After several enjoyable years of experience with the 26X we decided that it might be fun to see if we could "push the envelope" a little to explore potential improvements in sailing performance.  Planning began, and before long we were trying out new parts on our demonstrator boat, splicing mast sections together and talking to our sailmaker.  I felt that real improvements could be made to sailing performance by installing a new taller mast which would eliminate the need to use a Genoa altogether.

The project began with drawings and calculations on how the changes would affect the center of effort of the sailplan, and hence the balance of stability of the boat.  After running my ideas past Roger MacGregor and several sailmakers, I decided on a fairly radical addition of 3.5' to the mast height while raising the headstay to the original masthead height of 28'.  Initial tests conducted by temporarily installing the new rig on our demonstrator boat provided lots of important data.  The two most important bits of information were that the first jib was cut too low and fought with the lifelines (toss out a brand new Mylar laminate jib!), and that the mast was just not stiff enough in strong winds at this height.  Changing to stiffer spreaders helped, but ultimately we decided that the only fix was to convert to a double spreader rig to reduce the spans between support points.

We sailed the new double spreader rig on Cheryl's sister's 26X to further test and develop it.  Ultimately this rig performed beyond our highest expectations with significant improvements in pointing ability, stability and boat speed.  The higher performance Main and 105% Jib, along with better control of sail shape from the new rig provided a much wider wind range with full sails, light air performance was great, yet you could sail in much stronger wind without needing to reef the main or Jib.  A nice side effect was that the taller, higher aspect ratio rig really looked racy!  We eventually sold the tall rig setup to a customer who is still sailing it on Puget Sound.

26X Tall Rig Under Sail

Double Spreader Rig

How To Reach Blue Water Yachts


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