Rig Rules

“Honestly I think I’m screwed. In all but the lightest breeze its going to be over powered. and to step down from the 200+ inches to less than 100 for the 12” rig… its too big of a step."

This quote from ‘marcsmith’ highlights how restrictive a rig height rule can be and how it forces too many footys to be struggling un necessarily with something other than the skippers preferred rig.

Did I miss something? I thought the recent rule ballot came out in favour of a simple two rig rule rather than also having a height limitation.

You can have any number of rigs of different styles & sizes for your Footy, it’s only at a regatta that you have to specify which larger rig you wish to use in addition to the standard short rig. This does limit you somewhat if the wind conditions should change severely during the regatta (more likely if it runs for more than just one day), but if you have several different rigs and know which wind conditions each one of them is best suited for, it shouldn’t be too big of a handicap, especially since everyone else is in the same boat!

I am not an enthusiast of the 305 mm rig, but let’s not make it any worse than it is. You can perfectly well reduce the apparent gap by reducing weight, wetted surface, beam, etc to give a more easily driven hull that requires less sail to perform in light weather.


It will be interesting as I still have not had a decent day with <10mph breezes to try the new Code zero hoyt… So friday in orlando will hopefully be a good test so I can at least pick which tall rig…

I think the 12" rig rule is a fine rule. as it is you have folks (like me) who are trying to put a ton of sail on a small boat…kind alike putting a jet engine on a piper cub…and then we complain when the weather doesn’t cooperate…

Hey Marc - The rig rule was conceived in a different wind climate than is prevelent in most of the US. I think that for our purposes the “storm rig” size is not that useful. For US conditions we rarely see more than a 5 mph wind strengthening. That may be enough to overpower one’s top rig but not justify going down to the storm sail. Now I understand that the rig rule concept is supposed to have the storm rig function to keep the large rig within reasonable size but practically speaking doesn’t do so here. My preference is to not have guys carrying the top rig into conditions where they are out of control and can cause damage to the other boats on the course. Other size alternate rigs would give guys reasonable options to match their boat to the conditions.

if they are sailing a boat thats uncontrolable (ie over powered) as a result of a freshening breeze and too big of a rig…IMo its a bad design on the sailors part… yes I’m guilty of it too… heck in some classes (soling, vic, odom) you don’t have multiple rigs. you detune the rig or you don’t sail. all wehave is a 12" boat with a 6" beam and we are trying to sail in 20knt breeze… with 200 sq inches of sail…

In the uk I’m sure they use the storm rig or even smaller from time to time…Will I ever get to use my storm rig…probably not…but I’ve got it. and if I choose the wrong sails for the day, then thats my fault…

all things considered I don’t think the footy’s can really generate enough momentum given their size to really do any damage. but that doesn’t mean that an errant skipper can’t take out 1/2 of the fleet with a bad decision.

Marc you are right, we do have much heavier weather and i have got a micro McRig for such occasions and have scuessfully sailed it at Portishead on a 507 in force 5+ just to see if i could and was leaning into the wind at the same time ~ (who is that mad bugger) ~ but it was fantastic fun

Sailing a Footy w/the wrong size rig is no fun and Footys are supposed to be a fun little boat. If wind conditions change and your selected rig is too big or small, why suffer with a poor performing Footy?

I say, let’em sail what ever you want. No restrictions.

That is what we do at www.tanglewoodmyc.com. Come sail Footys with us some time weekly on Mondays at 10:00 AM. Also, the first leg of FFF III will be the same, sail whatever you bring.

Remember #1, sailing should be fun. That is why TWMYC uses a handicap system for intra-club racing with beginners getting a 1 minute head start over more seasoned skippers. It is great to see new skippers win.

Based on my own experience over the last couple years, I’d prefer to see less restriction on sail size. In the UK, I made good use of the 12 inch rig, but in the USA, I’ve not seen much need during the normal sailing season.

For local regattas, race directors can legitimately override the rig rule, as I’ve done in regattas in the Northeast.

For the NCR to be recognized by AMYA, though, we need to go by the book.

Looking forward to seeing you in Orlando.


I’m glad Phil has started this thread. I for one will be very interested to see how many contribute, & on which side of the fence the majority find themselves.

Before I start, I want to make it quite clear, that I acknowledge the supreme effort made by all those who have voluntarily given greatly of their time to bring the class to where it is now. Having said that, I truly believe that we have missed a golden opportunity (in the last ballot) to simplify, improve & add more excitement to this class. Sadly, regarding rigs, I believe the result diminishes their hard work.

For the record, I would like to say that I think the existing rule is ridiculous. Yes, most boats will sail with the smallest of rigs but how exciting & enjoyable is it to be floundering around with a dozen other boats (for up to a day & a half) just because the wind has changed. ENJOYMENT is the main reason most of us play this game or have I missed the point? This is after all a DEVELOPMENT class & while hulls & other aspects are able to develop exponentially it is a huge joke, more an insult, that the numerous & imaginative rigs & hulls now being made, very easily & cheaply, are not allowed to be used to their best advantage.

I appreciate your point Bill about all being in the same boat, but this is no comfort when the boat has sprung a leak & is sinking fast.

It comes as no surprise to me that queries about rig rules continues to come up. There is still confusion, which will ultimately require yet more “INTERPRITATIONS” & more unnecessary work for he tech committee, all of which could easily, & at no cost to the concept of the Footy, be avoided by removing the rig rule completely. There wouldn’t even need to be a definition of what constitutes a rig because anything would be legal. How simple is that??? As time goes on & my understanding of Footy performance grows, It has become blatantly obvious to me that the wind strength, water conditions, & the size of these boats ARE the defining parameters that govern the size of the rig that can be used at any given time. So I ask myself, why do we need man made rules to redefine this? My answer, & the opinion of everyone I have spoken to, bar one, is that WE DON’T.

Basically, Phil, the rule remains unchanged because the total number of voters (91, I believe) were split between 4 rig rule options & none carried because there was no one option that collected the majority of votes (47, in other words, 51%). Had there been only two options, the outcome would have, I believe, been dramatically different, & better. We all need to learn a valuable lesson from this to insure it is avoided in the future.

Bill H. Regarding your nats, good luck with that. For the sake of the competing skippers, I will pray for steady winds so that the event is an enjoyable, competitive, & successful one not just a statistical exercise.

Angus’ point about lighter & thinner I believe is correct, and is all well & good if the wind drops off, but if, having made your rig choice, the wind increases, you will almost immediately be overpowered. A boat designed to those criteria is, while sailing well in lighter airs, far more sensitive to stronger variations, hence the need for more than two rigs.

Most of us want to get kids involved in this sport, them being the future & all that. If the boats are not allowed to perform at their best then we have less than no chance of maintaining their interest.

Fundamentally, I think the rule was a good place to start, but as this class HAS developed, things are now different. We need to make changes that keep it alive, healthy & gaining momentum.

I think that is quite enough for now. I apologise that this was such a mouthfull and I thank you for your patience, I do feel a lot better. I bet some of you are saying “It’s just as well Gary doesn’t comment often or we would all be nodding off at our computers.”

All the best

As one of those responsible for the probems of the ballot, I agree. I know of only one person off hand who is seriously in favour of staying with the original rule. Where we went wrong weas not steering the debate down a narrower path so that there more votes to change to one single option.

I am currently of the view that we can only really have a world rule (something that I consider very important) if we decontrol rigs completely.

Obviously with any sort of restriction, the break-points between rigs become crucial. The implications of this are not without their subtlety. In Florida, for example, mean wind speeds are not actually very much lower than in the Irish Sea NW UK in summer (less than 12 knots, 6 m/s at a height of 10 m for 80% of the time). What is very different is the size of the ‘excursions’ - variations a long way away from the mean.

In Florida, so far as I can gather, excursions are not that common, and tend to be very violent (thunderstorms, hurricanes), whereas here they are very common and (mostly) still allow sailing.

This means that a UK boat has to perform across a wider range of windspeeds than a Floridian one. This in itself suggests that a 2-rig rule is in itself not very sensible.
It also means that for much of the time a boat designed for Florida On two unrestricted rigs) would be perfectly competitive with a UK boat in the UK for something like 70% of the time. During the excursions it would be hopelessly overcanvassed. By the same token, a UK boat with a 305mm rig would be horribly underpowered for about 60% of the time in Florida.

The problem is actually worse for the British boat sine day to day variations in Florida tend to be quite small. However, as the land breeze builds (at least on the coast) there are routine variations across all or most of the normal range within the day. Whereas a Florida boat here could be lucky with the weather and win a series, the chances of a British boat being able to do this in Florida are extremely slim.

This is to some extent academic - anyone who is going to cross the Atlantic with a Footy is going to adapt the hardware to the job (so long as it’s legal). The real point is that if there are ANY fixed measurements of the rig, they will be catastrophically inappropriate somewhere.

So if we restrict anything, it has to be just the number of rigs. In my view (and that of most others) there is a practical limit of about three rigs for an event - otherwise the skipper’s brain tends to hurt. In a development class trying to restrict the number or rigs a skipper may own is conceptually crazy - as well as being an administrative nightmare. So the only sensible solution is for all the restrictions to fo out of the window.


Well, where have you-all been all this time? I was against the “storm” rig height restriction well before the official rules were adopted. It just didn’t make sense for the US, one of the three constituencies that forged the original Footy rules. My position was summarily dismissed back then even though I put forth a litany of different reasons why the storm rig concept wouldn’t achieve its theoretical goals.

People tend to be very conservative when facing change. They tend to cling to ideas even if there is ample evidence that their beliefs are counterproductive and fly in the face of common sense or actual experience.

There has not been a popular model yacht class before the Footy that tried to influence the size of a sail by restricting another sail. The thinking behind this is entirely theoretical and, as has been pointed out before, does not seem to have been considered for more than one type of weather pattern. To be fair though, there hasn’t been a model yacht class where the sail area is unmeasured in any way. But I do feel that trying to come up with a means of measuring Footy sails to some international standard would entail an exponential expansion of the rules similar to what we who sail in other classes as well wade through whenever we put together a new boat. It is far better, as Gary pointed out, to let the boats decide how much sail they can carry at any given venue and wind strength.

Not strictly true. Before the Lengh and Sail Area Rule of 1887, no Rule, full size or model, attempted to measure sail area. Model hull were measured in various ways, but sail was complately unrestricted.

The MYA’s 36 inch restricted Class, originated in 1930 and still going strong in both radio and free sailing form, uses a box Rule that is the same in concept to the Footy Rule. The hull goes into a box 36 x 9 x 11. There is a weight limit of 12 pounds, but many mdrn designs are significantly lighter. Sail is limited only by what the hull can support and the nerve of the skipper. They are tricky to sail, like a Footy and serious competitord carry as many as five suits and in free sailing a range of spinakers from outrageous down to pocket handkerchief. I attach a sail plan for a very successful design by Alex Austin. It’s old now, but still potent.


Thanks Russell - I’ve never sailed your country’s 36R class so I stand corrected on that one. Likewise, to my understanding, the class isn’t actively sailed outside of the UK so it is curious that since the Footy measurement box concept is modeled after the 36R that the unrestricted rig aspect was not a part of the original Footy rule. The small rig influencing the size of the larger one seems to have come out of the ether.

Quote from Angus…
I am currently of the view that we can only really have a world rule (something that I consider very important) if we decontrol rigs completely.

[COLOR=Black]Wahoooo, at last some sense.

So how soon can we get this proposed, seconded and passed. :confused:
If you need support, then count me in.
Where do I sign. :scared:


Please ‘count me in’ too !

And still they come. Keep it rolling men. In time we might be able to submit this thread as a “SERVEY” result in petitioning a rule change. It is up to the regulars to tell everyone else about it & encourage participation. :slight_smile:

Me too

As Angus has pointed out, three rigs would probably cover the requirements of most events. This being the case, then why have any sail/rig limits at all - it would certainly make it easier at registration time. I shudder to think what schemes could be put in place by an enthusiastic OOD to ensure no one contravened them :wink:

Its difficult enough getting what rigs you do have to work well at all, let alone having to become a meteorologist in order to chose them in the first place. This is particularly so over a 2 day event.

Do we think there’s any chance of the sail/rig rule actually being changed any time soon ? I would hate for this thread to become just another home for sundry opinions without the chance of any realistic outcome.



I agree, I think if we are going to do this, the rig issue should be scrapped.

We have to try and remember what we are trying to focus on.
The Footy Class is primarily a FUN to take part in class - the restrictions should IMHO be thrown out.

I firmly believe that the simpler it is the more enjoyment we will get out of it.
We must not loose sight of the Fundamental issue that we are a developmental class and as such it is FUN to try out and share ideas with each other, which is what the camaraderie is all about.

We can all have FUN trying out different ideas ~ that is just the ethos of Footydom

Please lets not go down the route of protests and give water, Starboard and all that rhubarb ~ if that’s the future I don’t mind admitting that I will not be there taking part.

So I guess it’s up to the membership ~ we understand that the ballot was not easy to understand and with hindsight I guess we might have done it better.

One of my favourite sayings is “none of us is prefect, least of all me”
So where do we go from here?