Catalina Direct Discussion Topics / Catalina 22 Discussion Area / Sails / Main sail roach question
Author Main sail roach question
David F.
Abilene, TX

Boat Name: Clair de Lune

Model/Year: 1976

Hull No. 6140

Hailing Port: Fort Phantom Lake
02/04/2006 6:37 PM Pacific Time

I just got a "new" suit of sails from a guy that was selling some retired racing sails. They're much newer and better made than the sails that came with my boat.

When I bent on the main, the roach went about 5 or 6 inches past the backstay. Since it tried to hang on the backstay when it tried to cross I decided not to sail after all. It's a Doyle of Boston sail. My old main has no roach.

My question is, do I need to add more mast rake or what can I do for the sail to clear the backstay. I don't have an adjustable backstay. The mast is pretty much vertical now, don't think I got it raked right last time I stepped it.

I'd really like to keep this "new" sail. But I sure don't want it to take out my backstay!

Thanks, David
Glenn Warner
Jacksonville Florida

Boat Name: Goblin/JuJu

Model/Year: 1981/1972

Hull No. 10369/1222

Hailing Port: Jacksonville Florida
02/05/2006 2:32 AM Pacific Time

David, most racing mains for the c22 are roachy and brush the backstay during tacks and jibes. It won't "take the backstay out". If it hangs up, pulling firmly downward on the boom should free it. The more wind the less chance of it hanging up. There are cranes that can be added to the top of the mast to hold the backstay out but are not really needed. By the way, think about adding a backstay adjuster. Many reasons make it one of the best enhancements you can make to your boat. Enjoy your new sail and roll don't fold between sails.
Dick King
Melbourne, FL

Boat Name: Twilight Zone

Model/Year: Sport/2005

Hull No. 15546

Hailing Port: Melbourne, FL
02/05/2006 5:07 AM Pacific Time

David - You say you bought a retired racing sail. You might want to measure the sail, to see if the roach is in fact too large. Mainsail measurements can be found on the Catalina 22 website;

You did not mention the presence of a boom vang. Make sure the boom is not lifting up during the tack or gybe.

I suggest you try raking the mast slightly aft. Peter Harper, who is a National Champion, said the following: "Hoist a tape on the main halyard and measure to the aft edge of the rudder cut out. 29' 2" is a good starting point. David Hayslip, another National Champ, says he runs his forestay at 27' 1". Finally, the North Sails tuning guide recommends the following: "Start with boat sitting on its lines in the water. Hang a weight from the end of the main halyard and cleat off halyard with weight and shackle 12" below the boom. Measure distance from the aft face of the mast to where the halyard crosses the boom. This measurement should be 8" for fixed keels, 6-7" for swing keels. Adjust the headstay turnbuckle to achieve desired measurement." (This assumes the boat is level fore and aft and the boom is perpendicular to the mast.) Now you see why the National Champs prefer to make measurements.

In any case, the mainsail hitting the backstay will wear the main before it hurts the backstay. If it catches on the backstay, just grab the main sheet and yank down on it.

There may be some variances in the measurement methods, depending on how the tape is attached, how close the halyard shackles can get to the mast head, whether or not the mast step has a spacer under it to help tension old rigging or something else. However, the measurements above will get you heading in the right direction.
David F.
Abilene, TX

Boat Name: Clair de Lune

Model/Year: 1976

Hull No. 6140

Hailing Port: Fort Phantom Lake
02/05/2006 12:06 PM Pacific Time


Thanks for those measurements, I think I'll run out today and see where I stand. I have also received a suggestion to not raise the main quite so high. So hopefully between those two things I'll be set.

Dick King
Melbourne, FL

Boat Name: Twilight Zone

Model/Year: Sport/2005

Hull No. 15546

Hailing Port: Melbourne, FL
02/06/2006 2:54 AM Pacific Time

Hi David - I am glad you mentioned raising the sail too high. That is probably your main problem. The main is not hoisted all the way to the top of the mast. Measure a distance of 3ft 6in on the mast above the mast step and mark the aft edge of the mast sail track with a Sharpie. The top of the boom goose neck should be aligned with that mark.. Any higher and the main will be hitting the backstay. Any lower and the boom will be hitting your head, if you are standing in the cockpit. I am about 6' and the boom just brushes my hair, if I am standing up.

If you contact me directly (romeo tango kilo juliet romeo at I will send you a photo of the top of the headboard on the main, relative to the top of the mast.There is about a 6 inch difference.
Artur Piotrowski
Burlington, Ct

Boat Name: Spirit

Model/Year: C22 1986

Hull No. 13485

Hailing Port: Bantam, Ct
02/06/2006 7:29 PM Pacific Time

I had a similar problem with my cruising main, new last year from Doyle, NY.
I lowered the boom to the point where it just brushed my hair (while sitting). That solved the problem of hitting the backstay but I knew that my main was way to low. Now, I know that there is no problem when main roach extends 4-6 inches past the backstay. It usually clears it after a couple of seconds. Also, working the mast rake up and tightening the boom vang helped too.
Otherwise, I like it a lot. Good luck to you.

"Spirit" #13485

Boat Name:


Hull No.

Hailing Port:
02/07/2006 6:13 AM Pacific Time

My main is less than a year old and I have a problem with it binding at the top batten. Like Glenn said the less air the more this is apt to happen. Another thing to look at is the top batten, is it to long and can you cut it down a bit. I recently finished this job at the Fun and Sun in Key Largo and found that the main still hung a bit, but not near as bad as before. Hope this helps. Bob Scott, The Banshee, #6973
Bayard Gross
Greenwich, CT

Boat Name: Baby Blue

Model/Year: 1981

Hull No. 9911

Hailing Port: Greenwich, CT
04/29/2006 6:43 PM Pacific Time

The problem with using the mast head to transom or bow plate measurement as compared with the plum bob method using a weight on the halyard and checking the distance from the mast is that the measurement method is not replicable form boat to boat while the plum bop method is.

Ti wit: not all Catalina 22's have their masts placed in the same spot on the deck. Some are more forward than others. This affects the measurement from the mast head to the transom or bow. Further, not all Catalina 22's are sufficiently similar where their bows and transoms would be sufficiently identical for measurement purposes from the mast head. What this means is that two different Catalina 22's could have identical amounts of mast rake, yet the measurement form the mast head to the transom or the bow will be different. So what Pete Harper and David Hayslip use for their boats does not automatically translate into what one can use for his or her boat. One best employs this method after one has used the plum bob method, that is, measure the distance from the mast head to the transom with the known value from the plum bob method.

The horizontal line of the water line and the respective angle of the mast to that horizontal line on a Catalina 22 is far more replicable from vessel to vessel. This shows the superiority of employing the plum bob method for setting initial mast rake. One best does this with the boat on the trailer using the trailer jack to get the boat’s water line level with a bubble level resting against the water line. Then with the weight hanging from the halyard, the distance from the halyard at the point where the boom attaches to the mast should be six to seven inches for a swing keel and about 8 inches for a fin keel. After this, one can measure the distance from the mast truck to the transom and easily replicate that measurement in the future as redoing via the plum bob is quite difficult.

Lucas, TX

Boat Name: Hummingbird

Model/Year: '72

Hull No. 1110

Hailing Port: Lake Levon, TX
05/08/2006 7:04 PM Pacific Time


I've found the backstay measurement to be the most reproducible from boat to boat having done a few fleet tuning clinics. 15-20 boats total. However, it does not apply to the MK II or Sport. I haven't sailed on either model enough to translate the settings. Most boats have the mast base in the same place (8 foot J) but I've found a wide difference in the location of the upper shrouds. This is more of a problem using either guide because the shroud location has a big affect on the mast pre-bend and lower shroud tension. I don't have a good solution for this because there is so much variation. Given a choice move the upper shroud location aft of the bulkhead. If you are unlucky and have one that has the uppers forward of the bulkhead the uppers end up forward of the mast head with my rake setting and the uppers work against the rake. I tried to tune a boat like this for a friend and was never happy with the result.

The trouble I have with the plumb bob method is you have to level the boat exacty the same each time. If the waterline stripe isn't level then you have the same problem. You also need to contend with the wind and other factors. If it works for you go ahead.

Hayslip's and my rake measurements are within an inch or two of each other. Hayslip sails with a tad less rake. I like to use the main halyard because I can quickly check the rake every time I raise the mast. While you have the tape up the mast you can also check the mast side to side by measuring to the same place on the rail on both sides. I only trailer sail anymore so I like to keep things simple and fast.

Here is a link to the complete tuning guide:
This one works well for the Bartlett Main/Genoa

Here is an older guide that works well for the Gus Main:
The Gus main has slightly more luff curve and a tighter leech and needs more pre-bend in the mast.

Back to the original quesion, I think you are right on that he's over hoisting the main. Here are the C22OD rules for mast banding.

e. Banding

General - mast and boom shall be marked with one inch band of contrasting color tape.

(1) Mast - the lower band on the mast must be placed so the top edge of the band is at least 3 feet 6 inches above the mast step. The upper band on the mast must be placed so the bottom edge of the band is no more than 21 feet above the top edge of the lower band. The new-style boat has a shorter mast; therefore the lower band must be placed so the top edge of the band is at least 3 feet 3 inches above the mast step. The upper band placement is the same as that on the old-style boat.

If you hoist to the mast band the leech of the main will still hit the backstay but shouldn't hang up unless it is very light air. If it does flip the backstay and it should fall through.

Good Sailing,

Pete Harper
[email protected]
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