Canting Keel Mechanisms

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by SuperPiper, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    "One of the Herreshoff's favorite boats used on-deck movable ballast in the form of a brass ingot if I remember correctly."

    Yes, and such movable ballast was later banned for about 100 years. For most of the history of the sport, movable ballast (crew weight apart) has been banned; therefore we have lots of precedent for staying away from any slippery slope.

    "In the 19th century canoes were sailed with sliding seats to get ballast out to weather."

    Yes, and when they were introduced, the sport of Canoe sailing became much LESS popular. Even International Canoe racers of the '30s like Sandy Douglass pointed this out. It's a classic case of the perils of movable ballast to a class' health and an illustration of the need to consider such questions deeply from all sides.

    "Uffa Fox introduced the trapeze early in the last century."

    No he didn't. Earliest records put it in the Kolek canoes of Singapore (now long gone). It was then brought into 14s by Charles Currey, Winter and Scott. It was then banned for some time. That may not have been a good thing. Of interest, fleets of 14s are still apparently smaller than before they went to twin traps.

    "But I think the first application of a more or less constantly running diesel(at least inshore) was on the Max Z86's."

    Actually from memory Xena (modified Open 60) and Nicorette (the IRC 80) were running diesels full-time inshore to power their water ballast tanks; as did the VO 60s in inshore racing from memory. This is well before the Z86s. Not very important or relevant.

    The leading edge of technology has often been banned. Carbon spars, "exotic" hulls, film sails, movable ballast; all such things have been banned. Perhaps not coincidentally, the sport was often growing at such times because it made for cheaper, simpler racing with race machines having less of an advantage over production cruiser/racers.

    "BUT if you took the sails down and moved the keel these boats-capable of 30-40 knots under sail- would just sit there as the keel was canted !"

    No they probably wouldn't. Many decent boats with foils down will move forward through the water when rocked from side to side, even with sails down. Until engines were mandated, the French would move even their Admiral's Cup boats like the Finot design "Revolution" around the harbours and marinas by rocking them from side to side with the sail down. I take my D2 sailboard, similar to a maxi in some respects of shape, out without rig sometimes when I'm teaching people. Rolling it from side to side moves it quite nicely as the lift created by the moving foils (canard and rudder in a canter's case) is tranformed into forward motion.

    It's obvious to anyone who has tried it that rolling many boats creates forward motion.

    "Nobody that I know of likes to sail with a diesel running though many have on a regular basis to charge their batteries"

    So why force people to sail with diesels running all the time if they want to have a competitive maxi? What is acceptable for 1 hour/day is not so acceptable 24 hours/day.
  2. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    Rocking and rolling

    I specifically asked John Reichel a long time ago whether the keel moved fast enough on a Z86 to move the boat forward-he said it did not. If I remember correctly it takes about 12 seconds on a Z and about 8 on a Schock 40-which also does not move forward due to the canting action of the keel. The question came up due to some tests on an rc Melges 24 with a canting keel. The keel WOULD move fast enough to move the boat w/o sails and faster with sails sheeted in. On dinghies and other boats it is possible to manualy rock and roll the boat forward so I'm not sure that even if the movement of ballast repeatedly and quickly
    caused forward movement that it would matter. It's against the rules in most classes to do that and it would be impractical on a big boat to do it for any length of time in a race even if they wanted to cheat. On rc canting keels it is possible to roll tack the boat and I've heard that it is possible on a Schock 40 as well. That's a good thing and just another advantage of sailing with movable ballast. You can also steer the boat by moving the keel both on rc versions and I've heard it can be done to some extent on a Z86. You can do much of what you can do on a dinghy with a crew on a large canting keel boat-heel to weather or to leeward at will etc. Which tends to suggest that there is a whole new skill level required to sail these boats well as compared to fixed keel boats. And that just adds to the sport.
    I have to defer to you for the time being about the trapeze and Uffa Fox.
    The point about "forcing" people to use movable ballast is absurd. People who want to win don't have to be forced to use the highest technology they can get their hands on.
    Banning new technology had some effect on racing but people continued and continue now to experiment regardless of that kind of thing- in fact I'd bet that most new innovations have been
    have been developed outside mainstream "rules".
    Banned or not the history of movable ballast is long and an important part of the history of sailing yacht design.
    According to this the trapeze was developed at the Thames Sailing Club in the UK at Surbiton on a Thames A Class Rater named Vagabond owned by Beecher Moore and called a "Bell Rope":
    Trapeze (sailing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Address: Changed:1:41 PM on Monday, August 28, 2006
    I read a lot on the history of the I14 class and obviously mixed up the history of the trapeze with Uffa Fox's history; Uffa Fox and others DID try the trapeze on 14's in the 30's-but it was soon banned for years which, of course, given modern history doesn't lessen it's importance.
    >>>>>>>>>SEE POST # 59<<<<<<<<<<
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2006
  3. Dan S
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    Dan S Junior Member

    I most commend you Doug; you actually spewed out something truthful for once. However it seems you can’t wrap your mind around the fact the previous innovations, didn’t go against one of the most sacred traditions of the sport.

    Doug I now understand why you act the way you do.
  4. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    There is no such person as Jim Reichel.
  5. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Okay, I wasn't aware it wasn't possible to move a maxi by rocking at the moment.

    The bell rope was not a trapeze as it did not have a hook or a harness. Source - the autobiography of Sir Peter Scott, who used Avenger's bell rope and then was part of the group who invented the trapeze.

    I said people would be "forced" to use engines IF THEY WANTED A COMPETITIVE MAXI. You say (and it seems obvious) that canting maxis are quicker. Canting maxis require engines to be run all the time at the moment. So how you have a competitive maxi that doesn't need the engine running all the time?

    The modern supermaxi fleet is what, 5 boats? Has the front end of the maxi fleet ever been smaller?
  6. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    canting competitively

    Actually, from what I understand, you don't need the engine running all the time if you're in conditions where the keel can be pegged.
    One thing is for certain: the diesel phase of Power Ballast System development will be over with as soon as better systems are available but canting and probably on-deck movable ballast and the special skills they require to sail well are here to stay.Boat handling options on these big boats have never been greater and the need for a well trained crew keenly aware of the intrinsic advantages of movable ballast has never been more important. It's an enriching factor for the sport, in my opinion, as well as being a monumental technical achievement when done well by todays best designers.
  7. frosh
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    frosh Senior Member

    Well that explains it!!!!

    This is apparently the autobiography of Mr Lord discovered by the esteemed Dan S, a brilliant contributor to this forum. In all seriousness guys, please take a moment and award him some reputation. ( for Dan, not the other defective)




    I feel the need to explain my perverse sensibilities and their possible origin.
    Once upon a time many years ago in New Orleans at the age of 8 I was sailing our families Dyer Dyow in a small harbor in New Orleans. My father was there working on our new(old) 47' power boat -it was in rough shape and Dad, my brother and I would spend much of the next 10 years fixing it up. Anyway, he was down below installing a gas engine to get the boat from New Orleans to Pensacola. Later we installed twin diesels.
    Well, I decided to sail up to the boat and look in the porthole at the engine room. As a looked in BANG! At that very moment Dad had turned the engine over and it fired once with my head only inches away from the end of the exhaust which I didn't know he had placed in the porthole.
    You might say that had a profound effect on me......
    Doug Lord

    Doug you should definitely sue your dad for this accident or his estate, or his beneficaries of his will, if he is no longer alive.
    I checked with my lawyer today and she informs that US law is very different to Aussie law, and if you were the sole beneficary (if your dad has passed on), you can sue yourself in the Supreme Court in your country with an excellent chance of success.

    With great sympathy Sam (Frosh)
  8. Crag Cay
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    Crag Cay Senior Member

    The designers are producing the fastest boats 'WITHIN THE CLASS RULES'. They are not producing the fastest boats per se. If they were, they would make them longer or with two hulls, or with engines, or any thing else they could think of. But these things are outside of the class rules, so despite any devilment urges Mr Farr et al may have, he knows he really has to stick by the rules.

    So if the class rules banned power assisted keel canting, (or only allowed the use of what power they could generate and stored from renewables) the designers would design accordingly. The sailors might grumble, but they know that loads of decisions (including the location of stop overs and the route taken) are all done for commercial reasons, and therefore would happily accept the benefits of promoting renewables and sailing as 'clean and green' as a way of engaging the public and making sponsors happy.

    If you want a free design hand, then head to Weymouth Speed Week, not the VOR.
  9. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    If the moving ballast in skiffs was engine-powered, I would feel the same as I do about the big boats, but it isn't :)
    I do appreciate the big beasties as the fastest monohulls out there, but the fact remains that without engines they are probably slower than many others due to the reduced bulb weight.
  10. yipster
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    yipster designer

    bit of topic, sorry, was searching wikipedia before and Dougs link to
    is interesting yet little on genakkers and nothing on furling at all, anyone has a more elaborated link at hand?

    edit: found some more general info at
    for Juan K i think he made his point and find some of us perhaps a bit hypocriet as i dont think we are all biking
    or driving cars without power stearing, breakes etc if the power is there why not use it
  11. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    Steve, haven't you designed canting ballast boats? Do they use stored power? The big boats wouldn't have such little ballast if they couldn't move it-you know that-maybe much deeper fins? But then they lose all the boat handling perks of movable ballast of which speed is just one. I'm curious what your bottom line is: do you tell a potential client that movable ballast is against the spirit of sailing or how do you handle it?
    Craig, I'm still curious about your thinking on a "slippery slope". What do you mean? Have you ever designed a movable ballast boat for a client? If so what do you tell them about the technology?
    I don't see how the existence of these magnificent sailing machines can violate the spirit of sailing-they simply couldn't function w/o some way to move the ballast and in using the best technology has to offer they celebrate the spirit of sailing-and the best in design and crew work in a most extraordinary way. It seems to me that these boats offer some few people the chance to sail a 90 footer like a small trapeze dinghy; I don't begrudge them that experience at all; I'd take a ride any day.

  12. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    "I don't see how the existence of these magnificent sailing machines can violate the spirit of sailing"

    Because they use engines rather than wind and human power alone to move all their parts, as competitive sailing has done since time immemorial. That's a violation of the spirit of yacht and dinghy racing as it has always been known.

    "in using the best technology has to offer they celebrate the spirit of sailing".

    Since when does "the spirit of sailing" have to use the best technology? Skandia's keel setup for example is a stock motor connected to a copy of an industrial ram.....where's the high tech?

    The fastest sailor in the world doesn't use high technology. The sailors in the biggest class don't use such technology. The sailors in the fastest-growing class don't use such technology. Surely they are all in the "spirit of sailing", yet they do not use high tech therefore obviously "the spirit of sailing" does not demand high tech.

    At the dawn of ocean racing, high tech of the day would probably have been turbines....they weren't brought into sailing. Later, Tom Sopwith (of Sopwith Camels) and Richard Fairey (both aircraft industry tycoons) sailed. Lee Loomis, renowned as one of the science brains behind radar and other major technological advances of WW2, sailed. Einstien sailed and took out Curie.

    These people had some vague idea about technology, yet none of these people tried to bring engine power into sailing, the sport they loved. Sopwith and Fairey could easily have made their J Class faster with an engine down below to run winches- yet they did not do so.

    Their example is the best of the spirit of sailing.

    What classes have been at the forefront of technology.....hmmmm in the 1800s it was canoes -almost died. Then raters - only one fleet left in the world. Then 14s; got a decent fleet 'cause they were small and had restrictions. Boards had no restrictions on technology, now they do because otherwise the sport doesn't work. 18 Foot skiffs had no restrictions on technology, now they do 'cause otherwise it doesn't work. C Class cats have no resrtictions on tech, they're almost extinct.

    Unrestricted technology and design isn't the spirit of sailing, it's almost a guaranteed death sentence on a class.

    "the best in design and crew work"

    Why is needing to use an engine to get a boat to sail fast "the best in design"? In what way is a 98 foot maxi canter "the best"? Is it the quickest? No. Is it the biggest? No. Is it the most comfortable? No. Is it the most popular? No. Is it bringing out entirely new design? No. Is it spurring interest as proven by new versions of the same class being launched? No.

    Why do a few movable ballast boats require "the best in crew work"? Is the canters' crew work really better than the crew work required in Stars, 49ers, 470s, Tornadoes? None of the canter crews sail for 4+ years full time together like the Olympians, so surely they are not actually as good at crewing as the Olympians, ergo the best has nothing to do with canting.

    "It seems to me that these boats offer some few people the chance to sail a 90 footer like a small trapeze dinghy; I don't begrudge them that experience at all; I'd take a ride any day."

    What, they can capsize, be sailed with 2 or 3 people in a fleet of 10-120 similar boats, etc?

    I've had a ride on the previous generation of movable's not that big a deal. Driving an 80 foot movable ballasted maxi upwind and downwind under assy is quite cute, but not worth harming the rest of the sport for.
  13. Crag Cay
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    Crag Cay Senior Member

    Oddly, sail racing is not about technology, it's about people. It's a call to the human spirit to turn out and do something that is so illogical and mind numbingly stupid that loads of people just don't get it. So any rule or class lives or dies by its appeal to people, both those who sail (buy) them and to a greater extent these days, to those who want to watch and therefore make it an attractive proposition for sponsors.

    However, designing and building boats IS about technology. But that's not the sport of sailing. I'm always amazed at how little sailing some designers actually do. Bruce Roberts doesn't even like the open sea and spends all his time chuggiing around the French canals enjoying 'la bonne vie'. So to let designers dictate the direction of sail racing would truely be like giving the inmates the keys to Bedlam.

    So sailing has a 'soul' which reflects the collective aspirations of the participants. The governing bodies (RORC, ORC, ISAF, class associations, etc) are the mechanisms used to nuture this soul. If they are perceptive and get things right, lots of people turn out to play. If they get it wrong, people vote with their feet (and money) and find something else to do, and events and classes shrivel.

    Up to now a key part of the ethos of sailing has been the reliance on wind and human power. I'm not sure there is the general concensus to go down the 'slippery slope' of powered assistance. A slope that leads who knows where. However, after due consultation, it may transpire that constantly running engines are what sailors want, but it is for them to decide and not to be dictated by techno-sexuals. You have to remember this is all only a game - but a game people play. No people: no game.
    1 person likes this.
  14. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    There are several other "John Reichel's" out there with this one, perhaps, being the most interesting.

    The one at R/P is, in fact, a John.

    I'm fairly certain that Mr. Lord doesn't "know" him in any sense of the word. It would seem that our boy has written to Mr. Reichel in order to attempt to establish credibility through the good works of others. He did not produce a certified copy of the actual letter from Reichel to prove the position. Could it be he was really corresponding with the John Reichel who does hair in the wine country of California? He would probably know a lot about swinging keels.

    Mr. Lord will never get this argument, guys. He's wedded to the techno-buzz one feels when they get to step out of the responsibilities of their humanity. You've all seen them... you know, those guys who dress-up as Wookies and Klingons for outer space conventions while waddling around with impotent ray guns and Phasers?

    I believe that Crag hit the nail on the head with the techno-sexual comment.

    There will always be those characters who believe that technology will relieve them of their human burden. Unfortunately, they participate in that endless, "dog eating his own tail" performance at the expense of their souls. The further away from our human experience we get, the more beholden we become to that which we create in our stead.

    The next thing you know, you'll be standing on the comfortably grassy shore, RC box in hand while your foiling skiff rotates around the harbor, sans crew. I've seen that image before somewhere, but I can't recall just where right now. I guess I'll have to write an email to Juan K to discuss that potential...


  15. frosh
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    frosh Senior Member

    The meaning of swinging keel?

    Hi Chris, it is prophetic in the extreme that one of "Wonder Boys" heros is John Reichel 111. In my part of the world we have a slang vernacular that a guy that is so obsessive on "swinging keels" is one that is fixated on a certain part of the anatomy, but is highly ambigious on whether he should swing it to AC or DC, if you get my drift here, man. Hey I don't want to be more explicit than this, as I do not want to part of any sort of ************ forum. ;)
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