I have a 1989 Jeanneau Sunshine 38. We like to hobby race it on weekends. The boat came with a forward baby stay.
The problem is that Jibing the spinnaker with the stay in place is quite difficult, slow and dangerous, requiring the crew to detach it both from the sail and the mast and manhandling it around the baby stay.
1. What is the stay's purpose? 2. Can I remove it for racing? 3. When shouldn't I remove it?
Your baby stay in effect replaces forward lower shrouds and allows mast bend when you put on backstay - affectting mainsail shape and forestay sag. Don't eliminate it. You can improve spinnaker pole handling with this rig by using end for end jibes with twin sheets and guys which allows you better spinnaker control during the jibe [ versus dip pole]
Its their as I understand it, to keep the mast from pumping while going upwind. Down wind it is not needed per say. I know of a few folks that have added a 4-1 setup to it, to tighten when needed, or even a quick release to remove it going down wind........
I would not remove it for going upwind. As another boat like it I know of, does not have it. BUT, the mast section is a section larger. So using a mini forstay keeps a lighter wt, smaller sectioned mast from moinv back and forth, ie pumping going upwind, causing it to break etc.
As has already been mentioned, the baby stay is not needed downwind, but you probably still want it upwind, particularly in strong wind and waves. There are a couple of possible solutions. Some boats have it on a track with a purchase system so you can pull it on when needed, and then release it and slide it back to the mast when you don't. The simpler version is to have it on a simple purchase system rather than a track, but that creates more of a tipping hazard. You can use a bungee between the mast and the stay to pull it back.
The other solution is to tell your foredeck guy to suck it up and learn to deal with it! A lazy guy system definitely makes it easier but creates more spaghetti in the cockpit. Even with sheet to sheet gybes the foredeck shouldn't have to fight the pole too much if the guys at the back of the boat are doing things right!