Latest News: Forums Technical Kickers, mainsheet blocks and boom improvements

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  • #3737
    SeaHolly
    Member

    I have recently become the proud owner of W6910 (Sea Holly), and am looking to undertake some updating work in three areas – Kicker, boom (outhaul in particular) and mainsheet blocks. The boat is used to get me back into sailing regularly and whilst set for cruising, I would like to improve its racing ability.

    The boat currently has a weak kicker, with a single block and cleat and even my large 6’3″ frame struggles to get much purchase on it. I have seen various websites/dinghy accessory catalogues advertising new kickers, but are there DIY solutions that I could try?

    Secondly, the boom I have lacks at outhaul system of any kind, which is making sailing upwind a challenge. The mast and boom are Proctor – can I simply change the outboard end of the boom, or is more radical work needed?

    Finally, the transom mounted traveller and mainsheet system has old blocks (look like a brownish fibre material), that look in need of upgrade. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what the best blocks to replace with would be, probably combined with a new mainsheet as well.

    Regards,

    Darren

    #6960
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Sounds like my boat – when bought it had all the problems you speak of, and more! Taking your points in turn:

    1. Kicker. I had a similar arrangement to you. Have replaced this with 2 x triple ball raced sheave blocks with a wire strop at each end to connect to boom and mast heel. Rigged this with 4mm dyneema to give a 7:1 purchase then attached a further ballrace block on the end so that a control line is “twinned” back to the helmsman via turning blocks at the front of the centreboard case and under the thwart, with a cleat at each side on the aft face of the thwart. Total purchase is thus 14:1 when pulling on either end of the control line. Cost about £50 for all the blocks.

    2. Outhaul. I’ve cut a slot on the top face of the boom at the outboard end and let a flush mounted pulley into it. Also a small stainless eye so that the end of the outhaul is tied off here with a bowline, then leads through the eye at the clew of the sail, back to the end of the boom (giving 2:1 purchase) then through the pulley block and inside the boom to the inboard end, where it emerges through another flush mounted block on the underneath, and is cleated under the boom. This works to a point, next job is to add a further 2:1 purchase inside the boom so that the emerging control line is then 4:1; and also add some elastic to pull the clew back when you release it. Whether it is worth going to the extent of twinning this back to the helmsman is questionable.

    3. I’m surviving with a rubbish mainsheet at the moment, but plan to replace the traveller with a bridle, replace the blocks with some ball raced ones, replace the sheet with 8mm braid on braid, and perhaps convert to centre sheeting.

    The two other jobs that have made a tremendous difference to my boat are to replace the original rope job halyard with a wire one, tensioned with a Highfield lever on the back of the mast, and replace the original side-deck mounted jib sheets with tracks mounted on the front seats. It’s also well worth having a close look at the mast foot to make sure it seats and locates postiively to stop it all thumping about when you apply a decent amount of rig tension.

    #6962
    Dave Barker
    Keymaster

    Hi Darren,

    Can I offer an alternative kicker?

    If you use a cascade system you can achieve a 16:1 kicker with just 3 single blocks on the main part of the kicker plus the same extra single and turning blocks that are required for the multi-sheave solution. These, in conjunction with the fourth single block, double the ratio from the 8:1 produced by the first 3 blocks (2x2x2) to the final 16:1. An excellent diagram and brief description by Ton Jaspers are available on the Canadian W website. Personally I would go with the dyneema version as opposed to wire:-

    http://www.wayfarer-international.org/WIT/race.related/RiggingTips/TonJaspers/TJcascade_vang.html

    Significantly, all three cascade blocks are rigged “to advantage” so the kicker will be more efficient, and there is less friction than with triple blocks.

    For an added refinement you can replace the “static” portion of the first line (on the extreme left of the diagram referred to) with an extra cascade element controlled by a clamcleat. This enables you to reef the main without completely disconnecting the boom from the kicker. The 16:1 ratio remains unaffected. Perhaps a (blatantly plagiarised – apologies) diagram would help:-

    I’ve used a forged shackle to secure the dyneema to the clamcleat, to minimise chafing and to fine-tune the angle of pull.

    #6965
    matoi
    Member

    Hi Dave!

    This idea of yours for kicker which doesn’t need to be disconnected when reefing looks excellent! Is that the CL253 “trapeze and vang cleat”? Any chance for a photo of your system?

    Thanks + best regards,

    Mato

    #6966
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    @matoi wrote:

    Is that the CL253 “trapeze and vang cleat”? Any chance for a photo of your system?

    That cleat must be one h*ll of a cleat. It must be able to handle half of the total kicker load. You better make sure it is very reliable.

    #6967
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    @Swiebertje wrote:

    @matoi wrote:

    Is that the CL253 “trapeze and vang cleat”? Any chance for a photo of your system?

    That cleat must be one h*ll of a cleat. It must be able to handle half of the total kicker load. You better make sure it is very reliable.

    My thoughts entirely!

    I like the principle though – was just wondering how you could achieve the same thing with some sort of hook any eye system so’s you had two fixed kicker settings, one for full main and one for reefed.

    My reef points run parallel to the boom anyway, and to be honest I can’t really see a compelling reason to do otherwise. It just “seems” like a good idea to have a higher boom in stronger winds but in practice you’d still have to avoid it gybing etc so is there any point in adding this complication?

    #6968
    matoi
    Member

    Dave could shed some light on this out of his experience, which should be more relevant than theorizing.

    But, I suppose that he meant that this *complication* makes reefing easier only in that stage when the boom needs to rise and come down again – a brief but important moment. I think that he didn’t want to suggest that the boom should be in any different position than normal while continuing to sail.

    Regarding the strength (and if it is really the CL253, unfortunatelly the Clamcleats don’t provide the MWL and BL data for this item), than IMHO it should be strong enough. The CL253 is designed as a trapeze cleat and should therefore be able to whitstand working loads of about 100kg. If you were a very strong (and angry?) person, perhaps you would apply some 15kg of force on you kicker control line, leading in a 16:1 kicker system to a 15×16=240kg total kicking force, which then halved makes 120kg – just in the range of what a trapeze should normally deal with.

    I’m looking forward to some more “real life” info from Dave 🙂

    Best regards to all,

    Mato

    #6969
    Dave Barker
    Keymaster

    Hi guys,

    The main reason I have been reluctant to recommend this “tweak” previously is that I have reservations about the ability of the cleat to take the load in extremis, however, it was seen by a few people at the spring cruising conference which was at our club earlier this year, and at least one other boat now has adopted it, so far without problems, so I thought I would mention it now. I offer no guarantee…

    A couple of points to add. First is the proportion of the total load taken by the cleat. Because of the way the cleat is used only 25% of the total kicker load goes through the cleat, not 50%, which seems more acceptable.

    Second, if the cleat ever fails the kicker will remain attached to both the boom and the mast, although admittedly it will be very slack.

    The cleat I have used (and don’t specifically recommend) is a 211Mk2 (hard anodised version) simply because I had that cleat to hand when I was playing about with different configurations of the kicker. Btw, the 253 may be designed for the purpose, but the way it is normally used puts the whole load through the body of the cleat. I don’t think this would be the right cleat for my setup.

    I will have the boat at home this week, so I’ll try to remember to get a photo. I should also have some more real world experience with it over the next few weeks and I’ll give some feedback on it. It worked well at Brancaster in January in about a force 6.

    With this system it is sometimes better to release some tension via the 16:1 line before trying to release the clamcleat. I sail with the clamcleat right down at the bottom end of the line, so after reefing I just slide it back to the bottom and then adjust with the 16:1 part of the line if necessary. Regarding different boom heights, there are at least 2 reasons to have an angled line of reefing points (which I don’t have!). First is the obvious point about head clearance, which may be reduced if the kicker is applied quite firmly (with or without a reef), making the boom cross the boat lower during a tack when of course the sail is not being curved – and the boom raised – by wind pressure. The second is to have good clearance between the boom end and the water’s surface when sailing downwind in a blow, even with lots of kicker applied to reduce the tendency of the leech to blow forward, which tends to induce the dreaded death roll. One of the main reasons not to have angled reef points has been the inability of a powerful kicker to be released far enough to accomodate this, so perhaps it is worth continuing to test this clamcleat tweak?

    #6971
    matoi
    Member

    Thanks Dave.

    I must admit that from the illustration and your explanation I still don’t quite get it how do you make that cleat take only 25% of the tension. But it’s more important that it works for you, and a photo will make it more clear for the rest of us.
    Of course it’s worth experimenting!

    Happy sailing!

    Mato

    #6972
    Dave Barker
    Keymaster

    Hi Mato,

    It’s probably not that obvious from the diagram, but the line coming from the right side of the single block above the cleat passes straight through the middle of the cleat and down to the mast fitting.

    Whether the load is split exactly 25:25 is doubtful, but I’ll leave the precise engineering calculations to others. But because the block is free to rotate the whole 50% load can’t be taken by the left side line and the cleat (which jams onto the rh side line under tension). In other words, some of the load must pass through the rh side line, bypassing the cleat.

    Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll see if I can break a cleat over the next few weeks!

    #6973
    matoi
    Member

    Thanks Dave,

    As I happen to have a couple of extra blocks at hand, I’ll join your ‘break the clamcleat kicker’ contest. Hopefully there won’t be any winners 🙂

    Best regards,

    Mato

    #6974
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    @John1642 wrote:

    I like the principle though – was just wondering how you could achieve the same thing with some sort of hook any eye system so’s you had two fixed kicker settings, one for full main and one for reefed.

    You are missing the point. The kicker setting remains the same once the sail is reefed. But if you reef while sailing you have to detach the kicker temporary.

    In a Wayfarer the procedure is slightly different from a big yacht that usually has a boom lift. We hoist the clew before the sail is lowered to avoid the boom from dropping in the cockpit and loosing all control. If you have a standard 16:1 kicker its range is just not enough to hoist the clew into the reefed position. You have to unhook it temporary until the sail is fully reefed.

    Here is a brief description of the procedure:
    1. Unhook kicker
    2. Hoist clew (not to tight else you won’t be able to hook the new tack)
    3. Lower sail (a few inches too much, boom droops a little)
    4. Hook new tack
    5. hoist sail (take the slack out)
    6. Tension the clew
    7. Re-attach kicker

    Dave seems to have found a method to give the kicker enough range without having to detach it. A simple pull would re-set it to its old position again. If it works it is a great solution but I am skeptical because of the high loads in that part of the cascade system. The first cascade, where Dave added a cleat, carries half the kicker load.

    I would probably try something with a hook. The hook, when unhooked, would prevent the kicker wire from leaving its block and a hook will bring the kicker quickly and accurately back to its old position.

    Currently I use a Wichard snap shackle, a type that is designed for high loads (A/O used in back stay tensioners of much bigger yachts) and has a sort of a pelican hook that creates some purchase and allows me to close it even when there is some tension on the kicker:

    This shackle is on the boom side of the kicker and completely attaches or detaches the kicker from the boom. Because I use steel wire my kicker sometimes curls up and I have some sorting out to do before the kicker is back on the boom again. I have never considered it a safety problem because while the kicker is detached from the boom the sail opens and loses wind (and power). Only when the kicker is on and tensioned the sail is powered up. So, from a safety perspective it is not a big deal but still I am open to any improvement. Attaching the kicker isn’t an easy job when the boat rocks around and the boom seems to have a life of its own and my hands are cold and wet.

    #6978
    matoi
    Member

    Here is copy/paste of the reply from clamcleats following my inquiry regarding the strength of their cleats:

    ********************************************

    Dear Mato

    Thank you for the enquiry, the CL253 rigged 2:1 will hold about 500kg on a good quality rope, wether it be 4,5,6,7,8mm in diameter, at around 500kg the pin which holds the roller will buckle

    chart can be found at

    http://www.clamcleat.com/cleats/cleats.asp?menuid=9

    The CL253 should work well in this application, you wish to rigg the clamcleat the other way up to take advantage of its built in roller

    We hope this information is of help, if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Best Regards

    Julian Emery
    *Clamcleats Ltd*

    #6979
    SeaHolly
    Member

    Many thanks for all of the very helpful feedback on the various jobs to improve the performance of the boat, in particular John1642 for his helpful tips on the questions I had asked in all three areas and more!

    Any more thoughts and comments on how to install a simple outhaul system, or blocks to upgrade rather than change the current mainsheet system would be greatly appreciated.

    I had already noted other comments on the forum regarding the changing of the positioning of the genoa/jib fairleads (currently on side decks), which will hopefully improve my pointing ability.

    #6984
    Dave Barker
    Keymaster

    Hi Darren,

    I’m sorry that your thread had been taken off on a tangent. I would say forget the clamcleat aspect of the kicker and just go with the cascade system as illustrated by Ton on the Canadian site – it’s simple, powerful, efficient and cost-effective. 5mm dyneema would be plenty strong enough and is comfortable on the hands.

    Outhaul – go with John’s system including extra purchase inside the boom with shockcord. Depending on what sort of fitting you have or can obtain at the outboard end of the boom you may already have a sheave in place, or be able to add one. Personally I wouldn’t bother trying to twin the outhaul back to the helm.

    Mainsheet – select a sheet of the smallest diameter that you are comfortable holding; around 8mm is a reasonable compromise, but you may prefer as much as 10mm. Then buy the best blocks you can reasonably afford, to suit the chosen rope. The boom block will need to be a single plus becket (assuming a 3:1 sheet), and for the transom one I would use a fiddle block. Make sure that you buy enough rope for the mainsheet – better to have a metre too much than too little. You ought to be able to sit up near the shrouds and still hold the sheet even with the boom pushed right out.

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