Rig Set Up and Tuning

Wanderer Class Tuning Guide

This guide is compiled from various sources, most of which have been contributed by Gavin Barr and previously published in the Wanderer Magazine.

A well tuned rig and a knowledge of sail setting can certainly make your boat go faster when racing, but it will also become easier and more satisfying to handle when cruising or pottering.

You will need the following equipment:

  • A rig tension meter. They are expensive, but if you have a boat worth several thousand pounds, you might as well tune it properly! (You can probably borrow one).
  • A spirit level.
  • A waterproof marker pen.
  • A tape measure of at least 8m (26′) in length.
Rig Set Up Measurements:

Measurements are stated with the jib sail rigged, tensioned by the Highfield Lever and with the main pivot pin removed.

See the set-up-guide below for additional information regarding each dimension;


The note numbers corresponded with the dimension number above.
  1. The tension may vary between 250-350 to obtain dimensions, but it is important to not go over 400 lbs. Take the tension measurement at about shoulder height.
  2. In practice, this measurement will be achieved if the aft edge of the mast foot is against the fixed bolt and the moveable pin is inserted tight behind the forward edge. (This assumes that the position of the mast foot plate has not been drastically altered form the original build position. Rule 9.3 (b) (4) states
    “…the aft edge of the spar shall not be further aft than the aft edge of the kingposts or tabernacle.”
  3. To obtain this measurement host the tape measure to the top of the mast using the main sheet and measure to the datum point. You may have to adjust the shrouds, to achieve this dimension, by moving the pin up or down the shroud adjuster plates. Release the tension before adjusting the shrouds and then retention to take the measurement.
  4. Early boats were fitted with fixed spreaders so length adjustment is not possible. Later boats can be adjusted by positioning the small clevis pin to a new position in the spreader arm. After adjustment check that the mast is vertical when under the correct rig tension and is not pulling to one side because of unequal length spreaders.
  5. Early boats were fitted with fixed spreaders so can not be adjusted. Some boats are fitted with small bottle jacks, that if greased and maintained can be adjusted to obtain the measurement. Later boats have adjustment through a clevis pin arrangement. See Selden website for diagrams.The dimension given is best for a combined crew weight of 22 stone. Increase the measurement for lighter crews and decrease for heaver crews.
  6. Pull the main halyard down tight and measure from the aft of the halyard to the forward edge of the mast.

Final Check

As a final check of the overall rigging, position the boat on a level surface and host the mainsail and take up the slack in the kicker. Cleat off the mainsheet in some way (e.g use a jib cleat) again with the slack taken up. Now stand back from the boat and take a good look at her from the beam. The mast should appear almost vertical – sloping very slightly aft, and with the correct prebend the boom should appear to be horizontal – not drooping.

Last word

The dimensions given are proved to obtain good performance from a standard production boat. If your boat has been modified you may find that you can not achieve the exact measurements. But, there is no compulsion to use these dimensions and your boat will not be outside class rules. It is the sailing performance of the individual boat that is key and there is no better test of your set-up than sailing with other Wanderers at an association racing or cruising event. If you do get left behind then seek advice from other association members, who will be happy to help.