Alternative Rigs Page 2

Sailors are a conservative lot. The sea takes no prisoners, and most people don’t care to experiment when the cost of failure is potentially great. That’s why both futuristic and some older traditional sailing rigs struggle for acceptance and often receive little more than patronizing smiles from so-called modern mariners.Ironically, the conventional marconi rig that now dominates sailing
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

Sails for these rigs are often high-tech, and the rig is easy to tend shorthanded. Sheet loads are amazingly light as a result of the balancing effect of the jib, and reefing is a snap. Windward performance is better than adequate, but not spectacular. Off the wind, though, these boats fly, as the rig can be set square to the wind. There’s no call for challenging downwind sails and no chafe. And if you’re hit by a squall, easing the sheet spills as much wind as you like, even on a dead run.

It’s vital to be certain of the integrity of any unstayed mast, and the bearings on these swivelling spars require some maintenance. AeroRigs have made plenty of successful long passages, however, and have proven seaworthy.

Carbospars, which owned the AeroRig name and brought the concept to the fore in the 1990s, is no longer in business, but naval architect Gerry Dijkstra, among others, is using the rig on big luxury yachts.

Junk Rig

junk_rig

The Chinese have used the junk rig for millennia. Back in 1960, the English war hero Colonel “Blondie” Hasler created a modern version for his 25-foot Folkboat, Jester, which he sailed in the first Singlehanded Transatlantic Race. Junk rigs use full-length battens to shape and control the sails, which are semi-balanced with some area projected forward of the mast (often unstayed). Junk rigs on modern boats generally have one or two masts; twin-masted junk schooners have the advantage of being able to sail wing-and-wing off the wind.

Junk sails are very low tech and are cheap to build and easy to repair. Many junk rigs have been entirely home-built, sails included. The sails are sheeted from each batten, and loads are light because a significant portion of the sail is forward of the mast. Chafe is minimal because the rigs are freestanding. Reefing is easy; the sail drops into its lazyjacks like a window blind. While the junk rig is not especially lightweight (most use wooden spars), some assert that, as with gaff rigs, the weight aloft contributes to a seakindly motion. Junk rigs generally lack power sailing close-hauled compared to a marconi rig, although care in design, a hull that can point, and attention to the battens can offset this.

For a century or more, the gaff rig was the rig of choice for both pleasure and working boats because there was no viable alternative in terms of power, ease of handling, and close-windedness. Many sailors today still find it aesthetically pleasing and highly entertaining to sail. Off the wind, a gaff rig can be more efficient than a marconi rig.

gaff_rig

The gaff rig’s large, low-aspect quadrilateral mainsail is ideal for driving heavy-displacement boats that are not especially close-winded by modern standards. The sails have a high stall tolerance, so they can be oversheeted without killing performance. The reduced rig loads produced by the comparatively short mast are easy on the hull, plus lower sheet loads eliminate the need for massive winches.

As a gaff sail is reefed, its center of effort moves forward less than that of a three-cornered marconi sail. This means that heaving-to becomes a surefire formula for gale survival, with no effort from the crew other than to brew coffee.

Except in their most-refined forms, gaff rigs don’t like pointing much above 45 or 50 degrees true. Off the wind, however, a gaff rig can be more efficient than a marconi rig. But a gaff rig is also a chafe monster; great care has to be taken on long light-air downwind passages. Extracting the best from a proper gaffer demands higher levels of seamanship than many sailors can muster. Modern developments include carbon-fiber gaffs, which lower the rig’s high center of gravity, but purists argue that lightness aloft spoils the boat’s motion and makes it harder to lower the sail.

Related

180521-Lead2048x

Volvo Fleet Heads to Europe

After days of rain, calms and fog, the Volvo Ocean Race Race fleet enjoyed perfect sailing conditions for the start of Leg 9 in Newport, Rhode Island, on Sunday. It then promptly plunged back into yet more fog as it headed offshore toward the finish in Cardiff, Wales, a little ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comImpeller Practice Engine raw-water pump impellers don’t last forever. Even if they are not destroyed by running the engine dry following a blockage, they still deteriorate with the years. If you’ve never ...read more

Waves1(1)

Know how: Weather 101, Basics

OverviewThe first thing to know is that “Weather 101, Basics” is a science course. Its goal is to prepare boaters for a second course launching later this year called “Weather 202, Advanced.” Taken together, these classes are designed to teach boaters to become their own weather ...read more

05-Close-reaching

Light-Air Sailing

Some of the best times aboard a cruising boat are in light airs—those quiet, relaxed sunny days with gentle sailing that just wouldn’t be the same if you were motoring. However, many cruising yachts are not set up to truly fullfill their potential in these kinds of conditions.One ...read more

VOR-BoatYard

Volvo Ocean Race: the Boatyard

The Volvo Ocean Race stopovers are a chance for sailors to rest between grueling legs of the race and for fans to enjoy seeing their favorite boats in person. Behind the scenes of the festivities, however, Nick Bice and his team of expert riggers, boatbuilders, sailmakers and ...read more

20160711_Klampe_Alu_013

Nomen: Folding Cleats

Springtime for CleatsIt’s not every day you see a new take on the humble cleat. There are two problems with these essential items: lines tend to get snagged in them when you least want them to and they attract bare toes with painful accuracy. German company Nomen, maker of the ...read more

WS-POD-600

Watt & Sea: Power Pod Hydrogenerators

Power PodHydrogenerators are an increasingly common addition to bluewater cruising boats, but for all their benefits many sailors don’t like to mount them on the transom, where they may interfere with self-steering gear or drop-down transom platforms. Instead, Watt & Sea’s new ...read more