Sandy, I agree with your assessment of the earlier Prout 34's. As to what is commonly called the 'Prout' rig (cutter rig with mast stepped well aft by the companionway
bulkhead), there have already been discussions of the relative merits of the rig in another thread on this site - I suspect it was in relation to some of the new Broadblue
cats where there was a choice of rigs.
My Solaris Sunstream has an identical rig and I firmly believe that, for the following reasons, it has serious merit in an offshore
1. It steps the mast at the strongest point of the bridgedeck - over the companionway
2. All lines are automatically led to the cockpit
without various turning blocks for the halyards, reefing lines etc.
3. It allows sail area to be maintained, but breaks it up into smaller, and hence easier to handle sails
. This is particularly important with respect to the mainsail
, which will not require electric
winches etc. to facilitate hoisting.
4. It has a dedicated stay for a staysail/storm jib
, which brings the center of effort both down and back in precisely the wind
conditions which favour the same (witness the number of offshore
monohulls that now have 'solent rigs', with a detachable inner forestay for the staysail/storm jib).
5. The additional stays provide additional strength to the rig.
6. A furling
permits the use of much heavier weight dacron than would be appropriate for a genoa
, and therefore ensures that the lighter genoa
is not used (abused) in excessive wind
conditions. Furthermore, sail shape is easier to maintain if one is only reefing a furling
sail to about 30 percent of its overall size. Finally, it is easier and safer to unfurl/reef a dedicated staysail/stormsail from the comfort of the cockpit
than having to go forward to raise a sleeved storm jib
( eg. galerider) over the furled genoa, or to remove the genoa from the slot in the extrusion and raise a dedicated storm sail in its place. (On the negative side, I will agree that higher aspect-ratio sails
tend to peform better and, in particular, the new huge mainsails with significant roach and flat-tops provide much more sail area up higher, where the winds tend to be stronger).
7. Since the Prout rig spreads the sail area more fore and aft than the typical fractional sloop
rig, it will tend to have a lower mast. This in turn lowers both the center of effort and center of gravity, important in a catamaran
in terms of reducing the risk of capsize
. Furthermore, the lack of a mainsail
with significant roach allows much better sail shape when reefed, and permits the use of backstays
- further strengthening the rig.
Although direct comparisons are impossible without sailing the same hull
with each type of rig, I have found that the larger foretriangle aids in tacking; I do not, for example, need to depower the main, as is sometimes necessary with huge flat - top mains in order to come about cleanly.
Once again, different horses for different courses - but for offshore sailing with its greater potential of being caught out in heavy conditions, the 'Prout rig' made and continues to make a good deal of sense.