Footy sailing advice?

Two boats hit the water today:

One is one of Brett’s old Pip-Squeak hulls, which went well with my first Mac rig. The other was a modified plan Bob-about that has what might be the “funkiest rig in footydom” (it shows some promise, but this is accompanied by at least one bad side effect. I’m sure pictures will be taken at the races next week in Needham.)

Anyway, sailing the boats…any advice as to how tight you can sheet a Footy? Is it more effective to “Foot” than point? It seemed that downwind it was easier to maneuver the boat to suit the sail than the other way around. I know I need tell tales before my next sailing session. Anyone have any Footy specific “sailing” tips that they can share?



As a learner, the prime rule appears to be Keep Moving!
In terms of sheeting this suggests that you don’t sheet in too tightly - nor sail (attempt to sail) too close to the wind - it is better to be moving thru the water than pointing at the mark and going slowly.

If in doubt steer away from the wind and see if speed picks up.

Never be afraid to go anywhere there seems to be wind - most especially if the rest of the fleet is drifting

As you have discovered footys are never less than interesting downwind - I look on it like training Beagles; you work out what they are doing and instruct them in firm tones to do it!

Hope it goes well in Needham - we need pics of your funkiest rig!


John, giving you sailing advise seems a bit bassackwards, but…

Footys are as capable of pointing as your bigger boats, but remember they aren’t heavy enough to carry momentum…so if you point a bit too high and luff, you stop! This also means it’s easier to get caught in irons when rounding the weather mark…rudder and momentum won’t carry you through without wind in your sails.

I think it’s easy to over-sheet a Mcrig…the angle of the mast makes it look very different when sailing, compared to a conventional rig. I found that it took some getting used to.

Footys are sensitive little boats, so quick thumbs are required to react to puffs.

Also, being sensitive, I find that cajoling words (come on, baby) and body english are more important for success than with larger boats.

See you in Needham…Bill

It is far too early to say much about racing Footys except “It depends”. Last year in Laconia there was strong wind and a short, steep chop. The thing that worked there was to twist off the sails and drive the boat to power over it. Jim won by sailing much wider angles than i did and kept the boat moving.

At Raleigh, the water was flat and the wind was mild. There it payed off to make use of the McRig’s ability to point high, carry a lot of sail area, feather the puffs, and try to survive downwind. At Needham earlier this year, there were nasty puffs to go with the frigid wind and rain. We were more in ‘survival mode’ than anything else, but it did seem to help to open up the leech on the McRigs and go for acceleration. The reservoir at Needham doesn’t have much fetch so the chop never builds up like at Laconia and the wind is predicted to be pretty gentle, so I’ll probably set up to point - maybe with a bit of extra twist since the wind usually comes over pretty high.

I wasn’t at Daytona this spring so I’ll let others speak about that regatta.

Andrew’s suggestion to ease the sails out and accelerate before trimming in and trying to point is a good one, especially if you have a short chord keel like i do. So if the boat seems to ‘go dead’, sheet out, get the telltails flowing and then gradually sheet back in. Even the Footy needs time to accelerate.

The neat thing about footy racing is that ‘The Book’ hasn’t been written yet. I look forward to meeting you at Needhan on Saturday and you can add your own chapter!


Thanks everyone.

I guess the issue is that tuning a Mac Rig is still foreign to me, and adjusting to tiny sails that are reacting to swirling wind that I can’t sense (no windvane or telltales) were the two oddities. Maybe I just needed a bigger pond with better wind.

I can’t wait for Saturday!


What is your MacRrig sail made of? Most folk over this side seem to use extremely thin polythene (polyethylene, LDPE) for the sails - except for one individual whou uses the same, but two thicknesses (he doesn’t open the bag out!)

With these very light sails there is not much calll for a telltale since you can see the leach shivering, and occasionally the luff fluttering. If you see either of these you are pinching WAY too much - ease the helm and go faster.

All that ScottS says is very true - the book is largely blank, but very inviting!
FWIW in choppy conditions - which stop a footy more than most other boats - it is even MORE important to find a course where your boat will keep moving. Different designs are affected in different ways by rough conditions and macrigs allow you to carry a sail which is classically “too big” for the conditions

There is a school of thought who attach a thin mylar streamer to the headstick to get a view of relative wind. Anyway good fortune, and enjoy!


I used mylar film. And as I know from IOMs, where mylar jibs don’t show slight changes the way a light nylon sailcloth does, that mylar isn’t ideal. It looks great though.

My next rig will be made of a lighter mylar film that I haven’t tried yet. I’m going to concentrate on rigs for the rest of the week. Maybe I’ll hit the fabric store at lunch time to find some ripstop, or a Floral shop.

What’s the preferred sheeting attachment position these days? Currently I’m attaching through an eyelet on the bow. Is this detrimental to sail shape on a Mac rig? I know Brett was using this a while back, so I knew it couldn’t be too far off.

I’m a dead beginner, but I’ll echo advice I got from a very experienced friend, “When in doubt, let it out”

I’d say pick your sheeting position based on convenience. I’ve used both bow and central locations, depending on my equipment layout, and both worked fine.


I was assuming that by putting the attachment behind the mast, it would have an effect on the flex of the boom.

Spent 2 hours in the basement last night, and now have 4 more rigs made. Think I got lucky with my first sail two weeks ago, as it turned out best. Maybe it’s just the lighter mylar is harder to work with?

I dunno…gonna go back and review the long thread on this site regarding rigs, and probably print it out this time. Then check some pictures for more dimensions on the yahoo site. Also going to try to get some floral film today…no luck getting that yesterday.

Making progress…finally.

Pictures posted to the Yahoo Site in the “Funky Footy Rig” folder.

I was reading my latest “Sailing” magazine this evening & came across an article written by Gary Hoyt about his new Hoyt Offset Rig. It’s a very interesting concept & I was thinking that it might be worthwhile trying on a Footy. And then I saw your photo!! This is exactly the rig Hoyt has come up with. Had you seen his design, or is this an example of “inventing the wheel twice”?

It’s a complete rip off of his design…I actually posted here in another thread regarding his design, with a link to his website and videos of his full size prototype.

The funniest part, is when you pull the sheets full in, the boom is parallel the hull as you’d expect…but it’s directly over the port rail. I was trying this idea because I thought the downwind ability to sail on port tack with the center of effort over an inch aft of the mast might limit the nosediving tendency…and it did. It actually sailed pretty good in light stuff on all points of sail.

Something odd happens when you’re sailing upwind on starboard though, and the wind comes up. It flounders, and flips over to Port. Tends to do the same thing when tacking to starboard as well. Not ideal…maybe if I tweak the wire on a Mac rig, with a few extra bends? That would keep it from getting overpowered. May have also had a sheeting issue as well, as the sheet may have come out of the screw eye on deck.

Hmmm, interesting comment. I wonder if that effect has something to do with the geometry & balance of your prototype, or if it’s due to a more generic issue secondary to the eccentric loading inherent in the offset nature of the boom & gaff. Since the offset is intended to avoid the “crease” that would be caused without it (similar to that on a sprit rig), I wonder whether a symetrical “wishbone” rotating mast arrangement might be an alternative approach. The wishbone would be like the boom found on windsurfing rigs, but stood on end vertically. A downside of this would be the additional weight aloft of the second spar, but some light 2mm CF rod might not be too bad.

Excuse me while I consult with my patent attorney…:wink: :wink: :wink:

Part of the problem is the boom was too low, so when the wind came up on Stbd tack, the water was holding the boom and sail in. One picture on the yahoo site shows this happening.

Yes, I see that on the picture (copied below, thanks). I guess that would be another argument in favor of the wishbone mast concept.

One of Hoyt’s main claims for the rig’s benefit it that it allows a clean leading edge of the sail (like that on a jib), thereby avoiding the turbulance caused by a round mast. I wonder if the same effect can be acheived with an airfoil shaped rotating mast, or a similar shape that can be obtained with pocket luff on a McRig (pic #2).

The airfoil discussion on Hoyt’s site is interesting, as the pocket luff on a Mac Rig is similar many ways to the airfoil covering the mast in Hoyt’s rig and should offer benefits of low drag.

More interesting news is, what the heck did Andy Trewin bring to Bournville?
I hear he had an offset, “square” or rectangular rig…which sounds familiar!

We’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for pictures from that event.