Footy Rigs


Being extremely new to this and having some equally determined ideas inherited from big boats (like ones you can live in), I am almost certainly wrong in everything I say. Please howl me down.

A Footy is more or less low on stability. It also has very low roll inertia. Given that the helmsman is remote from the boat and does not have the same sensory inputs, it appears axiomatic that the boat will inevitably be sailed less ‘well’ than its full-size equivalent would be - particularly by someone with my aging eyes and reactions.

It therefore appears that a rig that will automatically dump a lot of lift is quite a good idea. This is not new. From Ljungstrom onwards there have been bendy cantilever rigs that are - in a sense - self reefing. From practical experience of a lightweight cat ketch that my brother and I designed many years ago (the Poacher 6.4 if anyone remembers it), the Freedom rig with drooping wishbone boom is particularly attractive. The triangle of the foot of the sail and the wishbone boom acts as a kicking strap. This is excellent in a Footy sine, with a bit of positive foot round, you can get the rig lower and - with some luck - create an endplate effect between main and the smooth flat deck.


Unfortunately, cat boats are not always tops in the windward performance stakes and a cantilever mast with no means of positive bend control of going to play hell with tension of a forestay - the jib is going to go tubular half the time.

To avoid this, what about this for an idea? We take a rod forestay - actually a piece of micro carbon tube. We can get this down to less than 1 mm dia and the weight is trivial. We rig the rod as if it were a mast with swept back spreaders and shrouds (Kevlar twine). We attach the sail to it permanently (sleeve luff) and then fit it between two end fittings - one on the deck, the other as high up the mast as we want. The end fittings are sleeves within which the rod is free to slide longitudinally and rotate.

Oh, yes, and we also control the jib using a wishbone.

I think that this means that the headsail can be set up to be totally independent of whatever is going on in the mast bend department. Is this good or bad?

Any thoughts


I like your ideas about wishbone booms, I have given them a bit thought too. I am, actually, surprised how high my catboat Kitty will sail. I am a bit tired from my day job so I did quite understand all of your ideas on the jib. Any chance that you could some sort of line drawing to better understand?

Unfortunately I have hull draftng software but have yet to find a CAD system that works and isn’t stupidly expensive. I’ll try to get some sketches scanned.

Basically what we have is a second mini mast (called the headstay) that doesn’t support the mast - it just moves with it but is kept rigid by its own rigging. OK - you don’t get a lot of flexibility about what happens to the jib as the wind blows, but since must of the things that are likely to happen are pretty undsirable, that can’t be all bad!


The concept sounds interesting to me, Angus.

I agree that a carefully selected bendy mast could be desirable to dump wind in the gusts. These little boats can be tricky to handle in those conditions. Brett has used a stiff wire forestay to overcome the typical lack of a backstay to provide jib luff tension. I think that accomplishes some of what you have in mind, but the added sophistication of your idea might make it more effective. I have a bit of a hard time picturing how the shrouds and so on would work, though. Could you post a sketch?

Bill H


but it might help understanding.


Hi Angus,
From the very beginning I have set the jib on a rod to make it act independantly of the mast.I deliberately use s/s wire as it acts as the jib counterweight at the same time.Though a carbon rod or tube and a seperate counterweight could be better my method reduces the number and complexity of the parts.
The Footys I have designed are deliberatly fairly low tech and simple…to engourage building and sailing.The solutions I have shown are most likely not the ones I would use myself in an out and out racer in a competitive fleet.
There are also some pictures around this site of a balanced Una rig I have designed and been experimenting with the past 2 years which acts in a similar way to what you have been discussing.

Hi Angus, welcome to the forum.
Your contribution has already been worthwhile and you have only been with us for such a short time.
You ask for thoughts, so here are a couple of mine.

I think you may be adding too much complexity to your FOOTY thinking.
Not for your ultimate, all out, cutting edge, world beating, super footy but for your first learner effort.
Dont stop mind, its what we are all here for.
Sure keeps the old grey matter active and fresh.

My best advise would be to build something simple and easy to get you on the water and some stick time.
Then you will quite quickly learn what is important with these little craft.
I think you may be suprised firstly at how well they can sail and secondly at how stable they are in a breeze.

Keep giving us all the push we need to come up with the breakthrough.

hi, i found this through yahoo, i have a Poacher on Wndermere at present, it was my brothers, and currently renovating it. Do you have any info/plans/drawings etc that would be useful? tips on rigging etc, regards

Angus ~ I am CAD trained if you want to send them to me i will put them into AutoCAD for you if you want

lightweight cat ketch that my brother and I designed many years ago (the Poacher 6.4 if anyone remembers it),

Hi Angus,

I have a Poacher 6.4 built by Blakes Marine in 1981, have had it for about 15 years but it has not been used for last ten. I intend restoring next year and would be greatful for any advice / drawings / info you could provide.
On my poacher (Hotshot) the keel is lifted using a winch, I always thought this unsatisfactory and dangerous. Years ago I saw a poacher at Holyhead SC
(possibly belonging to you or your brother)and it had a different lifting system, any ideas would be welcome.
I am attaching a photo of Hotshot at sail off Dublin Bay.


And that looks like Lambay ahead!

I’ve sent you a PM. If you have any other good pictures, please do post them - I haven’t got a decent one of a Poacher.


hi there, after breaking my foot last year just before the season i didnt do a lot to my Poacher but this year it has come on in leaps and bounds
It is based at Windermere, we have done a lot of renovation and it sails really well for us novices!!!

we are currently fitting a lightweight 4 stroke self start with remotes as this years project, and over the winter repaint the hull etc

any info re Poachers would be apprecuated. Would specifically want to know re the mast bearings, we have hard rubber at the base and then at about a meter for the mast to rotate in, are there any other bearing arrangements?
If anyone needs info and pics to help renovation let me know

Dave haughton