Gaff Rig - Safety - Ease of Use - For a Cruiser

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Standpipe, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    So you're not going to discuss facts? You're not going to address the issue (for example) why unstayed rigs are enormously popular and therefore there is abundant evidence that there is NO prejudice against them?

    The simple fact, as demonstrated by objective primary sources such as a 75 year old hard copy of the rules I possess, is that some of the claims in that piece are wrong. That's not an argument, it's reality.

    So you're retreating to a reliance on authority instead of facts? OK, I'll play it your way. Why don't you send your observations to the following designers who DON'T believe that unstayed rigs are fastest?

    Andy Mac, designer of the Mach 2 and other world-beating foiling Moth hulls and rigs;
    Andy P, Emmet Lazich, Mark Thorpe and all the rest of the top 'seahugger' Moth designers;
    The designers of all the America's Cup boats;
    Vincent Lauriot Prevost of VPLP, designer of many of the world's fastest multis;
    Nigel Irens, designer of many of the rest of the world's fastest multis;
    Paul Bieker, Julian Bethwaite and Phil Morrison, designer of the world's fastest skiffs (OK, throw in Dan, Jim and the rest of the 12 footer guys in there too);
    the guys who designed the GC32, Nacra 20, Flying Phantom and the other fast foiling cats;
    various leading aerodynamicists including some who post here on BDF, who do NOT say that elliptical planforms and unstayed rigs are best;
    the designers of the A Class, C Class and F18 class cats;
    the Cunninghams, the guys behind Speedrocket and other world sailing speed record holders;
    etc
    etc
    etc

    According to your theories, all of these guys are wrong when they prefer stayed masts. It's extraordinarily odd that they are all wrong, since many of them are so innovative and brilliant. In fact, it seems rather unlikely that ALL of them are wrong, and one designer is right.

    Not ONE of the guys who are proven to design the world's fastest sailing craft design mainly unstayed rigs; in fact I don't think any of them do. So why doesn't your side take these observations to these designers? I'm sure they'd be most interested in your knowledge and experience - let's hear you tell AMAC, Julian Bethwaite and Nigel Irens, for example, that they don't know about the design of fast rigs.

    The simple fact is that if you are going to play the "designers are right" trick, you are going to lose because the vast majority of leading designers (including those who are into unconventional rigs by background and by preference) prefer stayed rigs because they are faster and (in many respect) better. And, just so you abandon the silly idea that those of us who don't believe the claims are brainwashed, let me repeat once more that almost all of my own rigs are unstayed or wingmasted, so I'm not talking from ignorance.
     
  2. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Or maybe just becouse that's what most of their clients ask for. Also stayed aluminum masts and their hardware are the "industry standard" and don't require much engineering from the part of NA or NE..
     
  3. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Agree with all that. It's also interesting how many people appear to have an inbuilt need to create conspiracy theories..... I'm starting to wonder whether conspiracy theorists are getting together to try to drive me mad with frustration. :) I launch and run investigations against people in power for a day job, and in my experience they are either much more subtle or much more brutal than Perry or PH would have us think.

    On a side note, ain't it a bummer that XKCD is now so popular? Maybe we'll have to become fans of some design conspiracy to maintain that feeling of being in on the action.
     
  4. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Fair point, but it's seems that (with a bit of digging) we can find out even when these factors often do not apply, stayed fixed rigs are still normally the rig of choice.

    For instance, the skiff, supermaxi, big tri and Moth guys don't use alloy masts, nor is much of their hardware 'industry standard'. For example, the 60' tris used to get 'sling wrapped' stays and halyards from (IIRC) a couple of rather eccentric brothers who lived on a small island off Brittanny - this is not "industry standard" stuff. Same with the cored masts the VO 60 guys tried, or the ORMA 60's hydraulic stay adjusters, or the skiff spars, the $30,000 (approx) handbuilt Europe masts the Brits built for the 2000 Olympics, etc etc etc.

    Secondly, people like Julian Bethwaite, Jim Walsh and Dan Leach (12' Skiff designers), or Andy Mac, Andy P and Mark Thorpe (Moth designers) and many others were trying to win, not just to design what their clients ask for. Their clients are also normally people who will ask for something that will win, not something that is slower. And yet none of these guys prefer unstayed wing masts - even Frank Bethwaite, who spent years promoting wing masts, then tried to have the Tasar class chuck away their wing masts and get into round carbon tubes.

    Thirdly, as noted earlier in many markets there's no reason to assume that the clients would ask for stayed rigs or conventional masts, because a very large proportion of sailors come from a background involving unstayed rigs or rotating wing masts. Sure, in some parts of the world stayed fixed rigs may have been standard - but where I grew up some 15 year old kids had beautiful timber Bethwaite wing masts, most dinghies had full battens, many of them had rotating masts, and the fast-growing classes had rotating or unstayed masts. Despite this background, overwhelmingly people moved into fixed stayed masts as they got into high performance kit or into cruising, despite the fact that classes (such as skiffs and Moths) did not mandate them.

    To be honest, I find the concept that people are scared of (so called) 'unconventional' rigs to be be very US-centric (and perhaps Euro-centric) because it seems to assume that we all grew up in the areas where 'unconventional' rigs were rare. That's not true - many of us grew up in sailing scenes where so-called 'unconventional' rigs were the norm, and when we moved towards conventional rigs we did so not because they were all we could accept, but because we found they worked better in many ways.

    It's not as if this was a flash in the pan - for example leading edge mast fairings have been around since the '30s. A little bit of digging will uncover detailed reasons why so many classes (from International Canoes in the '30s to 12' skiffs in the 00s) have tried wing-style rigs, for example, and abandoned them because they don't work in most situations (which is VERY different from saying they NEVER work...I own several of them because they DO work very well in some situations).

    As Ggguest points out, companies are still bringing out popular new boats with unstayed rigs, just like they did decades ago. So it's apparent that there is no prejudice against them - in fact there are tens of thousands of Finn, Laser, Topper, Hobie, Bic, windsurfer, Dart, Opti sailors who are used to unstayed rigs or wing masts as the norm.

    In the situations where such rigs ARE better (in many ways), then they are enormously popular. The idea that they (or 'we' in this case) would readily adopt such rigs in some arenas and then run scared from them in other arenas just does not make sense, and when those promoting them are wrong on the objective facts (such as their treatment by rating rules) surely it is right to point this out.
     
  5. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    It is interesting that there can be such a debate on what should be clearly engineering fact.

    For a given material, a stayed rig is going to be lighter than an unstayed rig, meaning that if both rigs use a carbon fiber mast, for instance, the stayed mast will be lighter (including the stays, of course). This is very important in sailboat design, where weight aloft must be restricted.

    Unstayed rigs have the advantage of freer Boom movement, but Boom movement, beyond a certain point is not that critical, even though it may be desirable.

    If the goal is to get the largest, highest aspect ratio sail up, a stayed rig is the optimal solution, especially if the plan is to fly even larger down wind sails from the same mast.

    Where unstayed masts shine is in design situations were freer boom movement is a major design requirement, such as on a proa, or when less set up time trumps maximum performance.

    Unstayed masts have yet another advantage. The mast does not have to be stepped on the center-line of the boat. This is my favorite advantage (see attachments).

    As for the gaff rig itself, it is an excellent way to put up a low aspect ratio sail, that is reasonably easy to reef, that can have a jib in front of it. Bermudan sails can also be low aspect ratio, but require very long Booms or ridiculously large roaches.

    Since few if any racing sailboats require a low aspect ratio sails, as part of their working rig, it is easy to see why there are so few gaffers. Also, most cruising sailboat design is heavily influenced by by racing design, so have deep, short keels and high ballast/displacement ratios, so can have the taller masts and higher aspect ratio sails, the racers they ape, have.

    The Bermudan rig, especially the mast head version, is probably the words first industrially produced rig. All the major parts, such as the mast, the turnbuckles, the rigging wire, and to a lesser extent, the chain-plates, spreaders, and tangs, can be manufactured on a industrial scale, and benefit from the advantages of such. The more people who buy the mast extrusions, the less expensive, per person they get. There can be so many such parts, from so many wrecked or retired boats, that there can be a huge market for such used parts, including even sails.

    But the gaff rig is easier to build from local materials, as the weight of the shorter mast is not as critical, and all the parts, such as gaff jaws, and the many blocks required, can easily be home made. The sail, being low aspect ratio, can tolerate a less than perfect set and still work reasonably well (also true with a low aspect ratio Bermudan with no roach and a long boom).

    Just look at Haitian work boats.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. WindRaf
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    WindRaf Senior Member

    [​IMG]


    modern rigs 'Marconi' are modern 'gaff rig'.
     
  7. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Air height is a issue with unstayed masts. They need a big tall mainsail to be effective. If you have air height issues in your cruising area best to break out your tape measure and ensure that you can put to sea .

    Also consider boom drag at sea. Mast forward and a long boom can be an issue when reaching in a seaway

    Weight and power forward is also a consideration . Ive got a feeling that when pushed hard downwind this boat will bow down and spinout

    [​IMG]
    subir imagenes gratis
     
  8. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    Would just one of the people that keep repeating versions of this provide factual back up?

    "Cruising sailboat design is heavily influenced by racing design."

    Start with how cruising designs of the 1800's were influenced by racers.

    Then look at 1900-1914 (before the great war)

    Look at the 1920's - 1940's

    Look at post 1945

    You will find the opposite is true. People started racing working boats. Racing rigs were a development of the working rigs of the day. It was only after working sail was replaced by power that sailing became nearly 100% recreational.

    Then you will find that improvements in material drove design. A rig designed for cotton sails is limited by the properties of the cloth. Better Canvas and then Dacron influenced rig design for both cruising and racing.

    Alloy masts influenced both cruisers and racers. People seem to equate cruising with cheap and racing with expensive ... the logic then is cruisers would be using cheap alloy extrusions and the racers would be using expensive hand built wooden spars. The advantages of less weight aloft applies to both cruising and racing designs.

    Low aspect rigs? You need sail area to drive the boat. When your rig is solid timber with canvas sails high aspect ratios are not an option. You end up with a rig that used bowsprits and long booms. The area is low because the materials used and stability required it. Lighter boats and lighter rigs allow higher aspect ratio rigs. They do not need to be extreme to be much safer than the rigs they replaced. No one has to go out on the bowsprit to lash down the flying jib as you reduce area in a blow.

    Compare the SA/D ratios of a Classic English Gaff Cutter with the SA/D ratios of a more modern cruising boat. My guess is you will find the SA/D is higher on the modern cruiser. The rig is moderate aspect ratio and the sail handling is much safer for a limited crew.

    It is only the post CCA rule plastic boats sold as Cruiser/Racers or Racer/Cruisers that show any sort of extreme racing influence.

    A Cal 40 was considered extreme with a *gasp* fin keel and spade rudder. They have proved to be very nice cruising boats. They have a well balanced sail plan with moderate aspect ratio.

    To listen to the posters here, one would think that the last proper cruising boats were designed in the 1880's. Wonderful gaff rigs, wonderful junk rigs, cruising wing sails, aft mast rigs, stayless rigs ...

    Everyone has a favorite and they all blame racing rules for a lack of acceptance. What a crock.

    Working sail, Cruising, and Racing share something: Speed and efficiency are positive design elements.

    Working sail - first home with the goods gets the best price ... this is where sail racing started.
    Working sail - easy to handle rigs - fewer crew to pay after the voyage.
    Faster - less time at sea - less time in bad weather
    Easy to handle - fewer crew, less water, less food, less space wasted as non cargo.

    Cruising - what does not apply?

    Racing - what does not apply?

    Certainly extreme racing rigs and designs don't make great cruising designs. But this idea that the wing nut rig of the week is not popular because of a racing rule cannot be supported with fact.

    In the late 70's the IOR rating rule was in use. Last weekend I got to sail against "Wings" a Peterson IOR design that was built for the 1980 SORC. I raced against this boat in SF in the 80's. Guess what ... a cruising couple have owned it and have lived aboard while cruising the pacific for 22 years. That pretty much makes a lie of the statement that racing rules don't make good cruising boats. A cutting edge IOR design from the 1980's being cruised double-handed by a couple ... no gaff rig conversion, no junk rig ... just a good design that was well built and is still sailing.

    Please stop blaming racing rules for killing slow rigs.

    Please stop claiming that racing rules are putting bad rigs on cruising boats.

    It just is not true.
     
  9. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Fundamentally I agree with you, but it is hard to look at a line of boats ashore by a marina for the winter and not see the impact of fashion over the decades, and fashion is very much influenced by what people are used to. What they see in racing boats is one aspect of what they are used to, because racing boats tend to follow fashion rather less, so radical changes in appearance are more likely. Look how things changed when IMS replaced IOR: a vertical stem became visually acceptable on a non traditional style boat for the first time almost in living memory.

    Look at the way overhangs at each end have grown and shrunk since the 19thC. Beam too to an extent. And we shouldn't forget that most boats are bought as country cottages and day sailors, so, frankly, ultimate seaworthiness or speed may not actually be as important as appearance to the owners, and of course there's nothing wrong with that. And a good boat can have a straight stem or a raked one, a long counter or next to none. The fact that people can still argue about such things demonstrates that its not obvious which one is best. People argue about how narrow or wide a wheel should be, but no-one ever argues they should be square!

    But rating rules are much better than they used to be, so form follows function rather more than it did in the days of those big overlapping genoa/tiny mainsail IOR boats.

    I suspect the main reason why racing boats can make good cruising boats is that when you've backed off the extremes of rig for something a bit more moderate what could be really squirrelly driven to the max is suddenly more sensible... I bet Wings no longer carries some of the more extreme rags from her racing days:)

    But I'm right alongside you about the main thread of your post.
     
  10. gilberj
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    gilberj Junior Member

    You are right...I do not point as high as a relatively modern racing boat. Part of that is due to sheeting geometry not being ideal, and part just the fact that this is a ketch. Having said that few would argue that sailing close hauled at 6 to7 knots in force 4-5 albeit ~5 degrees lower than the hotter boats is poor performance.
     
  11. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    See comments in text.
     
  12. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    Thanks. Racing rules and handicapping was a passion of mine for many years.

    No one has defined "Cruising Design" so it is hard to find one to point at and say "See, this new cruiser from Hans Christian looks like an IOR boat." The fact that real cruising designs seldom look like racers apparently has been overlooked.

    Rating rules and handicap rules are different. Various attempts to allow dissimilar boats to race fairly against each other have been around since the beginning of racing sail.

    The IOR rule was very good. It did what it was resigned to do very well. It rated *existing* designs fairly. If you look at the rating rules it replaced you will find overall that IOR provided better / closer corrected results. However, it did not take long for designers to find ways to trick the rule. Once that started we saw some truly bad boats. Very slow for their size, but fast for their IOR rating.

    The IOR rule and production fiberglass sailboats evolved about the same time. Marinas are filled with cheaply built marginal designs that followed fashion. These are by no means cruising designs. They were built and sold as Racer/Cruisers or Cruiser/Racers so mom would let dad buy a boat. They had no plans to go cruising offshore (though they thought they might one day) and one look at these boats tells you that cruising was never a design goal.

    If you want to condemn these boats for having race influenced rigs be my guest. That is how they were marketed.

    The topic is cruising designs. Pacific Seacraft, Shannon, Hans Christian, Hallberg Rassy ...

    These boats have simple rigs that are not extreme. Many have a Large main and multiple headsails. They manage to do this without the extra weight and complication of a gaff rig. People that are looking for serious cruising designs are spending well over $15,000 a foot for their boats. They are not ill suited for their design task due to some racing rule influence.

    In one of the wing-nut rig threads that abound here someone asked "What rig would you build if you had a 12m hull and $10,000?"

    Really?

    You don't get to a 12m hull without already knowing what the rig will be.

    I like many of the basic features of Gaff rigs. I like large main sails set on spars for ease of handling. I like fractional hoist head sails for manageable size. I like the ability to set a large masthead sail for light air and off-wind work. You don't need a gaff to do these things. A full battened main with a large roach and fractional headsails gives the same rig options as a gaffer without the extra weight aloft. Easy to handle by small crews while being able set enough area to drive the boat in light air are features that are good in all rigs. The ability to sail well upwind is a safety requirement. 175 - 200 mile days should be possible ...

    I don't think a 12m hull with a $10,000 rig will do these things.
     
  13. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    A 200 miles day on a cruising boat is an achievement. Ive got to push very hard to get 200 and its uncomfortable.

    A good cruiser is not fast...it is powerful. Fully powered and easy to handle in light air reaching conditions ....the conditions you always choose to cruise in.
     
  14. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    100nm is what's most cruisers do avarage. I have one time been close to 200nm on a multiple days leg from Azores to Madeira. DDW 20 to 25m/s winds, 30foot seas, 60' waterline and a plenty of crew..
     

  15. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    My most memorable days are those when the wind is light and im powered up , moving right along, enjoying life , while the rest of the fleet have there engines on.

    High milage days are nothing but stress.

    A powerful sail plan...mountains of sail..is the way to go.

    The big breakthru for cruisers in the past decade are the roller furl, masthead , code sails.

    Very powerful reaching sails and easy to handle
     
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