Rigging a Boat for a Challenge

By Channing Boswell – Pine Island, Florida - USA

There are multiple Races and Raids such as the Everglades Challenge and the Texas 200 held around the country. All one needs is some skills and a boat. The list of potential boats is an endless list of home builds, or retired racing and recreational craft. Pretty much all the production boats will need some kind of modification to make them seaworthy for such an adventure. Remember, these boats were designed to be used by sane people that when the wind pipes up they go home. Also, every pound counts on a racing boat so some have a minimalist approach when it comes to rigging. Every boat has a price point to reach so some methods to expedite the build and get it to the showroom are not the most robust approach. So let’s take an average production boat and put her into a challenge worthy condition.

The Victim!

Let’s start with the boom. The boom came from the factory with aluminum pop rivets, cheap and quick to install but weak and susceptible to corrosion. In fact, the forward mainsheet block on the boom released itself in a howling 10kt breeze and started the ball rolling on this project. To fix this issue, first drill out the rotten rivets and remove all the hardware. Use a drill press for a neater job or a steady hand drilling straight through the boom from bottom to top. Install #10 SS machine screws with Nylock nuts and trim the extra with a dremel. Your hardware is now throughbolted and at $0.47 a screw and $0.27 a nut, the total price of $4.44+tax is dirt cheap for peace of mind.

Next let’s tackle the mast. The mast mounts for the shrouds were also pop riveted to the mast. Potter stepped up and went with stainless rivets but time and corrosion had worked their magic and this is not the most secure arrangement. Again, drill out the rivet heads but stop there. We are able to use the original mast holes to place two new through bolts and add a mast hound for the forestay. A much stronger arrangement than pop rivets. This did require a new termination on the forestay but this is accomplished with the tool pictured.

If you have a local West Marine they usually have a bench mounted nicropress located in the back of the store they let you use if you buy the sleeve there.

Original Arrangement.

Finished mast!

Next up, lets tackle where this rigging terminates. The original shroud backing plates are small and thin. Since there is room to go bigger, lets do that and spread out the load.

New backing plate verses original. Hey lets stackem!

Finished backing plates! But let’s not stop there, time to check on the rudder.

There was no access to the back of the gudgeons so it was time to add an access port. So now that we have a view let’s take a look.

Yep! Just as suspected, slap a couple of washers on them nuts before slapping on the deck and it is all good!

Now there’s better way to spread a load! I went with starboard in this application due to the moist and stuffy location. Stainless and aluminum don’t get along well in moist locations and in this case the starboard is adequate. I also always go with new bolts, reusing 20-year old bolts even if they look good is a false economy. Now this old girl has some other issues to be addressed to be challenge worthy, but for now there are no worries with rigging or steering failure.

Other issues for long voyage,

  1. Rig a system for locking the Centerboard in the down position;
  2. Use barrel bolt locks to secure the main hatch and add a gasket;
  3. Replace thin plexiglass cabin windows with Lexan. In a knockdown a flying piece of unsecured gear could easily break them.



  1. Umm, galvanic action will turn the aluminum that is in contact with stainless steel, to turn to powder. Perhaps not in one season, but likely by third season of use that joint will be history

  2. I would also recommend a compression tube inside the mast for any through bolting of shroud terminals, especially if there are lower shrouds terminating at spreaders

  3. Channing, GOOD START

    keep going, some of the folks reading this AINT GOTTA CLUE about BOAT PREP


  4. Mark same stainless to aluminum interface as factory, you could use nylon washers to help isolate. Pay in this case the mast hound will help spread the load on the outside of the mast. A compression tube wouldn’t hurt but this is a dinghy. If we were to scale the load up to larger vessels we are probably in overkill already
    Steven thanks!

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