I often see a lot of people rigging and de-rigging their sails at the Surf Center, and every now and then I see someone who has very little idea of what they are doing. In this post I aim to provide a step-by-step guide for those who are a little lost.
Aside from transportation, the most exhausting part of windsurfing (once we sail more with technique than with force) is the rigging and de-rigging of the sail. It will always take a few minutes and just the walking to and from the water to spend time on this activity will force us to get a feel of the wind speed and the sail size we need for it. Although it can be done in under 2 minutes like in this demonstration by Victor Fernández, it usually takes a little longer and not everyone knows how to do it in the most efficient way. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to rig a sail correctly (note that here I only focused on how the steps of rigging the sail, not on the fine tuning. I will write a few posts in the future on the tuning of the sail):
Mast into sail sleeve
This part is usually the most tiring as the mast is built to bend inside the sail sleeve. The easiest way to do this step is to find a corner or wall that is solid and lean the base of the mast against it as we pull the sails mast sleeve over the mast.
If you have a variable length top, adjust it to the correct length and then fiddle the plug onto the mast.
Mast extension/base into mast
Put the mast base on the mast or, if necessary, the mast extension. You can find out the extra length needed by checking out what it says on the sail (usually close to the lower edge of the sail).
Now the time has come to fumble the down-haul line to connect the mast base to the sail. I wrote a post on how to do this here.
Tense the down-haul slightly
At this point we must tense the down-haul slightly so that the mast bends a little, bringing a little tension into the sail. We don’t want it so tense that it is hard to get the boom on. Usually we can tense it enough with just wrapping the line around our fist. If you need more you can check out this article on tensing the down-haul.
Set boom length
To set the boom to the correct length you must check the recommended boom length specified on the sail. Then take the booms standard length and pull out the extension by as much as needed. IMPORTANT: Make sure the boom is only as long as it has to be. The sails performance is greatly reduced if the clew of the sail is not close to the boom. Any gap greater that 2 cm/< 1 inch (in other words, one step along the extension) means that the boom should be set shorter.
Clamp the boom onto mast
Get the boom clamp protector on the mast.and then clamp the boom on the mast over it. On some systems the protector can be left inside the boom clamp and just fixed on simultaneously.
Once the boom has been clamped onto the mast we fumble the out-haul onto the boom, making sure that the line has as little friction as possible to other points of the line. I will write a post on the options available in the future.
We tense until the sail is touching the boom. If the sail doesn’t reach the boom even on the boom’s shortest setting, you need a shorter boom. I have seen a few people sailing with the sail about 7cm or more away from the boom. This is “possible” but not a good/efficient way for the sail to be trimmed.
It is time to get back to the down-haul. We now tense it all the way so that we get the loose leech we need/want. My preferred position is so that the first batten above the boom is at about 1/3 of the width of the mast.
Up-haul rope onto mast base
Now all that is left to do is to attach the lower end of the up-haul rope onto the mast base and we are done.
Stow away mast top band
Top avoid the band on the mast top flapping about, it is really easy to stow it away by using a loose sail batten and pushing the mast into the mast sleeve.
Tense the sail battens
Make sure all the creases are gone around the sail battens
So, to recap:
– Mast into sail sleeve
– Mast extension/base into mast
– Fumble down-haul
– Tense slightly
– Boom clamp protector + boom clamped onto mast
– Fumble out-haul + tense
– Tense down-haul
– Up-haul rope onto mast base
– Stow away mast top band
– Tense the sail battens
I hope this has been useful and that you now have a clearer understanding of the order in which to rig your windsurf sail. Some other tips and tricks can be found over at Poole Windsurfing.