Cman, I have a cutter rig on my cat and, for extended cruising
, wouldn't trade
it for the now more common fractional rigs with flat-topped mains. Some advantages, as I see it:
1. As already mentioned, the rig tends to be much more solidly supported - mine has 10 separate pieces of standing rigging
: the forestay, the staysail stay, twin backstays
, plus six shrouds. Compare that to a forestay and as few as four shrouds.
2. Again as mentioned, I have a dedicated staysail/storm jib on roller reefing when the going gets tough. Remember that the weight of dacron on most jibs is inadequate for a true storm sail; further, remember that it is also best in heavy going to move your center of effort not only down, but in; finally, remember most sails
retain better shape if only reefed by about 30% of the overall size.
The classic 'Prout', or cutter rig accomplishes all of this and, in most cats, does so with a large slot between headsails to facilitate tacking.
3. The main is smaller and hence, easier to hoist (no need for a power winch), easier to trim and both easier and more effective once reefed (flat top mains have terrible sail shape when reefed, keeping far too much sail area up high).
4. With the cutter rig, my mast
is stepped at the companionway
bulkhead - this is not only the strongest point on the bridgedeck, but a locationi which permits all lines to be led into the cockpit
without the additional friction caused by various turning blocks, etc.
5. The Cutter rig tends to spread the sail area more fore and aft, than up and down; while this reduction in aspect ratio can hurt your performance in certain conditions, it it lowers the center of effort of the sail plan for a given sail area, thereby increasing your resistance to capsize