: RE: Checkstays


You have described the exact setup on 2 Thirsty. The setup works great, and we rarely find that we actually unclip them. The key to the system is tensioning the system prior to racing and untensioning the system after, to save the shock cord The bullet block is mounted about 12' above the stern (a guess), and was mounted using heavy grade wire, wrapped around block and backstay, then taped over. The combination helps it from slipping down the backstay.

Both runner blocks do fly up to the bullet block on the backstay, when it is tensioned properly (recommend 1/4 inch shock cord). The only problem we sometime experience is not easing the checkstay gross tune fast enough, causing the loops to catch on the battens. Usually, once we get on course, and the boat is settled, a combination of a main pump, and a flick of the runner blocks, gets the checkstay freed from the batten.

This is the best system we have come up with, although we occasionally unclip if we find that we are running deep and the main leech is compromised. It is simple to unclip, and throw the checkstay around the main, someone catches it on the other side, then clips it onto our bungy at the shroud base. Would not try that trick in heavy air. The problem with clipping them there is to remember to re-clip them prior to rounding, or after the takedown. About the last thing you want to be doing after a leeward mark when you need all weight on the rail.

Bill's idea of clipping them to the end of the boom is interesting, although timing must be everything in his scenario. Need a checklist for the windward mark and leeward mark.

From: Mark Yancey, Manhattan Magic Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002
Subject: RE: Checkstays

When I had Masquerade (SVM # 24) in 1992 We had the same problem with our runners, I say runners because we had "full" running backstays and checkstays. We tried all the solutions that have been mentioned here. I wasn't until I had to get 10 stitches in my forehead from the runner block that I came up with our final solution. A 10 year old was given the sole job of keeping the runners clear during start maneuvers, after that he was the "snacktition". That young man, now pushing 20, is one now of the best trimmers on Galveston Bay and I'll be flying him in for big regattas (especially when we travel to O.D.) We relied on our runners more than usual as the perm backstay was light Kevlar used only to shape the top of the main, the runners and checks were both wire. If I had that setup now the runners and checks would be some aramid fiber. My partner in Manhattan Magic and I are having a running (sic) argument about whether to set up the new rig this way or stock. Troy worries that full runners will incur a rating hit. The powers that be in the GYA are real tight on any deviation from "stock", even though full runners are permitted in O.D. The free exchange of info is extremely important, so please keep it up and think about bringing in the youngsters, it's important to our sport!

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