Sail control is an important factor in ensuring you get the best performance and enjoyment from your yacht. The amount of control required varies according to your type of sailing, whether you are cruising or racing.
We have been talking lately about the Boomstrut and the benefits it has when used on a racing boat for controlling the leech of the sail in light airs, but it is also interesting to talk about combining use of the Boomstrut with a kicking strap.
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. Combining this with the Boomstrut helps to stabilise the boom.
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. When reefing, the kicking strap is released as the reef pennants are taken up, then re-tensioned when the task is complete. This is where having the Boomstrut comes into its own, by supporting the boom and preventing it from dropping accidently, making changes to your sail much easier to implement.
The principles are similar for a racing boat, 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. Equipment used for this setup involves a cascade of blocks to increase the purchasing power. The Boomstrut will again make the boom more stable for reefing, and sail changes ensure you can remove the need for a topping lift and that gives you a spare halyard if needed.
On any boat, having more control is one of the most important factors for safety and enjoyment. Combining the Boomstrut with the rest of your sail controls provides cruising pleasure and a winning style!