Sloop, Cutter or Ketch
jeff (not jeffH),
Here''s input from my sailing experience with different rigs. I''m not posting from theory, surveys, studies, racing or what is popular around the yacht club.
Sails on booms are easier to control in heavy weather no matter what the rig. Schooners being the easiest because the largest sail is above the cockpit and area of least motion. Boat bows have the highest motion and possible waves breaking over them. Handling jibs on the foredeck in stormy weather is the MOST difficult task of sail handling and renders high aspect masthead sloops the worst in foul weather. Low aspect rigs are better. Any split rig is even better.
A sidenote on headsails in high winds... They may not "drop" easily when the winds pipe up. They tend to climb back up the forestay if the deck crew isn''t holding them secure. In rough weather the deck crew will be holding on with one hand (or two hands) and trying to pull the sail down at the same time. It can take a long effort and the crew can get flogged badly in the meantime. Turning downwind isn''t always an option to make this easier. Downhauls work well, however they are another line to deal with. Headsails on roller furling gear needs dedicated winches to furl the sails. Using a primary sheet winch isn''t the answer because you need to control the sail from flogging while furling...upwind and downwind.
Ketches and schooners don''t have the windward performance single sticks do. Most cruising isn''t done beating hard so windward performance isn''t a big concern for cruisers. Twin stick rigs give the option of reducing/handling smaller sails and lowering or dampening motion. It doesn''t get easier. Twin sticks also give a secure place to hang awnings on etc. The mizzen is also a secure location for wind generators, radar and a handhold/leaning post in the cockpit area...as are the shrouds. Not of value to the daysailing/racing crowd but a highly desirable feature for cruisers.
My take on yawls is they sail 95% the same as sloops when the tiny mizzen mast is removed. The 5% reduction is from less sail area. Cutter''s with difficulty coming about are more a function of hull shape and the helmsman/crew''s ability. The rig has to be matched to the hull. Rigged properly with removable stays and genoas there is no threading of multiple headsails.
I won''t get into running backs except to say they are useful on most rigs in bad going. It isn''t selective to fractionals. They aren''t in vogue now because aluminun is so flexible it holds up fairly well without them. Weekend warriors rarely need them.