Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Going to a smaller wheel?
I would not change the wheel to a smaller wheel. Well designed wheels (especially on larger volume boats like a 361 where there is a chance for prototyping and testing) are sized for the anticipated steering forces and to be within easy ergonomic reach from a seated position. A 20%-30% smaller wheel will noticeably increase the load that you feel on the wheel which will be more tiring and will make it harder to make small adjustments.
I would suggest that you sail with the existing wheel for a season. In practice, it may not be as bad as you think. When I bought my boat it came with a very large wheel that had tight clearance to the cockpit sides and for your toes. I considered putting a smaller wheel on the boat, but as soon as I lived with the wheel for a while, I realized that it was not a problem at all, and it had great feel when sailing.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay