Rig Rule

Am I right in thinking that the smallest rig was originally devised as a means of limiting the displacement of these boats? I rather think it may have been. Thus if you were limited to two rigs you couldn’t devise an enormous sail plan (Balmain Bug style) with displacement to match, and still expect to lug the hull around under the small rig.

The rule as it is, seems to have produced pretty sensible boats with displacements in the range 300 - 550 grammes depending on your preference for big hulls and rigs, or lightweight hulls and smaller rigs which have less to push about. I am for changing the two rig rule so that another rig may be allowed and by doing this take out the gambling element which might spoil a regatta.

But perhaps the discussion is not really about the number of rigs but about the resultant effect on displacement? I rather think it may be. Of course, the trend in any modern class is always towards lighter displacement as modern materials (carbons, so forth) become better understood and available.

However I think we need to be careful not to change the nature of the class in seeking greater choice of rig.


A new ballot on the rig rule is immanent (honest!), essentially because nobody likes the current arrangement.

These days about the only defender of the 2-rig rule is its originator Roger Stollery. He detests forums and is unlikely to make his point here, so I think it would be in the general interest if I put the basic case for the rule as it stands.

First, there is a lot of surrounding hogwash about enhancing sailing skill, cost of rigs … You, the punters, do not seem to think that any of this makes sense, and that is an area in which you collectively are much more capable of giving a valid opinion than the rule makers. However, there remains a basic naval architectural justification for two rigs, one of a fixed maximum height. This is quite subtle and not widely understood. Before we commit ourselves, let us make sure we all understand just what the implications may be.

Suppose we have only one rig. In any given day there is a risk that we will be either underpowered (not enough sail) or overpowered (too much sail). This depends on the combination of the amount of sail area and the stability of the boat, which in turn depends on its beam and weight. Since the sail area is easy to change and the beam and weight of the boat are not, we will tailor our only rig (for the day, the race or just generally for the place where we sail) to minimise the risk of our being either underpowered or overpowered. In selecting a new design, we will go for a boat with lots of stability – wide and heavy, what I have lampooned in the past as the ‘muscle Footy’ – since this will extend the range across which we can carry a large sail area. Overall we will probably gain more on the swings (horsepower from a bigger rig) than we loose on the roundabouts (drag from the bigger hull), particularly over relatively small fluctuations of wind speed.

If we now increase the number of rigs to two, the picture changes. Each rig has its chance of being underpowered or overpowered. However, by getting the right balance between the sizes as the larger and smaller rigs right, we can greatly increase the likelihood of having the right amount of sail at any given time. However we can foul this up by biasing the larger rig excessively towards light airs and the smaller one to heavy airs. We will go brilliantly in calms and gales and either wallow or drift anywhere in between.

Now move the goal posts again. Set a maximum size for the smaller rig. This sets an absolute limit to the amount of heeling force we can generate in heavy winds (whatever they may be where we sail). Since the heeling force is limited, the amount of stability (= beam and weight) we can usefully use to hold the boat up is also limited. Since stability = drag, we want no more of it than we have actually need. The consequence is that stability is kept down by the fixed size of the small rig, which means in turn that the temptation to go for massively stable boats, perhaps in the style of a Balmain Bug, but without the swinging keel, is reduced. The two rig rule keeps (or is intended to keep) Footys as pleasant little boats of moderate displacement. Do away with it and you possibly open up the road to much, much heavier boats with massive sail plans because they are able to plug the gaps in the performance envelope by adding rigs.

There are other considerations, which I may come back to if and as this thread develops. However, I leave you with an interesting thought. The small rig (despite the aspirations of the original rule makers about sailing in light winds and heavy winds) is not a ‘storm’ rig at all. It is a rig to be used in (say) 25% of all races. The consequence of this is that the logical choice of boat for conditions in, say, Florida is not one carrying clouds of sail, but one with a very light, narrow easily driven hull that will carry its B rig (let’s call it that) from 6-7 mph upwards, or perhaps even less. So far as I know, nobody has gone down this route, but the logic appears incontrovertible under the existing rule.


This can’t be a valid reason. The original rule, with the 4 AA cells, forced a design to be too heavy to use a 12" rig in any breeze found in an inland pond in the USA. That is probably still the case even with the new battery rule, because of the inevitable weight of the batteries, electronics, rigs, etc., although your moonshadow may be an extremely expensive exception.

Apart from anything else, Moonshadow cost about 8-10 USD + electronics. Expensive in time - not materials. And in a hobby time is usually charged at zero cost!

Gentlemen, before this thread progresses further surely the Class authorities should ask the technical committee kindly to set out their original thinking for us. We clearly need firm ground from which to continue the discussion and in my view we should not continue until that is available


I was under the impression that the original intention of the Footy class was to bring into the sport-hobby some younger newcomers. As I’m sure is well-known to anyone who participates in any of the ‘manual’ hobbies, youngsters starting out are rather scarce these days. This is commonly ascribed to the use of computer games.
It is usually assumed that, by keeping things inexpensive, more young people are able to start and continue to participate. On the other hand, many of these hobbies already seem to be for old men. Certainly radio-sailing is in this category. However, if you look at radio-car-racing, almost every participant is a teenager.
Perhaps it is time to rethink some of the original assumptions.
Personally, I would not like Footy sailing to become a ‘money’ hobby, but it is us ‘old men’ who have the money to spend on these things.

but in all honesty, the footy is not a young persons boat…Its fickle, hard to handle, and frustrating such h that even experience skippers have issues with the boat. if you are scratch builder, then you have even more variables to contend with, keel size, bulb weight, placement, ect. Not exactly a beginners boat.

fwiw at 37 I think I’m the youngest guy in the club… and at many regatta’s its much the same…

oops double post

Angus - You list the low cost of materials in the construction of Moonshadow but everyone who has raced in any of the other of the design classes knows that materials are a minor part of the equation.

IOMs are limited to three “rigs” and their hulls are made of either fiberglass or wood, carbon and aramids being disallowed for hull construction, yet the IOM is one of the most expensive classes to compete in. Why, the design and building expertise required and the complexity of building a competitive hull in a highly competitive class drives up the costs commensurate with the desire of the top competitors to win.

Moonshadow’s construction requirements put a boat like her beyond the scope of the kitchen table builder, the sort of person that seems to be the target audience for this class. Brett used a post-cure epoxy resin for Moonshadow, which, although not as hard to come by as it was a few years ago, requires temperature ramping in an oven (not a one used for food) to achieve a more rigid final product than can be achieved with an off the shelf epoxy. This process requires some expertise and Brett qualifies as an expert (he also builds IOMs).

So, Moonshadow would not be a good choice as a production kit because to make the IOM-like displacement-to-ballast ratios that are claimed for Moonshadow then completion of a kit version could not be entrusted to individuals with unknown skills. Thus the boat, to be as competitive as the original, would have to be made as a turn-key, that is ready to sail out of the box. And that means someone with the skill level to produce this sort of boat will have to be compensated for their time and expertise. That drives up the cost of competing in the class.

I bring up the IOM in part as well because this class limits the number of rigs to three, that pretty much covers most conditions that they sail in. They also have a minimum weight restrictions for just about all parts of the boat which defines a heavier boat than is potentially possible to build. The US 36/600 Class is not much shorter with displacements under 6 pounds. In my opinion the IOM class is under canvassed for the light winds in the NY area, but since the rigs are one-design all the boats are under canvassed together.

In summertime the winds here are light to non-existent. During our racing season our greatest winds generally don’t see 12 mph. The 12" tall storm, “B”, or what ever you want to call it rig is not useful for our conditions. It was a very myopic concept to come out of the experience of conditions in the UK. It is unfortunate that a more global consideration was not employed.

Now I am not advocating a set of one design sails as they use in the IOM class. But to suggest that countries with conditions like those I sail in should flock to Moonshadow type super light construction hulls and embrace the 12" rig as a primary sail type is not particularly practical for the growth of this class in the US. Unlike the UK we don’t have very many professional boat builders that would be interested in ramping up production of a complex expensive fly-weight hull for a tiny market. A Moonshadow type boat, should it prove unbeatable, will only serve to drive off participation, and that would be a death nell for a fledgeling class.

I thought that when I introduced the swing rig to the 36/600 class that everyone would flock to the concept, it was so much more efficient for light wind sailing. Like Moonshadow’s “dominant” performance at the EuroGP I sailed my swing rig 36 to a couple seasons without losing a race, culminating with two, back -to-back National Championships. The few swing rigs that I made for several clubmates were also more competitive than the existing sloop rigged boats. What I didn’t anticipate was a backlash against the rigs I introduced and the class splintered with the splinter group banning swing rigs.

I don’t want a similar situation to develop in the Footy class. I think that offering the prospect of super light boats that primarily use the 12" tall rig is a pretty lame rational for keeping the two rig rule. It is better to eliminate the rig restrictions but allow a designated number of rigs to be registered for a particular race. My preference is for three, but rigs (especially McRigs) are pretty cheap to make so no limit to the number of rigs is something I could support as well.


Its fickle, hard to handle, and frustrating such that even experience skippers have issues with the boat

If we change that to read ‘player’ instead of ‘skipper’ and ‘game’ instead of ‘boat’, don’t we have the perfect description of why nobody over 15 can play computer games?

I am totally convinced that Footys are potentially interesting to young people - thngs don’t have to move fast. One of the things that puts them off is gandfather’s obsession with pieces of dead vegetable and with trying to do everything for a penny. Wood is NOT cool. Cheap is NOT cool. We are looking - pretty much throughout the world - at the richest generation of young people ever. Scrimping, saving and ration cards are not in fashion. Neither are survival exercises like ‘my world champion from the dumpster/skiff’. Why on earth should a fifteen year old in 2009 (i.e. someone born in 1994) have the faintest interest in what is essentially the technology of a sticks and string biplane from seventy years before he was born.

Of course grandhather and great grandfather did find it interesting. For great grandfather it was contemporary and genuinely exciting. Grandfather wasa brought up in the memory of war-time shortages and was grateful for anything he could get. Now therse silly old buffers (I’m one of them at 57) want to pass on their childhood experiences together with certain improving books and Y-fronts for Christmas. Wooo!

I have a (not very serious - honest) proposal. Let us ban the use of dead vegetable and varnish (both) in Footys and see what happens to the age distribution


A few things

1 My Grandson aged 8 built a Footy. (Stollery bug) using child safe materials

2 My grandaughter sailed in the Footy nationals as part of a team with her grandfather. And she enjoyed it very much

3 I teach Oppie Sailing to youngsters all of whom are thrilled with the Footy

4 I came into Footy sailing because I could afford the materials. I have some limited expertise with wood having restored classic National 12s,so the simpler Footy was not a particular problem. And I build them for the children

5 Carbon fibre cloth and the relevant epoxies are expensive, smelly, and difficult to handle in the domestic environment. More advanced materials the more so. Ok I am exploring those now - we grandfathers don’t live in the past you know. But I’m not about to let my grandchildren loose on them. I can imagine my daughters reaction.

6 I would like to see a three rig rule for regattas. Three is surely sufficient.

So I come back to my original point. Why technically was the current rule written the way it was? That seems to me to be the crux of the matter



That being said, I was raised around sailboats. I takes almost 2 hands to count the number of full size sailboats that I or my parents have owned. and I’d have to take my shoes off to count the various types/brands Ive sailed on.

I tried to get my daughter into sailing even buying her own footy for her, but she has no interest and now that shes nearing her teens, any hope is gone…

I’d have my own full size (overnighter) sail boat if my wife was the least bit interested…and if I didn’t have blown discs in my back…:slight_smile:


The second post in this thread is, I think a reasonable exposition of the core of Roger Stollery’s intention in the two rig rule. I am very far from sure that I agree with it, and talking to Brett McComack last night, neither is he. However, I put it out semi-officially, errors, omissions and misunderstandings on my own responsiblities in order out inform the debate.


The corollary of 3 rigs being deemed sufficient, is, presumably, that 4 or 5 rigs confer no advantage.

Having a rule that limits the number of sails puts an obligation on the officials at an event to identify these sails and possibly mark them in some way.

Therefore, in the interests of simplicity, why not have no sail size/quantity restriction at all. This reduces the workload on officials, simplifies the initial sail choice on the day, removes the nagging thought that I am the only one playing by the rules and lets me push my Metrology books to the back of the shelf.

Bring on Angus’ ballot. Just one simple question - stay as we are or remove the sail restriction completely ?



First Footy’s view is pretty much i line with my own thinking. Very complex rigs require very sophisticated skippers.

In this country the 2-rig has been quite widely ingored ‘on a nod and a wink’. In the USA technical rule compliance has I believe been much better - the rule has been formally amended by sailing instructions.

It may be that feelings of guit have inhibited our mob, but this should not be the case in the US. Is there any evidence of anyone using huge numbers of rigs when allowed to do so. Note I ask ‘using’, not ‘owning’ which is a quite different matter.


From the overall tone of the discussions here, it seems almost agreed that the ONE and ONLY rule for Footys should be the “box rule”. That would allow for all sorts of experiments with weight and rig, and leave everybody satisfied.

Lets put the focus on the subject. In most cases winds are light in the morning and build during the day and start to die in the afternoon. In the NY area building winds generally don’t require a rig change. In other countries I would imagine that at most suiting down to a moderately smaller sail area, say an “A1” (to use the M Class designation) would be sufficient most of the time.

In other classes the rigs that a sailor registers for use in a multi-day regatta are the ones that are available to him/her for the duration of the event. The rig rule decisions that we consider for the Footy will primarily impact these larger and longer race events because conditions can change quite a bit from one day to the next. The day racing or club racing which is the most prevelent r/c sailing activity will not really change that much.

Brett’s hesitant approach to changing the 2 rig rule with the ominous “…be careful what you wish for!”, or for short, “fear unintended consequences”, is perhaps unaware that here we generally ingnore the rule and supercede it in the sailing instructions. The Footies in the US aren’t much different those elsewere judging from the race photos and YouTube videos.

So, the 2 rig rule is the apendix of the Footy, an organ that used to serve a function but we are not quite sure what that function was exactly, IMHO.

Sorry - I’ve managed to post my latest missive on this to the Thinking outside the Box #1 thread rather than this. Could some nice moderator move it? Ta! To the rst of you, sorry for the inconvenience.


Apparently, the function of the appendix is to provide a replacement population of micro-organisms for the gut following a bout of diarrhea, which must have been a common occurrence while humans were evolving. Things are not much different now.

If battery rule is simple “In the Hull”, why not simple “Sails above the Box”. This would be fine if “In Sailing Trim” was not an issue.

Making sure sails will rotate & clear box could be a lot of work if every skipper brings a lot of sails. So having a skipper declare a maximum of 3 at a regatta seems reasonable. He could bring more, but only sail 3. To assist measurer, skipper needs a unique and prominent ID on each sail and must report which were used, possibly after the fact. I would like to think all would be honest.

Another possibe hitch. McRig is measured & swings free. Skipper bends Z-Wire to tune after bad race or 2 and now it doesn’t swing free. What to do? How to manage?

How to write a rule that will allow 3 rigs & not burden measurer is the question in my mine?

In Florida, race instructions have been bring your sails except NCR…

Some discussion by all before final draft is good, just be reasonable & helpful.