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Old 30-09-2010, 00:42   #1
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Which Is Better . . . Cutter, Ketch, Sloop or Yawl ?

Hi, im not a sailor right now, but i want to know what is better. i cant decide whats the right one for me. help, anyone?
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Old 30-09-2010, 01:07   #2
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Horses for courses. Which ever you can afford. I prefer Ketches.
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Old 30-09-2010, 01:15   #3
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Welcome to the forum alpawind.
I don't know enough about you to know what is best for you.

Some very general statements about the different rigs.

Ketch will have smaller individual sails making them easier to handle...also have lots of sail combinations....has more standing and running rigging than the other two.
Sloop...the least standing and running rigging and easy to tack the Jib.
Cutter...nice to have the small stay sail....
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Old 30-09-2010, 01:15   #4
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Hi there!

There isn't one simple answer to this question. But there is a thread here that attempts to answer at least part of the question.

Ketch vs Sloop vs Cutter

Basically, sloop rigs allow for the best overall speeds because the sails can be so much larger with less rigging in the way. Ketch rigs are slower, but more versatile (especially in heavier weather) because you have so many different sails, and you can decide to have two, three or four up at a time.

Personally, I've always been able to get better windward angles out of ketch rigs than out of sloops, but others say the opposite. Plus, I have a 'cutter' type staysail on my 65' ketch which is absolutely an 'up at all times' sail.
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Old 30-09-2010, 01:30   #5
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You've asked a question that has been debated for many, many years. I've sailed on all you've mentioned and schooners too. You need to learn more about sailing and the area you'll be sailing in before you can decide which is best for you.
Your question is kind of like asking; "Which is better, sedans, SUVs or RVs?"
It depends on what you want to do with them.
kind regards,
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Old 30-09-2010, 01:53   #6
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Love the question - the answer seems obvious to me! :-)
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Old 30-09-2010, 02:19   #7
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G'day, Mate. Sloop, cutter here, no complaints. Only one rig to maintain. Cheers.
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Old 30-09-2010, 02:33   #8
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“Better” is a subjective term and as in the similar threads the debate could go on forever. However, don’t let that extra mast on a ketch or yawl scare you. I was looking to buy a sloop/cutter. My first cruising boat by chance ended up a ketch and I have not looked back.

I can’t wait to get her out on the weekend knowing I can still handle her by myself. I am just waiting to see what the weather and wind is doing before making definite plans. Still, she behaves well both up and with the wind. Once onboard who knows when I might return – could even sail her up to my local harbour and move aboard; she is definitely no disappointment.

Racing alone might be a different story, but the pros seem to outweigh the cons while cruising. Another good thing about the ketch is that you can leave the mizzen up to give you stability and marginally drive you onto the anchor in a roll and/or in average weather. The mizzen does not really add a lot of speed, but is handy for this and other purposes like variations of sail plan, manageability and trim.

Nevertheless, I would still buy a cutter etc if a real bargain of a seaworthy boat landed in my lap. Sometimes while you can have your heart set on something you never know what might happen? For me it turned out to be a ketch and I am more than happy.
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Old 30-09-2010, 02:43   #9
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Quote:
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Welcome to the forum alpawind.
I don't know enough about you to know what is best for you.
Cutter...nice to have the small stay sail....
I totally agree; if I went back to a single mast rig I would feel totally lost without the staysail. It is even indispensable on the ketch. Now we will probably have to open that endless debate about hank-ons v furlers, but I think almost all will agree that somewhere accessible to fly a storm jib is important on a cruiser?

If you are serious about some passage making the other option if not compliment to a ketch I would be considering is a boat with a reputable windvane self steering device. Once you have the boat these are a bit costly to add – wish I had one!
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Old 30-09-2010, 03:12   #10
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G'day, Mate. Forgot to mention that our inner forestay is removable back to the mast. Nice for non-passage mode when we want to switch from the yankee to the larger genoa. Cheers.
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Old 30-09-2010, 03:53   #11
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Lots and lots of really good material in the archives. Use the search function!

Briefly:

Sloop: Best performance of any rig WHEN the wind is right. Least aerodynamic drag. Least flexibility. Whole sail plan distributed over only two sails so on bigger boats can be handling issues.

Cutter: Next best performance, not quite as good hard on the wind as a sloop, more aerodynamic drag, but more flexibility of sailplan. Much beloved of blue water cruisers. Staysail usually doubles as a built-in always ready storm sail. Existence of staysail sweeping the deck allows the main headsail (usually called a yankee in this application) to be higher cut, which makes it easier to handle and easier to set properly.

Ketch: Least performance because of all the aerodynamic drag, but most flexibility of sail plan. Mizzen sail makes it a snap to balance the helm, and makes a great riding sail. Huge flexibility of sail plan a real plus in heavy weather. Expensive to buy and expensive to keep up (lots and lots of rigging). Standing rigging complicated and compromised by mizzen, which makes a normal backstay impossible.


I have a cutter which I am very happy with after coming from decades of sloops. Advantages over sloop rig far outweigh disadvantages for my kind of sailing, in my opinion. But I think more and more about ketches and how lovely a ketch would be in the open ocean.
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Old 30-09-2010, 04:12   #12
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Lots and lots of really good material in the archives. Use the search function!

Briefly:

Ketch: Expensive to buy and expensive to keep up (lots and lots of rigging). Standing rigging complicated and compromised by mizzen, which makes a normal backstay impossible.
Owning a ketch I really don’t agree with this part of your comment. Please don’t take this offensively, but I would argue that the savings on the smaller sails makes up for any extra cost of rigging. As far as no back stay I seem to have three, one connected to the mizzen and two others port and starboard. The later being adjacent the mizzen stays are great to hang onto when relieving yourself overboard (sorry ladies). A very important safety feature? Once upon a time the mariners of old would even fly and extra sail somewhere in between while reaching to make up for that “lack of performance”?

The other thing I would add is that with all the modern auto pilot and furler technology ketches are often considered outdated and unnecessary, so you can get the odd bargain?

Nonetheless, as is said above, “I would still buy a cutter etc if a real bargain of a seaworthy boat landed in my lap. Sometimes while you can have your heart set on something you never know what might happen?”
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Old 30-09-2010, 04:18   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SurferShane View Post

Nevertheless, I would still buy a cutter etc if a real bargain of a seaworthy boat landed in my lap. Sometimes while you can have your heart set on something you never know what might happen? For me it turned out to be a ketch and I am more than happy.
Shane ... if your well happy with the boat you have its maybe worthwhile considering converting her to a ketch rigged cutter... the best boat for sea's and coasts... as for them being slow...
I seem to remember a certain Kiwi Ketch that took the sailing world by the tail and whipped everything....
Measure up and see if its feasable and viable...
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Old 30-09-2010, 05:42   #14
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Quote:
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Owning a ketch I really don’t agree with this part of your comment. Please don’t take this offensively, but I would argue that the savings on the smaller sails makes up for any extra cost of rigging. As far as no back stay I seem to have three, one connected to the mizzen and two others port and starboard. The later being adjacent the mizzen stays are great to hang onto when relieving yourself overboard (sorry ladies). A very important safety feature? Once upon a time the mariners of old would even fly and extra sail somewhere in between while reaching to make up for that “lack of performance”?

The other thing I would add is that with all the modern auto pilot and furler technology ketches are often considered outdated and unnecessary, so you can get the odd bargain?

Nonetheless, as is said above, “I would still buy a cutter etc if a real bargain of a seaworthy boat landed in my lap. Sometimes while you can have your heart set on something you never know what might happen?”
But please, argue away. Why would I take it offensively? I have not owned a ketch and so of course I defer to your knowledge, and it's good to hear, as I kind of have in mind a ketch for my next boat some day.

I'll explain a little more why I'm thinking about ketches, as it could be interesting to someone.

I went from a somewhat old-fashioned sloop with a longish keel to a more modern cutter with a bulb keel and much higher performance. The difference is incredible and exhilarating. I do love speed. A great deal of the speed comes from the longer waterline, but the underbody is also a big part of it (upwind, at least).

BUT -- with the high aspect bulb keel comes a loss of directional stability, and suddenly balancing the sails becomes much harder and much more important. It's a lot of work. I love the speed on long passages (just did the Channel, 80 miles, from France to England at an average speed of over 9 knots; that's a pace for over 200 miles a day) but at the expense of constant sail trimming. I've only had the boat for a year so maybe there are still some tricks I haven't learned.

It is usually recommended that ketch rigs are better suited to longer keel boats, because you won't notice the loss of performance because you are held back by the underbody anyway, but you will notice all of the advantages of the ketch rig.

Well, it seems to me that, on the contrary, it is exactly on a modern underbody boat where the ketch rig would shine, because it is that kind of boat which is hardest to balance. And on the contrary, you will get a lot of performance out of the underbody, so won't so much miss the loss of performance due to the rig.


So that people understand why it is so great to have your sail plan broken up, let me explain:

On our sloop, we started to reef around 18 knots of wind. The more you reef, the worse the shape of the sail is, especially the head sail, which was an overlapping genoa. By 25 knots the shape of the headsail is pretty much shot, and you could forget about going to windward.

On our cutter, we use both headsails up to about 20 knots. Then at about 20 knots (depending on gusts and sea state), we take in the staysail, reducing the area of the sail plan, but leaving the yankee unreefed and so with its optimum shape. At about 25 knots, we start to reef the yankee. We can sail up to 30 knots with just one reef in it, still on the luff pad so still a good efficient shape. We sail very well and very fast in 30 knots of wind because of this.

After 30 knots of wind, the staysail alone has enough area to drive the boat. So at around 30 knots of wind, we take in the yankee and put out the staysail. The staysail is not reefed at all, so it has its ideal shape (but in such conditions we do harden up the running backstays to tension the inner forestay). And we don't need to reef the staysail in any wind force, so even in 50 knots of wind we have an efficient headsail and we can go to windward. A bonus is that the staysail is self-tacking, so in a real gale tacking is one whole activity less in your workload, very welcome in a gale.

Another bonus is that the sail plan is now concentrated around the mast (the main is reefed, too, of course, and has moved forward and down, while the staysail obviously is far aft and lower than the yankee was) and it is no longer difficult to balance anything.

That is a huge advantage, and it means that although a sloop is theoretically more efficient, the cutter has a much wider range of conditions in which you can put up a sail with an efficient shape, so in reality in many conditions you will sail faster than a sloop can.

You have even many, many more options in your sail plan, with a ketch, which sounds really good to me.
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Old 30-09-2010, 06:14   #15
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But please, argue away. Why would I take it offensively? I have not owned a ketch and so of course I defer to your knowledge, and it's good to hear, as I kind of have in mind a ketch for my next boat some day.

I'll explain a little more...,,,,,,
Hey look – I am also not trying to start any opinionated debates and to such a fact I would be happy to address you as “My Learned Friend”. As I have reiterated numerous times it really depends on the deals you can find on today’s market if not your trust in traditional ways? Sometimes too you just have to discover the particular idiosyncrasies of the boat you sail?

Better go back to that cheap red; having grand visions of sailing south soon!
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