RIGGING DOES NOT LAST FOR EVER – A broken mast is just about the worst thing that can happen to a sailor. At Pantaenius, Europe’s leading provider of yacht insurance, alone, almost 500 claims have been received over the last three years in connection with a broken mast.
Many of these could have been easily avoided, as it was often small, existing rigging defects that caused the mast to break.
A pin in the chain plate that was too small, worn out shroud attachments, bent split rings… In many cases, it would have only cost a few euros to replace a damaged part and thus make the rigging safe again. The rigging is often neglected due to a lack of technical knowledge. In some cases, very specialised knowledge is required to identify weaknesses. Doing nothing is definitely the worst possible solution. A broken mast not only ruins the entire rigging and the sails, it also generally causes serious damage to the hull and deck. It is also not unusual for people to be injured as well.
IF IN DOUBT, CONSULT A RIGGER
In winter, when the mast is laid down, the rigging should be subjected to a thorough visual inspection. A more detailed visual inspection can often reveal many defects. Pins and cotters should be checked and, if necessary, replaced. In general, experts advise against securing with split rings on the standing rigging. Corrosion and hair cracks are usually easy to detect. If it is not clear how serious the damage is, or how you should correct it, it is a good idea to consult a professional rigger. In any case, you should commission a rigger to conduct a rigging check at reasonable intervals. These intervals will depend entirely on the usage of the vessel. The rigging of a regatta racer or a sailing yacht used for long trips is certainly subject to more stress than that on a normal touring boat. And whether the standing rigging is made of wire, rod, carbon fibre or PBO will also determine how often it should be replaced.
ENSURE CORRECT RIGGING ADJUSTMENT AND TRIMMING
Other important factors include correct rigging adjustment and trimming. For example, insufficient shroud tension can not only reduce the sail clearance, but also permanently damage the rigging. Vessel and mast manufacturers generally provide extensive instructions on rigging adjustment and trimming. Or you can speak to a tried and trusted expert.