Swept-Back Spreaders—We Just Don’t Get It!

We are all for many of the advances in sail handling systems that have appeared in recent years: roller furling, low stretch exotic fiber rope halyards, solid vangs, and clutches. All these and more have made sail handling on cruising boats easier and, in many cases, safer.

However, every so often we see a trend on offshore cruising boats that just makes no sense to us at all. The latest in that category is swept-back spreaders, often associated with complex three spreader rigs. Why on earth would you fit a rig to a voyaging boat that prevents trimming the sails properly to sail downwind? Isn’t planning voyages so that downwind and broad reaching are maximized the whole idea? I know it is for us.

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Meet the Author

John Harries

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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