Mast Rake and Bridle w/ Stan Storwick

The distance the apex of the bridle is from the forward cross bar used to be fixed in the US rules I believe (here again the rules should be consistent).   I remember or seem to recall an incident at one of the major regattas where this was an issue.  The distance is in my opinion a bit irrelevant.  Instead the focus should be on the distance from the mast that the head of the jib is and the rake of the mast.

Mast rake determines to some extent the amount of weather helm(release the helm and most dinghies will head to windward).  I try to achieve neutral or slight weather helm and consequently try to rake the mast slightly forward when going to weather and even more so when sailing off the wind.  Usually the shrouds on my boats are slack with a bit of play.  Going to windward the load is on the weather shroud, the jib luff and the main sheet with the lee shroud quite loose.  Even if you have tight shrouds when standing still on the beach or head to wind the lee shroud will be loose in moderate to strong winds when going to windward.

Neck and neck
You can see the slight forward mast rake on Pam Simonson’s US19 nearest the camera.

If your mast is raked slightly forward the factory bridle height tends to place the head of the jib close to the mast which effectively cuts off air flow.  I try to allow a distance of 8 to 10 inches from the mast hounds to the head of the jib.  This usually allows a good air flow and results in the bridle height being @ 8 to 10 inches.

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There is some difference of opinion here as with the Hobie class boats the recommended set up is to have heavy weather helm.  I have a Hobie 18 that has extremely strong weather helm if set up as suggested by the class association.  I don’t enjoy this boat as much as a result.  I really hope others will comment on this topic as there are likely a number of opinions on this.

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