Significance of Masts and Rigging in Modern Boat Design

27 November 2020

The design of boats today has continuously evolved throughout the years, ensuring that their performance can be enhanced significantly. Most modern boats can now be operated easily without compromising significant features that can help them operate and traverse bodies of water.

The masts and rigging in modern boat design are important due to the features that they bring on boats. Masts are comprised of spars that are installed vertically on the centreline of a boat, while the rigging is a system of ropes, cables, and chains that can support the masts. With powerful masts and rigging, they can easily sustain the weight of the sailcloth and help the boat reach its destination safely and flawlessly. They can also aid in supporting structure for the sail and refined boat control.

Choosing the Suitable Masts

In principle, lighter boats tend to go faster than heavy ones. And so, when choosing the components for your boat, you should certainly consider their material and their overall weight. One of the few components that can increase the weight of the boat is the masts.

Masts have been traditionally fabricated out of aluminium. Aluminium is an extremely versatile metal due to its notable features. It is durable, flexible, and corrosive resistance. It is also lightweight, allowing it to be maximised in making the masts for the boat. However, even with its lightweight feature, aluminium can still add significant weight to the boat as more mast components are installed on the boat.

Alternatively, masts can also be made from carbon fibre. Carbon fibre has been identified to boast high stiffness, high tensile strength, and high chemical resistance. The said material can also provide high-temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion, allowing carbon fibre masts to endure the condition of the sailing route. And when compared to aluminium, carbon fibre is said to be lighter and stronger.

Given the features of carbon fibre masts, they can easily enhance and improve the performance of boats. Utilising these masts can likewise increase upwind performance and provide faster sailing action.

Rigging Must Be Prioritised

Similar to masts, choosing the materials used for the rigging must also be done carefully. Rigging ensures that the boat can be controlled. It also keeps the sail stretched to gain access to maximum wind capacity at specific times. Rigging is likewise utilised in supporting each mast and reinforcing the spars against wind loads that are transferred from the sails.

Most rigging components are made from 316 Grade Stainless Steel. This is a low cost, strong, durable, and highly resilient material to corrosion, however it is not resistant in the oceans highly corrosive environment. 316 Grade Stainless Steel rigging most commonly comes in the form of wire, rod (solid round bar) or terminal end fittings (fittings that wire, or rod terminate in, which attach to the mast or boat).

Polybenzoxazole is another material used in rigging for its lightweight properties in racing yachts and it is believed to have the highest levels of strength and resistance to deformation. It also has high tensile strength and high thermal stability, which makes it useful for rigging applications. Boats that are intended for races maximise the capabilities of this material. However, normal sailboats can likewise benefit from this type of rigging.

While polybenzoxazole has been known and used for a long time, a huge number of boats still use carbon as their rigging material. Carbon has excellent resistance and stiffness that makes it functional for boats. This material, however, must be protected from ultraviolet radiation and isolated properly. After all, the material can be sensitive to cathodic corrosion.

Boat rigging systems are primarily comprised of components that can effectively support the masts of a sailing ship or a sailboat and modify the position of the vessel’s sails and spars. These systems essentially ensure that the ship or the boat is already ready for proper use. Marine technicians who are onboard the ships or boats must know the basics of the boat rigging systems to make sure everything will work optimally. Optimal installation of an outboard and proper configuration of these systems must also be done to avoid encountering any problems and issues along the way.

Understanding the Rigging Process

Rigging, which is the installation of an outboard engine, is important as it configures the boat in a way it is intended to be used by the people who will be using it. The rigging process typically varies from one boat to another. However, some basic steps can be similar to the majority of boats and ships.

The first step of the rigging process is to find the transom centre. Finding the transom centre can be done through the arc method. Afterward, one must allocate appropriate engine spacing is a must so that there will be no issues once the motors turn to their respective steering axis. For a ship with one engine, it must be positioned on the centreline of the transom. Offsetting each engine for a minimum amount from the transom centreline must be done for those that have dual engines.

Once the spaces for engines are allotted, mounting holes must be drilled according to the structure of the engine. At this point, the drill bit must be kept at a 90-degree angle to the transom whenever drilling the holes. A transom drilling fixture must also be used to guide the drilling task. Next, the transom height must be determined and measured. Its height must be measured from its top down to the bottom of the boat, particularly at the engine centreline. Raising the mounting height of the engine can help decrease steering torque, increase boat stability, increase propeller ventilation, and increase maximum speed.

Before mounting and installing the engines, all necessary information about them must be recorded. They must also have no missing or damaged parts. As soon as everything is checked and recorded, the outboard engines must be installed according to their manufacturers’ instructions.

Rigging Inspections are Important

All the components attributed to the boat rigging systems must be inspected ahead of time. Thorough inspections and maintenance for the whole rigging system can be good for the well-being of ships and boats. The wires and rods of the ships and boats must be checked for loose strands, breaks, and end fittings. The location where other components meet the other rigging must also be assessed periodically. Likewise, fittings and components that have significant damages must be replaced right away. After all, rigging systems are constantly exposed to heavy load and stress in a highly corrosive environment.

For more information about boat rigging system inspections, feel free to contact us at Riggtech. We ensure that all standing rigging components are changed from top pin to bottom pin when replacing the standing rigging. This guarantees the absence of a weak link, and you can sail with peace of mind and confidence.


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