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Old 16-11-2021, 16:01   #1
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Thoughts on ketches and yawls

I learned from this Forum that Ted Brewer had died.
I greatly enjoyed reading his book "Understanding Boat Design." For those that haven't read it, I would recommend it as a readable introduction to some of the considerations that go into designing a boat.

In that book, he seems to favor yawls. I don't think it is explained by the age of the book, since my copy is the 4th edition that was printed in 1994. I have noticed, however, that as far as rigs with aft mizzens go, on this site, and a few others, ketches are generally viewed more positively than yawls.

My boat was originally built as a yawl, but the mizzen was removed sometime in its past by a previous owner, so it is now a sloop.

I have to admit that I find a yawl to be prettier, but functionally I would imagine that there would be little to choose between these two rigs. I would be curious to hear what others think.
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Old 16-11-2021, 16:09   #2
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

Quote:
I have to admit that I find a yawl to be prettier, but functionally I would imagine that there would be little to choose between these two rigs. I would be curious to hear what others think.
What others think? Rod Stevens was alleged to have said something like "I can improve both the performance and the appearance of a yawl... with an axe!"

I've no dog in this fight... some boats seem attractive to me, some don't, but it isn't solely the rig that drives the impression.

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Old 16-11-2021, 16:13   #3
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

I've owned a ketch. Never owned a yawl. On the ketch, the mizzen was an incredibly useful sail. It provided significant cloth to produce real speed. Its location allowed for easy balancing of the rig. And it could be used as an aft air rudder to assist in directional control, balance and even steering.

The much smaller yawl lacks significant area, so I can't see it contributing much to the sail plan. It does look like a great air rudder, especially considering its placement aft of the rudder shaft.

Both are aesthetically pleasing to my eye, although I often find the yawl's tiny sail area to be kinda -- amusing.
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Old 16-11-2021, 16:27   #4
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

I prefer the yawl because the mizzen is aft of the rudder post and makes the cockpit a wee cleaner. With the mizzen staysail flying, there is nothing prettier.
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Old 16-11-2021, 16:29   #5
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

The Yawl rig had a burst of popularity in the "50s>'60s when the CCA was making/influencing the racing rules.
The mizzen sail was "taxed" at a lower rating in both yawls and ketches, but the yawl, with its larger foretriangle was favored over the ketch for split rigged boats, and it kept the mizzen boom out of the way of the cockpit crew.
You had the large foretriangle for windward ability and were able to set a mizzen staysail for broad reaching.
They won a lot of races,, and the mizzen mast makes a good radar mounting place.
With the advent of the IOR the yawl rig all but disappeared.
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Old 16-11-2021, 16:46   #6
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramron67 View Post
I learned from this Forum that Ted Brewer had died.
I greatly enjoyed reading his book "Understanding Boat Design." For those that haven't read it, I would recommend it as a readable introduction to some of the considerations that go into designing a boat.

In that book, he seems to favor yawls. I don't think it is explained by the age of the book, since my copy is the 4th edition that was printed in 1994. I have noticed, however, that as far as rigs with aft mizzens go, on this site, and a few others, ketches are generally viewed more positively than yawls.

My boat was originally built as a yawl, but the mizzen was removed sometime in its past by a previous owner, so it is now a sloop.

I have to admit that I find a yawl to be prettier, but functionally I would imagine that there would be little to choose between these two rigs. I would be curious to hear what others think.
Well, neither is very popular now days, but If I had one I would like a Yawl. Simply because I think a small aft sail far aft more utilitarian for things like helm trim, heaving to, and stopping the boat from fishing around at anchor. Not to mention it's not in the middle of the cockpit in the way.

But really, I see no use for either on less than 50+ feet.
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Old 16-11-2021, 17:12   #7
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

I have never owned a ketch or a yawl but I have to say a yawl is one of the prettiest boats on the water, canít stop staring at one when I see it.
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Old 16-11-2021, 17:42   #8
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

Ketch owner here. I have posted before about the advantages of a split rig when sailing with a small crew -1 or 2- and a larger boat.
Basically the mizzen is a workhorse. Directional control, steadying, helm balance, ability to sail with jib and jigger(jib and mizzen) and more.
And no, it will not go to weather as well as a sloop rig with the same area.
But man it will reach. And when the breeze is up it can be much easier to handle.
Plus radar, wind gen, ais antenna all have their own spot.
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Old 16-11-2021, 17:46   #9
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

Owned my ketch for 30 years, lots of benefits for sial balance etc. For cruising Caribbean good rig as well as coastal work. On the circumnavigation not so much because of sail balance. I came to the aid of a sailor 54 days at sea from Costa Rica to the Marquesas. He had run out of food because he was trying to use the mizzen on his yawl which seriously slowed him down. I could not sail slow enough and circled him a few times before I got him to lower the mizzen. Sadly he never learned and last report I got was he had lost the boat north of the Cook Islands
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Old 16-11-2021, 19:05   #10
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

Some very interesting replies to this question.

Does anyone know how long the CCA rating rules were dominant in sailboat racing? The influence of the CCA rating system on sailboat design is huge. Based upon what I could find on the web, the CCA was founded in the 1930s, and the IOR rules took over in the 1970s. Were the CCA rating rules in effect throughout that 40 year period?

I did not intend this thread to be a tribute to Ted Brewer, but when I was doing a quick search on the CCA ratings I came across this Good Old Boat article that he wrote about the influence of racing rules on sailboat design.

Also, here is what he said in his sailboat design book about ketches and yawls:

The Yawl:
The yawl has been called a sloop with a mizzen. Having owned four yawls since I wrote the first edition of this book, I have developed a great respect for the yawl as a cruising rig. It is almost as efficient to windward as the sloop, enables you to set an easily handled mizzen staysail to increase sail area when running or reaching in light weather, and if you leave the mizzen up when anchored, your boat will point into the wind and not sail around her mooring. In heavier air, you can drop the mainsail and the boat will balance nicely with the jib and mizzen. The yawl loses a bit to windward as the small mizzen is often more of a drag than a push, but the rig looks prettier than a sloop, and that may be a good enough reason to leave the mizzen set while beating.

The Ketch
The ketch has the mizzen mast stepped father forward than the yawl and carries more sail area in the mizzen. This enables the rig to balance well under a wide variety of sail combinations. However, because the large mizzen is blanketed by the mainsail when working to windward, the ketch is the slowest of all rigs on the wind, although it partially makes up for this with its excellent reaching performance. The ketch is justly popular for cruising yachts, in which a loss of windward ability is not as important as handiness in heavy weather. Like the yawl, the ketch can set a handy and effective mizzen staysail.

Most of these points have already been mentioned in the replies to this thread. Great discussion. Thanks!
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Old 16-11-2021, 19:51   #11
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

My Herreshoff Meadowlark is a ketch.

The sails are manageable. I can even muscle the masts around by myself.

The mizzenmast is at the cabin aft bulkhead, so it doesn't clutter the cockpit at all. The mizzen sail traveller runs behind the cockpit, just in front of the pushpit, so it's not in the way either.
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Old 16-11-2021, 20:23   #12
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfelsent View Post
Ketch owner here. I have posted before about the advantages of a split rig when sailing with a small crew -1 or 2- and a larger boat.
Basically the mizzen is a workhorse. Directional control, steadying, helm balance, ability to sail with jib and jigger(jib and mizzen) and more.
And no, it will not go to weather as well as a sloop rig with the same area.
But man it will reach. And when the breeze is up it can be much easier to handle.
Plus radar, wind gen, ais antenna all have their own spot.
Seconded, Another Ketch owner here, Had a Sloop, have a Ketch now.
Loved both!
Never sailed a Yawl.
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Old 16-11-2021, 20:31   #13
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

The reason for the yawl is the mizzen staysail. You get great performance beam to upwind performance. Downwind the yawl helps stabilize the boat.
But to spend $ to refit it. Unless you want the historic look. Not worth it.
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Old 16-11-2021, 20:51   #14
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

I've sailed both and either are superb for flying a mizzen staysail from. Central, safe and effective.

Good luck.
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Old 16-11-2021, 21:01   #15
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Re: Thoughts on ketches and yawls

Iíve owned two well designed and fast sloops. Iíve owned a yawl for the last 20 years. In my humble opinion, I would not own a sailboat without a split rig if you are cruisingÖnot racing. There is nothing prettier than a yawl on a beam reach. Especially if she be a Hinckley yawl designed by Ted Hood.
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