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Mainsheet systems, simple yet vital hardware, play a crucial role in sailboat operation due to their constant use. A block and tackle or ‘purchase’ system is a form of mechanical advantage, where the input force is multiplied through a series of pulleys or blocks to create a much larger output force. Trying to understand how to achieve different purchase ratios might seem daunting to the uninitiated, but it’s quite straightforward once you know some basic principles. In this blog we will guide you through different purchase systems used on modern sailboats.