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Old 01-03-2009, 13:32   #1
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Gaff Riggs on Modern Day Sloops

Gaff rigging on modern day sloops.

I am aware of the nostaligic essence and the salty appearance but beyond that, wouldn't it be technically inferior compared to conventional modern sail plans on a 30-40 foot sloop?
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Old 01-03-2009, 16:13   #2
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I am aware of the nostaligic essence and the salty appearance but beyond that, wouldn't it be technically inferior compared to conventional modern sail plans on a 30-40 foot sloop?
The modern sloop is more a product of modern materials than anything else. Being technically inferior is not something I think is of as an issue. Inferior implies it won't work as well and gaff rigs have worked a long time. They still are practical on modern multi masted boats. The gaff rig is quite well developed and could be considered more modern than many other types of rigs.

We have a tour boat that sails here out of Yorktown, VA that went to South America for the winter. They sail using the gaff rigged sails not just put up the sails and motor around. They do motor to keep a schedule but it is amazing how two people handle the boat for a whole tour season here. This boat is considerably larger than a 30 to 40 ft sloop.

I think it would be a mistake to take a modern sloop and somehow think it would be optimal to make it into a gaff rig or attempt to redesign a gaff rigged vessel as a sloop as some form of superior technology. It's like delineating how an orange is unlike an apple and so is an inferior apple. The history of boats is as much a study of the history of material science as anything else. Boats have always required well developed technologies to operate. Cost and other materials properties have been critical to all boat designs. Applying those technologies to a gaff rig design yields fine boats.
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Old 01-03-2009, 16:31   #3
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Paul,
I think you're right. While I'm no expert on rigs, the gaff rig seems to have very different geometry from the modern sloop rig, and converting a modern sloop to a gaff rig seems like a mistake. I think it would be better to design the whole boat from the ground up, gaff rig and all. They are things of beauty!
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Old 01-03-2009, 16:33   #4
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Thank you very much for the reply,
I wasn't sure if it made technical sense.
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Old 01-03-2009, 16:40   #5
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Gaff rig? Extra weight aloft plus all the extra lines doesn't seem worth the hassle on a modern sloop.
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Old 01-03-2009, 16:42   #6
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Especially when there is a wooden mast.
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:54   #7
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Properly designed, the modern gaff rig has a lower heeling moment than a modern high-aspect main. In other words, it has *less* weight aloft (the rig has a lower vcg, and a lower ce.)

But that doesn't mean it will work well on a "modern" hull shape, and is unlikely to work with an existing rig.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is the gaff rig excels at spreading a lot of sail area. Big sail area doesn't mean faster on the wind, but it does mean faster off the wind. They can be fast upwind, but length of luff will usually beat sail area in anything but the lightest or heaviest of winds.

As far as ability to be worked with small crew... I think the sprit rig is better yet. I believe the Thames Barges, up to 200' of commercial coastal freighter, were usually fully manned by a skipper, a mate, and a ship's boy. And they were commercially viable into the 1950s in the UK.
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Old 03-03-2009, 15:05   #8
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I believe that this was tried on a fairly modern all-carbon fibre, canting-keel 40' racing boat in Australia. The vessel in question was a no expense spared project, and initially it had (I think) a gaff rig because it's designer thought he could gain some sort of rating advantage on IRC. Unfortunately, considering the million or so dollars they poured into it, it was a "babe" (like a pig upwind and a dog downwind) so the gaff rig didn't last too long. Now it has a conventional rig and sailplan (but is still, alas, an underperformer. I would name the boat, but wheres the fun in that?
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