Quick Tip: Attaching Halyards and Sheets

Erik Shampain offers some key advice on the best way to attach your halyards and sheets for maximum speed.

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For halyards, a soft shackle can get rid of the difference in tacks caused by an off center knot.Eric Shampain

Mainsails: On small boats it is common to attach the main halyard to the main via a half hitch style knot, or even a dog bone. Because the halyard comes down one side of the headboard rather than centerline, the headboard is held at a slightly different angle from tack to tack. This is not ideal. Instead I use a soft style shackle or Tylaska- style headboard shackle. The same applies to the outhaul attachment.

Genoas: When using genoa sheets with soft shackles or button shackles, hook the sheets up so the 'knot' or 'button' of the soft shackle faces outboard. This keeps the soft shackles from catching on the shrouds when tacking.

Spinnakers: On boats with asymmetrical spinnakers, feeding out the tack at the weather mark usually involves a fair amount of friction, which is often created by the bowline connecting the sheet to the sail. Make your bowman happy by upgrading your tack line with a soft style shackle, or even a Tylaska style snap shackle. In classes where you can only use one spinnaker, consider looping the tack line directly to the spinnaker. This not only eliminates bumps and friction, but it is lighter and safer (think less moving parts). Additionally in light wind, you have the ability to get the tack down farther and the luff tighter.