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Jens Rule Change

The Gust-adjust variations of the Jens rig seem like a good idea. I’ve fiddled with them, but, having to use the end of halyard to make the loop results in kind of a messy arrangement. The need for the doubled line to haul it up the spar results in an overly long halyard which is awkward to stow. Also, each time you go sailing you have to either retie the loop to the right length or retie the hitch to the spar in the right location. Either of these is a pain.

Having to do this seems kind of silly to me. If the rules allowed it, you could tie the loop with a separate short piece of line and leave it permanently installed. You could then use a separate, short halyard for the Jens. This would make it much more convenient, require less line, and make for a neater arrangement. Also, when the loop wears out you wouldn’t have to replace the whole halyard, just the short piece. There doesn’t seem to be any cons, and I think the class should consider a rule change.


I agree 100%. Those of us lightweights (150 lbs) need an easy quick way to set up the jens line while on the water when the breeze picks up otherwise we cannot compete upwind with 180-200lb sailors. I have also been trying the "Gust Adjust" version of the jens but cannot seem to master the setup. Hopefully someone on this board can post an efficient version of the the jens.
It is actually pretty easy to retie the gust adjust or any other jens. If you put marks on your upper spar, it is very simple to consistently reproduce the position of the halyard / jens line on the spar. For the loop, you can put marks on the rope to accomplish the same. This is a pretty straight forward and hassle free way to avoid some headaches.

Regardless, I think I have the solution to Bill's complaints and a way to tie a jens that will drastically simplify everyone's life.

About 15 years ago, several of us on the lakes in NJ got a little creative with the halyard to simplify putting a jens rig in. At the time, it was not legal to have a second line to tie the jens so the benefits were marginal. However, the gust adjust and two lines have created new possibilities from the idea we had which only just occurred to me.

What we did back in the day was tie the halyard on the upper spar in multiple locations. Today, most people tie the halyard on with a clove hitch or rolling hitch and put some kind of stopper knot in one end, while the other end is the working halyard. Instead of putting a stopper knot in, we continued the line down the upper spar and tied a second clove / rolling hitch on the spar at the first jens position. This made life easier for putting in an old school jens because it took the guess work out of the halyard position.

My variant on this idea is to still put two clove / rolling hitches on the spar. The first would be at the "regular" halyard location. The second one would be at the jens location. The difference is that with the second hitch, you have no stopper know and make a REALLY long tail that effectively looks and acts like a second halyard. This gives you two working ends of the halyard that are connected in the middle. Thus you have not violated any rules.

This now frees up the jens line to do whatever it would normally do pre-gust adjust. So, if you did this:

Keep doing it. Similarly, if you tied the loop on the mast you could keep doing it too.

This eliminates all the confusion with the Gust Adjust Lines and legally gets you two halyards.


Bill, if you set up this rig this weekend, would you take some pictures? I realize it is hard to describe but pictures make it much easier to understand.
Attached are some shots of how I rigged the Jens. The pink line Jens loop should be on the front of the mast. I didn’t have a long enough halyard line so I tied two pieces together for the experiment. Incidentally, I really like the stuff I use which is 3.8 mm New England Ropes Spyderline. The first problem was tying the knots. When I tied the upper one on first, I couldn’t get the bottom one right. It was maddening. The way to do it is to figure out how much line you need for the lower part, including the hitch. You need enough to get from the spar lying on the deck through the Jens loop and far enough down the mast so you can reach it. Tie an overhand knot so it won’t slip and then tie the hitch as usual with the lower halyard coming out the top. Then take the remaining line that comes out the bottom and tie a second overhand knot up a foot or two depending where you locate the lower halyard. Then tie the upper hitch as usual with the overhand knot on the bottom. I’ll cleat that on the mast and run the rest to the deck cleat and then to the vang. I’ll cut the excess off that end. I don’t yet know exactly how much line is needed. I’ll figure it out when the line I ordered is delivered. It’ll be more than 40 feet.

I use a clam cleat with a horn to secure the halyard as shown. It isn’t that great for this rig so I’m going to switch to a regular 4” horn cleat with a hole in the base. I’m planning on making the truckers knot in the lower halyard with the halyard fed through the hole in the cleat. I’ll then cleat it with one figure eight, coil the excess, and secure it somehow. I’ll then cleat the regular halyard normally over the lower halyard. I haven’t tried the last part yet, but, I think it’ll work OK. I’ll know by the weekend.



Genius...this could finally be the one. Hurray for line tricks and REALLY long tails to bend the rules.
Actually, the rigging in that video is NOT class legal because of the way the halyard is tied through the mast end cap. It causes the cap to pull out.

What is shown by Bill is legal, but a variant of the gust adjust.


New Member
The video version is one continuous line, and the rules state you are allowed one line. The "gust adjust video" version was voted and approved at the 2008 Worlds Championship, it was proposed at the 2008 NAs.

From the class rules:
A rig to lower the point at which the upper spar lies against the mast (known as the „Jens Hookansen Rig‟) may be tied with an extra piece of line used solely for that purpose. The rig must be tied in such a way that the sailor may lower the sail quickly and easily by releasing the halyard.

Once again, there is no alteration to the "Gust Adust Video" line.

A more detailed of how-to will be posted soon.


New Member
Update: Confirmed today, Todd Edwards the class measurer says that the gust video version is the class legal version.


New Member
The new full length "Gust Adjust" video with detail is now available at www.sunfishracing.org under videos. The format is mid-quality, so if you would like a DVD high quality version then please email me direct through this forum.

thanks, and happy viewing!


Matt Ashenden

New Member
I have watched two videos on the Gust Adjust (Jens) rig as well as read as many posts that I could find on the subject. Unfortunately, I am still a tad confused, somewhat on how to do it but more so on how it works. Part of the problem is trying to properly envision what is going on at both the lower part of the mast and the top part of the mast in a clear manner. Kudos on trying to capture this in the video, and please do not take offense - I realize it is hard to get both ends of a mast on video. Further complicating this is the fact that I am a newbie on the matters of Gust Adjusts and racing sunfish (but not a newbie on sailing Sunfish – been doing that for almost 40 years now, and; Boy, are my arms tired. Sorry, could not resist;)). It is mostly my inability to visualize it not having seen a Jens Rig in real life.

Please comment on anything that I get wrong or do not describe accurately...

On the matter of "How it works"; If I understand things correctly, the intent of the Gust Adjust is to lower the sail closer to the deck in high winds in order to depower the sail and keep the boat from heeling as much, all while underway. The trick is doing this using only a traditional halyard and the Jens halyard, but no other pieces of line so as to comply with racing rules. Using only one traditional halyard (to also serve as a boom vang) and one Jens halyard to accomplish everything contributes to why this gets a tad complicated with loops and such.

If I understand the physics behind the Gust Adjust correctly, the loop (that is threaded through the mast cap and pulled to the backside of the mast) is intended to serve as an alternate hoist point for the Jens halyard such that when it is used the sail raises to that point rather than to the higher point at the top of the mast, which is the case when the traditional halyard is used through the mast cap.

Assuming that the above summary is accurate, I have to ask, if the objective is to lower the sail using a lower hoist point, why is the location where we attach the Jens halyard to the top spar (gaff) below the location where we attach the main halyard? It seems that the lower we attached any halyard to the gaff, the higher the sail will raise, so attaching the Jens halyard below the main halyard seemingly negates the effect of a lower hoist point (again if I am understanding everything correctly - which is a big IF).

Related questions:
1) In looking at Greg/Shaun's video, it is hard to detect any change from when the sail is at full Jens vs full rigged. What changed between full Jens and full rigged?
2) How much does the sail height change between full Jens and full rigged in terms of the distance between the boom and the deck?
3) Why would instead we not just use two halyards through the existing mast cap hole, with one attached at the traditional location on the gaff and the one attached above the traditional location that would be used to lower the rig? This seems too easy so I must be missing something.

Thank you in advance for any insight to help clarify what is going on mechanically with a Jens rig.

moms hooked

New Member
I've been using the Bill McInnes method for a year now and it really works well. I have one piece of spectra tied in a loop from the top of the mast, much like Bill's pink line. It's only purpose is to create an attachment point for the jens halyard--I set mine about 10-12" below the mast cap. This meets class rules as the "extra line used solely for the purpose" of securing the jens halyard.

I use a second, really long piece of spectra as both the regular and jens halyard. It's probably 35 feet but is way too long and needs to be cut down. I found the midpoint, tied one clove hitch with a stopper knot at the normal halyard position, then ran the line along the upper boom loosely and tied a second clove hitch with a stopper knot for the jens one mast ring down the upper boom--like Bill's purple halyards in his second photo but without the middle knot. So I meet class rules by having only two lines total. It passed class measurement at North Americans.

You feed the regular halyard through the mast cap and the jens halyard through the bottom of the loop of extra line, pinching the loop around the mast like Greg does in the Gust adjust video. Now you have two halyards attached to the upper boom, and running roughly parallel from the upper boom to their separate attachments points on the mast, just like Bill McInnes' third photo. I pull both halyards simultaneously to raise the sail. This was awkward at first, but now I'm used to it. I also hate the way the thin spectra digs into my hands, so I use my sailing gloves to raise the sail.

I tighten the jens first and cleat it off to the mast cleat. Then I secure the regular halyard as usual--with a truckers hitch to get a 3:1 advantage, and cleat it down on the deck. I still use the tail of the regualr halyard as a boom vang--running it back through the padeye, around the gooseneck and mast, through the padeye again and back to the deck cleat.

The first time you set it up you have to fiddle a bit to get the clove hitches and stopper knots in the right places on the upper boom, and to get the right corresponding length on the jens loop, so don't try to do this for the first time the morning of a regatta. Once it's set up though, you really don't have to change it. The clove hitches stay in place on the upper boom and the jens loop remains on the mast. I leave my halyards fed through, and tie them off loosely to the mast cleat when the sail is lowered. This is the one advantage of having halyards that are too long.

When I start to get overpowered I simply uncleat the main halyard from the deck and let the rig drop to the jens position, then recleat loosely and retie the vang. Actually the rig is still held in place by the jens halyard so it isn't really "dropping" down the mast--it's just the upper boom that drops away from the top of the mast. This allows the boom to bend off, thereby opening the leach to spill wind and depower the sail. The distance between the lower boom and deck doesn't change that much--less than an inch at the front end on my rig.

Amazingly, I am still able to point well upwind, and I still have plenty of speed. It just feels a bit easier to handle. I'm a bit of a wimp, so I'll go to a Jens in about 18 knots of wind, but most of my competitors prefer to muscle it out with the regular halyard until 22-25 knots. I hate feeling overpowered, and the jens rig allows me to stay out, and stay competitive, in a significantly higher wind range.

Matt Ashenden

New Member
Moms Hooked - Thank you for the good description. I can visualize how the “McInnes approach" would meet the "2 line limit". Your description also clarifies that the loop serves as a lower hoist point that is used with the Jens halyard. One piece to the puzzle solved J

However, I am still having trouble visualizing what happens to the sail. Here are the points that are confusing me – These are not meant to be argumentative - just explaining my perspective in the form of questions in hopes of figuring out what I am not getting...

To anyone that knows…

Is the objective of the Jens rig really to lower the sail on the mast to depower it?
And if so, how does tying the Jens at a lower point on the upper boom actually lower the sail? I definitely understand how having the lower hoist point serves to lower the sail, but the attachment point on the upper boom has me confused. It seems a lower attachment point on the upper boom with nothing else in the equation actually would raise the sail higher.

So is the net effect a combination of the lower hoist point lowering the sail, and the lower attachment point on the upper boom which actually negates some of the lowering because it makes the sail higher? Put another way, is the net effect on sail position essentially the difference between the length of the loop (which lowers the sail) and the distance below the traditional attachment point on the upper boom (which seemingly counter reacts against the lower Jens hoist point)? Based on the pics in this post, particularly IMG 2136 , it almost looks like the traditional attachment point is about at the top of the mast, so what is really accomplished?

I am beginning to think "lowering the sail on the mast" is not an accurate description of the objective of a Jens rig since in light winds we move the attachment point up the upper boom which lowers the sail. Is instead the objective better described as shifting the sail to the stern (more sail behind the mast)? If so, how does that depower things?

moms hooked

New Member
Sorry I couldn't clarify everything. I'll try one more time, then leave it for the experts. This is how I tried to explain it before:

"When I start to get overpowered I simply uncleat the main halyard from the deck and let the rig drop to the jens position, then recleat loosely and retie the vang. Actually the rig is still held in place by the jens halyard so it isn't really "dropping" down the mast--it's just the upper boom that drops away from the top of the mast. This allows the boom to bend off, thereby opening the leach to spill wind and depower the sail."

So to answer your questions:
1. The objective of the jens is to depower the sail, not lower it.

2. If the hoist point on the mast and the jens halyard position on the upper boom have both been moved down by the same amount (as I rig mine), the rig as a whole really doesn't drop at all. The gooseneck will be about the same height off the deck.

3. The lower attachment points on the mast and upper boom does mean that the end of the upper boom will move toward the stern. The end of the upper boom also drops slightly when you let the upper halyard go, because the angle against the mast has changed.

4. Remember, the sail is also fixed at the gooseneck, so the lower boom doesn't shift. However, you may notice an increase in the weather helm because the center of effort in the sail moved back slightly due to the repositioning of the upper boom. It is usually recommended that you move the gooseneck back a few inches after switching to the jens to keep the helm in balance.

5. The change in the rig is subtle, but the sail is definitely depowered and easier to handle in high winds.

I'll try to take photos this weekend of my rig in the normal position and in the jens. It may or may not help.

Matt Ashenden

New Member
I think I get it now. Thank you for your diligence. It is appreciated.

I thought I had seen this referenced as "lowing the sail to depower it", but in fact I think the depowering comes from shifting it to the stern a bit which must serve to spill the wind in the manner that you described. As you noted, the gooseneck/lower boom does not lower by much. Since the sail is a unit that rides freely up and down as dictated by the halyard, the only way that the upper boom can be lowered and not significantly change the level of the lower boom is for it to shift to the stern. That must be why the Jens halyard is attached at a lower point on the upper boom.

I am probably over analyzing it and should simply try it (which I will this weekend at the Hampton Roads race, weather not being too ugly).

Thanks again.


Upside down?
Staff member
The Jens is effective for light-weight sailors (~100-150 lbs) in strong winds (>15 mph). Some top level racers use it when the conditions warrant it.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Matt, the purpose of a Jens is solely to have more upper boom unsupported (which it is as the halyard is tied on lower.). That way, there is more unsupported boom to bend to leeward, spilling wind and therefore depowering the sail. BB

Matt Ashenden

New Member
Matt, the purpose of a Jens is solely to have more upper boom unsupported (which it is as the halyard is tied on lower.). That way, there is more unsupported boom to bend to leeward, spilling wind and therefore depowering the sail. BB
Ahhhhh. So that is how it works.

I appreciate the two sentence explanation that says it all. While this may have been explained amongst lots of other information in other sources, seeing the explanation standing alone put all of the pieces together for me.

Thank you. It is time to try it, but only a small one since it has been a while since I weighted 150 lbs :)