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Old 17-06-2012, 20:08   #1
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Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

I see more than one reference (in sailboat design reviews, guides - maybe in Henkel) to the cutter rig making life simpler for the singlehander.

Why? As I narrow down my list of boats to watch for on the used market next year, should I lean toward this sail scheme? I expect to be singlehanding more than not.

thanks
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Old 17-06-2012, 20:17   #2
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

They are absolutely. More sail choices in a smaller area to work. I have single handed Heffershoff Cat Ketches, Hans Christian 43 Ketch, Gulfstar 53, Westsail 32. Westsail by far the easiest to work alone. I now own a Westsail 42 cutter. Good luck with your search, you will I am sure hear many more opinions, if cost is no object just hire me and I'LL do the worrying for you!! LOL...
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Old 17-06-2012, 21:10   #3
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

I would say it's as important to say where the sheets and halyards go. My Valiant has them all going to the cockpit, and that seems to make it easier than some others that I have sailed with winches all over the place...
I have a small sloop too that is actually much easier to singlehand, but is not a bluewater boat.
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Old 17-06-2012, 21:11   #4
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

I have owned and sailed sloops, ketches and cutters. Never sailed a yawl or a schooner so can't compare those. My choice is the cutter rig.
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Old 17-06-2012, 21:16   #5
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

I so enjoy and feel comfortable with my cutter (Pacific Seacraft 37). I spend 95% of my time single-handing. Always feel safe and secure.

All my lines are led aft to my cockpit.
Smaller sails are easier to raise and manage.
Smaller sails are easier to reef and furl.
Multiple sail choices for comfort in all manner of wind, weather, swell, chop, etc.

Besides, cutters are cool and more bitchen-looking!
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Old 17-06-2012, 21:18   #6
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

As long as you don't have to set and release running backstays each time you tack and have your staysail on a boom I'll agree.
kind regards,
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Old 17-06-2012, 22:47   #7
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

Fewer sails to stow below. Drifter for really light air and a storm staysail for really heavy air. In between you are dropping sails on deck or rolling them without taking them off (unless it gets heavy enough for the storm staysail.)
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Old 17-06-2012, 23:02   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie
Fewer sails to stow below. Drifter for really light air and a storm staysail for really heavy air. In between you are dropping sails on deck or rolling them without taking them off (unless it gets heavy enough for the storm staysail.)
Our staysail triple reefs to the staysail boom, so no storm jib needed. The thing is the size of a backpack at that point.

I love our cutter. Generally pans out like this:

0.0001-10 knots: drifter, maybe the main as well to keep from rolling.
10-25ish main, yankee, staysail
25-35 reefed main, staysail
35-45 double/triple reefed main, staysail, maybe one reef
(never had worse than this)
45+ triple reef main, double/triple reef staysail, hove to
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Old 17-06-2012, 23:07   #9
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

Cutters rule! IMO it is the best short handed sailing setup out there.
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Old 17-06-2012, 23:41   #10
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

Cutter is also my favorite rig, by far. But I am hard pressed to see why it would be easier for a single-hander. There's more work to do with more sails, obviously. Plus cutters usually require running backstays to be rigged before deploying the staysail, and THAT (and tacking the runners) really is a lot of work.

On the other hand, you generally don't use the staysail running or beating, so it is furled much of the time in any case.

The great advantage for anyone, single-handed or not, is that you've got a ready-rigged storm jib. In combination with a furling main, which makes it possible to reef the main down to a virtual trysail in minutes and without luffing up or leaving the cockpit, you can get ready for a big blow in a few minutes and without hassle or risk.
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Old 18-06-2012, 00:30   #11
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

In high winds, my cutter actually balances pretty well on staysail alone. I've spent days on staysail and deeply-reefed main, and it's a nice combination. In lighter air and smooth water I sometimes fly the staysail (and genoa, and main) without bothering with the running backstays. My mast is pretty rigid, so the runners are only needed when we're bouncing around or the wind is up. When the wind is forward of the beam the runners do help with the staysail luff tension / shape.

So I like the staysail for the flexibility it gives me. Having a permanently-installed staysail stay does make light-air tacking of the genoa an occasional problem, but there are ways to deal with that without having to go forward and walk the sail around.

It is probably true that an appropriate headsail (the right size and shape for the conditions) will out-perform a roller-furled genoa and staysail combination, but I for one appreciate the convenience.
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Old 18-06-2012, 00:45   #12
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
In high winds, my cutter actually balances pretty well on staysail alone. I've spent days on staysail and deeply-reefed main, and it's a nice combination. .
Yes, worth mentioning that the center of effort of the staysail is way aft, quite close to the mast, compared to that of a sloop's reefed down genoa or storm jib. This is a huge advantage. With that and a storm trysail (or deeply reefed furling main), all the sail area is right around the mast, so problems with weather helm and risk of broaching disappear - an indescribably fantastic advantage in scary, tough weather. If on top of that your staysail, like most, is self-tacking, then 90% of your workload is gone, and you can concentrate fully on dealing with the storm.
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Old 18-06-2012, 01:24   #13
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

I tossed the boom on our staysail after it tried to kill me. Staysail sets much better loose footed and is really easy to tack. Staysail booms usually result in a crappy setting sail as soon as you crack off a bit. The boom kites making for a big curve in the leach that creates lots of sideways force without much forward drive. The boom was always in the way of anything I wanted to do on the foredeck.

The cutter rig is great especially good without roller furling. We sailed with only four sails. Made one sail change from ghosting conditions to a full gale. Used the reacher in light air. Dropped that when the wind piped up or needed to go to windward. Would carry the twin headsaills up to about 30k windspeed. Woud drop the jib above that, lash it down and carry on under staysail. If the weather was really bad, would reef the staysail.
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Old 18-06-2012, 04:30   #14
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

In the thread title you mention easy, and then ask if it makes life simple. The two are not the same. A modern boat is surely easier to sail with roller thingys and gizmos, as long as they do not break. A traditional boat is less easy, but vastly more simple. I like my 12 ton gaff ketch.
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Old 18-06-2012, 05:35   #15
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Re: Cutter Rig Easier to Singlehand?

I agree with Bruce Smith. Sailing on your own makes it important to minimise how unmanageable things will be at their worst, rather than optimising how easy they are when everything's 'condition normal'.
This shoots low-tech ways of doing critical jobs well up the list of priorities.

In this connection, I think a cutter is a great option for singlehanding (presuming you're talking going offshore or into potentially challenging situations) particularly if the staysail is hanked (or even shackled) to the stay, slab rather than roller reefed, and heavy and new enough to act as a reliably stormsail when reefed, as others have pointed out. If you use a singleheaded rig for light conditions, say with a 110% genoa, the staysail should live on the stay, parcelled up in a compact jacket, when not in use.

You'll need to have prearranged some way to rig or improvise some sort of running backstay for this service, even (I tactfully submit) if the designer thought the mast section and other features of the rig made this unnecessary. Whenever the main is down, set BOTH runners up hard.

With these provisos it's the one sail on the boat which is virtually immune to any gear failure breakdown short of a dismasting.

For instance, you can hoist it, at a pinch, from virtually any halyard. And being where it is in the boat, you can roughly balance the boat on any course with it, in any wind strength a sail will stand, if you set it tight enough.

What's more: In extreme conditions, on many boats, other 'single sail' options will each make certain courses inapplicable.
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