Toby Taylor races Squib #108 Ogo Pogo at South Caernarvonshire YC


Danish long boats and I suspect dhows of the Nile adjusted their sail plan of free swinging pulleys with a simple hook and a peg cleat.  Talking of Ancient Mariners closer to home, Salty the Squib experimenter fiddled and played with early devices in the early 80’s that’s why we now have a rule that allows an array of barber systems that completely confuses the average Squib sailor. I hasten to add that Salty’s barber system is the simplest and cheapest device to install. 

The Theory 

The barber hauler systems used on the Squib all terminate with a fairlead on / or with a through deck bush or pulley to the jib tack or through a pulley to a 2:1 system back through the pulley to the becket on the side deck pulley.  The jib tack’s vertical, horizontal and inward position is entirely dependent upon the tension applied to the jib sheet.  This means the tack has three components to position its “perfect aerofoil shape” position for all wind speeds and rake positions.  The critical component is the use of some of these tensions to set the leech, which controls the trailing edge of the jib’s aerofoil shape throughout its height, width and rake angle. 


Multi Squib Champions Chris and Mark Hogan 

It is very critical that the slot matches the curvature of the mainsail (as above) to maximise the air flow without turbulence.  This means the leech has to have a certain amount of twist, dependant again on the wind speed.  At no point is the luff or leech ever straight and requires the crew to pay neurotic attention to the leach tension by using simple devices to know exactly what tension is required for the combination of wind speed and wave formation resistance.  We need simple calibration on the jib sail and jib sheet. 


Main and jib parallel 

The third and vital consideration is that the rig is raked usually with slack rigging and relies on the helm to control the luff tension of the jib via the mainsheet tension so that both crew and helm jointly control what the jib does to obtain the “perfect slot”.  Too slack a luff ruins what the leech does and vice versa for the leech by the crew.  It’s called team work and many years of practice which I am running out of. 


Now let’s get down to what is needed under some simple management principles.   Let us design a barber system which is simple to operate but capable of adjustment in all conditions who ever pulls the sheet in, be it boy, girl, lady, gent, gorilla or wimp.  The mast position must be central & vertical in the boat and supported vertically by shroud adjusters. Can you prove these positions are spot on?....  If not read on.  Measure mast foot, mast gate and shroud positions laterally and vertically. 

Central in Boat 

The mast is LOCATED at the foot and deck level and SUPPORTED by shrouds, jib wire, forestay and backstay. 

LOCATION. Using a laser or thin tensioned wire strike the alignment from transom to bow at floor level to determine if the mast foot is central if it is whoopee, if not use metal packing pieces preferably stainless – and parallel - to centrally align. Moving to deck level again with same devices, check central position, if out adjust with fixed packing on the mast, it is easier. It really depends on degree of misalignment. The mast, in my experience, needs to be almost solid in the gate with very little sideways movement.  The mast, unsupported, should now be both central and vertical in boat.  If you’re not up to this technology, get someone you trust who is.  

SUPPORT.  Mast vertically supported by shrouds.  The simplest method is to use fine wire attached to the top of “a straight mast please” to put your mast in its new vertical position and attach both shrouds to their plates and apply a little forestay tension.  Get the “wire” to measure that the mast is straight via luff groove.  Adjust shroud positions to get mast straight.  Usually you end up compromising because the degree of adjustment is too crude.  Finally to test if your shroud plates are the same height, swing the wire from one plate, note its position then swing the wire across to the other and compare ....ouch they’re different!  What is needed are screw type shroud adjusters to get it spot on.  This ignores the possibility that the shroud plates are of different heights.  Never assume two shrouds made to the same length stay at the same length - they don’t!  Theoretically your mast should now be straight and positioned vertically and centrally within the mast slot to achieve equal leech tension on both tacks with centrally aligned barbers.

Mast Rake Calibration Measurement 

Certain Squibs have bigger mast slots than others but the measurement of this length is critical to knowing where it is under certain wind strength conditions.  It must be calibrated independently of any jib you may be using.  Despite the assertion that sail makers make their luff wires of the same length and / or positioning of the luff and the length of the foot.  Yes, it’s that critical.  

Measure the mast rake using very thin dyneema fixed at the mast foot and making it a 2:1 magnification direct via pulleys up the mast luff groove round a micro pulley to an elasticated end.  Use a suitable slider which indicates precisely where the mast is from max. forward to max. aft via suitable calibration.  

Most Squibbers let the mast rest on the back of the gate when beating and move the mast far forward when on the run via tensioning the jib wire.  Whilst this is OK, it doesn’t tell you where the mast is when you apply a certain level of mainsheet tension.  Equally you don’t use the same rake for all wind strengths, particularly in lighter airs and finally some prefer different shroud tensions for different wind strengths.  Know where your mast is in the gate.  

Some alter the mast rake by tensioning (shortening) the forestay in heavy airs.  Again whatever your tuning methods are, if you don’t measure, you don’t manage, you don’t control.  

Luff Wire Tension

Finally the degree to which your jib wire tension is applied you need to know where it should be.  The jib furler brigade knows far better than others the degree of luff round that is needed for all winds.  The forestay,  playing no part in the jib set, acts as a perfect guide for the precise amount of tension (luff round) the helm needs to apply whilst the rest of the fleet rely “hopefully” on shared tension between the forestay and jib.  This is the perfect calibration device for the helm.  The fleet normally have calibration of the jib wire position to know the degree of mast rake. It’s not enough. 


MOONSTONE showing a luff sag of 6-7” using a Jib Furler 

Jib sheet tension felt tip marks or sewn in contrast colour thread. 

Jib leach tension. Sew a 6” telltale at half height of the table of the leach. Laminar flow is indicated by continuous streaming of telltale.  Curling indicates turbulence which must be avoided.  

Squib Barber Control system types 

All the photos below show many variants on the barber deck layouts for the Squib. Some very simple, others illegal not shown here, some very simple and well engineered.  The positioning of the magic hole where the drill enters the deck is documented by others of greater experience than me.  Suffice it to say they have to be in identical positions each side and I can say the photos given identify where our champions have their barber outlet positions. Also where they have tried other positions and that’s as far as I will go.  If I tell you everything, I will never catch you up!  

Three Key Barber Systems 

Salty Deck Set Type is merely a deck mounted fairlead with a jammer behind.  Calibration is simply the length of sheeting for the wind strength and waves . It is independent for either tack, again for crosswaves which may incur the need for more fullness.  The sheet is undone for running and reaching but has to be jammed in before rounding the mark for the beat and needs a very strong person to adjust or done by adjusting on the off tension side.  It is 1:1 system.  


Hogan–Probert Independent Type

Very simple through deck bush to a 3:1 where the through deck jammer is positioned - ergonomically effective on the cuddy for crew access on the beat.  Adjusted independently taking wind and wave into account.  


Best, Johnson, Harris, Taylor MMC Type (Measure Manage Control)

All systems are below deck to allow for a coarse setting of 2:! and fine setting of 6:1 or greater.  Several use through deck pulley systems close to the mast then deck mounted clips for the final pulley.  Others use through deck pulleys as final outlet to pulley.  The variations of outlet position do vary as much as 3"-4" which indentifies the variations in sail set.  The system allows fine adjust when on the beat.  Some are on the normal cuddy ledge.  This can be awkward when you need to adjust.  I have my fine adjustment on the cuddy which can be adjusted independently for each tack.  See both photos below.  The coarse adjustment has to be done prior to the beat but mine, if forgotten, can be adjusted sufficient for coarse and fine adjustment.  Calibration again is by simple marking on sheeting or cuddy. 


Crossfire #797 


Banshee #65 

The best system is mine of course, but tempered by the acquired experience of Nigel Harris in Banshee, I have calculated the settings off Nigel’s cuddy string markings into xyz positions for my own use and they are pretty close.  Thanks Nigel!  

2 photos below showing my systems on #108 Ogo Pogo 

Adjusters (left to right) for jib cunningham, main cunningham, coarse barber 2:1, main halyard, spin pole up, spin pole down.  All fittings connected to oblong stainless steel plate with 1” lips, vertical for all fittings. 


Fine adjuster for barber with 6:1 mechanical advantage 

Adjustment affected by deck movement

Most will have noticed that when pulling the jib sheet in hard that the deck sinks about ¾”, particularly for the older Squibs.  The cross beam jammer system in aluminium or fibreglass does reduce this bend but a simple strut underneath and between the two deck outlet holes eliminates this distortion of the deck and allows the settings of the barber to be what you think they are. 

Alternatively you can fit a new deck from the builders.  

My grateful thanks for those boat owners who are the good and great of our Squib fleet for displaying their equipment at the Championships for others to compare and may be copy.