A true cutter rig has the inner forestay attached to the deck
at about 75% of the J dimension (the full fore and aft distance from the mast to the genoa
tack) and has a longer J than a sloop
. A Solent rig has it attached at 90-95% and has a more sloop
like J dimension. In both cases the inner stay runs roughly parallel to the genoa stay to the mast. You can (usually) tack the genoa on a cutter with the inner forestay in place. You have to roll up the genoa to tack it on a Solent rig.
I have sailed them both- a Pacific Seacraft
and Island Packet
with the cutter rig and a Saga 43 with the Solent rig. I like the Solent rig for all around performance, but the cutter would get my vote for mostly offshore
use due to its smaller staysail than the Solent.
I believe that for either rig you should have a furling
staysail and use a Gale Sail or similar for a storm sail over the rolled up staysail if you need one. You will rarely use the Gale Sail, but a couple of main sail reefs
and a full or partially furled staysail and fully furled genoa is a great heavy weather
rig, good to 35-40 kts of true wind
Jon Eiseburg a delivery skipper
and putative guru on the Cruising Sailors Bulletin Board uses the staysail on a furler
with a Gale Sail on his personal boat.
The Gale Sail should work equally well on the inner forestay of a Solent rig.
The Pacific Seacraft
was the only one of the three boats I have sailed that had running backstays
. As I understand it they are only used in really rough conditions where the mast starts pumping.