I see you are interested in a gaff rigged cutter for circumnavigation
What follows is written to share, and is not posted to diminish your interest or desire for that kind of boat
. I would happily sail on a gaffer, and if I found the right one, would be happy to sail it far.
A matter of taste or visual appeal.
First I want to address the reason I would be happy to have a gaff rigged boat
To my eyes, the gaff rigged boats have a special appeal.
I suppose it is something about the traditional designs, mostly wood
boats, and my appreciation for the history
There is also something about the sails. I find the gaff rig, with the large main, and several jibs AND a gaff topsail to be beautiful.
When I see a gaff rigged boat flying more than one jib
, I like to count them and marvel at them as they line up in a duo or trio of "wings" for the boat. Lovely!
A matter of performance or technical shortcomings.
I don't claim any expertise in gaff rigged boats (I only like them and admire them) nor in rigging
in general. But I have picked up a few things here and there that may answer some of your question about the rig, or address why they are not selected or seen on more boats today.
What follows is what I know or have learned from others I consider knowledgeable, and some of it or all of it could be debated by others who have more experience with gaff rigged boats or a different opinion of what is important.
The issues I know of regarding traditional (wood) gaff rigs are mostly in comparison
to modern Bermudan rigs (Marconi rigs) that we see on most modern recreational sailing boats:
1. The extra weight of the gaff spar up aloft
2. The windage of the spar aloft
3. The windage of the external halyards that lift
the gaff spar
4. The windage from the way the sail is bent on the mast
(laced on or with wooden hoops)
5. The "dirty air" from heavy masts (big timber) and the way the sails draft
behind the mast
at the luff.
6. There is torque induced by the gaff spar.
Another way of looking at the issue is this:
Bermudan rigs are considered simpler (than a gaff rig) and are said to allow the boat to sail closer to the wind.
Since most sailboats now are used infrequently by people for recreation (rather than working boats), and usually shorthanded,it is obviously preferred by most to have the most simple and efficient rig and sail plan.
Since a lot of recreational sailors engage in racing
(club or beer
can or otherwise), they want to have boats that have the best possible performance to beat to the weather
mark (rounding the bouys in a race).
On subjects like this where I say something about the visual appeal of boats, I like to include at least one photo
to illustrate and for others to enjoy.
The first photo
shows a classic racing
The second photo shows a modern gaff rigged boat with high tech sails. Something rarely seen.
The third photo is posted because I think the boat image is beautiful.