Friday 9 March 2012

Setting up Adjustable Outhaul

Ever since using adjustable outhaul for the first time last year I have developed the opinion that it is necessary and not an option any more for speedsurfing and its diverse range of disciplines. It allows for a change in conditions without stopping, and more importantly when going for 'medium wind' speeds. In that I mean when it is possible to get upwind, where you are on a reasonable fin and mid size sail. In light winds it makes little difference but can help you plane quicker by letting it off a bit and bearing away on a gust. In high wind speed sailing it is not really needed as it is often a real battle to get upwind anyway, but it is very useful for every wind strength.

It is really easy to set up, you can either buy a kit or the separate components which often takes a fair bit of shopping around. You can buy a full kit from Chinook for £66 which has the added advantage of al the parts in one bag for a lower price.

You need;
  • 2Clamcleats (CL 244, some boat chandlers will stock them) (£12-15 each side)
  • 2 Pulleys (any type will do as long as you can thread 4mm rope) (£15 for good quality)
  • Up to 5m of pre-stretched rope. (£10-15)
  • Chinook clew eyelet double pulley (£15)
  • Fairleads (find them where you can, they come on Chinook big booms, or make them yourself)
  • 2m thin bungey chord (£3)

Secure the Clamcleats on the boom making sure they are just a bit further towards the clew than where you place your hand leading into a gybe. They tend to slip towards the clew due to the huge force going through the rope unless you put something to grip the boom, I use a doubled piece of bike tyre inner tube to make sure they do not slip (after trying several other methods I found this to be the best).

You can adjust the distance along the boom for your preference. I find it best out of the way of the back hand for gybing. 

The rope is passed through the Clamcleat and towards the tail, put on the pulley and then double back to the base of the clamcleat where there is a hole to secure the loose end, see the knot in the picture above. About 1m of rope is used for this section on either side of the boom. I use the Chinook outhaul kit which supplies slightly thicker rope than you would ordinarily use for downhaul, making it easier to grip.

 The front end of the rope I tie up like in the picture to the right, giving a good bit to pull with wet hands. This is also useful for securing elastic if you choose to have thin elastic around the mast keeping the rope at boom level rather than flailing around loose. I found that sometimes it would wrap around the boom when loose which is why I choose to use the elastic support.

The rear is secured on one side with a Bowline knot. This knot is easy to undo after being placed under tension. Secure this and knot it to the pulley and thread it through the boom pulleys. Make sure you secure the side which will be under the sail while rigging first, with only a small amount of slack rope at the knot, this allows you to adjust the length on the other side while rigging.

Here you have more options, if you have a Chinook outhaul pulley as pictured then you get an additional 2x purchase giving a total of 8x, making it very easy to pull on outhaul without affecting sail/board trim. These also make it very fast to rig, without having to thread the outhaul and knot it off each time.

If you do not have a pulley then you can only pass the line through the sail once and back down the other side of the boom. This means you have to thread the outhaul every time you rig. The end is then knotted at the pulley from the Clamcleat rope. Again preferably with a Bowline, once you learn the Bowline it is a very useful knot and very quick to tie. Trial and improvement will come into play now as you adjust the length of the rope to accommodate different sail sizes. I tend to use 1 boom for 2 sails and hence do not need to change this once it is set.

I hope that is clear, it certainly feels more complicated than it is after trying to write how to do it. If you have any questions then feel free to ask in the comments below.

Good Speeds and Winds
The Bus


  1. I use the adjustable outhaul to let loose of outhaul a bit just before bearing off. And I pull it again for the upwind stretch, jibe and cross wind stretch. Especially when going upwind again I can point better and more relaxed especially in strong winds. Cheers, Luc

  2. Cheers Luc, I use it pretty much the same way. In a long session without speed runs I tend to change it to optimal position in the first 10 minutes to help balance the harness lines, upwind capability, and some speed on a broad reach, then leave it unless the wind changes or I see a gust to bear off with.

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