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Setting Up the Holder 20 (Reflections)

by Skipper Matt

When I got my Holder 20, way back in 1984, I did not get a tuning manual or instructions on setting it up. I treated it like a 470 and set everything tight. The original lines were terrible so replaced them and Harkenized the blocks. Boats made in ’84 and before had external halyards. I made them internal. I replaced the traveler car with a Harken. I was unsure about mast rake and shroud tensions so played with it for a season. In ’85 the Holder 20 was chosen as the boat to be raced in the Campion of Champions regatta. I contacted the technical rep, Steve, at Hobie who was setting up all of the boats for that regatta and got measurement numbers from him. He told me to have the forestay 23’6.5’’ long from pin to pin. I have always used that as my start number. (If I get serious I lengthen it for heavy air and re-tension the side stay tensions).

Every spring, after checking all pins fasteners etc. I set the boat up from scratch. The first thing is making sure the forestay length is right. Once the length is correct hold the turn buckle and back it off (lengthen it) a number of turns. Fifteen or twenty is common. Step the mast and tighten the forestay to the desired length. Tape the turn buckle to mark the length and pin the shrouds. (They make these really neat clevis pins that are attached to Velcro that speed this process up.)

The next step is to tighten the uppers slightly. (Remember the uppers are pinned in the forward chainplate hole not the back). Once the mast is up and there is some slight upper shroud tension, keep the lowers loose, you need to square the rig. Attach a tape measure to the main halyard so you can measure the distance from the top of the mast to a constant point on the starboard and port sides.

Once this distance is the same the mast is square and you are ready to tighten the uppers. A Loos tension gauge is useful for tightening the uppers and lowers. How tight should the uppers be? There is a great deal of opinion about this. The masts in boats made before 85 have varying spreader angles. I personally have measured a number of them and they vary widely. This angle affects the prebend in the mast which determines setting the upper shroud tension. The spreaders in boats made in 85 and later have spreaders that are more swept back.

Once the rig is square begin tightening the uppers an equal number of turns on each side. Pull the main halyard tight along the main track and sight up the track. Tighten the uppers until the mast is straight. Normally I would say tighten it until you get your desired prebend but the Holder20 mast inverts easily so tighten it until it is straight. As with the uppers there is opinion about the lowers. Some carry no tension on them. Again, this tension affects the mast’s tendency to invert so it is an individual decision but they are not tight. On a Loos tension gauge I might go as high as 17 on the ‘85 and newer mast. Finally, the back stay tension is next. With the backstay tension just off, no tension, mark that spot. Do not let the backstay get eased beyond the marked spot.

Going through these steps should have the boat ready for competitive performance. Lastly, once the tensions are correct you should not need to touch the side stays on each set up. Easing the forestay a constant number of turns when taking the rig down and up allows you to reset the rig with just this one adjustment of easing and tightening the forestay.

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