Newby questions

I discovered footies yesterday and spent a few hours poking around on the internet reading a lot but not finding answers to a few key questions, so I thought I’d ask them here.

What do you use for sail material and battens?

How do you protect the RC gear against water damage?

I’ve landed my planes in fresh water and had no problems, but two landings in salt water many years ago proved very expensive.

And finally, what are the common ways of rigging the sails and controlling them?

All the plans I’ve looked at seem to concentrate on the hull, which seems like the easiest part to me, aside from the subtleties of shape, but the details of rigging and sail control seem to be taken for granted. Since I don’t know anyone who does this I am on my own.

BTW, I built a full sized Windmill Class sloop a zillion years ago and I’ve done a reasonable amount of full sized sailing, so in that sense I am not a newbie.



Welcome aboard, welcome to Footydom!

Your questions are straightforward but important - and as such probably don’t have a unique answer, but the assembled, experienced brians on this forum will no doubt impart lots of wisdom.

<<What do you use for sail material and battens?>>
Battens generally seem to be absent, but where they exist - thin self-adhesive tape. I have recently discovered laminating pocket material which can be cut to shape and ironed on - use for battens or corner re-inforcements
Sail material - anything thin and flexible - I have used umbrella nylon, and some of the kit boats come with very light kite cloth - these are probably the thickest sensible materails. Florists film, thin drafting film (mylar) and polythene bags all have their exponents

How do you protect the RC gear against water damage?
I don’t but some people insert receivers into poly bags or balloons. I velcro my Rx high in the boat and seal the deck hatch with insulating tape. My servos live poking thru the deck and I don’t expect any grief there, even in salt water

<<And finally, what are the common ways of rigging the sails and controlling them?>>
OOOOh, the simple question:D
Starting at the end - controlling sails. Always a sheet line (or lines) pulled by a servo with extended arm.
Footys need only a small servo (a standard servo is fine, but its power is never needed (imho))
The required sheet travel depends on where the attachment point to the boom is - you will either need a straight pull or 2;1 attangement. If there is a separate jib - this is conveniently controlled by the other end of a double-ended servo arm.

Starting from the most traditional:
Main and Jib - relatively rare - there was only one boat at Burton with this rig (I knew nothing and wanted something predictable)
Swing rig - popular - needs only one sheet line
Una Rigs - increasingly popular, especially the Dunedin or MacRig
is the bible of these rigs.

Sorry to rabbit on a bit - the questions are shorter than the answers
Please ask any questions you need to - the denizens on this forum are helpful and approachable (don’t mention the rules, though or try and remove one of their cubs)

Couple of pics attached of successfull footys - with MacRigs and swing rigs
The deck shot of the boat on the stand almost shows the arrangement of sail and rudder servos


Thanks Andrewh.

I’m at work right now so I guess my boss will have to be content with my total lack of attention today while I think about more important things, like designing hulls and sailplans.

This is way better than last month’s visions of sugarplums!


And one more join our ranks of hopelessly addicted!


Welcome to Footys, Pete. I hope you’ll find that these little boats are as fun and challenging as any full-size boat you’ve sailed, and maybe more!

I suggest you take a look at the US1 Meter Construction Guide. It’s available as a download from the AMYA site, There’s lots of good construction info that was put together for builders of one-meter boats, but applys to boats of all sizes.

Look around here, too. A lot of your “answers” are buried in some of the older threads here. Keep in mind that a lot of what we spread around here is opinion rather than fact, and there’s always more than one way to skin a cat.

Of course we’ll do our best to be helpful as you get going.

And you may find hull design to be a bit more complex than meets the eye!

Bill H

Thanks for the tip. Being at work I can’t check it out right now but I will definitly look at it when I get home.

As for hulls, structurally they are simple, but I did say something like, “aside from the subtleties of shape.” Any box will float, but some slide through the water more easily than others and I have to admit that every shape has it’s good points and bad points and competition is our “survival of the fittest.”

I have no illusions about the difficulty of designing a good hull, or making a decent mold for that matter. The last mold I made was probably about forty years ago! (sailplane)

I did get a chance to look at the “Dunedin” set up and I really like it. I already have a slight mod I want to try!

I know there are tapered CF booms for sailplanes but I think they are too stiff for such a short mast, and I really don’t want to use just the tip of a good fly rod blank. Are there any other sources for light tapered CF spars?

Thanks for the reply. I already have drawings stuck in my pocket. I think I am hopelessly hooked. I may never get around to racing, but I really want to make a boat.


Pete - your enthusiasm is catching!

Whereabouts are you? You may be nestled in a hotbed of PhootyPhreaks for all we know. You say mold - are you in Iraq?

Make and sail a footy - any footy! Have fun; race if that doesn’t cut across the fun

I started last autumn with similar enthusiasm and founds lots of help. I decided to start with a “regular” design (razor) while I made my own mouldings - have since made 3 footys and still not even carved a plug

They are addictive and fast to experiment with

Suggestion - use parallel CF tube or rod - or bamboo for mast and boom, bearing the footy motto in mind
“better rough NOW than elegant in the distant future”


Pete try or any kite shop really. what you will find with footys is that very slender carbon masts are a lot stiffer than you expect them to be! i am currently using 1/8th inch carbon for a mast, with 1/8th inch aluminum tubing for the boom… its all about experimenting… as andrew said, start with someting you think might be a little too strong, and get lighter… when it breaks, its time to get just a tad bit bigger!

best of luck to ya!

I’m in NYC, and there are probably footys in Central Park by now.

I did my only mold about 40 years ago when nobody was doing things like that except established commercial outfits. It was for a sailplane with ailerons, which was something else that nobody was doing in those days. Not only that, but it was a relatively heavy plane for it’s day, which is more common now. Back then everyone thought you had to be light to catch a thermal. I flew full scale sailplanes and on my first real thermal flight a “lead sled” outclimbed me. Made an indelible impression.

I have a 1/8 CF tube about 40 inches long from Hobby Lobby lying on the bench. I guess part of that will be my first mast.

I think I will try small servos like HS 85’s or so. I can always go bigger or smaller as I try stuff. I’m suire my flying buddy will think I’ve gone crazy, but he owned a 28’ Southern Cross for several years so he will probably wind up giving it a try also, assuming I build a successful boat. (successful as in it floats and I can steer it.)

The only thing that bothers me is the AA battery stipulation. I can get about 200 or more flights out of a lipo pack and that has a lot less environmental impact than the equivalent AA cells.

Rule bending, are you allowed gyros? I think that a small heading hold gyro could be very effective at course holding.


Thanks 420, I will check them out when I get home. As mentioned in the previous post I already have mast material, and a lot of light carbon rod. Have been an avid cyclist for a bunch of years I also have a supply of spokes. Very handy, all these other hobbies and sports have provided a lot of interesting materials to work with. I have some super light mylar that is probably too light for this use, but I also have lots of grades of covering materials, some of which may work.

No lead as such lying around the house, but my flying buddy and I have lead shot bean bags that we use for building and he is currently doing some stained glass work so maybe I can get some of the scraps of lead came.

Hmm… all my CF tow is in his house now.

I think this is going to be an interesting weekend.


Hi pete,
Just letting you know that it was me you ran into over at R/C groups(micro sailor).
Looks like the guys here are looking after you,get that first footy built and sailing!

Hi Brett, I recognize your avatar.