Sail control is an important factor in getting the best performance and enjoyment from your yacht. The amount of control required varies according to your type of sailing, either cruising or racing and on your budget.
The kicking strap is a multiple purchase rope and block assembly that prevents the boom from skying when the mainsheet is released and helps to maintain the optimum leech tension for efficient sailing upwind, especially in a breeze. Releasing the tension on the kicking strap can also effectively de-power the mainsail when on a reach, helping prevent an un-controlled broach to windward.
The typical set up for a cruising boat is a 4:1 system using fiddle blocks. On the boom a reverse shackle fiddle block is fitted to prevent rotation; at the base, a fiddle block with swivel and cam is fitted to allow adjustment from either side. This type of kicker is pre-set at the beginning of a voyage to allow enough twist in the mainsail to keep the leech tell tales flowing when sailing upwind. When reefing, the kicking strap is released as the reef pennants are taken up then re-tensioned when the task is complete.
The principles are the same as for cruising boats however more purchase is required to allow for constant adjustment over the wind range to maintain optimum sail shape. In breezy conditions, when the mainsheet needs to be released to maintain an efficient angle of heel, the kicker is pulled on firmly to counter the loss in mainsheet tension and maintain sail shape. When reaching, race boats will have a crew member playing the kicker all the time, releasing when a gust hits to de-power the mainsail and prevent a broach. Equipment used for this set up involves a cascade of blocks to increase the purchasing power, these can be multiple block purchases, and now, the popular low friction high load eyes are used for their strength characteristics, light weight and great value for money.
8:1 cascade system - race boat
4:1 system - cruising boat
Useful Links to our technical info section: