Rigging Your Banshee


By Mike Salmon


The stock Banshee, as delivered, can be adequately sailed in moderate to light winds. The addition of a cam cleat for the main, preferably with a ratchet block, is essential to managing the boat in a blow. A second minimum requirement is protective. You should affix a layer of sponge rubber or thick carpet to the rear of the daggerboard well to protect the boardís trailing edge from crushing when you touch bottom. Finally, you should install a rudder lock to keep the rudder on the hull in the event of a capsize. These are essential modifications. Most anything else that you add makes the boat infinitely easier to handle, especially when racing, but is not mandatory. However, if you youíd like to make some changes, the following is my list in order of importance.


  1. Vang. Normally, you can snug the vang when on a beat and leave it alone for all other points of sail. Under light to moderate conditions, the stock arrangement will hold fine but when it blows, it will be useless. When beating in heavy, gust conditions, you will want to sail with a loose vang so that when the main sheet is eased, the top of the sail (which exerts most of the heeling pressure) is luffed first. Much the same applies to reaches. But, down wind the vang must be tight to flatten the sail. The stock 3:1 system is inadequate to make these adjustments quickly when the wind is up. Two changes are necessary. First, you should have at least an 8:1 mechanical advantage. Second, you should be able to adjust the vang while hiked out on either tack, so the control lines should be double ended and placed where you can get at them. Either a lever or block system can be used. The lever is simpler and lighter, but limited in the range of adjustment. For that reason, my preference is toward blocks.

  3. J-C Strap. Most of our summer races are held in light air. When sailing down wind under light conditions, youíll want to sit over the daggerboard and heel the boat 5-10 degrees to windward so that the helm is absolutely neutral. A J-C strap keeps the uplifted boom to leeward, where you want it. Rigging the strap is simple. Attach a bullet block to the pad eye at the bow. Then, run a piece of shock cord through the block, around the mast, and attach the ends to the eye strap on the boom, where the vang originates. The shock cord must be properly tensioned. While final adjustment is best made on the water, you can be in the ballpark on land. With the boat on the trailer, rig the main halyard and step the mast. Attach the boom to the gooseneck, then tie the halyard to the outhaul. Tension the halyard to lift the boom to a normal position. Now, rig the J-C strap and tension it. When you ease the main sheet, the boom should swing laterally and take up the slack. If it doesnít, add more tension to the strap by shortening one end of the shock cord. When the boom swings over, and stays there, youíre in business.

  5. Bailers. These are absolutely essential for keeping your boat dry when there are waves. A Banshee will ship a lot of water when beating through a chop, or when you lose control, heeling excessively but not capsizing. You canít continue sailing under those conditions while trying to bail the boat by hand.

    I suggest you install two Elvstrom minibailers 3-4" to either side of the midline, just under the thwart or a few inches forward.

  7. Daggerboard Gasket. The stock boat comes with a clear plastic gasket, positioned between the daggerboard well and its cap. The gasket functions to keep splash out of the cockpit. A piece of shock cord is provided which wraps around the daggerboard and well, and keeps the board in a raised position. The gasket, itself, will wear out in one season and the shock cord is just something extra to worry about. A good, tough rubber gasket, available as sheet rubber at most hardware stores, can do both jobs. Just remove the daggerboard cover and make a new gasket of this harder, stiffer material. Save the shock cord for uses described below.

  9. Hiking Straps. Some people use the single strap arrangement, positioned amidships, while other divide the two straps and separate them. The decision is usually based upon personal comfort. Regardless of your choice, the straps can be made more comfortable if enclosed in soft rubber (refrigerator) tubing, which cushions your ankles. The tubing should run from the transom to the daggerboard trunk. Elevate the strap off the bilge with short pieces of shock cord attached to the thwart (if straps divided) or passing around the rear of the daggerboard cap and under the strap (center hiking arrangement). The strap will tend to ride up the forward edge of the daggerboard trunk. To prevent this, glue a small plastic deck hook just above the bilge, hook down. Tighten the strap below it. The hook will keep it in position.

  11. Tiller "Preventer". Use the remaining piece of shock cord for this modification. Purchase two inexpensive pad eyes, and bend them so that the two screw holes come together, as:

[Rigging Sketch]

Screw these, with the loop facing forward, on either side of the transom top, as near to the rub rails as possible. Tie the shock cord to the loop with enough tension so that the cord snaps against the transom. Mark the center of the cord with a magic marker. Next, add a small plastic jamb cleat to the underside of the tiller, just behind the attachment bold for the tiller extension. The preventer works when the shock cord is pulled forward, then released against the jamb cleat locking the tiller in place. It will keep your rudder in fore-aft position when launching, under sail, or under any condition when you want to ignore it to do other things. But, the key usage is in self-training for boat balance.

We all know that when a boat is properly balanced, the helm is neutral and boat speed is optimal. It is always best to steer the boat by heeling it slightly to weather or to leeward, rather than by use of the helm. You can use the tiller preventer to lock the rudder amidships and practice using weight shifts, sail trim, and both in combination, to alter course. It is an exercise will worth the time. If you loose control, the preventer will keep the boat from altering course before you can grab the tiller and try again.