Different Types of Sailing Yachts and Their Rigging Arrangements

30 January 2021

Factors that set yachts apart from one another, is its design / set up of the mast, sails, hull and standing rigging. Rigging is vital in dictating and determining a yachts overall performance. It particularly affects the yacht’s overall sailing ability, including its acceleration, aerodynamics, heel, keel weight, pitch, and manoeuvrability in varying conditions.

Knowledge of the different types of yachts is important to consider when choosing the right design to suit your performance needs. As some are better suited for short handed sailing, extended voyages, racing or stability at sea for example.

Types of Sailing Yachts

There are various types of sailing yachts that one can choose from. Each of these designsarecharacterisedbyits type of rigging, the number and location of the mast/masts, its sails and hull design.

  • Sloop: The most common modern day yacht design is a sloop yacht, it typically maximises one mast, with two triangular sails.This design is very efficient,because it can be easily manoeuvred from tack to tac when sailing into the wind. The sails found on sloops are a mainsail (located behind the mast) and headsail) in front / forward of the mast), with the headsail being alternatively called a jib or genoa sail, based on its size and shape.Sailing sloops are most popular in cruising sailboats, because they have minimum rigging and sail control lines, which makes them relatively simple to operate and less expensive than rigs with multiple masts.
  • Gaff Rig: A Gaff rigsailing yachttypically has a four-cornered sail, it is forward and aft rigged, it is controlled at its peak and it usually features a spar (pole) called the a gaff at the top of the sail. Because of the size and shape of the sail, a gaff rig will have running backstays rather than permanent backstays. This means one side of the running backstay is let off when changing tack to allow the square top of the sail and gaff to transfer over to the other side (so the backstays have to constantly be tensions and de-tensioned) A gaff rig typically carries 25% more sail than an equivalent triangular shaped sail for a given hull design.
  • Cutter: The cutter sailing yacht is often used for long-distance sailing as its general composition can readily handle different wind strengths and is designed for speed rather than capacity. It maximises one mast that is usually further aft, allowing a jib and staysail to be connected to the head stay and inner forestay, and often a bowsprit (long pole extending off the front of the yacht) for another sail out the front.
  • Ketch: The ketch sailing yacht utilises a main-mast forward and a shorter mizzen mast aft. This type of sailing yacht can be handled more quickly and easily, because the sails are usually smaller. The sails configuration allows for more possibilities, which can be beneficial in various conditions.
  • Yawl: Somewhat resembling the ketch, the yawl sailing yacht also features two masts. This type of sailing yacht, however, has mizzen mast that is positioned aft of the rudder post. The positioning of the yawl’s shorter mizzen allows it to provide more balance to the helm.The sail area of the mizzen on a yawl is consequentially notably smaller than the same sail on a ketch.A yawl is often considered a suitable rig for a short handed or single handed sailor. This is because the mainsail is not quite so big to handle and the mizzen (before the days of modern self steering gear) could allow the sails to be trimmed to keep a boat on the steady
  • Schooner: The largest monohull sailing yachts that can be acquired today are schooner sailing yachts. They feature two or more masts, with the foremast being lower than the aft main mast. Conventional schooners have topmasts that would allow their sails to be flown above the gaff sails. Many schooners are gaff-rigged, but other examples include Bermuda rigged or a staysail rigged schooner.
  • Catamaran:A catamaran is a multi-hulledyacht, which most commonly features two parallel hulls of equal size. They are known for being the most stable yacht, deriving from its wide beam / wider stance on the water. This can reduce both heeling and wave-induced motion, as compared with a monohull, and can give reduced wakes.Catamarans typically have less hull volume, smaller displacement, and shallower draft contributing towards a smaller hydrodynamic resistance, meaning they require less propulsive power from both sails and motors.

For further advice and information about various types of sailing yachts and rigging arrangements, just call us at Riggtech.


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