no rudder sailing

12-15 years ago when I was crewing on a olympic class dinghy hoping for olympic selection, we would quite often go sailing without the rudder. What this does is really teaches you sail control.

I was wondering if the monohull guys had ever tried this with the r/c boats?

I think it would be very hard to do with the multihull, but I will give it ago, after the titles.


As an instructor on diffirent types of sailboats I too often leave the rudder at home. This exercise is done to improve main and headsail-control. I don’t really see how you could do this when both are on the same winch as on (the most) RC’s … ?

It also teaches you how to steer with heel, but again, difficult to do on RC… unless of course you have movable ballast (insert evil laughter here:-)


hmmmmmmm intresting. i have never tried that with an rc boat before.
i think it will be done this weekend
long live the cup

Take a look at the sail winch geometry that I have incorporated on my boat (toward the bottom of the article):

Using this geometry, I am able to fine tune the mainsail sheeting with much smaller adjustments to the jib sheeting (the two sail trims are not proportional at the close hauled sheeting angles).

While I have not actually sailed my boat sans rudder, I have sailed entire windward legs by steering with my sails and only using my rudder to tack. Let me tell you that it is extremely fast to steer your boat this way.

I could probably take the rudder off my boat and do a pretty good job of steering it (at least upwind on one tack). i’m not sure if I have enough authority to actually tack the boat. and getting the boat to head down onto a reach or run would be very difficult…

  • Will

Will Gorgen

Use of heel to assist steering is not absolutely necessary. I sail a full size 1936 vintage bermudan cutter (when I am not replacing rotten timber that is…). She has a very traditional long keel and a massive mainsail coupled with modest jib and staysail. We can tack without touching the helm by first easing the main so that she bears away a little and gains speed, we then ease both jib and staysail and simultaneously sheet in the main, this bring her up into wind with lots of lovely yaw momentum building up. Headsails are then dumped as she passes through the wind and the jib is then held aback to help her through after passing through stays. We then trim away on the new tack. Sounds involved but is easy to do single handed and is very useful when short handed in a blow as it actually allows more time to sort out the running backstays.

Anyone got a cutter rigged model to give it a try?


That is a very interesting setup for your arm winch. I could see where that may have some advantages on the SeaWind. I may be asking a few details from you in the future.

Seawind #80


Is the bermudian cutter the same as the bermudian fitted dinghy? closely related? I had a chance to sail on the royal Bermuda YC’s fitted dinghy about 10 years ago (their skipper at the time was a college sailing teammate of mine). He put me in as the bailer in a grudge race against an international 14 (both boats have the same waterline length but any comparison stops there). We had our A rig up and were able to literally sail circles around the I14 in the 5 knot breeze. Amazing boats.

With independent jib and main trim, I think you can do exactly as you describe. I do not have a model with independent jib trim, so I have not tried it, but the theory is easy to apply if you have done enough rudderless sailing in full size boats…


There will be an article in Model Yachting issue 135 about this system. The details are left to the individual builder but Lester has a spreadsheet (doesn’t he always???) that you can down load to help you design it. I understand the seawind class rules are fairly tight. Do they restrict the design and layout of the sail servo?

  • Will

Will Gorgen


Unless you have time to spare it really is not a good idea to ask the owner of an ancient yacht about his boat!

The bermuda fitted dingies are different (and very admirable) animals. Our boat is a heavy displacement cruising yacht designed by an aircraft engineer in 1935, launched in '36, flattened by a German bomb in the war and rebuilt/ launched again in 1952. Although extreme by modern standards she is nothing like a bermuda dinghy. Although she will make passage speeds of 7.5 knots on a waterline of only 21 feet this does not compare with a bermuda dinghy.

My point was, I suppose, that the normal way of steering a boat like this is with the sails with the rudder primarily used as a steadying device and in close-quarters situations. Modern yachts are generally steered almost entirely by the rudder and (I think) make hard work of it as a result. My other project, Monofoil, see my web site, also steers entirely by juxtaposition of aerodynamic and hydrodynamic centres of pressure so it works at very high speeds as well.

Hey Jon,

Thanks for sharing the details about your boat (and double thanks for keeping it brief). It sounds like it is more along the lines of an IOD (classic 6 meter) which is the boat I was actually racing when I was in Bermuda.

You point about the juxtaposition of forces is well taken, but I think you are giving too little credit to modern yacht racers. I used to drive a modern 40 foot grand prix boat on the great lakes and I can tell you that steering the boat was a joint effort between myself and the sail trimmers. When closehauled, the mainsail trimmer and I had to be in unison to keep the boat going fast. The main traveler and backstay were worked heavily to keep the boat in balance and keep the helm from building up and causing the boat to slow down. Tacking was smoothest when the trimmers and I all worked together to cause the boat to round up on its own rather than by rudder input. This was usually accomplished by overheeling the boat and causing the center of effort of the rig to shift to leeward which causes the boat to want to round up.

Anyone who steers his boat by rudder alone is going to be slow compared to someone who can work the sails to steer the boat and keep it in balance when he wants to go straight. But sometimes you have to have to have experiences like yours on the cutter to really know how to do it right…

  • Will

Will Gorgen

I am not sure if it would be legal or not.
Should be submitted to the class secratary. <font color=“blue”>Rule 10.3 states: Running rigging may be substituted.</font id=“blue”>
The fact that you are separating the sheet lines may be a problem. However I would still like to try this for 1 meter sport racing that the SCOA rules do not apply to.

Seawind #80