Rigging for Trade Wind Running

For those long passages across the oceans in the trade winds, you need to set up your boat so you can run wing and wing or fly an asymmetrical chute in lighter conditions. Your aim is to maximize boat speed while maintaining as much comfort as possible.

To sail wing and wing, with the mainsail strapped out to leeward and the genoa poled out to windward, you need a spinnaker pole that is equipped with a topping lift, fore guy and after guy. Coastal cruisers usually get away with a simple whisker pole to wing out the genoa, but ocean sailing is more demanding and a more robust and permanent set up is prudent.

The topping lift and guys will allow you to position the pole exactly where you want it and control it even when the genoa is completely rolled up. The guys need to be led aft to the cockpit so it makes sense to mount blocks and fair leads permanently. We like deck-mounted stand up blocks (such as the Harken 3012), which can bolted to the decks. We install one on each side of the deck at the bow on either side of the anchor locker or windlass. These will lead the fore guys aft to the cockpit. Install fair leads on deck if the path aft is not straight.

For the after guys, mount the stand up blocks in the side decks so the guy will run fairly to the pole without chafing on the side stays of the stanchions and lifelines. This will take some experimenting. You can install line clutches for all four guys if you have the room on deck near the cockpit. That way you won’t have to use cockpit winches or cleats to handle the lines.

If possible, run the topping lift aft to the cockpit, too. With fore and aft guys on both sides of the boat, you can set up the wing and wing rig quickly and easily on both jibes. And you can control the position of the pole in all conditions. You’ll be amazed at how well this rig improves your downwind sailing when making long passages.

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