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  • #4609

    Dear ‘Farers

    I am seeking opinions on whether and how to upgrade my current kicking strap system. I have a basic Mk2 set up for cruising. My cruising buddy Boris is of the opinion that I could up the ease and performance of my sailing with the installation of a more powerful and more easily adjusted kicker. He has a racing Mk1 that he also cruises. All his controls come back and to each side. My kicker is the simplest of systems as illustrated in the attached – his has a few more blocks – mb twice as many. .


    We noticed when I set my kicker the boom drops 4inches at the clew end to perhaps horizontal. Boris’s dips well below the horizontal. We wondered if this was just simply that my system (and personal strength) is not getting enough power through the line. This was an issue in strong winds where Boris did not have to spill as much. Also because, through necessity, I sail single-handed a lot, the current set up is a trial to adjust when sailing in moderate winds and above. So………

    a) what do people think of my current system – I think this all my WF guru Chris Yerbury has in his set up?
    b) is it worth having a considerably more powerful kicker system (I do not race my Wayfarer but do go out in F5-6)
    c) if so, what sort of alternative kicker system would people consider and
    d) would it be worth getting it coming to each side – I am concerned about complicating the cockpit with additional lines – but wondered if I could maybe run lines under the boards?

    Cheers the now



    My first W had split controls, but I never really got into the habit of tweaking the kicker on the fly, even though in theory I could reach it.

    On my new W, I have a simpler setup- essentially the same as you but I did splash out on a good ballraced block/jammer at the bottom. If singlehanding, I set the kicker at the start of the day and then don’t tend to touch it- unless perhaps my last run home is off the wind.

    One thing I have noticed is that if you can keep all of your ropes at the mast, dropping and removing the rig becomes quite a lot quicker. I lost count of the number of times I forgot to detach a led-back line and only remembered half-way through the mast drop. The leverage of the mast in such situations is enormous and I have pulled cleats cleat out of the cb case. You do gradually learn from these mistakes…


    I recently installed a 12:1 twinned back kicker control system on my own MKII which previously had a 4:1 system exactly like yours. As I had a 6:1 pulley system spare which came with the boat, I used it with other pulleys I bought for the twinning lines to give the 12:1, otherwise I would have fitted a cascade system, but even using your existing 4:1 with twinning pulley would 8:1. The twinning of the lines is what really helps.

    All in all, I would say it is a massive improvement. It is now so much easier to get the correct setting for the leech for the given wind.The fact that is is now possible to adjust the kicker without having to go into the centre of the boat is a massive bonus allowing better setting of the tightness of the leech (and more speed) and consistency of handling.

    Also, as tightening the kicker also helps to flatten the mast and reduce somewhat, the draft (belly) in the sail, it can also help as a reasonably effective instant reefing system until you get a chance to put in a real one.

    Finally, an easily adjustable kicker works best if used in conjunction with a bridle system on the back. The bridle helps by maintaining the leech tension setting, whether the sail is sheeted right in to the centre-line or has been sheeted out to cope with a gust. It’s the reduction of downward pull (due to having the bridle pulley at more or less the same height as the boom pulley) (slightly lower is best) on the leech which gives the consistency of leech tension and predictability of handling.

    Without a bridle, the leech tension will increase and the leech of the sail may even go to windward as the sail is sheeted in and is also pulled down towards the transom. If the leech is pulled too much to windward, the air won’t be able to escape out the back and provide forward thrust, and this can result in more heeling and less thrust. Then, as you sheet out to reduce the heeling, the leech tension will decrease, but the mast will also flatten, increasing the draft (and power generated) at the front of the sail and tending to increase heeling again, leaving a very fine line where sail draft and tension are in harmony until the sail is sheeted out so far it’s generating very little forward thrust.

    At least that’s what it felt like to me.

    Hope this helps. Davdor.

    Dave Barker

    Ask yourself what you really want from your kicker and then install a system that meets those needs. Having been fortunate enough to have a boat (Enterprise) with nicely set up kicker when I started sailing regularly, I wouldn’t want to be without it now. If it’s both powerful and easy to adjust then you are more likely to sail with it correctly adjusted most of the time. (One day this might happen to me!).

    We have a cascade led back (twinned) to the outer ends of the rear of the thwart, 16:1 in total (which is more than enough), with strong carbine clips for attachment to the mast and to the boom, which makes for very easy installation and removal. The addition of the clamcleat “slider” into the cascade as described elsewhere provides a coarse adjustment which permits easy reefing with the kicker attached, as well as allowing the boom to be in the slightly raised position when reefed (angled up at clew) or in theory higher up the mast on a sliding gooseneck. The clamcleat is still intact and in good shape, incidentally.


    Dave and Davdor

    Are either of you planning to attend the Cruising Conference – I think I need to see what you are writing about……..for instance Davdor, do you have other lines coming back or only this kicker arrangement? My concern is having lines running where I am normally storing stuff – like my oars down the side or the cb case……

    Trev 😛

    Dave Barker

    I will be at the Cruising Conference and with any luck it will be warmer than 2013.

    If you want to be able to adjust from the normal helming position then there will have to be lines led back somewhere, although the exact routing is up to you. I’ve seen people using tubing or even cable trunking to avoid problems such as those you describe.

    Dave Bevan

    We originally had a 4:1 rigged at the mast and rarely adjusted under-way. We upgraded to a wire cascade led aft to split controls and our current cruiser/racer has a dynema cascade also led to the thwart (along with the out haul and Cunningham).
    All get tweaked whilst racing or day-sailing, split controls mean fine/light control and extra purchase but also means it’s easy to overtension. Cost is always a factor but simplicity should only be a consideration on training boats.
    Trevor – I actually like the lines running along the side of the CB case; I slot our chart folder behind them whilst sailing. We carry paddles under the seats, rather than oars.


    Having a large purchase isn’t so much about increasing your pulling force, it allows you to make much finer adjustments.

    For example to adjust your kicker only a quarter of an inch, with a 16:1 purchase, you have to pull 4 inches.
    A quarter of an inch at the kicker is amplified at the clew to about 3/4 of an inch. (Or maybe even a full inch depending on your kicker position).
    And 3/4 of an inch on end of the boom translates to, I guess, about 8 inches less leech twist in the upper half of the sail. (4″ pull –> 8″ less twist)

    With a 4:1 purchase you only get to pull 1″ to get the same 8″ leech twist reduction, making it much harder to get the exact right amount of twist in the leech.
    So for this reason you want a large purchase, having to use little force is a bonus.

    For the same reason I am using an 8:1 outhaul. It is not that I am not strong enough, but a 1:1 purchase does not allow me to fine tune the clew.
    The difference between minimum and maximum clew positions is maybe an inch or even less. Multiplied, that gives me 8 inches of adjustment to play with.


    Mr Swiebertje,

    What make of snap shackle do you use to attach your kicker system to the boom? I’m assuming it copes with the pressures very well.

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