THIS WEEK IN 1971: Overhauling the Victory’s mast

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Orders echoed from aloft aboard HMS Victory as a tricky manoeuvre went off without a hitch.

Modern technology took a backseat when the ship’s main topsail yard was sent down as part of the winter overhaul of the mainmast.

Two powerful winches took the strain as the 50ft, three-and-a-half-ton spar was lowered gently to the ground beside the ship, but the rest of the job – canting it up, clearing the running rigging, and bending on the lifting cables – was skilled riggers’ seamanship.

This was the first stage of a major survey and overhaul of the mainmast.

Dockyard riggers would then send down the Victory’s main yard during the following week.

A detailed survey of the lower mast and the structure of the fighting top later took place.