In order for your MacGregor to
perform to its potential, you must keep your rig (mast, shrouds, and stays)
properly tuned. These suggestions are designed to give you an idea of how
to shape and tension your rig. Included are some notes on specific sailing
conditions and various boat models.
The main terms used on these pages about rig-tuning:
Other terms you may hear in advanced tuning guides
point at which the headstay attaches to the mast, especially in fractional-rig
boats. We refer to this fitting as the Headstay Tang.
Mast position is the angle of the mast (fore and aft) relative to the top of the deck with no bend in the mast.
Mast Bend (General)
MacGregor masts, like most aluminum masts, are meant to bend somewhat (with the
middle of the mast curved toward the bow of the boat). By changing the amount of bend, you can change the way the boat sails.
Note: The 26M sets up with the mast nearly straight.
Mast Bend (Light-Wind
The mast should be almost straight (very little bend). Tighten the lower shrouds to pull the middle of the mast aft -- but never so much that you pull it beyond straight. Even for the lightest-wind areas, the mast should always bend at least a little bit.
Mast Bend (Heavy-Wind Areas)
The center of the mast should bend 2-3 inches forward of a chord from the mast tip to the mast step. (To help see mast bend, you can pull the mainsail halyard tight to the where the back of the mast touches the mast step on your deck.) To push the middle of the mast forward, tighten the upper shrouds. You may need to first loosen the lowers a bit if the rig is already fairly tight.
The backstay should be just snug for normal sailing. (On a fractional rig, the backstay contributes very little to headstay tension.) On windy days, if you have an adjustable backstay, tighten it an extra inch or so in induce mast bend. (This flattens the mainsail a bit and also spills some wind from the top of the sail, both of which will make the boat heel less.)
How Tight Should The Rig Be?
This is somewhat subjective. A good rule of thumb for easy trailering plus good performance is that the shrouds should be tight but not quite tight enough to "play music" on them. If it is very difficult to pin the headstay when you raise the mast, the rig is probably tighter than it needs to be. The balance of tension between the upper and lower shrouds is determined by how much bend you are trying to preset into the mast.
Alignment Side to Side
The procedure described here should work well for anyone but the hard-core racer (who's likely looking for that last 1/16 inch, that extra 1/20 of a knot).
MacGregor 26 daggerboard: