sloop rig vs cutter??? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Sailboat Design and Construction
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Old 05-08-2011
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sloop rig vs cutter???

Ok, i have read till my eyes are crossed and it seems like alot of different views.....
I have a niagara 31 wich is a sloop. I have the harken sail track(tuff luff) which makes it a pain to hoist and lower sails with small to no crew. I have several smaller jibs that are hank ons, and what i would like to to do is add a jib stay so i can use the smaller hank sails and be able to unhook from the deck when i fly the larger luff sails... My sail inventory is 90, 135 and a 155 for the luff system, but i have a a few smaller sails that are hank on. 90% of sailing will be inland sailing, but am planning on makeing a trip across the gulf of mexico next summer.

so question 1. what conditions if any would my make shift cutter rig be adventagous useing two head sails, one on luff and one hank on type. pointing high up wind,, broad????

question 2..
I have not started the project, so i can mount the deck plate anywhere... I have 12 ft 6 inches between front stay and mast.. I know the channel between the two sails is important, but how far apart should they be and should the front stay and jib stay run parrlel,, same distance all the way up to the mast,,,, i looked at cutter rigs in the marina and they seem to have the two stays about 16 to 18 inches a part,, I was think about going up to 24. thanks for any and all input,,,, Kevin
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Old 05-08-2011
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Given your situation, if you've no intention of ever getting a headsail furler I'd convert all your sails to hanks, get rid of the tufluf, forget the extra stay and just use the sail that makes sense for the conditions.

The sails will be easier to manage shorthanded, and you'll avoid all the complications of adding a adequately supported chain plate for the stay, figuring out how to achieve good tension on the second stay (likely involving runners) and not least, the difficulty of tacking your larger sails around the inner stay (though that could be made easily removable...)

The boat wasn't really intended to run such a rig and I wonder if any gains at all would be worth the hassle of trying to do this right.

Just sayin.....
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Old 05-08-2011
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I don't think you will gain anything at all flying 2 sails at the same time. As Faster posted, you will have to back up the deck attachment with an attachment to a bulkhead or the hull belowdecks and runners will also probably be required. Trimming a cutter rig is not as easy as trimming a sloop rig either.

Often a Solent stay is installed inside of the forestay, it is removable and used for storm sails but not with the other jib.

What 2 forestays do give you is more flexibility. As an example the Saga 35 & 43 by Bob Perry have a "variable geometry rig". This allows the larger sail forward to be used downwind and in light air and the smaller inner sail to be used in stronger winds and upwind. They are both on furlers.
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Old 05-09-2011
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Having the ability to use the smaller sails in heavy wind is my first intention. I thought that if i was putting a second stay in for the smaller sails, i would at least set it up where it could be used as a cutter as well....
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Old 05-09-2011
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I get what you're trying to accomplish.. but I suspect that by the time you properly engineer the setup, add the rigging to make it work (not only runners but extra sheets and blocks, winches?) you'll be money and convenience ahead simply by going to all hanked sails. I absolutely agree that a luff tape sail is a PITA when single/short handed.

So if there's no furler in your future modifying your luff tape sails to hanks makes the most sense to me. One other angle is that you'd be creating a bit of an oddball Niagara 31 - maybe good maybe not so good when it comes to resale.

Also what you're contemplating would really be a double headed sloop, a true cutter rig would have the mast further aft in the boat and/or utilize a bowsprit to get the proper geometry of a 'cutter' rig. I suspect the 'double slot' effect would be noticeably better only in mid range reaching conditions and only when properly trimmed.

Adding a temporary wire stay for the smaller sails as a so-called solent stay might work - it could go to the masthead or very nearly, and attach as close to the forestay tack as possible - a stronger part of the boat - negating the need for runners but precluding using two sails at the same time.
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If you don't have a furler, there is no reason for an inner stay on your boat. I agree with Faster. Convert your sails to hank on - or get a furler and install a Solent stay.
To sail your boat as a Cutter: 1. the mast is too far forward. 2. the sails you have are not cut properly to sail as a cutter rig - the outer sail should be high cut and the inner sail should be lower cut. 3. You will gain no speed as a sloop rig is more efficient.
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Old 05-09-2011
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I think Mitiempo has it nailed.
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Old 05-09-2011
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Adding a solent stay or changing to a headstay/forestay combo will result in a sail tension nightmare. Especially on a boat with only a 12'6" J dimension any sail 'interaction' of the headsail/staysail will be nil and only adds complication but little advantage. Translation: your J dimension is too small to be of benefit of either a solent or 'cutter rig' configuration (cutter rigs have the mast at 40-50% of deck length back from the bow/sprit).
I dont think any 'rig alterations' for your particular boat would be of any benefit.
For storm conditions you might consider a trysl (or add a 3rd reef to the main) and a storm jib combo that are designed (in combination, so you get the 'combined geometric moments' correct) to 'balance' the boat ... a good sailmaker who specializes in heavy weather offshore sails can easily do this - hank on !!!!!

Solent stays and headstay/forestay combos ALWAYS result in variable shroud tension difficulties, making sail SHAPE requirements a royal PITA - something you really dont want/need on a 30ish ft. boat. A single headstay/backstay combo is the 'easiest' to control - just a simple backstay adjuster; with solent, etc. you NEED running backstays, etc. to get the rig to 'work' properly (and in getting to 'correct' stay (head/forestay) tensions you may 'overstress' other parts of the rig). Correct rig tension allows correct SAIL SHAPE (especially luff tension and luff SAG if you NEED to go 'upwind'), with a multi-headstay rig you will have a 'tension and sail shape complexity nightmare'. My advice: keep it simple.

Last edited by RichH; 05-09-2011 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 05-09-2011
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thanks for all the info,,, this $100 dollar quick fix creates a whole lot of headach that i do not need.....
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Old 06-29-2011
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To sail your boat as a Cutter:


How does a cutter sail differently than a sloop?
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