The current North Sails inventory for the Star is a result of years of design research and testing as well as numerous national and international victories. This tuning guide is meant to be a good starting point in setting up your boat. Depending on your crew weight, strength, sailing style and local conditions, you may have to alter your rig tune slightly. As you read this, write down any questions you may have, and we will be happy to discuss them with you in more detail.
Our main goal is to help you achieve a rig set-up that is fast in all conditions; upwind, reaching and running, and is very easy to adjust and change gears while sailing. Your new North sails are designed around this all-purpose philosophy.
It is important to mark all your shrouds, sheets, halyards, tracks, outhaul, backstay, etc. Keep records of your tuning set-ups, the conditions you sail in, and how your speed is. It is essential to be able to duplicate settings from race to race, and also to know exactly how the boat was set up when you were going fast. Experiment during practice races and clinics.
Tuning at the Dock
Before stepping the mast
Before we put the rig up in the boat there are a few things that need to be looked at. First we want to check to see that the mast is straight fore and aft and also sideways. Small bends can be fixed. If you have large bends or kinks you should contact your mast supplier for their advice.
Next check the intermediates and adjust if necessary. To do this pull the upper shroud down the front of the mast and make a mark on the mast at the bearing point of the shroud (this is the inside bottom of the loop on the shroud) by using a hanging scale and pull with 15kg.
Mark the position with a pencil on the mast. This should be done on the opposite shroud also. Check if they are the same length! After both uppers are marked pull the intermediates down the front of the mast and mark as you did for the upper, use a spring scale and pull with 15kg. Measure the difference between these marks. You should have a measurement between 72mm (very light crews) and 75mm (for heavy crews in light and choppy conditions). We recommend you start with 73mm. This will keep the mast very straight between the spreader and the top, while you are sailing.
The last thing you need to do is to set the spreader sweep and square the spreaders to the mast butt. Do this with the mast track down and the spreaders swept back in the up wind position. Take a thin piece of shock cord and tie it to the screw on the spreader.
This piece of shock cord should be stretched tight to make a straight line from screw to screw. Next, measure from the back of the mast to the shock cord. The distance between the mast (do not measure in the mast track) and the shock cord should be 120mm. (More spreader angle will flatten the sail, this can be good in light winds and flat water.)
After setting the spreader sweep you need to make sure they are square to the mast butt. To do this leave the shock cord on the spreader that you used to measure the sweep with. Get a batten and put it on edge on the leading edge of the butt casting. Stand back at the butt of the mast and sight along the batten and this should line up with the shock cord that is stretched between the shrouds. If this does not line up adjust with the Allen screws in the spreaders. Make sure that you adjust each screw the same. You will have to screw one in and screw the other out to keep the sweep at the proper amount.
One quick note about spreader sweep, if you feel your mast is soft you might have to use less sweep and conversely if your mast is stiff you will have to use more spreader sweep.
Now that you have the mast ready, put the mast up in the boat. After you have all the shrouds and backstays attached put the boat on a level place to finish the set-up of the rig.
Forestay length - Rake : between 90(43) and 92(45)
Before you connect the forestay bring it back to the mast. Pull the forestay tight along the front of the mast and with a black marker make a mark on the forestay at the location of the bottom of the black band!
Re-connect the forestay and apply 10 units (on the Loose gauge) on the upper backstay tension to straighten the forestay and measure from the black mark on the forestay to the deck. (Make sure you have no puller on and the spreaders are swept back!)
Why do it this way? Because it’s the most accurate way and the measurement is the same for new and old forestay systems. (Some are connected under deck some over deck and varies in length).
Up to 12 knots you sail with the mast on 900 when you start to feel overpowered let the mast back to 910 between 15-20 knots, over 20 knots set the rake on 920.
Mast Butt Position
Once the mast is stepped in the boat you need to check the butt location. This position is in relation to your keel position fore and aft (E measurement- check your measurement certificate). If you are not sure the best thing is to contact your boat builder and ask for his settings. Nevertheless most boats are very similar and the common settings in the past were: For Mader and Follis the measurement should be 4520cm, for Lillia`s 4540cm
This is done by taking a tape measure from the back of the mast at the base back over the aft edge of the cockpit along the deck to the transom. Using a straight edge along the transom measure the location.
Next with the mast in its upwind sailing position, spreaders back, tension on back stays. The lower shrouds will be in line with the front of the mast and the uppers approximately (5cm and 8,5cm) in front of the lowers. (Remember the more the lowers are forward the more they loosen up on the downwind). If you have no rails or levers on the upper shrouds to release the tension on the downwind, I recommend fixing the uppers as far forward as possible.
The final step is to make sure the mast is upright in the boat. This is done by running a tape measure to the top of the mast using the main halyard. Running the tape measure in front of the spreaders, measure to the top of the shroud track just in front of the shroud car. Do your best to make this measurement the same from side to side.
Rig Tuning Settings
We recommend investing in a Loose Tension Gauge Model PT-1.
Put our Rake on 90(43)cm. Use the Loose Gauge and put tension on each upper backstay until you have 10 units on each side. Now use the Loose Gauge and measure the tension on your upper shrouds. This should be 22(0-10 knots) 23(10-18) 24(18 +). Be sure your puller is loose while measuring
Finally you need to set-up your inner lower shrouds. First measure up from the tip of the black band along the mast 36" (91.5 cm) and make a mark. Now measure across from shroud to shroud. By pulling the shrouds together this measurement should be 72.5 for light up to 75 for strong wind. It is useful to use a shock cord to have the same tension every time!
Now you are set to go sailing. The measurements and settings that we have suggested are a very good starting point. You might have to make some small adjustments to fit your sailing style and crew weight.
Star Rig Settings
|Uppers || Lowers|| Rake|| Jib |
fore & aft
| Jib |
in & out
|Outhaul ||Cunningham |
|0-5|| 21|| 72|| 43|| 218|| 40|| 3cm|| wrinkles|| 5-3cm||no|
|5-10|| 22|| 72|| 43|| 220|| 35|| 3cm|| wrinkles|| 2cm||no|
|10-15|| 22|| 73|| 43|| 220|| 30|| 1cm|| none|| max||pull|
|15-20|| 23|| 73|| 43|| 220|| 35|| 0cm|| none|| max||pull out wrinkles fix|
|20-25|| 24|| 75|| 44|| 222|| 40|| 0cm|| none|| max||max|
|25+|| 24|| 75|| 45|| 222|| 40|| 0cm|| none|| max||max|
Set up the rig at the base setting before you leave the dock, adjust the rig as conditions change but remember to keep track of any changes.
Light Air (0-5 Knots)
In these conditions keeping the boat moving fast and not worrying about pointing is very important. Therefore set the boat up to maximize boat speed instead of pointing ability.
The golden rule in all conditions is “If you want to point you have to be going fast first!” In light air set your sails up for maximum power.
Get in a habit of sighting up the backside of the mast to see how the mast is bending The lower shrouds are set at a position so the mast is straight or comes to windward slightly.(This will make the sail more open and the space between main and jib will be bigger. This will help your speed!)
Sheet in the main so the top batten is parallel to the boom. You will not need any upper or lower backstay tension in these conditions. Make sure the tell tails on the top batten are not stalled. The outhaul should be 3-5 cm eased from maximum. The more chop there is, the looser the outhaul should be set. The cunningham should be slack.
Tension the jib halyard enough to leave a few of the luff wrinkles. This will ensure the draft is forward and the leech of the sail is open. With the draft slightly forward the boat will be easier to steer. The open leech will help air flow across the sail without stalling. You can put the jib traveller 2cm down to leeward. In chop it helps to set the jib track 2cm forward.
Make sure the weight is max. forward and the crew is to leeward in very light air.
Let the mast max. forward, crew weight is max. forward and sometimes to leeward or neutral. Do not sail too deep. Make sure you are always going for speed! Make sure your outhaul is off and you boom vang is loose so the top of the main is open and there is flow on the mainsail. Do not sheet too loose. Pull the jib up on the fastup halyard but leave the jib cunningham in the upwind position. This ensures the jib doesn’t have too much sag and more projected area.
Remember in these conditions keep your head out of the boat and sail towards better wind velocity on the course.
Light to Medium Air (6-12 Knots)
These conditions call for a good amount of power as well as the ability to point.
If you look up the mast should be straight! The outhaul should be eased 3cm in 6 knots and in 12 knts in the maximum position. From The moment the crew can start hiking pull the lower backstay and sheet harder to power up the boat (remember to open the lowers when your crew has to come in again!). In these conditions you want to have a very straight leech and very little twist. The Cunningham can be pulled on to reduce the wrinkles but should not be fixed.
Beware, if your speed starts dropping off ease the mainsheet.
If you start to get overpowered start to play the upper backstay in the puffs
Set the halyard so some wrinkles show in the luff of the jib. When the crew starts hiking you can sail with no wrinkles in the jib. Set the jib so the leech is on the mark of the spreaders.(jib traveller on 220 and car on 35cm) When your crew is fully hiking you can try for more pointing in flat water to set the jib car 2 cm to windward.
The mast is set max. forward. Your crew is standing in max. forward position to windward. Make sure you mast is straight (you might need some puller) and the spreaders are pointing forward. Start to put some boom vang on, but make sure you still have twist in the main.
Pull your jib up and open your jib Cunningham about 40cm. Get your jib maximum to windward and start to sail deep in the puffs. When the wind picks up you might get the feeling the boat starts rolling too much and starts to get heavy on the rudder, this is the moment to get rig more backwards, start with 2cm at the mast hole.
Medium to Heavy Air (13-18 Knots)
Once the wind has reached this level it is time to start thinking about de-powering the sails to keep the boat from healing too much.
The shrouds should be tightened according to the matrix listed above and the rig can be raked.
To play the upper and lower backstay it is very important to depower the boat and to straighten the forestay which improves pointing and flattens the jib. Start to pull the upper backstay having the lowers in the 12 knots position. The more wind you will get, the more you will pull the uppers, but do not forget to adjust the lowers backstay so the mast is not bending too much down low!
When you pull you backstays you also have to adjust the mainsheet. So you have the feeling the boat is in good balance.
The Cunningham should be pulled tight enough to remove all wrinkles from the luff. The outhaul should be at its maximum position.
Tighten the halyard to move the draft forward and open the leech. Set the leads so the foot is on 220 and the car is on 35 the leech is on or slightly 1-2 cm out of the mark. Take care that the jib is not to open as this will put pressure on the helm.
Set the mast so it is still angled more than 90 degrees to the boat. Make sure the mast is straight by working the puller and the upper backstay. Use boom vang but make sure the main is still twisting. The crew weight is slightly forward or in the same position as the mast. Sail the jib as high as possible and most possible to windward this will help to go low with the waves.
Heavy Air (20+ Knots)
In these conditions the sails need to be flattened as much as possible and set up so the boat is as easy as possible to steer.
The cunningham should be pulled in enough to remove all wrinkles and move the draft forward. Set the outhaul at it's maximum setting. Work your backstays to depower and flatten the mainsail which will help balance the boat and maintain a low heel angle.
Keep the tension on the luff so you have no wrinkles and move the lead back 2cm (222cm). Take care that the jib tack is on the deck of the boat. This will flatten the jib down low and twist the top.
Now your mast should be set vertical (90 degrees) to the boat and straight. Jib fully hoisted!!! Set boom vang so the mainsail is not too open. Do not pull jib too much to windward so you can easier sail up and down to catch the waves. Work with your crew weight fore and aft!
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about your new Star sails please contact our Star Class Specialist Hans Spitzauer.
Good luck on the water!