Adding a Solent Stay

Posted by Ralph Naranjo at 11:36AM - Comments: (10)

The modern, fixed Solent, dual-furling headsail setup is an either-or sailplan, and the large drifter/reacher must be rolled up to tack or jibe.

Whether you view it from the top down or the bottom up, a Solent rig needs to be carefully thought out, well-engineered, and strategically located. Some sailors add a short bowsprit or U-shaped, tubular extension that includes a bobstay and supports the attachment of a new headstay. The old headstay chainplate becomes the new tack point for the Solent stay. Another approach is to retain the existing headstay and simply attach a new tang just a bit below the headstay sheave box. Then add a deck fitting to attach the Solent stay and tack the sail(s). The deck must be reinforced with a transverse member or tie rod mechanically fastened to the stem so that the tension loads donít damage the deck.

Either approach can be a win-win solution, but as with all sailboat modifications, the devil is in the details. On the up side, both options offer a double-headsail rig that doesnít require the addition of running backstays. But when the sprit option is chosen, rig support can be jeopardized due to the placement of the headstay outboard of the stem of the vessel. On a traditional cutter, the same thing occurs, but the original stem-mounted headstay simply becomes the forestay, and the loads are shared. With a removable Solent stay disconnected, this belt-and-suspenders security is lost.

Make sure that the load-bearing capacity of the sprit and its attachment points have been carefully calculated. This structure must account for more than tension in the headstay(s). It includes designing the structure to counteract forces such as those exerted by one or two anchors pounding into short, steep seas on a squally afternoon sail home. Little things can play a major role down the road, like properly sizing bobstay terminals and fittings to account for degradation caused by intermittent or continuous immersion in seawater. Many modern designers prefer to add a little more ballast and a little more height to the mast rather than put the headstay outboard on a 21st-century bowsprit. However, plumb-bowed boats have complicated anchor handling and made short sprits almost a necessity.

In the case of boats with high sail area-displacement ratios, you may want to put a light-air genoa or a drifter/reacher on the headstay and set up another roller-furler with a non-overlapping sail on the Solent stay. The trick is knowing when to switch gears from the lightweight sail on the headstay and unwind or hank on the small jib that sets on the Solent stay. In either case, when the stay becomes a permanent fixture, the rig is better supported, but each tack or jibe of the larger headsail requires rolling it and unrolling it.

Comments (10)

Hi Greenflash Thanks for your post. Can you please post a picture....I would really like to see how you attached to the mast, and to the deck--where and how? and how did you determine where and how? Thanks very much (I am the new owner of a 473 Oceanis Clipper (not sure the rig is any different between Oceanis and Oceanis Clipper maybe a meter more of mast--if anyone knows would like to know!) Thanks...

Posted by: Glide2277 | June 30, 2018 10:07 PM    Report this comment

Our Outbound 44 was designed as a Solent rig. The forestay is attached tothe anchor platform about 1' forward of the bow, with a short matching bobstay. The inner stay attaches about 2' aft of that. Our boat was originally configured wth a detchable Solent stay, for which Carol Hasse's Port Townsend sails cut a non-overlapping staysail. the removable stay was great for tacking the roller furled 125% genoa, but the process of attaching and tensioning the stay, hanking on the sail and leading the jib sheets was challenging enough in strong winds that we didn't use it as much as we should have. By the time we reached New Zealand we saw the wisdom of having the staysail on a roller furler and chnaged it over. Great rig for offshore cruising, where frequent tacking of the Genoa is unlikely. One downside of the Solent rig: forestay and Solent stay tensions are shared, so you will never get quite as tight a luff.

Posted by: k7cej | February 16, 2018 2:32 PM    Report this comment

I thought about adding a solent stay to our Pacific Seacraft 34 but opted instead for Code Zero staysail, since we had a hanked on sail already.
I designed it and installed it last summer and what a gizzmo. The sail is rolled and normally dropped on the foredeck. When we need it, the staysail is hoisted from the cockpit (no going forward) which makes my wife happy and furled and unfurled from the cockpit. When we sail as a sloop the staysail is out of the way when we tack.
I have to say, it's obviously not an original idea but one i copied from our sister ship we met in the North Channel a few years ago, but it works like a charm.

Posted by: Khen M | February 15, 2018 11:25 AM    Report this comment

Hi Ralph,
We have a Najad 405, there is a factory solent kit that we can order and install. Do you think this is a "better" route to go than trying to install a staysail ? There is no factory staysail kit for the 405.

Posted by: LoonsLace | February 15, 2018 10:27 AM    Report this comment

We added a solent stay to our Beneteau 473. The factory makes a retro fit kit, but we made up our own hardware. The sail is on a Profurl roller furling. The only drawback on this boat is the sheeting angle limitation due to the existing genoa track. We sail in the Caribbean and find that we use the solent headsail 90% of the time; apparent wind over 15k, AWA between 40 and 100. The boat has less heal and we sail faster in more comfort. Highly recommended.

Posted by: greenflash | February 15, 2018 10:03 AM    Report this comment

What the hell is a Solent Stay? Sounds like an Inner Forestay to me which I added to my 44' sloop

Posted by: ARGONAUTA I | February 15, 2018 9:43 AM    Report this comment

Send photos of systems

Posted by: RHS | February 15, 2018 9:20 AM    Report this comment

Please send more photos describing the systems you talk about. One picture is 10000 words.

Posted by: RHS | February 15, 2018 9:19 AM    Report this comment

Please send more photos describing the systems you talk about. One picture is 10000 words.

Posted by: RHS | February 15, 2018 9:19 AM    Report this comment

Please send more photos describing the systems you talk about. One picture is 10000 words.

Posted by: RHS | February 15, 2018 9:19 AM    Report this comment

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