Bermuda Rig Schooner Vs. Bermuda Sloop

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Bill PKS, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Given the number of Blue Nose lovers here, I will not get into a pissing match, but to say, given their size and volume, they were fairly fast for what they were. Matched against similar sized vessels of the era, designed specifically to go fast, they had their transoms handed to them.

    There's no debate over the slot theory, it's been defeated and tested many times over the years. Some like to think of it as aileron on an aircraft wing, others a slat, but neither is accurate, once you do the models or testing. Schooners are disadvantaged for mostly obvious reasons, some previously pointed out. This isn't to say you can't win in one, but even a blind squirrel gets a nut every so often. Ocean racing can often be more about luck, shifts and skipping skill/tactics, than rig choices. Repeated around the buoys racing tends to sort out the preferred arrangements, that win. Every once and a while someone comes along, takes advantage of the rule book and gets an oddball to work, like Hoyt's ribbon mainsail, but generally the high performance stuff has seen dramatic changes and even the AC boats drove with dinky headsails at 50 MPH in the last two cups. Now all this said, if you can separate and/or cant the aft most sail to weather, well then you'd be onto something, like getting most of this sail out of the lead sail's shadow, so the stalled area can come to play uphill.
     
  2. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Those records set by the tea clippers were beaten as early as the '70s or '80s by yachts about 1/4 the size. As PAR says, the fishing schooners were beaten by racing schooners, which were in turn beaten by sloops. The current singlehanded record is over 800 miles per day, which is hundreds of miles faster than a tea clipper of three or four times the size could go.

    The people who design offshore racing boats, America's Cup boats, foiling Moths, fast cats and other high performance boats are not all fools. They use sloop or cat rigs because they go faster, not because they are all idiots.

    Do you think people like Nat Herreshoff were fools? If not, why did they design sloops when (according to your theories, apparently) they could have designed schooners that would have been faster?
     
  3. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Great post, but it can also be pointed out that Britton Chance tried (IIRC) a rig in which the mizzen canted to weather and it was still slower. I think it may have been on Equation in 1972 or so.
     
  4. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I've tried it on my ketch and it does help, but you're still not going to point as high or get the speed of a sloop. I'm several degrees higher, but still a few degrees lower than a similar size/configuration sloop. I can cant the mizzen about 15 degrees to weather, which is about as much as I want to heel this early IOR hull form and it does allow me to keep pace with the sloops, but I'll usually need an extra tack at the end of a windward leg.

    Ketches and schooners can be made to work, much better, but you really need to get a lot of separation, which dramatically changes the rig proportions. A better approuch might be to accept the main on a ketch or fore on a schooner, as an extra hoist point and fly a huge overlapping main/fore, in conjunction with the main/mizzen and jib combination. I still suspect this will be ultimately slower, mostly extra rig drag, but if well thought out acting more like a big, thick single foil than three separate ones. You can only sheet in so much after all.

    Lastly sloops came to be once materials development allowed the sticks to be much taller proportionately. Initially called Marconi (all rigs where called this, gaff, ketch, Bermudian, etc.) rigged, because of the wires, they could hold up much taller headstays, dramatically improving aspect ratios, which made them more efficient.
     
  5. Schoolbus
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    Schoolbus New Member

    I know the least of anyone here- I just wanted to point out that oceangoing sailing boats that could take North Atlantic gales repeatedly, built out of thick wood and canvas sails, that were "working" boats that caught fish for a living, not racers, and yes schooner rigged, could go FAST. We cannot compare today's super fast racing carbon fiber sloops which are not working boats, carry no cargo, and have a host of technological improvements and still get into serious trouble in gales, to what the schooners and clippers could do. The more I learn about them, the greater respect I have for them. They were built at the end of the age of sail, represented the best of what could be done with wood and canvas, built to go to sea, and looked good doing it......

    A question though, why does 2 masts with 2 sails have a speed handicap (for various airflow reasons), when 1 mast with a jib (about the same thing as 2 sails on 2 masts?) has an advantage somehow? Its just a question! I don't know anything about sail design, but just curious how there can be a difference?
     
  6. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yes, and there are many differences, too many to generally discuss in this format. Air craft learned the same lesson many decades ago, when testing wing configurations, the Wright brothers discovered that 3, 4 or even 5 main wings were superior in lift, but elected to go with only two, to keep down weight and focus on simplicity and practicality. Within 20 years of this revelation, a single main wing was found even simpler, with far less drag, plus could be thick enough to house its own internal structure (no wires), further decreasing drag.

    The same rules apply, more sails, more drag, more weight and ever increasing sheeting angles, etc. This is an over simplification of the subject, but the basic nut shell.

    Lastly, as has been previously stated, the fishing schooners got their halyards ripped off in races against similar size racing schooners and garboards torn off by the sloops of the day. Not magic or unfair, simply the same as it's always been. You can compare a couple of garden tractors racing each other with grand observations about how fast they seemed, but against actual drag race tractors, not much in competition. Simply put, the fishing schooners where not particularly fast, though loaded to the rails with cod, in beam sea, with 30' rolling swells, damn impressive, of the ones that survived (many didn't). No one is trying to compare the old against the new, but the same principles applied in both eras and those old schooners did try to take on the blue blood schooners and quickly learned their limitations against them.
     

  7. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    School, as PAR says the schooners weren't "fast" compared to the same sort of hull under a sloop, ketch, cutter or yawl rig. If they were, geniuses like Herreshoff would have used schooner rigs for America's Cup boats and others racers. There were plenty of vessels that were re-rigged from sloop to schooner, and plenty of races in which schooners raced sloops and cutters. The designers of the day were not stupid and they knew the way the rigs compared; if schooners were faster then they wouldn't have built sloops for racing.

    An account I can find of Bluenose winning in 20+ knots of breeze shows her doing 12 knots on an ideal angle. By modern standards that is not at all fast for a 142 foot boat. It's fascinating to read the old reports of the races and see how slow the old fishing schooners were to windward. Bluenose had a vmg of 4 knots in a 20-30 knot breeze upwind in one race. In another, she took over 2 1/4 hours to get 10 miles upwind in 12-15 knots. Obviously, Bluenose was a very fast boat for her type, size and day - it's just that compared to modern boats she is not fast for her size, and other records indicate that they were not as fast as the contemporary schooners built as racing yachts.

    You don't have to have carbon to go much faster (for the size) than the old boats. The enormous 136ft Herreshoff schooner Eleonora, a replica of Westward which was perhaps the greatest racing schooner, is less than 2.5% faster than a boat like the 65' Ragtime, built cheaply from plywood in the 1960s.

    There's also evidence that boats like Bluenose were not as tough as often made out. If we read contemporary accounts of old races, we see spars snapping, halyards and stays breaking and sails shredding in 25-30 knot winds. In one three-race series she did, there was at least one broken spar and one crew hospitalised. In the next series there were also broken spars and sails.

    Incidentally, and very much on point, when looking for Bluenose information I found articles on the smaller schooner Typhoon by her owner and by the designer, Bill Atkin. She was well known for cruising across the Atlantic in the 1920s and both owner and designer said she would have been better off as a bermudan schooner rather than the gaff schooner she was. It's in Rudder magazine of December 1921.
     
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