What is a Marconi Rig

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Velsia, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Velsia
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 91
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    Location: Jersey C.I

    Velsia Floater


    We all know it is the predecessor of the Bermudian rig but I am hoping some of the more learned participants of this forum hopefully can answer this question for me once and for all and definitively.

    What defines the Marconi rig?
    Angle of Leech
    Length of boom
    Design year of rig
    Standing rigging
    All of the above or something more?

    I would be extremely grateful for anyone who could answer this for me as I am going to meet some friends at a prestigious classic yacht regatta in October and I want to finally put our debate to end!
  2. Crowsnest
    Joined: Jun 2012
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    Location: Madrid

    Crowsnest Junior Member

    Hi Velsia:

    The name Marconi is a kind of nickname for the Bermudian rig.
    It cames from the first times of Radio invention. Those old aerials where very slender vertical bars made from a single part.
    Their slenderness leaded to fit them with a joint of wires arranged in a more or less pyramidal form.
    That kind of arrangement was adopted by light Bermudian rigged boats due to its simplicity.
    As from the Old times seamen point of view, those rigs were more similar to an aerial than to a real mast, hence they gave it that nickname.

  3. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    A 'marconi rig is a stiffly stayed Bermudan rig.

    Once the airplane was invented, it became known that higher Aspect Ratio (span squared/Area) produced more lift than short low aspect ratio ones.

    This new information was quickly adopted by the sail boat racing community.

    The original Bermudan rig had a much longer Boom in relation to the mast height, and had a small jib.

    To get a taller mast (to have a higher Aspect Ratio sail) The mast had to be lighter. This is because, to double the mast length, you have to cut its weight in half, in order for its Vertical weight moment to equal that of the shorter mast.

    The elaborate staying was to make this possible by turning bending loads into compression loads.

    Today 'Bermuda Rig' and 'Marconi Rig' are considered to be one and the same and the terms are used interchangeably.

    I think that is a mistake.

    When talking about rig that has a mainsail, with just a mast and a boom, and no gaff or yard, and maybe just a pair of lower shrouds and a head stay, you are talking about a 'Bermudan Rig'.

    If this same rig has elaborate staying, such as upper and lower shrouds and long spreaders, it is a 'Marconi Rig'.

    Even gaff rigs had elaborate staying, as racing fleets, using that rig, did all they could to reduce weight aloft. Typically such rigs had mostly vertical gaffs, with the lower shrouds and spreaders set just above the throat hoist. The upper shrouds went over the spreader ends to the top of the mast, just as they do with the Bermudan rig counterpart.

    A major advantage elaborate staying is it allows larger jibs. And a properly set jib is much more effective than a properly set main of the same area.

    So, the two rigs, Bermudan and Marconi, have similar shaped mains, but different design goals. The Bermudan rig is to get sail area inexpensively, where as the Marconi one is to get the maximum structural efficiency for its rig.

    A Bermudan Rig without elaborate staying, IMHO, is not a Marconi Rig.
    1 person likes this.

  4. Velsia
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 91
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    Location: Jersey C.I

    Velsia Floater

    Wow thanks very much for that.

    When I recount this info back to my pals I might be able to sound like the professional I am!

    As an aside, can anyone recommend any good books on the history of yacht design?

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