A running backstay is a removable stay that provides aft support to the mast from either the masthead or the point at which an inner forestay is attached. It originated as a response to the material limits of the period. At that time, solid wooden masts, for example, were either too weak or too heavy to be made particularly tall. Therefore, to achieve an acceptable area of sail for the heavy-displacement boats of the day, either the boom had to be extended beyond the transom or a gaff had to be added to the top of the sail—or both. This precluded the use of fixed backstays because the boom and gaffs had to be free to swing across the vessel when it tacked and jibed. As a tack or jibe was initiated, the burdened backstay had to be released and, as the spars swung through, the new, now windward, stay had to be fastened quickly before the entire rig came tumbling down.