RS600- Iterate and optimise the controls

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Rope take ups
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We’ve had a good number of outings on the boat now, and it’s given us the opportunity to fine tune the initial systems. Nothing to major, but more about making the boat as easy to sail as possible.

But first lessons learnt to date, firstly the boat is so much easier to sail than the International 14. The boat is easily driven, planes readily and is stable. With the rotating rig, setting the boat up is different to setup, unlike a traditional rigs you have to find the right balance of the diamonds and rig tension.

It is really easy to over tension the rig, our approach so far is to pull just enough tension to stop the windward shroud flapping when trapezing. Because we’ve changed the diamonds to spectra we are still figuring out the right tensions, as a heavy helm, the main focus is generating power so keeping the mast straight is key. So using a lot of Diamonds, but waiting to see what happens when the new mainsail arrives.

What we’ve settled on for the controls

Forestay Adjuster

The forestay adjustor:

We’ve kept the old adjustor cleat, well it was attached to the forestay…

At the bottom we’ve put a 29mm Harken Carbo block onto the U bolt, next to it is a 18mm for the tail. Tail runs back across the foredeck, so we can tighten it on the water. We spliced an elastic tail into the rope’s core and also use it as a puller for the centreboard. Two Birds, One Stone.


We stuck with our original plan of a 8:1 system, with a 2:1 dead ended to a dog bone, to make rigging easier, and then a 4:1 tail, with a continuous take-up which runs around the wings. As part of that we use a simple knotted loop for the inhaul, 8mm rope set to keep the front of the sail lined up correctly on the track exit. Tail is a continuous system of 4mm Marlow Excel Control running around the whole boat.

2:1 Dead end
2:1 Dead end
4:1 running into an endless take-up
4:1 running into an endless take-up
Clean Layout


We went for a 16:1 purchase we used three one inch wire blocks and then a 20mm Allen hi-load block. The two 20mm blocks on the base U-Bolt have 2mm spectra spliced loops though the block and cow hitched to the u-bolt. The top of the vang is attached to a 5mm spectra loop which is anchored off the aft mainsheet attachment.

The Vang tails are 3mm Spectra with 4mm Marlow Excel Control for handling. As with the Cunningham it is continuous system running around the wings.


We made the decision to move the outhaul on to the boom, it’s cleaner and in general the outhaul doesn’t need huge amounts of adjustment. It is a simple 2:1 on the end of the boom, and using the existing through boom block at the inboard end. We added a Clam Cleat and single block under the boom (See above Picture) and elastic take up to keep the tail tight.


Mainsheet blocks

We started out with 29mm Harken carbo blocks, and a 6mm mainsheet, but over time it became obvious that friction was an issue. So we upgraded to 40mm Harken carbo blocks, with a 57mm Harken ratchet block and a 8mm mainsheet. Blocks are attached to the boom with 5mm Spectra in a closed loop, passing through the block. This keeps the blocks close to the boom.

Bridles are 5mm spectra, we did originally have 3mm, which is strong enough, but because the mainsheet rubs on the bridle, having a thicker line was better. Intent is to set the bridle so that in a breeze the mainsheet acts as a giant traveller with the vang controlling the leech profile. Will help keep sheet loads down on breezy days.

Mainsheet tail

For a tail take up on the mainsheet, we went for a simple take up pulling the mainsheet forward to the front of the cockpit. Idea is to keep the back of the boat where the helm has to transit, as clear as possible. We dded a U shaped pad eye onto the centreboard friction pad and passed the sheet through this. Then spliced some shock cord into the middle of the sheet, and made it off to one of the shroud U bolts.


Halyard hook and eye

Halyard: In the end decided on a 2:1 2.5mm spectra halyard, by drilling a small hole in the mast head unit, underneath the turning block and then spicing the halyard in so the load is spread across a wider area. Does mean we need to keep an eye on the splice to check for wear. On the other end changed to a hook and eye solution.

Trapeze Wires: We changed the heavy wire trapeze lines to spectra huge weight saving and as we are unlikely to ever reef the mast no real downside. By putting long eyes in the top and bottom we can easily Cow Hitch the lines to the rig. Simples. Handles are half tennis balls with reinforcement inside.

Spectra Uppers

Diamonds: When we stripped the wire rigging wasn’t in great shape, the diamonds in particular were a right off. We’ve been playing with fibre rigging on the 14 trying to decide whether the weight advantage (95% Reduction) is sufficient to offset the lack of inherent stiffness in small diameter fibre. We had a load of 2.5mm SK99 D12 Spectra rigging laying about. With there being a lack of small diameter riggers in Ireland, we went for Spectra Diamonds. Can change to wire for class racing, but might try doing the shrouds in the same way, just to see how it works…

What next?

We’ve been sailing the boat for a couple of months now and are pretty happy with the controls. As everything is spliced the likelihood is we will have to change some of the control lengths to suit the new sail. The old one has shrunk over time, but that’s easy enough.

Focus now is learning how to sail the boat better, which helps with the 14 and then over the dark winter months sort the hull finish and possibly respray the hull to our ‘House’ colours. Foils will need to be refinished and sprayed as they are looking pretty ropey. In the next article will publish a list of the fittings used, rope lengths etc which might be of help to anyone else trying this exercise.

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