Sailing a Canting Keel Boat/"Edit" Discussion

There has been some discussion on the use of gyro’s, pendulums etc. to control a canting keel to make it easier to sail. Well, after over five years of sailing various canting keel prototypes and one offs it is my opinion that those devices are DEFINITELY NOT needed!
Sailing a boat with control of it’s stability at your fingertips is one of the most fun, exciting rc saling experiences you can have. When you get in to it you realize that being able to control the keel directly by radio is something that is so enjoyable, so interesting that you wouldn’t want to reliquish that control -even a little.
Its hard to explain but for most people using the keel seems to be intuitive-many people have sailed the boats I have and have enjoyed the added dimension of control.
It is simply a blast and I recommend that you sail such a boat before adding any gyro’s,pendulum’s etc. to the control loop; I’m sure that you will find that being in control of the keel by radio is fun and easy to get used to --as well as fast on the right boat.
A note on CBTF sailing: The F100 CBTF raceboat is equipped with an added"go-fast" for upwind sailing. It is called the collective and allows the boat to be sailed upwind w/o leeway and it can be used to literally move the boat sideways to weather for short distances as a tactical option. It is programmed in the radio and can be switched off or adjusted at will.See the IACC thread under General Discussion for more technical info…

Doug Lord
High Technology Sailing/Racing

That’s good to know Doug.

I purchased a 4 channel radio for my canting rig boat and fuly intended on maikng the Keel one of those channels. do you have any advice on which channel is the most intuitive one to use? I use my right stick (left-right) for rudder and my left stick (up-down) for sail trim. I was thinking that my left stick (left-right) would be the best one for the canting rig.

I assume that under most wind conditions, you crank the ballast all the way to windward and leave it there? So I was planning on making the canting rig channel racheted so that you would “throw it and forget it”. In lighter winds when the righting moment was less of an issue, I’m assuming I would use less than full canting excursion of the rig? Even then, with a rachet on the stick, it would still be easier than trying to hold it at one position.

The main reason I was considering a gyro was to avoid some of the problems that the Carbonic guys experienced with Phie. It seemed like they experienced the most difficulty with tacking - getting the rig to cant at the right point in the tack. I tyhought maybe a gyro would help for that.

Of course my inital tought was that you could “rolltack” the boat with the help of the rig canting (much like the Shock 40 guys do). So when I was ready to initiate the tack, I would uncant the rig to centerline or perhaps a bit below center. This would cause the boat to head up (helping the boat turn). I would leave the rig in that position throught the tack and let the boat start to heel as it came out of the tack. Then as as the boat heeled up, i would crank the rig to windward which would effectively bring the ballast to windward which would flattent he boat and cause the roll tack “squirt” (can you tell that I used to race dinghies in college?).

Do I have it basically right? Or do I need to re-think my design breif in this regard?

  • Will

Will Gorgen

Will, stay tuned on this thread: I’m hoping Grant McKinnon of Wind WarriorYachts in NZ will jump in with some info on sailing his new canting keel model the “Ultimate Warrior”.
On my boats I recommend that the left stick-side to side- be used because you use the canting keel more than you make sail adjustments upwind sometimes. I set the stick for relatively stiff but smooth motion side to side and the sail control on relatively smooth motion also with no ratchet but with less “stiffness” than the side to side stick. Ratchets on a keel or sailcontrol can make incremental adjustments hard and on a canting keel (and probably a canting mast) can make the keel jump between cliks–not good.
You’ve sailed on a small dinghy where you have to hike -thats good because then you’ll know the sensation of sailing with the boat at an optimum degree of heel and moving your body in and out quickly to keep it there–great fun and fast sailing. Same thing will be required on the model --and you get used to it quickly: someone watching the boat may not even be able to tell that you’re moving the keel to keep the boat at it’s optimum sailing angle–when you get good!
So you definitely do not crank the ballast all the way out: you determine your boats optimum upwind and offwind sailing angle and use the keel to keep the boat there regardless of wind strength.(On the F100CBTF the angle is 15 degrees) Its fun and you definitely get more of a sensation of being in tune with the boat than you do in a fixed keel boat-it is easier to do than it is to discuss and very, very rewarding once you get the hang of it.Dinghy sailors tend to adapt intuitively…
Seems to me that tacking with a canting rig would be much more difficult that doing so with a canting keel but I haven’t tried a canting mast -yet.And I don’t know if you could pull off a roll tack using a canting mast or not–let us know! On a canting keel boat with a fast system it is possible (and desirable) to roll tack–it takes practice but you can achieve the “squirt” you refer to. A caution: under the rules(RRS) a roll tack is illegal if you come out of the tack with MORE speed than you went into it but even if you do it the “legal” way it is still a net gain over a fixed keel boat tacking. Just a technicality- because no matter how you do it it’s a lot of fun. But this is an issue which will be sure to be raised at canting keel boat regatta’s.
Canting keels definitely bring a new ,exciting dimension to rc sailing besides the obvious(in most cases) increase in speed.They are really fun to sail and some of us think they are MORE FUN than a “normal” keelboat!!

Doug Lord
High Technology Sailing/Racing

Now Doug,

Anyone who has races in the New England intercollegiate racing conference will tell you that the RRS is more of a set of guidelines than actual rules. If Navy is oohcing then we need to ooch harder. If Harvard is coming out of their roll tacks with more speed than they went into them, then we need to as well… :slight_smile:

But I doubt that with all the wetted surface area and weight of a keel boat that you could seriously expect to come out a roll tack with more speed than you went in. More likely you will still be accelerating even after the squirt, even with the best roll tack.

The only reason that I am focussing on a canting mast boat is so that I can sail with the US1Ms at our club in Ann Arbor. Once the F100 class establishes itself, I will probably invest the time into making one of those. But for now, my time is too precious to invest in a boat that I cannot race. So I am focussing on the US1M class and my canting mast…

Will Gorgen

As builder of a production canting Keel yacht of course I’m going to give the concept a thumbs up so take this as propaganda if you must but I actually mean what I say however biased I may be.
Sailing using a fully manual keel adjust is a sensible way to go. The challenge of designing automatic systems might be fun but from a sailing perspective unnecessary. If new challenges and learning ways to sail more technical boats was too hard then we would all still be sailing Optimists. Wilst “Optis” still provide great racing and a great proving ground I for one much prefer sailing my 8m Race yacht and especially like single handed racing (including Kites, Gennakers etc). It is true that I design systems to make short handed sailing easier but the same is true for the manual systems on the canting keel Ultimate Warrior.
Using a 4 channel transmitter is not as tricky as you might first imagine. There are still only two sticks it’s just that they move in two directions. On the Ultimate Warrior I set the controls up so that the right hand stick controls helm (sideways movement)and keel angle (up and down). The keel is on a ratchet (or firm continuous movement if prefered) and the spring on the helm is softened so steering without disturbing keel angle is easier. The left hand stick is for sheeting, up and down trims main and jib in parallel (as is standard) but moving the stick sideways finetunes the mainsail. This is an important control because as the angle of heel reduces so does the amount of weather helm. Extra mainsheet loads the helm returning the “feel” and gaining height. It also enables the main to be “dumped” in a gust without effecting the jib. It is not necessary to have the extra channel to acheive this effect as it can be done by sheeting setup geometry but again the extra dimension is not a drawback just more stimulating. Remember that if an individual prefers a different arrangement it is simply a matter of changing plugs in the reciever.

The Ultimate Warrior design began because I was asked for a boat that was more advanced by owners of my popular Wind Warrior, who have no intention of leaving the great class racing of WWs, but wanted to sail something more exciting and learn new skills.

Roll tacks are certainly possible but (with the UW anyway) only partly make up for the inability to tack instantaneously into every little shift. This means a slight change in tactics from “small gains” to “big picture” is needed. Ability to bear off quickly is greatly enhanced as an ease in sheets creates a roll out to weather which leads to a rapid turn as the sails set again upon steering down. This needs to be caught by centering the keel in time before the turn becomes a chinese gybe. Having a canting keel definitely requires more thinking ahead of manuvers but many standard moves quickly become habit just as they did when you first started sail a conventional 2 channel RC yacht.


Grant Mckinnon
Wind Warrior Yachts NZ

Hey Grant,

Without having sailed one, I would think that putting the keel on the side-to-side channel of the sail control stick would make the most sense. There are three reasons that I think this:

  1. the keel is moving side to side, so a side to side channel would coincide with the movement of the keel. Thus you would not have to worry about the “do I move the stick up on port tack, or down on port tack to move the keel to port?” type of problem. You would move the stick to the left to move the keel to port.

  2. the keel is righting moment and as such, playing the keel is sort of like playing the sail. On a fixed keel boat, you ease the sail to keep the boat form over-heeling. On a canting keel boat, you move the keel further to weather to keep the boat from over-heeling. so you should have one hand on the rudder at all times and one hand on the righting (keel/sail) control at all times. And in super heavy puffs when you hit the limit of the keel movement, you would already be on that stick ready to ease the sail. Thus having the keel control on the same stick as the sail control would make that a single logical thumb movement.

  3. In order to execute a roll tack you would want to ease off the keel and move the rudder slightly out of sincronization. But if you were moving the keel with the same stick as the rudder, then as you were sliding the keel down (or up depending on which tack you were on) you would have a tendancy to move the rudder while you were doing that. it seems like that would make the tack choppier. I would think the tacks would be a lot smoother if you were not moving the rudder stick up and down while trying to hold it in a single side to side position for steering.

As far as the fine tune of the main goes. Check out this simple system I use on my 2 channel boats: (My sheeting system is near the bottom half of the page).

  • Will

Will Gorgen


Is the ultimate warrior now available? At what price? And how long to get it?


Dick, the edit facility is there for a posters use whenever it may be necessary. The obvious use is to correct grammatical and spelling errors; the less obvious use is to add information to an original post that wasn’t known at the time of the post. A problem with the current system is that it shows an edit as if it was a new post-an improvement would be to not show edits…To suggest that the edit facility should have a time limit would reduce a posters ability to keep a particular topic relevant as new information becomes available…
It would seem like you could have made your suggestion in the place below reserved for comments and suggestions instead of interjecting it a thread like this.

Doug Lord
High Technology Sailing/Racing

Doug, It just plain sounds to me like you are off your medication these days. The fact that you are making edits, more then just grammar, but edits of content to old post is just too weird. Then you feel that there should be no notice made of such an edit? Sounds more to me that you are doing a bit of ass covering to me. You really feel that we all need to reread your post every day, or are these updates just for the newcomers? If you need to correct content errors or update information, don?t you feel that it would be better to do so in a new post? God forbid that you ever write a book. You?d be sneaking into all your readers? homes ripping out pages and taping in new ones!

Man, I do hope you are not living on an island. You seem to be burning ALL of you bridges these days. Hmmmm, maybe that?s why you can never make it to any regattas?

Greg, I edited my only post under this topic to point out to anyone interested in sailing a canting keel boat that a lot of technical info on canting keel/cbtf boats is now located in the IACC thread. A new person wouldn’t necessarily know that particularly when that topic makes another switch.
I think when new information comes up relative to a post already made that it is perfectly appropriate to add an edit to that post since in long threads like he IACC thread a post now about something said early on would have no relevance.
Since the posts on this forum are preserved as opposed to passing into oblivion making them as relevant as possible seems like a good idea…
I have no preference how edits are handled just so an edit can be made-they can be highlited or whatever as far as I’m concerned…
Doug Lord
High Technology Sailing/Racing

Lately ,it seems I’ve edited almost every post I’ve made not just because they are on a technical subject matter but also because of stupid grammatical or spelling mistakes(and I can’t make spell check work-webtv thing I guess)
I will continue to update and cross reference some of the technical posts where it seems appropriate and where it seems it might help give a better understanding of the subject matter.
I’ll never knowingly leave a post with mistakes in it BUT when I see tham at a future time I will correct them.
But you’ve hijacked a perfectly good topic with contributions by a number of other people in a completely inconsiderate and thoughtless way. Like I said before there is a place for comments or suggestions and it seems to me they shouldn’t be made in the middle of a completely unrelated topic.

Doug Lord
High Technology Sailing/Racing

Hijacker: I have my “options” on this forum set up so that I see the first post of a topic then the newest post.I think it should be set up permanently so that the first post of a thread always appears there when someone clicks on that topic; I think that would tend to help threads stay on topic and I posted this idea in the part of the forum Chad has dedicated to Suggestions, Problems and Comments. So when I click on any topic the first thing I see is the first post made on that topic.
Thats where I added my edit last night: read the last paragrahph of the first post referencing those interested to the IACC topic(another hijacked topic) where there is detailed technical discussion of CBTF/canting keels.
The first post of any topic should be read by anyone interested in the subject matter but some don’t set there system up that way so have no idea ,other than the title, what the subject matter is.
Since you hijacked this topic I’ve edited the title to reflect that…

Doug Lord
High Technology Sailing/Racing

Doug and Dick,

Conversations will go where they will. If we have to change topics every time a discussion winds its way off of the original topic, we would have one post per topic and no continuity about what anyone was talking about.

I think it is fair to have updates to threads now and then, especially when there are closely related discussions going on in another thread. but where is the best place to do that? Should the title be changed? Maybe, but the title is short enough that it cannot carry all of the information necessary. Besides, who has the permissions to change the titel? The topic originator?

Doug feels that the first post in the thread can do the job. But not everyone has their view setup like Doug’s, so not everyone will be aware of changes in the thread will that are posted in updates to the first post.

Another option would be to update the thread with the latest post. That way as you read the thread, you can see when someone felt that the thread deviated substantially from its original discussion. Of course you would need to read each post in sequence in order to know where the current thread was headed…

However it is handled, if you plan to update a post that others have already responded to, you should make it clear what changes you have made. I don’t think that deleting content should be allowed (otherwise, you coul delete something and then claim you never said it). Any additions should be clearly marked so that others understand what you have changed. Dick’s method of adding it in a different color with a note saying that this is the new text is a good one. In general Doug has made an attempt to at least use the opener “update:” when he changes a post. In this case, he added it under the opener “A note” which does not make it clear that this is the update text.

As far as I know, there is no published “netiquite” for this forum. Perhaps we need one. But until we do, we should not be bashing each other in the skull over our personal opinions on what is and is not acceptable posting practice. Doug made an update to a post that he thought would be helpful to the reader. Dick was wondering what doug had changed since the change was not clearly marked. and somehow we got to the point of calling each other names like “hijacker” and accusing each other of not taking proper medication. come on guys. No wonder we have such a hard time resolving port-starboard altercations if we cannot handle a simple post edit in a civilized way…

  • Will

Will Gorgen

Dick, the ability to read and comprehend what one reads is importnt to achieve understanding: in your last post you said you"still didn’t know what had been changed". Yet, in my previous post, in some detail, I specifically say what was changed and why it was changed…did you not read that? Or understand it? or what?

Doug Lord
High Technology Sailing/Racing