Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Sloop vs. Fractional Sloop vs. Cutter
In their orginal form, Tritons had a fair amount of weather helm. As a result, to mitigate the weather helm, a number of them were converted to masthead rigs with the addition of a bowsprit which worked reasonably well. Tritons did not have flexible rigs, so as you note, some of the advantages of a fractional rig related to ease of control of the degree of power were absent. On the other hand Tritons did have the advantage of having smaller headsails to handle.
It is important to understand that in the early days of the Bermuda rig, almost no boats were built as a masthead rig. Experiments reported in Manfried Curry''s book showed that fractional rigs were capable of generating more drive per given square foot of sail. It was only with the measuring loophole in the CCA rule (and later IOR rule) that did not tax the area of a genoa beyond the 100% foretriangle that masthead rigs became popular.
So back to your example of the Triton, if you kept the sail area equal you would loose drive and speed. If you simply increased the forestay length to the mast head you would end up with an extremely high aspect ratio sail that would work well to windward but which would be hard to keep properly trimmed and which would not work well off of the wind. Of course going to a masthead rig of equal sail area and mast height as the original fractional rig would result in a boat that would heel more as well.