Graduate Dinghy Association

Pimp Your Grad

After purchasing Graduate 3025, Alex and I have been slowly begging, borrowing, stealing and coming up with ideas on how to add and tweak systems on the boat to make it easier and faster to both sail and rig. 

After sailing fireballs for years I quickly learnt the easiest way to help you on the water is to make sure the boat is as well set up as possible. Although boat maintenance and upgrades can sound daunting and costly, we are hoping that these articles published in Grad Tidings will help ‘pimp’ your Grad whilst staying friendly to your wallet.

Many of the bits we have thought about can be found in the way of spares in yours or a friend’s toolbox and everything can be purchased from P&B with a 7% class discount being available through use of the code at the bottom.  

Sub £5 – Outhaul Elastic

 A well-used slug slide on the clew of a sail can be a nightmare! In light winds it can make releasing the outhaul tricky and put more work on the crew (as if there isn’t enough to do already). A simple yet effective solution is to run some elastic from the clew to the boom and back. This pulls the clew forwards when the outhaul rope is un cleated. To make it easy to attach each time, whip a loop in one end and add a ball rope stop to the other! 

PB190 Small Stopper Ball Up To 4mm- £0.45

4-LF01 Marlow Ropes Shockcord 4mm- £1.04 (3 metres should be enough) £3.12

Total: £3.57 

Sub £25- Jib Cunningham 

We all change settings on the mainsail across wind conditions so why not on the Jib? The Jib counts towards nearly 1/3rd of total sail area, being able to effectively depower the jib in breezy conditions will help the boat feel smoother upwind and also enable you to keep height and improve boat speed. By adding on a jib Cunningham you can effectively increase and decrease the entry depth. By pulling on a jib Cunningham hard in breeze you are able to flatten off the entry and also help blade off the leech. Combine this with moving your sheeting outboard you can reduce backwinding of the main hugely in big gusts and the amount the jib needs to be played upwind. 

On our boat we have mounted a Clamcleat on the foredeck  next to the mast step. This makes it easy to reach and also adjust on the fly if needed. Then run a length of rope (doesn’t need to be anything too fancy) about 3mm in diameter from the cleat, to your bow fitting, through the jib tack and back down to dead end on the bow fitting. You can remove any rope holding your jibs to the bottom of the luff wire. This system provides a 2:1 purchase which is more than enough! 

CL268A Micro Racing Hard Anodised Clamcleat Hard Anodised- £6.83

3-ER10 Marlow Ropes Excel Racing 3mm- £1.48 (3 meters should be more than enough) £4.44

If you fancy splicing then 3mm D-12 is a better option and to upgrade further you can add in a plain bearing block on the bow fitting. 

A2020PSC Allen 20mm Plain Bearing Single Block With Swivel- £21.78

3-TY4132 Marlow Ropes D12 12 Strand Dyneema 3mm- £2.72

Total: £11.27 

Sub £50- Split Tail Main 

The split tail main gives you serious bang for your buck in the way of upgrades. When using a granny purchase in the mainsheet system at the back you lose the ability to centre the mainsheet without oversheeting and shutting down the leech. By adding on a split tail main you don’t have to worry about the block height, symmetry and oversheeting and gain better leech control without sacrificing pointing ability. By reducing the purchase it increases your gust response and gives you less sheet to pull for the same amount of movement. Many may be worried about the main weight increasing when moving to a split tail however it truly is negligible! This is probably the most cost-effective upgrade so far! 

Pre spliced split tail sheets start at around £60. However the standout rope to use is Excel fusion. This is bomb proof and will outlast any other product on the market. It runs better than any other rope I have used and if you were making one yourself it is by far the easiest to taper and splice with no need for sewing or whipping. The fusion mainsheet does come at a price ready made, £85.39 however the parts below come in under our £50 cap if you are willing to do some DIY rope work.

7-EF00 Excel Fusion 78 7mm- £5.20 (7m needed max) £36.40

25-TY41 Marlow Ropes Excel D12 12 Strand Dyneema 2.5mm- £1.71 (4m needed max) £6.84

3-LF01 Shockcord 3mm- £0.98 (to stop tails going round transom when slack

A22 Mini Rope Stopper- £0.65 (2 needed to go under gunwale to stop rope wearing and snapping) £1.30

Total: £45.12

Sub £100- 2:1 Anti-slip Main Halyard

Out of all the bimbles Alex and I have done so far this is the one that we would not do without. 

You can have all the systems in your boat working perfectly but a stretching, slipping or creeping main halyard will make all this hard work redundant. By not having your main fixed to the black band you are losing all control over your sail. A small creep in the main halyard will lose your ability to pull on Cunningham, reduce the effectiveness of your kicker or gnav and lower the boom. All this reduces the power range in your sail meaning in breeze you are not going to be able to depower fully and will feel like you are fighting the boat. 

In order to solve this problem Alex and I have replaced the masthead sheave to a ball bearing one, added on a 2:1 dyneema halyard thickened at the cleat to reduce both stretch and creep, and also added on a second cleat below to increase the holding power and reduce creep. The 2:1 also works by reducing the amount the sail travels down the mast when the mast bends due to controls being pulled on. 

P&B can offer a pre splice kit thickened in the correct place with a hard eye in the top to eliminate the chance of breakage and the correct bolt for the sheave replacement for £79.

3-TY41 Marlow Ropes Excel D12 12 Strand Dyneema 3mm- £2.72 (7m needed ish) £19.04

EP0023 Marlow Ropes Excel PS12 12 Strand Polyester 3mm: Grey- £0.89 (12m needed) £11.76

SS11.71 Seasure Heavy Duty Hard Eye 3mm- £2.42

A4986-6 Allen High Load Stainless Steel Ball Bearing Sheave 25x6mm- £16.35

SA4479 Shoulder Tube- £1.88 (only available over phone as custom part) 

CL222A Mini Racing Hard Anodised- £6.55 (2 needed for our setup) £13.10

R2849 Eye Mount, Length 6mm- £2.04

HM-6360-4405 Bar Shackle- £2.08

Not all of these are essential, and the sheave and extra cleat can be left out to keep the cost down. 

Total: £66.79

Sub £150- Jib Ratchet Blocks 

Life as a crew can be tricky! Lots of hiking and lots to do when it comes to a mark rounding. Although not an essential, adding on a good set of jib ratchets will transform the life of a crew. The ratchet will de-load the cleat making un-cleating easier through tacks. It will also enable the crew to play the jib and crack it in those big gusts helping to keep the boat trucking. It also means the jib does not need to be cleated on reaches and can be trimmed to help maximise boat speed offwind. At present most multi handed boats seem to be trending towards jib ratchets so why shouldn’t we?

The block to swap out to the ratchet is the first one in your system, the one on either a track or strops. We favour a good auto ratchet that means when it goes really light you regain the feel and the jib still runs out. The Ronstan Orbit Auto Ratchet sits price wise between the Allen and the Harken, however this would be our choice. We feel the grip and reliability of the sheave and ratchet vastly out performs that of its competitors. Cheaper auto ratchets are also available if you want to help the wallet further.

RF46101 Ronstan 40mm Orbit Auto Ratchet Block- £60.22 (2 needed) £120.44


To help the wallet further P&B are offering all Graduate class members 7% off RRP on chandlery, clothing and rigging. To apply this discount online please visit and use the discount code supplied with your membership pack, or give a member of the team a call who will be able to assist you further on 01604592808.