time for questions......

Hello again,

So, I’ve had time to finish my hulls, rudders, keels… and now it’s time to start on the rigs. First boat is a Razor(ever so slightly modified, but aren’t they all). Second is design based on a gospectre “Opti” plan I found somewhere out there on the net. I’m thinking for the “Opti” of going with a una rig and have collected as much info as I can for this setup. My main question is the attachment point (mast head?). Anyone got any closeup pics of a una to help a moron like myself try to sort it out? Any kinda info here would be helpful!

For the Razor I initialy was gonna go with a standard sloop type rig (terminology??? like my victoria) but am really interested in the swing rigs. I figure that I can use the same sorta masthead arrangement for either, or at least something that will work. What are the advantages/disadvantages for swing rigs? Again, I could use a few closeup pics of swing rigs, and information of materials and build. I have a bunch of pics I’ve dredged off the net, but non closeup enough for me to really understand. Also, what do you use for the swing block (connecting point for booms? please forgive the terminology if it’s not correct)

I suppose it would be really helpful if anybody has/knows of actual build plans for these kinds of rigs that you could zap me. I can adjust sizes to fit my situation. Info on other rig types is also appreciated, it’s just that I seem to think I understand these best.

I’ll try to get some pics if anybody is interested, but I figure you all see plenty of first timer boats and I don’t think mine are anything special, except maybe for the material I’ve used so far (breadfruit wood, bass wood, west indian mahogany, & brazilian cherry! No, they’re not heavy at all, all wood is cut 1/16 or smaller. It’s just what I have access to that works!)

AJ, Breadfruit wood, Mahogany, and Cherry!!! That sounds absolutely gorgeous!


Swing Rig – I assume you are talking about a rig that has pivot point at the base of the mast, and has both booms permanently affixed to the mast, which creates something that almost looks like a cross when held upside-down. If this is indeed what you were thinking of (and I have not described it as well as i would like), then i have some thoughts for you.

I’ve built a swing rig, and been very disappointed with it, downwind, it works like a charm as it pushes the jib out to windward, and projects the maximum amount of sail area, but, in this downwind prowess lies what is to me its greatest fault. As you ease the main, the jib goes the opposite direction and heads out to windward. As I said, this is fin for running before the wind, but going upwind, it can cause some severe problems with sail trim, as the jib in my experience always wants to stall and tack the boat around. I put a swing rig (or AeroRig) on my first footy, and have never built one again – the boat was incredibly difficult to sail, and never attained its full potential, especially to windward, where it would often simple tack itself, or worse, try to tack itself, and get stuck in irons where because the rig was so balanced, (every time the jib moved to backwind, the main would go the other way and counteract its efforts) it would stay until a major (more than 15 degree) wind shift came along. Needless to say I have steered clear of swing rigs ever since… There was a generation of footys a couple of years ago (mine included) that were built on the design premise that a swing rig would help the self-handling and sea-keeping habits of footys. Over the past two or three years, I have yet to see one person stay with a swing rig – they just don’t seem to work on this scale.*

About the “Una” rig… An una rig refers to (roughly) any rig that holds up only one “main” sail**. (Think Laser, or catboat) The Una rigs used on an overwhelming number of footys are called MacRigs (among other things) in homage to its inventor, Brett McCormack of NZ. These rigs have been used with overwhelming success, and if it is this design you are looking for, then a search of this forum under “Mac Rig” or something will yield the photographic results you seek. The rigs are simple, easy to build, inexpensive, and seem to really work. Their biggest claim to fame (other than the fact that they point beautifully) is that the rigs self-depower, I.E. they bend off to leeward in a puff, allowing the leach of the sail to spill air, helping to keep the boat sailing straight and level.

The “masthead” to my understanding, (and I believe it to be correct) the masthead is at the top of the mast, and is often where the main and sometimes a “masthead” jib is attached, by their heads (the top of the sail) to the rig. Is that what you are talking about? If so, what specifically are you looking to know about that?

Now the “Swing Block” is a term I haven’t heard used before… could you clarify its use perhaps?

/* these were generalizations, and so are not 100% accurate… just throwin that out there before the flak comes down… :wink:

well, in the hands of a skilled craftsman the materials would indeed make for a beauftiful build. Needless to say mine will be painted!!!

yep, that is what I had in mind for a “swing rig”. I have seen many pics of this arrangement and it is certanly LOOKS intriguing. But I want to build something to actually sail (albeit not neccesarily for racing, mostly just for fun, but max performance IS a priority) so I will take your opinions into consideration. That is the kinda info I want to hear. The “swing block” I refer to is the fitting where both booms attach at the mast and where the pivot is located. Maybe I mae this name up (probable!!!) but I swear I read the name somewhere? Anyway, hope that helps to clarify…

as to the Una rig…yep I was thinking the “Mac Rig” as it seems to pop up on a lot of boats and videos and looks fairly straightforward. My main question is the pivot point. I think I have it sorted out, but I didn’t have any luck with the forum search feature. Probably operator error, but it seems to come up blank using numerous variants. I did find usable pics on the yahoo forum. I was trying to come up with a method to allow me to switch rig types on the same boat. I realize that the pivot point on a una is farther forward than other setups. Maybe I should just put in two mast attachments to allow for this. Any thoughts there?

as to the “mast head”, sorry about my ignorance. I actually used a nautical dictionary in search of the term, but I guess my mind just likes head better! (mind out of the gutter guys) I meant the base, or “foot” of the mast. you know, where it attaches to the boat…

I agree totally with 420sailor. I built swing rigs for my first footies but they were really hard to sail for the same reasons he stated. The block you were referring to was made from carved wood and epoxy. Really more work than its worth IMHO. I now use the Macrig. Easy to built and inexpensive. And they handle well. I have a v12 now that I sail with a macrig and love its ease of handling and performance. I have built about a dozen boats so far but only three that are still in the water. The V12. a Harpy, and a self designed hull made of epoxy and glass. All with Macrigs at present. Which sails the best is to difficult to determine. Love all 3 or they wouldnt still be sailing.:smiley:

Hi A.J. -----

download this Adobe Acrobat file. While it is in German, and pertains to the bigger brother of the Footy (RG-65) the photos near the end of the document may give you more info on swing rigs.

Just reduce everything in size to meet the FOOTY scale.


Good luck. Dick

Thanks a million Dick,

Exactly what I was looking for and the German isn’t a problem either, as I have a live in translator! (my gorgeous lady attended finishing school in Stuttgart!)


Is she (your lady) open to propositions from other (ummmm) elderly gentlemen? :smiley:

Just wondering if she would translate for us and then I can retype and post in English on the RG site? No rush, and if not interested or very little time, I can understand. I’ve made two tries at it, and while I can understand the general concepts and most word, every once in a while, there is a word or two I don’t know/Cant find in translator. I’ve tried a few people at work, but if they don’t know sailing concepts and terminology, they haven’t been too helpful. Just a thought if she is willing and has the time?


General info on swing rigs.

Jib/main ratio = 28/72, as a maximum jib percentage. Larger jib sail area and you have rig reversing problems going upwind as described by Barrett.

In M class and 36/600 swing rigs are fractional with the jib hoist 80 to 90 percent of the main hoist. This is to done to provide enough length along the foot of the jib to have adequate camber in the sail.

Careful scrutiny of the photos of the races in Britain show about half of the boats carrying swing rigs. Roger Stollery sports a swing rig on his rAnt. Scaling the masthead swing rig sails from these photographs might give an idea of their set up.

The instances of rig reversal that Barrett experienced are par for swing rig beginners who don’t know how to set up their rig or recognize what the rig is trying to communicate. Its understandable, in my experience people who are accustomed to conventional set ups don’t adjust immediately to the new set of signals.

Sailing upwind, if the rig reverses itself (when the jib pivots the rig so the mainsail crosses the centerline of the boat and stalls the sails and stops the boat) there are several simple reasons and many subtle ones. I will try to tackle the simple ones here.

  1. The jib sail maybe too large in relation to the mainsail (see above).
  2. The boat may have sailed into a major header.
  3. The rig may not be in the correct location in relation the the other centers.
  4. The jib may be trimmed in too tightly. This last reason is the most common tuning problem with a swing rig. The jib must be cracked off more that you would trim the jib on a conventionally rigged boat. I use small telltales on the jib (a thread extracted from an embroidery thread works well, mounted on both sides of the jib about 1/3 of the way up the jib luff starting about 3/8ths to 1/2 inch aft of the luff). These telltales help to indicate stall on the sail. On my 36/600s I put an additional set on the mainsail luff even with the top 1/3 of the jib to keep tabs on backwinding of the main. Although pretty hard to see on a Footy size sail they will help newbies along the learning curve.

Sailing downwind. if the jib appears to want to go wing on wing the rig is telling you to either let your sails out, or if you are already on a dead run, to gybe. If the rig appears to reverse (as described above), pull the sails in.

The information that a swing rig communicates to the skipper is much more comprehensive than a conventional rig’s signals. This input from the swing rig gives me a jump on what’s happening on the water, particularly important with quick reflex boats like a 36 or a Footy.

Learning to read your rig is a rewarding pursuit, unfortunately many sailors give up on their rigs due either a lack of patience or for aesthetic reasons. Working with a swing rig takes commitment and observation to reap the superior performance that the rigs are known for in other development classes.

The best proportion for the “Mac rig” seems to be about 20% of the area ahead of the pivot.
This is greater than the classical swing rig because there is no jib sheeted at a wider angle.
Niels excellent comments above bear this out,His comments are worth reading and digesting fully.

Thanks Niel. I looked at the file Dick posted and I now see
my Jibs were way to large. I was using a jib the same size
as on a sloop rig. Actually it was the same jib from the sloop rig that I had been using. I am builting another Harpy at this time so will try another swing rig on it. I had a swing rig on my rg65 but took it off for a sloop rig. I had used the same sail plans that were posted for the jif65
so It looks like the Jib was to large on that one as well. I
have seen alot of swing rigs on rg65s so wanted to try one.
I guess I will have to try it again with a smaller Jib and see what happens. Thnx :smiley: :zbeer:


Need to translate a German webpage? (or any other language for that matter) Try http://translate.google.com and enter the URL and select the to and from languages.

It is certainly not perfect, but I can mostly figure out what is meant. Fins or keels are translated as “Swords” from a german website :stuck_out_tongue:

A useful reference is Paasch’s Illustrated Marine Dictionary, ISBN 9781558216501. Abebooks lists just two available, so I wouldn’t tarry :slight_smile: Trilingual: English, French, German. From 1885, but a lot of the terminology is the same.



I will have her take a look and see what she can do. It might be a little time, as she is currently mega busy, but she’ll help if she can. I know for sure she doesn’t know sailing terminology, so that might be a problem. I’ll let you know

another question: what do you all suggest for rudder control arms. I’m using 1/8" steel rod (what I had) for the shaft and I want to order something I KNOW will work. a part name or number and supplier info is greatly appreciated.

also, how should I go about sealing this thing in preperation for paint? I’ve read up a bit, but I’m not well versed at all. I was hoping for something sprayable, as I’m liable to screw up anything brushed on (like epoxy resin). feel free to just send a link as a response and save the typing time. That goes to all my questions here…

P.S.- have I told all of you THANKS lately? I really appreciate all this help!

I haven’t found anything I like for 1/8 diameter rudder posts. If you go to 5/32 diameter (a bit big for a Footy) you can use a DuBro steering arm. It has a set screw so you can remove entire shaft if it gets bent - or remove for travel.

I too would be interested in a “purchase” arm for 1/8 diameter with a set screw if possible. I can always fabricate, but wouldlike t easy to remove - not permanent.

At a Footy size, you could consider Polyurethane or thinned varnish to seal balsa - then lightly sand and paint over.

Bret, from your experience what would be the optimum distance for the pivot of a “Mac rig” from the bow? Or should it be calculated another way?