Jerry the Rigger went aloft to check 100 rigs on this year’s ARC. Here’s his hit list of things that go wrong

Jerry Henwood is a busy man. A regular at the ARC in Las Palmas, ‘Jerry the Rigger’ had just finished his 95th rig check when I met him. By the time the fleet was ready to go he’d been aloft for the 100th time, checking masts and rigging of almost half the fleet.

Together with his apprentice, Ross Goodwin (right), they keep their eyes peeled for the tiny signs of fatigue, cracks and corrosion that can end in disaster.

Among the horrors Jerry says he spotted this year were a welded forestay box with two big cracks, several badly cracked swages, spreader pins that were too short and about to pop out, a cracked boom, a babystay ripping out of the mast, and several shattered aluminium spreader castings.

What, I asked, were the most common rig problems?

Here’s Jerry’s hit list:

  • Cracked tang on the boom where the vang joins. “I’ve seen that on 10 per cent of the Sparcraft booms I’ve inspected,” he comments.
  • The struts wearing away and coming loose on radar brackets.
  • Missing or damaged key rings on standing rigging, especially guardwires (see below). “These should be a split pin.”
  • Loose nuts on pelican hooks on the guardwires.
  • Loose VHF aerials at the masthead.
  • Loose shackles. “Mouse them up or they’ll come undone.”