View Full Version : proper rigging

eric b 125
19th February 2010, 04:29 AM
i know there's a lot that goes into rigging a sail properly. i'm having difficulty finding out the effect certain things have on how the sail holds or spills the wind ( like how more or less outhaul changes the sails performance, or downhaul.)
how high should the boom be? - i've read that higher is better because it allows you to put more weight on the mast foot, but where is a good start?

i know this is a pretty huge question, but if someone could point me into the direction of any articles, id really appreciate it. thanks

19th February 2010, 04:37 AM
too many questions :)

personally - lotsa searching on the web, DVDs and trial n error
check http://windsurfingmag.com/category/how-to/

search web for subjects one by one - lotsa info

and then ... lotsa luck :)
some people strongly suggest lessons where much of this may be covered !!! for me that is NOT a possibility

have found a lot of it is personal taste

eric b 125
19th February 2010, 05:09 AM
cool dude, thanks. i knew that there is a lot to be said of those questions, and i didnt expect an answer as much as direction. i'll keep researching and when the season starts i'll do some trial and error.

19th February 2010, 05:54 AM
Check out the articles at http://www.guycribb.com/windsurfing_technique_holiday_DVD_0076v01.htm

I found some of these very helpful. See tuning section.

19th February 2010, 05:56 AM
Check the rigging guide for YOUR sail model and year. That's the easiest, most obvious, AND best answer! Not all sails are supposed to be rigged the same way. Even the same model often changes from year to year. If you don't have a hard copy, look online.

You won't believe how many 'wannabe know-it-alls' you'll find on the beach. Alot of times, they haven't even read the rigging guide for their sail, let alone the rigging guide for your sail. The most believable source is the manufacturer. There are folks you will meet who will claim they know better than the manufacturer. It makes me laugh.

My favorite sails have visual indicators built into the sails. Ezzys, for example, have indicators for correct outhaul AND downhaul.

Lastly, you may want to consider going beyond recommendations in some cases. For example, if you're already at the minimum recommended downhaul and outhaul for your sail, and you're still underpowered, you may want to consider reducing the downhaul and outhaul a little more before rigging a bigger sail. You've got nothing to lose.

eric b 125
19th February 2010, 10:24 AM
right before i checked back i unrolled one of my new sails in the living room (the 2.5' of snow makes it hard to check out the new equipment) and saw the rigging guide. i know the basics of rigging from when i was a kid, but tuning the rig is still a bit of a mystery. i'll have to check out that link that yankiwi mentioned, keep researching, and see what a little more experience will teach me. thanks again folks, its much appreciated

19th February 2010, 10:51 AM
Unfortunately, the rigging section of that link is a prime example of someone thinking they know more than the sail designers. Downhaul your sail as much as you can? What a crock! I'm sure that will work real well with a Sailworks Hucker, Kona One sail, or any of the older sails.

The manufactuer knows best. Generalizations are pretty worthless unless you have absolutely nothing else to go by.

20th February 2010, 02:55 AM
ask some simple questions and get a plethora of answers

- simply follow rigging instructions ? good start if you have recommended mast
- downhaul as hard as you can - maybe if sail is too big for conditions or over-powered and not much time left

etc etc

and yet in the end it comes down to personal choice - there are guys out there who break all the rules - like guy cribb's heavier buddy :)

eric b 125
21st February 2010, 12:21 AM
i dont really even know what questions to ask, though. like when you say:
- downhaul as hard as you can - maybe if sail is too big for conditions or over-powered and not much time left

why would more downhaul help if the sail is too big for conditions? what does putting more downhaul do? in my head, it flattens the sail out so wind spills from it, rather than the sail catching the wind and producing power. but how is that any different from more outhaul?

i can understand the change in sail shape with different amounts of outhaul- it changes the 'depth of the pocket' in the sail (best way i could put words to what i'm thinking). but as far as downhaul is concerned, how does that change the sail shape? and how will i know to put +/- downhaul or outhaul?

i'm sure a lot of this comes with experience and trial and error, but since it's the off season i'd like to have a baseline understanding of the different tuning effects.

21st February 2010, 02:01 AM
I have to admit, Joe_Windsurfer, that I would immediately put you in the group of 'wannabe know-it-alls". As a woman, you don't know how many times folks are trying to get me to rig my sails differently than what my rigging guides say. When I hear folks talk about rigging outside recommendations being 'personnal preference', I have to think to myself, 'yeah, if you PREFER to be slow, or if you PREFER to sail with an unbalanced rig'.

The sail makers want you to be happy with your sails, and give the best guidelines possible. I'll give you that they don't give guidance on rigging on a mast that has a different bend than that recommended. But, beyond that, why would you want to go against their guidelines?

Sorry, but this is my big pet peeve.

Eric, I agree that the difference between depowering a sail by using more downhaul or more outhaul is kindy fuzzy. If you're at max outhaul, but not max downhaul, for example, increase the downhaul. I'm interested to see what folks say. There are some things that can be a little counter productive. When you pull on the outhaul to depower the sail, by making the 'pocket' less, you also tighten the trailing edge of the sail. This moves the center of effort, or pull of the sail, up a little. Not a good thing when you're overpowered. I tend to do a little of both.

21st February 2010, 02:31 AM
Hey Joe. I don't mean to offend. Please understand that when people come up to me and want to rerig my sail in a way that is ouside recommendations, I politely say, 'thanks, I'll consider that'. It gets a little worse when they actually grab my rig and start doing it. On rare occasions, I've had to resort to getting the hard copy of my rigging manual out of the car. I usually avoid discussions about why they want me to rig my sail differently than recommended. I just assume that somebody showed them how to rig a sail once, and they're assuming all sails should be rigged the same way.

21st February 2010, 05:54 AM
More downhaul and outhaul both will flatten a sail and de-power it. However, downhauling will also loosen the leach and add more twist which outhauling won't.

Rigging to specifications if on the correct mast doesn't always mean that the sail is rigged correctly. New sails need to streatch a bit before you can reach the correct downhaul without over doing it. Older sails may need a bit more dowhaul to get them right.

Mast extensions are all a little different than their marking in centimeters indicate.

Variations from the recommended downhaul and outhaul are normal for additional power or decreased power based on conditions.

Bottom line is that it takes experience to see and feel if the sail is rigged correctly. There is no one correct answer. Many people may think they have it correct when it's not.

21st February 2010, 07:18 AM
hey Lanee - no offense taken :)

i AM a wannabe windsurfer - just wanna get past that intermediate stage :)

i am a numbers guy and very visual - i rig by eye, but that works for me
and NO-ONE touches my rig !!! {actually did lend it more than once or twice though}
guys touching your rig, is a male superiority issue !!!
locally we have a formula gal that tells the guys how to rig !!!

we can't we all just get along ?? eternal question for mankind :(

21st February 2010, 10:21 AM
Hey Eric! What brand, model, and year sails do you have? What masts do you have? Hopefully, you have the recommended masts. If you do, we can all take a look at the online rigging guides together.

There's really no magic to it and no real experience needed to rig correctly UNLESS your sail only has measurements. The easiest sails have the visual indicators on them that I mentioned earlier. The next easiest group of sails will have a guide showing pictures of what the sail will look like when rigged correctly. They may say something like 'for maximum power, downhaul the sail until the crease on the second panel extends 1/4 in' or something like that.

Those sails that don't have any pictures or indicators, and only have cm ranges for outhaul and downhaul get confusing. Folks get a picture in their minds about what a sail is supposed to look like (since there are no REAL pictures), and rig it that way. It may look nothing like what the designer meant for it to look like. Look at 9. on this link http://www.sailworks.com/web/documents/sails/nxfw/rigging.cfm vs. the sail in this link http://www.aerotechsails.com/09_manual.pdf. If you rig all of your sails the same way, you'll have problems.

21st February 2010, 05:07 PM
To me it sounds like you're being givin the advice to gain more power by reducing the downhaul. In my opinion this is wrong. Yes you will have more power, but because of the bad aerodynamics and poor control you won't really achive anything by it.
I am pretty sure that most pro slalom sailors never mess with their downhaul. So why should you. Find a setting where you have good control and good power. And adjust the power of the sail with your outhaul.
Wavesailors, and freestylers adjust the dowhaul., but to my understanding, this is to gain more spin when looping and doing sin moves.
My own theory: You dont need to catch any wind to produce power. Think about it. if all the wind stays in the sail it would be like throwing a big balloon through the air. and if you have ever tried that you know the ballon wont go far. It creates huge amounts of turbulence behind it. that way actually sucking you backwards. But if you untie the ballon so that the air will be directed backwards(like the leach of the sail), it will go with huge speeds flying around the room.

21st February 2010, 08:05 PM
since we have discussed some brand names here and there may be no "correct" answer --- there are many views, may i suggest the following :

go with the sail provider

since i use MS, i use the forum and e-mail contacts @ MS
SW also has contacts and even BP will answer you directly

sail specs will include suggested masts and sometimes alternatives, but in the sail forums alternatives may also be discussed....
downhauls, outhauls are all discussed ...

in the end, i stay with what i said - it comes down to what works for you
just yesterday i had a chat with a fellow who does wave and B&J
he likes his boom way lower than i have ever tried it
he has way more experience than i and i do NOT do wave nor B&J

eric b 125
21st February 2010, 09:56 PM
i checked out the rigging guide that came with one of my sails, and i've also visited the gaastra website, to see the proper rigging of the sails i have. i'm just not sure what the +/- downhaul and outhaul do to the sail's performance. i've been doing as much reading as i can and asking whatever questions i have since i wont be able to do any trial and error for a few months. i'll read posts about sail size and wind force, and there will inevitably be a response about, "try giving 1 cm more downhaul", "next time ease up on the outhaul". and i never understood, why?

i have two sails: an 8.5 gaastra maxtrix on a 490, and a 6.5 gaastra pilot on a 460. (both sails are 2008) the reason i am concerned with the forces that are involved, is so i can tune my sails if i want more power for the 8.5, or less power in the 6.5. or would you guys suggest just rigging to gaastra's specs and forgetting trying to get more or less out of the sails?

21st February 2010, 10:00 PM
Eric, in the future, please give us the details of your rig, conditions you sail in and yourself when asking questions. That way we can give specific answers based on your size, where you sail, your board and sail.

The following are rigging instructions I use for rigging clinics at club meetings. They are based on Sailworks sails but work for any new generation sail.

Downhaul controls base power of sail by controlling shape of the foil in sail, by changing downhaul I can sail a 5.4 in either 24 mph or 32 mph of wind. Outhaul then finalizes sail tension out to clew and should always be reset when downhaul is changed. Outhaul can be used to add or subtract small amounts of power.

Lay sail out, note measurements, try to adjust top short so normal sailing is in the second hole or more on a 2 cm extension. Tape mast together. Insert into mast sleeve trying to keep sail from bunching.
Insert line into pulleys. Downhaul lightly to approx 1 shakra from bottom. Attach boom at bottom of cutout. Tension outhaul loosely (non chambered). Downhaul to where you want power to be based on manufactures recommendations using marks on sail. You can also look at the batten above the boom. Should be in middle of boom with outhaul set. Set boom height to what you like. Tension outhaul to neutral (fingers slides on line.) then add 2 to 3 cm more outhaul. When you adjust downhaul you must readjust outhaul.
Tighten battens. Lower battens will be tensioned higher. Look along batten pocket and get rid of wrinkles. On new sail recheck at regular intervals.

21st February 2010, 10:13 PM
Forgot to login when I posted the above. Also agree that Guy Cribb article has some fluky instructions.

eric b 125
21st February 2010, 10:33 PM
vikingsail: i'm 5'11'', 90kg. most of the time i sail flatwater, 15mph winds. all of my equipment is brand new: '09 futura technora 144 (stock fin), the above sails, both my masts are fiberspar 3200 (30%), chinook triple clamp boom.

my equipment is far from 'top of the line' but it's all a huge step forward from the early 90's equipment that i used last year.

22nd February 2010, 01:49 AM
Sorry I missed that message. If I were to demostrate the settings on the 8.5 matrix, (with a crank and a CM, not inch, extension) I would set the extension for 28 cm (26+2) and then rig the sail so that the downhaul was set so there was 4 cm of space between the foot of the sail and the pulley in the extension. adjust outhaul neutral + 2cm. This is the underpowered position. Note the lack of looseness in the upper section of the sail.
Downhaul 2cm more. readjust outhaul neutral+2cm, note how the sail is loose between the upper 2 panels. This is the normal setting.
Downhaul 2cm more (this should be as much as possible), readjust outhaul neutral + 2cm. sail leech should be loose now in 3 panels. this is the setting for max overpowered sailing in 20-25 mph winds.
Everytime you change the downhaul readjust the outhaul to neutral plus 2 cm. If you do this you should easily see the effect downhaul has on sail shape.
You can do the same thing with the Pilot with 8 cm on the extension. Actually the pilot might be the one to test with. You might have to use 10 cm on the extension if the leech does not loosen up. Remember the numbers the manufacture are guidelines not written in stone.

22nd February 2010, 06:58 AM
Eric, that rigging guide on the Gaastra site is just terrible! I'm so sorry! According to it, they recommend just one outhaul and downhaul setting for each sail. Check out the rigging guide on the sailworks site as a comparison of what a good rigging guide should look like. I'm not saying to follow those sailworks instructions. But after reading them, I would contact Gaastra to find out why they don't give similar guidance on tuning. Maybe they really do recommend only one setting. Hopefully not.

Viking, where do you get your information, since it doesn't seem to be published by Gaastra anywhere?

eric b 125
22nd February 2010, 06:58 AM
that helps a lot, thank you.

eric b 125
22nd February 2010, 07:11 AM
by the way: that sailworks rigging guide is way better than what came with my gaastra's. however, the gaastra's rigging guide is a good reference to rig the sail to neutral.

22nd February 2010, 08:47 AM
Lanee, the Gaastra site does have a page for the 2008 line. The luff and boom specs are listed there.

22nd February 2010, 09:16 AM
The one I saw recommends only 100% downhaul and outhaul at the given luff and boom length, and says nothing about the adjustments you spoke of. Where did you see the adjustments?

22nd February 2010, 09:12 PM
Vikingsail pretty much nailed it with his rigging description.

All sails can be rigged for a variety of conditions, even if the manufacture has only one rigging specification. If you are on your largest sail and the wind is marginal, you back off the down haul for a deeper foil and more power. If the wind picks up a bit you can increase the down haul to recommended specifications. If the wind really picks up and you don't want to re-rig, add more down haul to flatten the sails and make the leach really loose. Of course, the outhaul needs to be adjusted accordingly, and for those that that have an on the water adjustable outhaul, you can bag or flatten the sail as needed as lulls and gusts come through.

If you are not using the mast that the sail designer based his sail design around, you may not be able to achieve the desired rigging results. Another brand of mast with identical carbon %, length and IMCS rating may not rig correctly because of different flex characteristics. No way to know if it will perform to specifications unless someone with a lot of experience looks at or sails your rig.

22nd February 2010, 10:28 PM
I like how everyone makes their own rules. So far in this thread, we've had someone say that there is probably only one correct downhaul setting, even if the manufacturer specifies a range. Now we have a case where the manufacturer recommends only one setting, and folks are saying that wouldn't be true.

It will be interesting to find out why Gaastra only specifies one setting. It is in their best interest to maximize your enjoyment of their sails. No adjustments = no wind range = minimum enjoyment.

23rd February 2010, 03:52 AM
while i was looking for gaastra rigging vids, i had a thought

first here is one rigging vid - 2009 with cams though

the thought was: the Pritchard brothers now both support Gaastra.
Kevin's corner is right on this website !! and they have their own site - should the gaastra questions go to kevin's corner ??? or on their site ??

was Kevin part of "the team" when they were with Gaastra ??

23rd February 2010, 06:18 AM
The +/- 2 cm works with Sailworks, Ezzy and Niash, and is based on looking at those 3 manufactures guides to rigging. Take a look at the latest Windsurf magazine, they have an very good article on adjusting outhaul and downhaul in modern sails and show the effects on the sail of these changes.

23rd February 2010, 06:21 AM
oh yah the most scary thing for me is when someone asks me to check how their sail is rigged and they are using a 10 year old mast. I usually end up grabbing a mast out of my van, rig their sail with it, and let them see the difference and make up their own mind. And you know what we haven't even talked about harness line position or length. :->

23rd February 2010, 06:33 AM
For some reason, I can't open it. But hopefully, Eric, Gaastra will give you some good guidance on adjustment limits on your sails. (And then, start shipping it with their sails, and add it to their website.)

Most modern sails, for example, the Sailworks sails for which you've seen the rigging guide, have TONS of wind range. I made a comment earlier in the thread, to one of Joe's comments about 'personal preference' that wasn't very constructive. But there IS personnal preference within manufacturer rigging limits.

The first thing is that, since alot of these sails have such large wind ranges, you may actually have to choose between rigging a bigger sail flat (at the upper range of downhaul/outhaul) or a smaller size full (at the lower end of downhaul/outhaul). The flat, bigger sail, and I'm not sure about this, will probably have a lower center of effort, be more stable, and have a higher top end speed, but, being bigger, will be more difficult to handle in transitions.

Here's another personal preference issue. I prefer to keep money in my pocket. Earlier, someone mentioned that they thought professional sailors only used one setting, the optimum setting. If you always want to be at optimum settings, you, like the pro's, will have to own lots of different sails.

One more personal preference issue, again, while staying within specs. On most modern, highly tuneable sails, you'll develop a preference based on what type of sailing you want to do that day, or what kind of feel you want. If identical twins were out sailing on the exact same equipment, one may rig his sail flat if he wants max gps speed or a stable feeling that comes with the resulting low center of effort. The other may rig the sail at the fuller limits because he prefers to stay powered through lulls, improve power out of transitions, or maximize hang time when jumping. Of course, his sail will be more twitchy due to its higher center of effort.

23rd February 2010, 08:14 AM
I just saw Viking's new posts. He's probably in a tough position, a position of authority. Folks who ask him for rigging advice probably aren't willing to accept 'I don't know' or 'I'm not sure' as answers. So, he has to make generalizations. If he's off, folks will be stuck rigging that sail the way he told them forever, probably scarring them for life.

His general advice has some holes in it. That starting point of no looseness in the leech as a minimum setting isn't true for most modern sails. Also, his suggestion of 4 cm of range for the downhaul is a generalization. I took a quick look at 2 of my sails and the downhaul range on them was 5 cm and 2 cm. (The 2 cm was on an Ezzy!)

Eric, you'll be better prepared so that you don't have to ask someone on the beach.

Viking, being in your position, it might be good to suggest that, at the end of the day, they go home and check their rigging guide. That would probably be better for them in the long run. Again, you're in a tough position. When they check, they may find out that you gave them bad advice.

23rd February 2010, 10:56 AM
Lanee and Ken,
Tom (vikingsail) knows alot about rigging sails. That's why we invited him to become a member of the east coast Sailworks/Starboard demo team.
Tom and Johan rig the sails, I critique their rigging (we use alot of 100% carbon masts in our demos because they are lighter and make the sails rig and perform better).
Then one of us usually tries a few of the rigs out.
When we are pretty sure we have them rigged as Bruce P. designed them, we turn them loose to the demo customers.
If we have any issues with a particular sail or mast, we often call the Sailworks loft for guidance from the guy who designs them, or the guys who actually sew up and test all the prototypes.
When in doubt, we take photos and email them to the loft for their analysis.
If a customer takes one of our demo rigs out and does not feel it performs correctly then we will for sure take that rig out on the water (on the same Starboard if possible) and see what's up, so we can determine if we can somehow adjust the rigging to make it better.
Interesting discussion here.
I vote with Lanee, Tom, and Ken... rig it the way the designer intended, on the recommended "best" mast, and you are almost guaranteed to get the best performance.
If you want the sail to do something else or want to use it out of it's intended design range, you can do that as well, but starting with the basics (per the design lofts rigging instructions) is absolutely the best place to start.
If the design loft for your particular sail does not give you good rigging guides and instructions, maybe think about changing lofts?

23rd February 2010, 05:15 PM
interesting ..
does SB use SW exclusively in their testing ?
and if so, shouldn't SB clients also purchase SW ?
and what kinda issues could you have with productions SW sails ???

23rd February 2010, 10:46 PM
For over 10 years I've been rigging my sails to max recommended downhaul, adjusting outhaul by only one/two increments. This gives massive wind range already. Every time I tried releasing downhaul (then outhaul) towards min recommended settings to get more low end power, I found the sail much less efficient whatever rigging instructions may say. I agree this is personal preference, valid only for a reduced set of sails/masts. This was less the case with older designs from mid 90's when you could play a lot more with downhaul, but I'm not sure wind range was any bigger. You just use more sqm now.

24th February 2010, 04:52 AM
It was me that said that many pro's don't change their downhaul setting. The was a person who said that you would need many sails then.
I use 9.8 from 4-7m/s. 8 from 7-10 and 5.8 until about 15 m/s and i very rarely adjust my downhaul. So i can sail from 4-15 m/s with 2 boards and 3 sails only adjusting my outhaul.
I don't understand the "rig as small as you can" thing. Not unless you jump and do tricks. Better to be well powered up with good control and the power low in the sail.

24th February 2010, 05:17 PM
About 9 years ago I worked in Thailand for a year. I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally replace my late eighties Bic Hard Rock and rig of unknown manufacturer. I got a good deal and ended up with two new boards and four sails, type NP V8 - 6, 7 and 9 sqm and a NP SuperNova - 5,5 sqm. (The SuperNova will not be mentioned again as it probably is the worst sail ever made)

The first time I tried the new gear, rigged the 7 m, and followed the instructions exactly. Had no fun at all. I could not get speed I expected, I was thrown off all the time and were utterly exhausted in less than an hour. The whole session ended up with me calling a friend to collect me a few kilometres down the coast, I could not sail high enough to get back to where I started.

This episode made me realise a few things – a work out every now and then during off season does not hurt, a 7 year sailing break makes you lose some of your touch and of course; it takes time to learn your new equipment.

My trick was to buy apply some stationeries: A ruler, a pen and a small notebook. After every session, I measured the distance between the mast foot and the sail, the outhaul, boom location, harness straps location and length and mast foot placement. In addition I noted conditions, especially wind and waves. Finally, I wrote down how I felt these settings worked and ideas to be tried out next time. Although it made me feel “geeky”, it worked. During that season I learned how to optimise the trim of my gear to fit my sailing style and current conditions.

Nothing wrong with manufacturers recommendation – its a good starting point, but they does not tell you in what wind and wave conditions they will work, nor are they adapted to your preferred boom height, board type, style of sailing, etc.

I guess my recommendation is to listen to your peers, but make up your own mind as you gain experience.

24th February 2010, 06:02 PM
I can't agree more, Norm.
There are too many parameters involved, in proper rigging.
It would be dull anyway, if there was only 1 perfect setting, that needed to fit for everyone, wouldn't it. :)

24th February 2010, 11:26 PM
Are you still with us, Eric?

Take a pair of twins of equal ability, using their biggest Sailworks sail. The brother who follows the guidelines you read will be able to plane at a lower wind speed than the brother who always sets his downhaul at maximum recommended. The sails have a good range adjusting only the outhaul, but I don't think anyone can really argue that you don't get more range when using the full downhaul and outhaul adjustment ranges.

eric b 125
25th February 2010, 09:06 AM
Oh, i'm still here, for sure. i'm thinking about what everyone had to say, and i think what it really boils down to is having more experience. i still have a lot to learn, and i'm not so sure i'd really notice a difference at this point in a little extra outhaul or not. when the season rolls around, i'll rig as the guide says to, and i'll play with it. i like the idea of keeping a record of my settings and conditions. maybe the balance in the sail is more important for me than trying to get more out of it?

on a side note... i hear a lot of talk about NP sails, and SW, but little about gaastra. do they make good sails? the sail i was using prior to getting new equipment was a gaastra, and when i was a kid everyone at the lake was rocking gaastra. i dont really see as much anymore. is the company 'falling-off'?