Developed with Ian and Jan Simpson. This set up has taken the couple across the Atlantic more than once and on a number of yachts. Their experience is extensive and we are very grateful for the following contribution where Ian gives detailed tuning techniques.
Although developed for short handed ocean sailing, the Simbo Rig (simple bow rig) could prove useful to the short handed coastal cruising sailor and those who are not inclined to handle flying spinnakers on a heaving foredeck in open water. What is required is a twin grooved jib furler to which one hoists two identical high cut clew jibs on a single halyard. These sails have two sets of sheets which lead through the fairleads and up to the cockpit winches in the usual way.
On the wind and also when reaching, one trims the upwind leeward jib to which you then tighten up the downwind lazy jib. Whereas it is useful to have two cockpit sheet winches for this purpose it is not essential as the downwind sheet carries no load and can therefore be made up by hand. When easing off onto a run with wind 40 degrees off the stern, one hoists two whisker poles on seperate boom lifts against fore and aft guys made off around the fore and amidship cleats. If these are made up to measured marks one can simply hoist the whisker poles until tight against the fore and aft guys in the knowledge that the poles are then at right angles to the boat and horizontal with the horizon.
At this stage the downwind running sheets together with the onwind reaching sheets are led under the whiskerpole retractable bolts and then onto the track fairleads. When going onto a run one pulls the upwind leeward jib across the boat to split the jibs with the lazy reaching sheets laying idle. The wind captured in the weather jib is then directed into the leeward jib to keep it fully powered when otherwise it would be blanketed by the mainsail. The mainsail boom is eased to no more than say 37 degrees off the centre line so that wind entering the mainsail can be redirected around the mast into the weather jib to also spill into the leeward jib.
A further reason for restricting the main boom is to avoid it directly opposing the pressure exerted on the mast by the weather whisker pole. The leeward whisker pole exerts no mast pressure which all translates into minimum boat roll. The only reason for the leeward whisker pole is to take over weather sail duties after gybing. All that is required to excercise a gybe is to haul the mainsheet, the jib sheets/rig remain unchanged.
When reverting back to a reach one merely allows the weather jib to fly across to leeward to become the dominant weather reaching sail again. The sheets still lead through the whiskerpole ends until hardening up on the wind when one releases the sheets by retracting the whisker bolts with the poles stowing down each side of the mast.
Apart from the setting and stowing of the whisker poles there is no foredeck work required and the sails are controlled entirely from the cockpit. When striking the sails on the run one allows the running weather jib to fly across to leeward and then roll the two sails away with the furling line in the normal way. There is no noticable wear on the twin sails when they are flown together on the reach although I would advise beefing up the attaching jib halyard shackle as the twin jibs on the run will work a weaker shackle which could suffer metal fatigue.
The absolute control of the Simbo Rig from the cockpit by one person in fair or foul weather, at night or day gives one complete confidence in all conditions. I have sailed across the Atlantic three times now under this rig alone and wouldn't consider using any other system.
The sails which Owen Sails designed and made in c2002 look as good today as they were new and are without wear, tear and repair despite the considerable service they have given.