Gil Head

Backstay Flicker

A whole bunch of people have asked me what that thing is on the top of the mast in the pics of the boat. It's called a "backstay flicker," and is used to keep the backstay from interfering with the sail.

You can read more about it at

However, I think another sentence needs to be added to the second paragraph on that page:

An over-dimensioned roach can easily get caught in the backstay when tacking or gybing. The reason is simple; the headbox is too short and the backstay attachments are too close to the mast. Many people ask why this problem cannot be solved by a switching to a longer headbox. Unfortunately, this would bring about a bending movement at the top of the mast, resulting in lower forestay tension and reduced trimmability.

To solve this problem, Seldén has introduced a package solution, consisting of a batten that lifts the backstay when you ease the backstay tackle. The batten, which is made of glass fibre, comes complete with fastening attachments, backstay block and detailed fitting instructions.
And it's all controlled by Rockwell Systems controls.

Some of you will get the joke.
Can't you just picture the retroencabulator guy speaking those two paragraphs?
You DO realize that those two paragraphs are actual advertising copy, yes?

And, for the morbidly curious:

Roach: The part of a sail which is further back than would be if the sail were actually triangular.

Backstay: The line from the stern of the boat to the top of the mast.

Tacking or Gybing: Changing direction of the boat by moving either the bow or stern of the boat through the wind.

Headbox: The extension at the top of the mast which moves the backstay slightly astern of the actual top.

Forestay: The line from the from the bow of the boat to some point on the mast, which may or may not be at the top.

Trimming: Adjustment of sails using many, many lines to optimize performance.

Batten: Small, flexible member used to pull a line or sail in some direction, usually "glass fibre," though most of us just call that material "fiberglass."

Block: Pulley.

And yes, I wrote all of those from the top of my head. :>
Hopefully, the Federal Government isn't relying on sailboats for water transport or defense purposes.