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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 05-12-2012
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Why a ketch?

What's the skinny on a ketch rig vs. sloop or cutter? Is it something to rule out or seriously consider as a mostly single/short-handed sailor? Easy or hard to learn?
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Old 05-12-2012
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Re: Why a ketch?

It used to be easier to handle since the largest sails were smaller, but with furling alternatives that's no longer true. Advantages that stand are pretty much limited to increased sail options as alternatives to reefing and a lower vertical clearance for access under certain fixed bridges. Disadvantages include the increase in rigging, chainplates and hardware. Some may feel that there is an aesthetic factor, but I'm not one to give that any significance. 'doing well on my ketch, Aythya crew
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Old 05-12-2012
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Re: Why a ketch?

Had ketch sloop and cutter.

Big advantage of the ketch is that if the wind pipes up you drop the main and still have a balanced rig.

Big disadvantage from a sailing point of view is that they are not so close winded.

When I started the hunt for my forever boat I wanted a ketch for that reason but now have a cutter, not to many ketches around at the size I was looking at.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Why a ketch?

A ketch keeps its sail area lower, resulting in less heel for equal force. The trade off for this lower aspect is generally lesser closed-hauled performance, though ketch owners will argue against that until the cows come home. Also allows (according to others) more options for trimming and balancing fore and aft. There have certainly been some famous singlehanders whose boats were ketch rig.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Re: Why a ketch?

Ketches are gorgeous, IMHO. They look more "salty". I also like bowsprits, for which I am often mocked (although my boat has neither!). Aesthetics are very personal....

I really like cutter rigs. The inner staysail works very well with a very reefed main in heavy weather, very balanced. I also think they look mighty fine with both headsails up.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Re: Why a ketch?

The traditional advantage of ketches and yawls was the 'smaller' sails individually for the same area, and the additional options for balancing the sailplans.

The sail size issues were much more important in the days of 100 lb sails, and no effective roller furling, esp as the boats got bigger. Today's technology has pretty much eliminated those concerns for most, unless you're in the 'block and tackle and no winches' set.

The balancing issues are still valid, but modern designs, balanced rudders etc have probably made those less important too. And despite the alleged advantage it was not unusual to see ketches beating to weather with the mizzen furled.. but still you had the options of going to 'jib and jigger' when conditions warranted.

I think still today the 'look' mentioned above may be the biggest incentive to head in that direction. Those that want that salty, old school traditional look (which has undoubted appeal) will lean that way. For me the ideal would be 'that look' coupled with a thoroughly modern underbody for the best of both worlds and the value of the shocked skippers as you scoot by them with that 'apparent slug'!

Bob Perry's latest falls into that category, as did/do the Spirit Yachts and some others...
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Old 05-12-2012
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The cow's come home

Multi-stick boats offer more options once your sailing beyond the breakwater. While not as fast as modern plastic minimalist racers, the first America's Cup winners where fishing schooners' designed to take on the freakish weather of the Cod and Grand Banks. I like the options our ketch gives us in almost every weather situation without having to change anything. If the crap start to fly we drop the main and balance the boat on our Genoa. Downwind is always a bear and with the mizzen and foresail we can stave off the grind and balance our quarter to a comfortable roll. While our ketch is a fat ended cow she's never let us down even through the learning curve of mastering multiple masts.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Re: Why a ketch?

Thanks, great responses. What about expense and maintenance? I assume they'd be more for a second mast?

Edit: Also, does size of the boat come into consideration?

Last edited by utchuckd; 05-12-2012 at 10:59 AM. Reason: More questions.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Re: Why a ketch?

i found my ketch is easier to handle than sloops for cruising in heavy weather--they track better and have better balance with their many sail options. much less weather helm. i LOVE my ketch.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Re: Why a ketch?

Zee:
Why does a ketch "track better"? I don't think rig config has much to do with tracking.
And I'm not so sure about less weather helm either. Maybe yours but I would not generalize about ketches like that. Sloops and cutters either.
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