Choosing a Tensioning System

Choosing your tensioning system: Lashings or Turnbuckles?  

Pretension of your rig is often overlooked and it is critical to the efficient function of your rig. The bigger the boat, the more pretension you will need in your standing rigging. Lashings look really cool but are limited in their ability to create tension. Boats equal to or larger than 30’ LOA with a fixed mast should use turnbuckles.

A rotating mast rig does not need as much pretension and can use lashings.  We do have a temporary tensioning system for lashing tensioners that is both manual and hydraulic that we use mostly on bigger multihulls. 

ALWAYS match the pretension of the previous rig or the design spec for pretension to your new rig. 

Lashing systems, in Summary (generally speaking):

  • Fixed masts boats over 30’ LOA should use turnbuckles. Smaller boats have the option of turnbuckles or lashings.
  • All rotating mast rigs can use lashings but more time is required to adjust the rigging. It can also be a challenge to tension a lashing rig on bigger boats. Running backstays are a good consideration for all rotating mast boats to help with forestay tension. 
  • Lashings: All boats with lashings will take more time to set the rig up - turnbuckles are quicker for sure. If you are making your own rigging then lashings offer you some leeway in terms of shroud length, whereas a turnbuckle has limited travel so splicing more precisely is required. We always setup the lashing so the bitter end is point up to allow for the connection of a halyard for tensioning. However, it is always best to tension your rig while sailing. See Tuning a Colligo Dux Rig here. We usually make lashing lengths 8-14 inches long. Lashing to a turnbuckle using our male distributors often is a good option if the pin to pin length is not accurately known.
  • Turnbuckle Tensioners: Jaw to Jaw turnbuckles are needed. Pin size and jaw width need to be chosen carefully to fit the line terminators that you are using. The line needs to be spliced precisely as the turnbuckles do not have as much travel as the lashings. We always set the turnbuckle length 1” less than maximum for measuring purposes.