in order to fly the jib higher

by John A. MacCausland

One of the things which is happening at the moment is that top guys are carrying their jibs a lot higher than before downwind, raising it almost 2 feet or more off the deck. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is to keep whisker pole from digging in when the boat rolls to windward. The other is that perhaps it is more efficient in catching the wind on light days. In this article we will talk about what is involved in getting the jibs to fly higher.

Retrofitting the boats in order to be able to do this is not all that difficult, and in terms of new parts could run about $150. What is involved is the following:

1) Getting a longer forestay which attaches to the underdeck forestay wire between the bow sheave and the deck. For this both the forestay and the underdeck forestay wires have to be changed to wires with ball ends.

2) On F section masts drilling a new jib halyard exit hole at about 4” above the whisker pole bracket. On the new G section masts the exit hole is already at this height.

3) Changing the jib halyard to a shorter one to match the new exit hole.

4) Lengthening the jib halyard clip wires to extend to the new position of the jib halyard balls.

5) Lengthening the jib Cunningham line to allow the jib to fly higher.

Not all of these retrofits have to be done simultaneously. For example, item 5, lengthening the jib Cunningham line, can and probably should be done irrespective of what else is changed. Furthermore, half measures which will be described in the following can also be done to fly the jib somewhat higher.

Item 1: The reason for changing the forestay wire and underdeck forestay wire is that the older system in which the connection point for the forestay is some 16” above the deck limits how high off the deck the jib can be flown. The loop on the shackle gets hung up on the fork of the underdeck forestay wire. In order to allow free movement of the jib Cunningham shackle up the forestay the connection point has to be below deck.

This is accomplished by getting a forestay wire which is long enough to enter into the deck and conversely an underdeck forestay wire which is short enough to end just above the sheave in the bow. Each wire has a ball swaged onto the end. There is a spring-loaded mechanism which catches each of these balls and holds them firmly in place. Also, if not already installed, an access plate which will allow ready access to the area in the bow between the deck and the forestay sheave will have to be installed.

It should be mentioned that getting the two balls to catch in the spring-loaded mechanism is a tricky business and requires a good amount of strength and dexterity in the hand, but once you get the hang of it the process is not so difficult.

Also worth mentioning is that there is no longer the forestay pin which is used to measure the rake. The alternative method of obtaining the rake measurement is to lay the forestay on the mast and place a piece of tape at the top of the black band at the gooseneck. This tape is 20” above the former forestay pin, and thus if you have been measuring 16 ¾” to the pin previously you will now measure 36¾” to the tape.



Underdeck Forestay Attachment

Item 2: In order to get the full benefit of this retrofit, on F section masts drill a new jib halyard exit hole at about 4” above the whisker pole bracket.

Item 3: Shorten the jib halyard so that the balls just clear the jib halyard exit hole when the mast is in normal upwind position and the jib raised in the proper upwind position. One way to do this is the cut off the jib halyard at the shackle and swage a new ball on at the correct position. To determine the correct position of the shackle measure the amount of distance between the jib halyard exit hole and the top ball. That should give you the amount you wish to cut off the upper end of the jib halyard.

Item 4: Every boat is set up differently, so details as to how to lengthen the jib halyard clip wire varies considerably. Some of the more recent Mader boats are already set up in a manner so that all that really has to be done is to lengthen the jib halyard clip stopper wire so that the jib halyard clip catches the jib halyard balls in their new higher position. On some of the older boats, however, the jib puller wire is rigged so that it can only be pulled down the height of the deck to the jib puller sheave, i.e. about 18” to 20”. This most probably means that you will have to do some serious rerigging of the jib puller wire in order to be able to get the full benefit of the retrofit. With so many variations between boats it would be hard to describe what would work best. The desired end result though is that the jib halyard clip has full travel from the jib halyard exit hole to the deck. It might be mentioned that in some instances the hole through which the jib puller wire travels has been enlarged in order to pull the jib wire clip below deck, thus giving an even further range of motion.

Item 5: On older boats the jib Cunningham usually has a limited amount of free movement up from the deck, perhaps 5” to 10”. In some instances this is easily corrected by installing a quick-release line which is attached to one of the blocks of the jib Cunningham system so that when released the jib Cunningham shackle can go to a much higher distance off the deck. The advantage of such a system is that either the jib Cunningham is on or off, and there is no need to readjust the jib Cunningham after returning the quick-release to the “on” position. Again, there is such a variety of rigging setups that it would be difficult to give a simple fix. Rather, you will have to see how your boat is set up and try to figure out what will work best given what you have.

Standard Mader set-up


Quick Release installed

Several Half-Measures

As mentioned above, there are several half-measures which will get you to somewhere near the desired goal talked about in this article. For example, on an early 8000 series Mader it was found that by putting an extension in the jib puller system an extra 6” of travel could be gotten out of the jib puller. It just happened that the upper ball on the jib halyard wire was also 6” above the lower one which had previously been the normal one to which the jib halyard clip was attached, so aside from the extension and a longer jib puller line no other alterations had to be made. Also, the quick-release described in Item 5 was easily installed, consisting on a cam cleat and about 6’ of line, so that the jib Cunningham shackle had the full 16” of travel up the old style underdeck jib forestay wire. Since the boat is sailed in normally flat-water conditions, these two alterations have been considered enough to achieve the goal of keeping the whisker pole from digging in when rolling to windward.


Photo: John Rumsey

Mark Reynolds and Anders Ekström

in 8129 during the Western Hemisphere’s

Did we say 2’ off the deck? Looks more like 3’!