Have mast heights gone down since the early 80's ? - SailNet Community

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Old 07-13-2008
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Have mast heights gone down since the early 80's ?

Have mast heights gone down in height since the early 80's (bermuda rigs)..if so does can anyone tell me why? I noticed my '83 hunter 20 has alot taller mast than the 2006 oday 20 though they are similar in other respects
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Old 07-13-2008
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I thought Oday went out of business back in the late 80's or early 90's. Has someone revived the brand and started building boats again?
Mast height has always been variable boat to boat based on design choices and has little relation to boat length except in the broadest sense that larger boats have taller masts. Total sail area is a better measure to compare.
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Old 07-13-2008
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Yes, that is a curiosity about the new O'day??

If anything, I'd have said that the trend in modern designs is towards somewhat taller masts (proportionally), which I attribute to the increased prevalence of fractional rigs. Fractional rigs tend to put more of the total sail area into the mainsail, usually achieved by a taller mast stepped further forward on deck.

Both masthead and fractionally rigs were used in the 80's, but masthead seemed to be the more common arrangement then, whereas fractional seems to be the more common arrangement on modern designs.
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Old 07-13-2008
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I don't know about mast heights decreasing, but I can say that the height of the boom off the deck seems to be increasing. I'm guessing that some of the decreased sail area can be made up for in heavily roached mains, but still... The size of the biminis and dodgers that people can put up on some of the fiberglass condos are huge!
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Old 07-15-2008
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In a general sense, at least on bigger boats, mast heights have been increasing not descreasing for a variety of reasons. In general newer designs have a lot more stability than older designs, because they typically have a bit more form stability, carry more ballast relative to their weight, and carry some percentage of their ballast in bulbs. Because of their greater stability they tend to be designed with larger SA/D's and tend to rely less on overlapping headsails, which in turn requires taller masts. Newer designs tend to have fractional riggs or have rigs that proportioned closer to a fractional rig, which also in turn typically results in a taller rig.

I don't know of a 2006 Oday model or why its mast would seem shorter than your 1983 Hunter. I will say in the case of smaller trailerables, the industry has turned to water ballasting for ease of towing, which hurts stability and performance, and with reduced stability they have reduced sail areas and perhaps mast height.

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Old 07-15-2008
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Also, there's been a tendency to move away from ketches, cutters and yawls... so the sail plan is now concentrated in a taller single set of sails, which is only possible with the advances in sail cloth, electric winches, and such.
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Another thought on mast height: the late 70's, early 80's boats were sailing under IOR rules, and to bend the rules, most designers used a very high aspect ration rig with a huge jib and small mainsail.
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