What are the pros and cons of a cat-ketch rig concerning sailing characteristics, ease of handling, and cruising suitability?
Mark Matthews responds:
The pros and cons of a cat-ketch rig vary depending on the type of boat you have. I had the opportunity to sail a Tanton 43 that was cat-ketch rigged and I can say the arrangement was a great one for long-distance cruising. The boat sported two sails of nearly equal size, although the foremast was slightly taller. There were no headsails to deal with and no shrouds for that matter either, since the masts were carbon fiber and unstayed.
In my opinion, the arrangement is a good one. It can reduce crew fatigue; a number of cat-ketch boats have done well in long distance races for this reason alone. And wing-on-wing, you have a sail plan capable of exhilirating those on board. Nevertheless, we did experience some problems. For starters, this particular boat sported wishbone booms and free-footed sails. For whatever reason, the ends of our booms were perpetually cracking, due to the large centralized stresses. As with any boom, you would want to make sure you were well out of the way when those things jibed across the deck. On the pro side, when you needed to tack, it was just a question of turning the wheel. No pesky headsails to deal with. On the con side, I started to miss the pesky headsails, spinnakers, and other sails we didnít have on board.
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