The Cat ketch rig is not an
aberration but the most popular and prolific sailing rig of yesteryear, evolving from the
New Haven Sharpie of the 1850's. Minimal crew and ease of handling were important in
working sailboats. Sailors turn to the Cat Ketch rig as they once more seek the same
interesting to note the appearance of recent articles in various publications extolling
the advantages of free -standing rig. We are seeing Carbo-Spar with their
stay-less French Admiral's cup boat Krazy K-Yote 2, the word that some America's Cup boat
uses the mainsail to twist the carbon mast to present a better alignment with the wind.
One can also note my design introduction of a free- standing rig for the use with the
America' Cup yacht "Independence", a challenge sponsored by a Connecticut
syndicate. She could have been the fastest boat to compete in the 1992's America's Cup
races. This Cup yacht could be even faster and easier to handle that the current crop of
America's Cup boats for the year 2000 race.
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Sailors worldwide might convert to
free- standing rigs in the future. And why not? A free-standing rig makes the same sense
for sailboats as a free-standing wing does for airplanes. Simple, safe, and more
aerodynamically efficient. For cruising or racing.
I have produced custom
sailboats for years, designed, engineered and constructed to be the optimum with various
rig configurations. But I have also developed Cat-Ketch rigged yachts. By this I mean
boats with rig and hull designs conceived for proper balance, which requires a certain
degree of contrary thinking from that required to design sloop or cutter rigs.
The Marine Industry 23 years
ago with one exception was not geared toward the free-standing rig and the Cat-Ketch in
particular. To compensate for this a manufacturing capability had to be developed. The
carbon composite technology for producing the rigs surpassed anything seen in the sailing
I am convinced that
free-standing- rigged cruising boats in the 35' LOA and larger range should have two masts
to maximize performance, ease of handling and cruising enjoyment. The Cat ketch rig
provides the optimum power to weight ratio for larger boats with the least amount of
weight aloft. It allows for proper balance of hull/rig parameters, lowers the center of
effort, increases the boat's stability, allows for the shallowest draft with the best
windward ability, and lets you carry maximum sail with the easiest sail handling
capability in all sorts of sailing conditions.
To accomplish the best
design and construction of larger Cat Ketch yachts, it is necessary to develop the
technology to produce lightweight and extremely strong carbon-fiber composite, free-
standing masts to be used with wishbone booms. Aluminum and wood can be used on smaller
boats were loading factor are not substantial enough to require carbon composite masts or
justify their cost. They must, however, be fabricated from the highest-grade aluminum
alloys and designed to accept bending moments to handle loads created by forces inherent
in the boat's hull design. And preferably utilized with a Cat- ketch rig which subjects
each mast to far lower loads in relation to the sail area than a similar size boat with
cat boat rig or free-standing sloop rig. Use of the wishbone boom in its fullest sense
requires that the full camber (draft) of each sail can be set with no pinching of the sail
or distortion of air flow, while the entire boom should be capable of rotating more than
180 degrees about the spar. Not possible on a rig with shrouds or a boom affixed to a
gooseneck. The wishbone boom acts as both the boom and vang, being one piece of equipment
that replaces all the normal complexities of gear and equipment associated with straight
booms affixed to a gooseneck at the mast. If increased roach is desired for racing or
extreme light air performance, full battens need then only be adds to the top half of each
sail. Wishbone booms also provide the easiest possible sailing with no threat of boom
hitting anyone in the cockpit. Only one or two winches are necessary, and no large crew
required handling them.
The rig technology and hull
designs have created Cat Ketch rigged yachts where each mast is, in effect, a true flex
loading beam incorporated into a hull designed and constructed specifically to work with
Combined with wishbone
booms, these yachts have proven to be well balanced with excellent windward ability.
Yachts which can be handled with the absolute minimum of gear and equipment. The result is
a sailing yacht, which I believe provides the best of both worlds--excellent performance,
easy handling, and complete cruising comfort. No excess headsails or gear, no crew, and no
work! They answer the need for an easier and less complicated way to enjoy sailing.
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