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segling 10-23-2012 09:13 AM

Ketch racing - Any good books?
Hi, i hope im not posting in the wrong forum here.

Five friends and i recently bought a 42 feet steel yawl (ketch with the mizzen behind the steering). We've done a reasonable amount of racing and cruising in sloops, but we are all new to the ketch rig. Nowadays noone races with two masts, but it wasnt that long ago that people did. We are not going to race this boat, but rather go cruising. It still wouldnt hurt to have some idea of how to sail it properly.

So to my question: Does anyone know of any books or articles written by those offshore ketchracers regarding how to get a ketchrig moving at any speed?

Thanks in advance!

Jeff_H 10-23-2012 02:47 PM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
Since no one has tried to answer this, I can only tell you that I know of no books on racing a ketch and so I can only comment on what my experience has been. If you are trying to trim sails on a Ketch for performance, it is a bit of an iterative process and will vary with each boat.

My sense is that you start trimming at the bow, and then work your way aft trying to be conscious of overly closing the slot on the Jb, and of sail interaction. Typically once you get to the mizzen you look to see whether there is a lot of back draft on the mizzen or main. If there is, moving forward again, you ease sails until the bubble gets acceptably small.

Ketch rigs are generally used on boats with comparatively high drag for their stability and sail area. This means that you do not want to trim the sails too flat or try to point to high. That said, the mizzen usually appears to be over trimmed and the headsails usually seem under trimmed. Because of that, to some great extent, trimming in a breeze becomes a balancing act. As the wind speed increases, due to the comparatively over trimmed mizzen, ketches tend to develop relatively high amounts of weather helm that can be brutal unless you ease the mizzen. And while that can reduce weather helm it also reduces drive.

Due to the downdraft between the mizzen and main, and between the main and jib, it is hard to have clean air on all sails, once you start deep reaching or running. Ketches tend not to be very good dead down wind, instead offering better performance if you come up just enough to fill all of the sails. Ketches often have multiple deep reaching sails like mizzen staysails and old style ballooners, (the predecessor to the current assym. spinnaker) that make deep reaching their strong suit when there is enough distance to make raising the kites worthwhile.

There is no magic to sailing Ketches as long as you don't try to pinch them or sail them too deep. Good luck and good sailing....

ctl411 10-23-2012 03:25 PM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
Sail Power is a good book, not all on ketches but covers all I think. Can't remember author right now. To figure out YOUR boat use the vmg function on your gps find out what work for different wind/sea and points of sail. Write it down, this helps when you are trying many things quickly. If you have someone else to take the notes even better than trying to do it all yourself.

FSMike 10-23-2012 10:59 PM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
Technically, a yawl has the mizzen mast stepped aft of the rudder post. I spent some years on a yawl, and most of the folks I knew with that rig dropped the mizzen if the apparent wind was much forward of the beam. The only reason for the rig was "rule beating" under the old CCA race rules.
As far as as true ketches go, Jeff knows more than I do, and what I do know agrees with his post.

floridajaxsailor 10-24-2012 07:18 PM

There are some obtuse articles on the internet..

ps- what Jeff said is right on about starting at the jib in terms of your trimming

Jeff_H 10-24-2012 07:28 PM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
By the way, FSMike is right, if the mizzen is behind the rudder post, you own a yawl and not a ketch. In that is the case, the mizzen is usually a lot smaller and less effective than on a ketch.


ctl411 10-24-2012 08:05 PM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
Looked at my pile of books Sail Power is by Wallace Ross. Doesn't have much, few pages on mizzen staysails. Still a good sail trim book. Understanding Rigs and Rigging Richard Henderson has a little also. I sail a cutter and had sloops never a ketch or yawl so you may find other books. Try a search on Google it will probably be a older no longer in print type of book.

segling 10-25-2012 09:04 AM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
Thank you all for both fast and helpful replies. It seems kind of strange that finding exstensive material on how to best sail a ketch is so hard, considering how many aspects of it there is. Especially considering the multiple sail options for different reaches. I will use the advice you've given me, and hopefully get her to do some distances.

Does anyone have experience with a so-called fishermans sail? Its supposed to be a light jib which is hoisted upside down on the main backstay, and sheated to the mizzenmast top. It's a rather tempting option for us as we have very little money but happen to have a pretty light, reasonably sized genua.

Also, it turns out i had my deffenitions wrong, we do have a ketch.

Thanks again for all your help.

ctl411 10-25-2012 10:24 AM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
A mizzen staysail would be a good choice for cheap light air power. Look for used asymmetrical spinnakers to fly off mizzen mast.

paulk 10-25-2012 10:37 PM

Re: Ketch racing - Any good books?
The best way to race a ketch - or a yawl - will be to find a race that is a long broad reach. You'll be able to get all your sails set and drawing and make up your time on all the high aspect ratio sloops that always seem to disappear to windward. Put yarns on leading and trailing edges everywhere so you can trim to keep flow attached. We raced an H-28 for a number of years, and always tanked if there was much windward work.

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