Understanding alternative sailing rigs

Ted Brewer Schooner

The North American magazine Good Old Boat has a cool article online by Ted Brewer about alternative sailing rigs and their development.

Here’s a short but telling excerpt:

‘In the 1960s, the Royal Ocean Racing Club of Great Britain developed a handicap rule that estimated the efficiency of the various rigs:

Rig, Handicap (%)
Bermudan sloop or cutter , 100
Bermudan yawl , 96
Bermudan schooner and gaff sloop , 92
Bermudan ketch and gaff yawl , 88
Gaff schooner , 85
Gaff ketch , 81

‘In effect, the rule said that a gaff ketch rig has only 81 percent of the efficiency of a Bermudan sloop or cutter of the same sail area, but that was with other things being equal. That’s not always the case, and it is obvious that a gaff ketch with a well-designed hull and a slick bottom can sail circles around a poorly designed Bermudan sloop with ratty sails and a rough bottom. Also, the cruising sailor must consider that efficiency is not necessarily handiness or safety.

‘Safety in cruising is having sufficient windward ability to claw off a lee shore in a gale, but only if the rig can be handled by a short-handed crew. If a sloop’s sails are too large for the crew to change or reef under storm conditions, then you have no safety and would be better off with a divided rig with its smaller sails and greater ease of handling.’

Read more at Good Old Boat.

If you like what you read, you may be interested in Brewer’s classic little book on the subject, Understanding Boat Design.

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2 thoughts on “Understanding alternative sailing rigs”

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