There is a link to the North Sails tuning guide archive on the Salty John website. These guides are incredibly useful if you’re lucky enough to own one of the many types of boats covered. If your boat isn’t in the North Sail archive, try the website of other sailmakers and see if you strike it lucky there.
If there is no tuning guide for your specific boat model, don’t despair, each Loos & Co. tension gauge comes with full instructions including suggested preliminary settings for different wire sizes and rig types.
Loos makes two different classes of gauge for wire rigging – Standard and Pro. They also make two sizes of gauge for rod rigging. We carry the metric version of all sizes in stock.
The standard range comprises two models, type A(91M) covering wire sizes 2.5mm, 3mm and 4mm and type B(90M) for wire sizes 5mm, 6mm and 7mm. These gauges are simple to use and accurate to 5% at mid range.
For more accuracy and convenience choose the Pro models: PT1M for 2.5mm, 3mm and 4mm, the PT2M for 5mm, 6mm and the lower tension end of 7mm and the PT3m for 7mm, 8mm, 9mm and 10mm wire. These gauges are a little more accurate, 3% at mid-range.
The Pro range is more convenient to use because the gauge is left on the wire whilst the turnbuckle adjustment is made whereas the Standard range gauges must be removed whilst the wire is adjusted.
Rod rigging can be accurately tuned with the RT10 and RT11 gauges.
Having the correct rig tension is important because a loose rig can impart shock loads to shrouds and chain plates as the mast flops from side to side; a too tight rig can cause structural damage.
A well tuned rig will have equally tensioned shrouds so that the boat will perform well on both tacks, the leeward shrouds won’t dangle flaccidly and the forestay won’t sag. She’ll feel right on all points of sail.
A tuned rig is a happy rig. Fair winds for the coming season!
A very good sailor once told me that racing was the best way to hone my sailing skills. I have to agree with him. The racer’s attention to detail in setting up and trimming the boat and the tactical aspects of navigation really do help you to get from A to B faster and more efficiently.
Some will claim that, as cruisers, they really don’t care how long it takes to reach their destination but I think the majority of sailors prefer to think of themselves as skilled in harnessing the winds and currents and that’s exactly what racers are.
There are obvious differences between the priorities of the racer and those of the cruiser – racers have big crews and can handle complex sails such as spinnakers more readily and they will persist in pursuing the shortest course to the line when the cruiser may be taking a longer but less arduous route. The short-handed cruiser may reef down before the racing crew even considers it and the cruiser may choose to heave-to whilst the racing crew battles on.
The racing boat will be equipped to get there fast, as safely and comfortably as possible; the cruising boat will be equipped to get there safely and comfortably, and as fast as possible.
For the most part, though, the lessons to be learnt from the racing circuit about making the boat go faster benefit the cruising sailor. In particular, sail trim and rig tuning are as relevant to one as the other.
Knowing that your sails are set to make the most of the available breeze gives a sense of contentment and satisfaction. Racing, with its emphasis on sailing efficiency, teaches you to achieve this.
Knowing that your stays and shrouds have the right degree of tension to ensure the best performance from the boat without danger of the whole lot falling down around your ears is a comfort. Racing teaches you the importance of a well tuned rig for efficiency and for rig integrity, and how to achieve it.
The big sailmakers and the one-class boat manufacturers provide tuning guides for set up and trim. North Sails, for instance, has on its site tuning guides for over 80 types of boat.
The tool of choice for rig tuning is the Loos tension gauge – all the tuning guides provide Loos gauge settings. The Loos gauge instructions give preliminary settings for all rig types. Whether you’re a cruiser or a racer, or both, a Loos tension gauge will help to get you there faster and safer.