Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Victoria B.C. Canada
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Most rules in the past either did not allow unstayed rigs, rotating masts or both. Or they didn't specifically dis-allow them but other requirements made them less workable. For example both IOR and IMS rules required a forestay. Unless the forestay is attached just to satisfy the rule it needs a backstay to counteract it if it will be of any use. Neither of the above rules allowed rotating masts. The 12 meter rule did not allow unstayed masts and I don't think any of the other meter rules did either. IACC restricts mast section size to an unworkable section for a freestanding rig and does not allow rotating masts. If you're going to be really competitive with an unstayed rig it should rotate as well. Most racing rules follow rules previous fairly closely as well, change not coming easily to conservative committee thinking. Newer rules do allow unstayed rigs but this comes after decades of not being allowed. ACC and IRC rules both allow freestanding rigs. Open 60 allows freestanding and rotating masts as well. PHRF is open to freestanding rigs but this may not be universal in all regions. Freestanding rigs are not the best closed course racers. But the rigs on production boats whether for racng or not are based on the racing rule of the day for the most part.
History is interesting the way things change. If you go back far enough all rigs were unstayed. Then ropes were used to get more performance from them as they became taller. And then rope gave way to wire, galvanized first then stainless. And now that wire is giving way to synthetics (Dynex Dux replacing stainless wire). Masts were solid wood once. Then hollow wood giving way to aluminum. And then carbon fiber for the strongest and lightest material yet. Material availability has helped make this possible for larger boats with its weight saving. The price of carbon fiber is not justifiable for a smaller boat's unstayed rig as it would be expensive and not much weight would be saved. But for a larger boat the weight loss is considerable. The other problem is volume production. There are many aluminum extrusions available for mast use. A designer just specifies one for the stiffness and strength required for a stayed rig. But there are no off the shelf carbon fiber masts as they are custom designed for every different design and its requirements. Hunter (Vision) and others have used spun aluminum for unstayed rigs in the past but carbon fiber is superior on a weight/strength basis.
I don't know if we'll ever see a great number of unstayed rigs. Change comes slowly to sailing. The first large fiberglass sailboat was built in 1950 and for all its advantages it took a long time to catch on. And fiberglass was less expensive than the labor intensive wood it replaced. Synthetic rigging will likely become popular as it offers advantages over wire and actually is not more expensive. But I can't see the more expensive option of carbon fiber unstayed rigs becoming mainstream anytime soon. But there are advantages in handling and performance and some will go this route with custom boats. And maybe there will be another builder or two like Freedom come along.
This pic is of Project Amazon at speed, designed by Sponberg
Living aboard in Victoria Harbour
Last edited by mitiempo; 02-12-2010 at 12:14 AM.