Contrary to popular thought, a slack rig is more punishing on a hull than a properly adjusted, tight rig. Insufficient tension will not reduce the loads transmitted in the hull. Slack rigging will punish the spar and rigging needlessly by allowing excessive movement, chafe and shock loading. Modern fiberglass hulls should not be damaged by a properly adjusted, tight rig.
For a properly tuned rig the leeward shrouds will not go slack under normal sailing conditions.
The lateral stiffness of the mast and the fore and aft stiffness of the spreaders is reduced by a factor of 2 when the leeward shrouds go slack. This Important structural characteristic is not generally recognized.
Rigging tension is becoming more important as a result of the trend toward the use of mast bend to control mainsail shape under different wind conditions. Mast bend will also affect the shape and trim of the jib, since mast adjustment generally affects forestay tension. The expert skipper will benefit by maintaining consistent rigging tension while developing the optimum sail shape and sailing tactics.
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