UK-Cherub Class

Get Your Heart Racing

Running Rigging

Main Sail


There are two popular mainsheet systems, the fully centre mainsheet like a 420 and the aft led forward like the 29er .

Fully Centre

With this method the mainsheet is kept in the middle of the boat often using a bridal or a post to help to centralise the boom. The advantage is that it is easy to swing a single tiller extension around the back you do not need to go for twins. The disadvantage is that it takes up a lot of space in the middle of the boat and it is hard for the crew to take the mainsheet as they have to hand it back for each tack or end up in quite a tangle.

Aft Led Forward

With this system you have a block on a bridal at the back of the boat, the bridal is set up so that the block sits just below the boom when the main is sheeted in as hard as it can be. The mainsheet is tied to the boom, goes down through the block then back up through a block on the end of the boom and forward to a block in the middle of the boom. A lot of people will have a ratchet block there and hand the mainsheet to the crew. If you are doing this with a self-tacking jib it is a good idea to tie the mainsheet to the jib sheet so that they are both accessible from the wire. If your helm insists on taking the main sheet then they can still do that with this system either by taking it directly from the boom or down and through a block on the deck and a jammer,. If using this system it is worth putting a loop of cloth or webbing to run the sheet through to stop it from falling down and lasooing the helm during tacks and gybes. The main disadvantage of this system is that it is not possible to swing the tiller extension around the back during manoeuvres, it either needs to be short enough to go around the front, impractical if the helm is wiring or twin extensions are necessary one each side.

Kicking Strap

The kicking strap, or Vang as the rest of the world calls them, purchase should probably be 16/1 or 24/1. It all depends on where the take-off on the boom is, and how low the other anchorage is all parts of the kicker system need to be very strong. If you are using a carbon boom then to spread the load a webbing strap should be used. Proctor make very good and extremely expensive ones for the 14s, but any sail maker will be able to oblige. A cascade type purchase is most common, but care needs to be taken to ensure that you have enough range to cope with the full range of conditions. Dave Roe uses an old fashioned differential winch, but with rope rather than wire, and this certainly makes for a much cleaner boat, although no-one else does this.


An alternative to the conventional kicker is to use a Gnav, 1) this uses a strut to push down on the boom to have the same effect as the kicker. A verity of methods have been used in other classes to do this, the 29er and 49er use a leaver arrangement where pulling on the leaver effectively makes the strut longer pushing the boom down. However this needs careful set up of the size and shape of the leavers plus the complexity adds weight. The system most commonly used on the Cherub to date is to have a strut with a fixed point on the mast and a slider on the boom. As you pull the slider along the boom towards the gooseneck it pushes the boom down. With the Gnav set up you need to attach the boom solidly to the gooseneck as there is a force pulling the boom away from the mast. The lower shrouds also need to go to the point where the Gnav attaches to the mast and not the gooseneck as with the standard Kicker arrangement.


You will need at least 6/1 Cunningham with a Mylar mainsail, and probably more. You can use any method you like for this but cascades are quite common. One important tip with the cunningham - attach it to the boom. What I mean is that the fixed end of the purchase needs to be pulling up on the boom. This means that the ciunningham load offsets the kicker load and thus reduces the strain on the gooseneck fitting. Don’t laugh - they break!


The outhaul does not need a large amount of adjustment when you are sailing and a lot of people just use a piece of string lead through the clew and back to a slot in the end of the boom. A series of knots in the string provide all the adjustment that is needed. If you have an adjustable outhaul then it is best kept internal to the boom with a cleat on the underside at the forward end. A block positioned just in front of the cleat will let you get a good pull a 6/1 purchase will be enough to make life easy.

Control Line leads

The Kicker and both need to be adjusted as conditions change on the race course and as you round marks so they should be easy to reach. Where the lines are lead is a matter for personal preference. If you are twin wiring with a regular crew then it is probably easier for them to make the adjustments, however if you are single wiring and swapping crews each time you sail then it is best set up so the helm can reach them. A good compromise is to have the control lines lead out to the gunwales on each side near the middle of the boat this allows either the helm or the crew to adjust depending on who has a free hand at the time. When deciding where to position the control lines it is worth thinking about elastic takeups. There is nothing worse than a tangle of string floating around the bottom of the boat and elastic is often the only way to keep it under control. If the control lines are lead to each side then sewing the ends together to make them continuous is a good idea as you do not want to run out of kicker when trying to bear away in heavy weather. An alternative to using controls lead to each side is to have a single control line on a swivel cleat in the centre of the boat, however the tail of this needs to be tied to something so it is accessible from the trapeze. The tail of the mainsheet is a good option for this.

Main Halyard

If you sail somewhere with restricted rigging space you may feel that you want a main halyard although most boats just use a loop of string to tie the sail to the top of the mast. If you are going to go for a halyard remember that a 8:1 Cunningham will put quite a load on to it so it will need to be strong. The best bet is to go for a 2:1 on the halyard this reduces the compression in the mast and makes it eisier to pull the sail up. Because spectra is slippy you may have problems keeping it in the cleat in this case you could splice a loop in your spectra halyard and use a hooked rack to hold it in position.


There are two main set-ups for the Jib, dual with the one sheet for each side of the boat, and self tacking where you have a single sheet to hold and the jib swaps from side to side by sliding along a car.

Self Tacking Jibs

The sailing techniques are different, especially upwind, where you don’t just leave it and forget it - see the heavy weather sailing article. They’re best done with a track and roller bearing car - the smallest available say Frederiksen 020. The track is bent to slightly less than the radius from the tack of the sail to clew. The track is bent in one plane (forward but fitted angled up slightly , i.e. the ends are slightly higher than the middle). The ends are fixed in foam/carbon supports, and one screw in the middle into the mast step structure. It’s a very good idea to have two bolts in the track at the ends, because if the track comes undone you will not only break the track, but also lose all the bearings out of the car. You also tend to hold on to the track launching, so it needs to be pretty substantial. The track is angled/bent/fitted so that heavy sheet tension will pull the car to the centre of the track in no wind. The wind pressure in light winds and low sheet tension is enough to move the car to the ends of the track. In stronger winds it also works fine, but needs rubber stops at the end of the track.. In general people don’t seem to have stops for sheeting angle, so it would be wise to have numbers or marks on the track. Sheet tension varies the leech tension as required. The pulley on the track is surpassingly tricky. It wants to be as light as possible for light airs, but it takes a lot of abuse when the jib flogs. A block with plastic cheeks will wear though quickly, and it takes quite a bashing so should be strong. From the car the sheet is lead to a block as far forward as possible then back under the foredeck, it is a good idea to have a 2;1 purchase here so to reduce the loads on the crew and let them make finer adjustments to sheeting position. Most people have a swivel jammer not unlike a mainsheet jammer for the jib, and a single sheet. This is probably neatest. And if the crew is doing the mainsheet the two can be tied together ensuring that both are available from the wire. An alternative would be to split the sheet to each side and run them to a conventional sort of location. In any case remember the crew or helm will still need to play the jib sheet on two sail reaches and while tacking. And just because there’s a two to one purchase don’t use a thin rope. The crew needs to be able to use the jib sheet to pull themselves back to the boat if you teabag. Given a 4mm line and a cold day this just doesn’t happen. Trust me in this! The clew position on the sail is crucial. You’ll probably end up getting the sailmaker to change this once the set-up is all sorted out. Mutiple holes on the jib clew give you a choice of slot angle/twist in the jib against the sheeting angle. It can be a good idea to add backing lines. These are a couple of light lines running from the car to the shrouds on each side, long enough not to restrict the normal movement of the jib. If you need to back the jib for some reason then pull on the line. To heave to between races hook it over something handy! But if you find they get snagged take them off, they’re not that vital!

Dual Jib sheets.

They can be led to anywhere convenient, with a jammer that can be freed and jammed from just about anywhere in the boat, since the crew will be trapezing right at the back of the boat on windy two-sail reaches. Inboard from the shrouds is a good place, out of the way but accessible. Continuous jib sheets are popular. Sheets should be long enough for the crew to be able to fully free the sail from on the trapeze at the back of the boat. If they are too short you will regret it! The jib slot normally has a lateral control on a short length of track. About 3” of movement is all you will ever need, but if you don’t know where that 3” is going to come you will want it longer. A lot of people have a height control, but it can be as simple as a cleat on the track, because you usually adjust it on the opposite tack. Don’t clutter up the crew’s area with a lot of string designed to let you adjust the slot in any direction at any time. He’ll only trip over it and fall out on the last tack when you were about to win your first Cherub race.

Jib Cunignham

The jib Cunningham is used to adjust the tension in the luff of the jib this has an important effect on the shape of the sail but you are unlikely to need to adjust it too many times on the water. A four to one lead aft to a cleat hidden under the foredeck is all that is needed for this if you really want one.

The Spinnaker

The adoption of asymmetries has simplified spinnaker handling a lot. There is no spinnaker guy or pole height adjustment , and the sheet is really easy to handle and rarely cleated

Launch and Recovery

A continuous halyard with chute system is normal, with the chute or hatch about a foot behind the stem to reduce tangles with the jib foot. The halyard and the retrieve should be arranged so that helm or crew can handle it. The halyard exits the bottom of the mast is optionally used to pull the pole out, it then should come back into the cockpit to a cleat. A block should be positioned about a foot aft of the cleat so that the line cleats when you pull through the block. From here the halyard should go back to another block near the back of the cockpit and then forward through the spinnaker sock and up to the retrieval patches on the spinnaker. There are normally two or three patches on the spinnaker so that it will fit into a shorter sock. A book could be written on systems that will automatically uncleat the halyard on the drop, however a simple method is just to grab the halyard between the cleat and the first block and just pull on the retrieval side, by the time you have got it tight the chances are that you will have uncleted it.


Two String Launch

The following is probably the simplest system to rig and set-up and is best used if your pole is untapered or has a lot of friction. The Tack of the kite is attached to a “guy” coming through the pole and to an anchor point in the boat. Its set up so that the line is taut and the spinnaker tack pulled right down to the pole end when the pole is pulled right out. A second line runs up to the bow and back to the end of the pole to pull the pole out. Depending on the friction in the system and the strength of the crew you might wish to have a 2/1 purchase on this. There’s no retrieve for the spinnaker pole as such, the act of pulling the spinnaker back into the chute is enough to bring it back in.

Single String Launch

This is a system where the halyard is used to pull the pole out, this means that there is only one string to pull on the hoist but you do have to pull that string harder and for longer. If there is a lot of friction in the pole launch system then it will not work. When the spinnaker halyard exits the bottom of the mast it needs to go through a block and forward to a floating double block and back to the cleat and the rest of the system as normal. The pole is launched by the floating block being pulled backwards pulling the pole launch line one end of which is tied to the forward bulkhead the other end is goes through a block and back to the inboard end of the pole.

Bob Stay

If at all possible have a spinnaker pole strong enough to be unstayed. But if your spinnaker pole isn’t strong enough to operate without a bob-stay then the best way of arranging one is to have the “guy” running through the end of the spinnaker pole and out again and then down to the bow. In this case the line is tidied up by having it pass through a ring or pulley inside the pole, which in turn is pulled back with shock cord. This works well enough, but you’ll probably need a little more purchase on the outhaul to make sure the bobstay is tight enough. You might get the occasional snaggle inside the pole too. The anchorage at the bottom of the bow is also a problem. Apart from the water resistance if its not made strong enough you can pull the bottom of the stem off.

Spinnaker sheets

These are invariably continuous. Ratchet blocks are essential, The size and shape of the spinnaker will govern the position that the turning block will end up if that is too far aft you may need to lead them forward to another block to keep them out of the way of the mainsheet. Most boats with snouts have a hollow in the gunwale line between the snout and the shroud. This makes spinnaker sheets especially prone to be washed into the water on the beats. Andy Paterson has small “hooks” made from very flexible polyethylene on his gunwale. Flick the sheet onto this and it stays on board, but they’re too soft and flexible to snag anything or damage the spinnaker. Again sheets should be long enough for the crew to be able to fully free the sail from on the trapeze at the back of the boat.

Other Spinnaker Gear.

When the spinnaker is in the bag an elastic take-up system can be useful for the loose part of the halyard, one way of doing this is to have the elastic set up so that it goes through a block on the forward bulkhead then back to the end of the pole. This system means that the elastic tightens when the pole is retracted sucking up the exess halyard and tidying up the boat.

Rig Tension

A jib halyard is basically a device to put a 2/1 compression load down the mast. As no one uses a forestay you can’t take the jib down while sailing, and rigging a boat on its side is so much more civilised. Have a wire strop and a T terminal, and use a short lashing to get the tension. The problem with this method is it can be prone to some stretch while sailing loosing you your rig tension it is also difficult to repeat your settings. If you want a more positive system you can use a jib luff wire that hooks into the mast with a T-Terminal and has a chain plate at the bottom. You need a boat breaker to pull the tension on but when it is on it is going to stay there and you can be sure that you are using the same rake as the day before.

Unnecessary Gear.

Adjustable standing rigging has never been used in Cherubs. Its heavy, expensive, and complicated. Just getting the simple sutff to work right is enough of a bother. Kevlar ropes are best avoided they have a tendency to break with little or no warning just throw it out it is not worth the bother. Most of all, remember that the boat is weighed dry. Take all those ropes, weigh them, soak them in water and weigh them again. The difference will amaze you!

Don’t spend too much time worrying about gear. Instead go sailing! Provided all the gear works and is reliable then it is probably good enough. Being able to change the sail shape in the middle of the race is unlikely to make much difference to your final position, but capsizing at every gybe mark certainly will. There is absolutely nothing that improves boat speed as much as crew speed! Finally

  • Keep It Simple Stupid
1) Vang spelt backwards

tech/running_rigging.txt · Last modified: 2013/06/25 15:55 (external edit)