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4.3 Cunningham Setup


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Hi Everyone,

             Just after some clues on how to set up the cunningham / downhaul on a new mainsail.

The original sail just had one eye at the tack and was held with a pin at the gooseneck , 6:1 downhaul.


The new sail has one eye for the cunningham and one at the bottom of the sail . Do I need a special fitting to go thru the top eye?


I've attached some pics, appreciate some advice.







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But bear in mind that the downhaul can be an annoyance.  Set it once, just to get the creases out then forget it (tie it up against the mast so you can't reach it).  When you get into a gust and think you need a handful of downhaul, resist the temptation (pull more tension on the mainsheet to bend the mast and flatten the sail, pinch up a little until the gust goes) because that might get you through the gust but then when it lightens up you're stuffed because the friction in the sail won't release it back to its old position.  You then have a loose downhaul line that you can't recleat (because there's no tension).  Then when you tack, fine, the sail lifts in the slot so you can tack but now the leeward line is uncleated so you have no control at all.  


Talk to Mick and he'll tell you (at least he did a couple of years ago) that he never touches the downhaul.  With Eastwind sails and to a lesser extent Redhead sails when you pull the sail up they put tension in the mast so it bends even without any mainsheet or downhaul tension.  This means you already have tension in the luff which stops you from being able to use the downhaul for tightening AND release.  This is quite different from boats like the A's which have no halyard and you can push the sail up from the gooseneck (Taipans the same).


I don't sail anymore but originally (six years ago) I was impressed by the comments that Tornado's, F18's, Nacra's etc use the downhaul as a gross adjuster to depower and repower the main.  Just before I stopped sailing this year (and coincidentally bought an old Redhead sail) I realised that this doesn't apply to Maricats.


Why do all the fast Mari's have two Ronstan blocks - to sell product (at $65 each)!


Check it out next time, in a gust, pull the mainsheet harder (bigger gust, pull harder still).  The mast should bend (my mast rotation stops were cut out so it bent more easily even though it was a stiffer sloop mast).  You should be able to get the sail nearly flat.  Keep the traveller centred too and you'll be able to point and go fast.  Gust dies, ease the main, watch the shape come back in, you'll need to bear away slightly to keep the telltales flowing.  Leech telltales should be 'popping' (at least according to Frank Bethwaite's books).  Do this with the downhaul and you let the upper leach fall away, won't be able to point and won't be able to fix it until the next tack.


You'll need to have the mainsheet boom blocks nearly over the traveller block so your extra tension doesn't put too much extra forward pressure on the gooseneck, idea is to pull the leech down so you're pulling the mast head down, mast bends and flattens the sail.

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Looks nice.


Is that a new Redhead sail?  Interesting because I've only really seen tri-radial Redheads, Ian must have changed his design (but I have to say that I prefer the mostly cross cut style).


You have a vang.  I used one for a while.  It really is only of much use going dead downwind which you'll probably not do as a sloop.  Most of the other points of sailing you'll use your traveller to provide leach tension.  Also, I don't think you'll be able to right a capsized boat that has the vang on (go on, ask me why I know this!!)  It does have other disadvantages in that in that it'll prevent the mast rotating properly - pull the vang on, go on a reach and then let the mainsheet off, the boom goes up, the vang tensions and it'll pull the mast back into line with the boom, something you don't necessarily want to happen.


Boat looks neat, I like the name!  (edit: I looked again, I thought it was WifeBait !!)

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Haha, yes it's whitebait. I'll tell my missus your version, she'll get a laugh.


Yes they are Redhead sails. I'll give it a go without the vang, what you say makes sense.

My son and I managed to nose dive and flip over a while ago and you are right it did take along time to pull the sail thru the water.

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