What’s in a Rig? The Cutter Rig

By: Sailboat Rigs, Sailboats

What’s in a Rig Series #2

A variation on the last installment of What’s in a Rig (the sloop) is the Cutter Rig. Although it has gone through some changes through the course of history, the modern cutter rig is generally a set-up with two headsails. The forward sail is called the yankee and the one slightly behind it is the staysail.

Cutter rigs are a choice a cruising sailor might opt for more offshore work. Since longer passages usually means encountering heavier weather, the cutter rig can be the perfect choice to have a ready-to-go balanced sailplan when the wind picks up. They are not quite as easy to tack as sloops, but since cruisers go for days without tacking, the ability to quickly furl the yankee and have a small staysail up in a stiff breeze is worth the sacrifice.

Cutter rig fans also enjoy the balance it provides. A small staysail set farther back on the boat and a reefed main is a very solid arrangement on a windy day and for cruisers who want to be comfortable in 25-knots, this is important. Also, a staysail makes heaving-to easier – this is a task far more utilized by the cruising sailor.

So, there you have it – the cutter rig is a set-up preferred by sailors on a voyage. They have disadvantages in how they tack but strengths in how they behave in open-ocean conditions.

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