Topic: Headsail tack attach

Here is a photo of the way I am planning on attaching my headsail tacks to the stemhead.

Since I started a complete re-fit and have never sailed the boat, I'm wondering if you Contessa sailors out there see any problems (or have any suggestions) with this "plan" (example: does the tack have to be a certain height to avoid chafe issues, etc.)


ps -- in case you are wondering about the new stemhead with anchor mount in the photo, it was a custom build from Stainless Outfitters in Barrie and is made to fit a Rocna 22 lb.

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Re: Headsail tack attach

Looks good BN, I would like to see some pics when it is installed.
A couple of comments;
1) You might consider adding a pulley block for your jib downhaul.
2) I have the same setup where the snap shackle is concerned. The problem with it is that it wants to bounce around when the jib is not hauled up which can lead to scratches in your gel coat. I added a piece of 1/2 round bronze rod to the deck just aft of the stemhead to help with this.


3 (edited by Ian Malcolm 2014-04-01 01:32:25)

Re: Headsail tack attach

I don't recommend using a bow shackle.  They are significantly weaker than the ordinary U shaped ones.    What load is the swivel snap shackle rated for?   

The other easy way of stopping the snap shackle beating up the deck is to add a loop of very light bungee through its closed eye and round or even through the bottle screw.  Do NOT use cord as you don't want it to strain the bottle screw if you drop the jib and lash it to the guard wire.

In the bad old days, you would have a number of snap shackles on different length wire strops to suite the different tack heights required for one's smaller sails, but nowdays it is easier to splice a loop of Vectran or Dyneema single braid direct to the tack of the sail to get the height where you want it.  Any foresail with an extension strop on the tack should also have a small shackle through the tack eye or loop to go round the forestay so the sheet tension transferred through the foot doesn't pull the tack away from the stay, putting an unfair strain on the bottom hank.

You are likely to experience chafe on the foot of your No.1 Genoa.  Plastic covers over the guard wires from the first stanchon forward to the pulpit help. If you have pins securing the wires to the pulpit, put the ring clips on the outside, NOT the inside, and tape them well.  Even so, expect to have to add an anti-chafe patch to the sail once you see where the wear is.  Your smaller foresails probably have a higher cut foot and can be used with a strop so wont have a serious chafe problem.

Re: Headsail tack attach

This is some really helpful feedback.  Thanks John and Ian!

John -- I will make sure and post photos of new stemhead when mounted (as well as completed boat when re-fit done) and

Ian -- Not sure what the shackle is rated for.  I can tell it's a Gibb brand and probably came with the boat because all the other original rigging components were Gibb.  It looks to be in good shape and is 3 3/8" long.  Probably a MWL of 2000# or 2200# (something close to that).


5 (edited by Ian Malcolm 2014-04-01 02:00:44)

Re: Headsail tack attach

I belive you are planning to go off blue water cruising?

The other issue I would be concerned about is the vulnerability of your new stemhead fitting to impact damage and the single point of failure it represents.  It's obviously built like the proverbial brick outhouse, but if you ever prang that bow roller badly, you will be worrying about the rig coming down and will have great difficulty jury rigging a secure forestay attachment or even getting the fitting repaired in smaller/more remote ports.   

Consider going back to Stainless Outfitters and getting a carefully fitted strap down the stem added so the forward edge of the fitting can be effectively through bolted.  You cannot afford to rely on undersized fixings that far aft with the amount of leverage the bow roller has. Without the stem strap, I'd want at least 7/16 bolts with some of them out near the corners.  As-is, I'd be worried about the potential snatch loads on the roller riding out a bad storm in an anchorage.

You might want to get a suitable attachment point for an assymetric added at the sme time, even if you currently aren't planning on carrying such a sail.

Re: Headsail tack attach


Once again, your comments are very interesting and helpful and greatly appreciated.  This seems like a very good idea to get some sort of strap on the front of this fitting to help with the loads that could be generated by the "arm" it now has for trying to wrench the thing off the boat. 


Re: Headsail tack attach

Hello Ian,

Could you describe what you think a good attach point would be for the Asymetric Spinnaker on a stemhead.  This boat has an Asymetric and I am planning on using it (my last boat didn't and I don't have any experience with them). 


Re: Headsail tack attach

The corner of my asymetric clips onto the shroud and a rope goes down to a pulley on the stemhead and then back to the cockpit so the height of the tack can be adjusted.

9 (edited by Ian Malcolm 2014-04-11 14:00:00)

Re: Headsail tack attach

Onto the shroud? surely you mean onto the forestay?

Not recommended if you have a genoa furler as it can kink the foil if the spinnaker fills with a bang.

Every sailmaker's instructions for flying one loose with just a tack line say to get the tack line turning block on a strong point as far forward as possible.

I'd look at getting an eye big enough to attach a block with a swivel snap shackle welded to the top edge of the bow roller  port side plate.

Re: Headsail tack attach