There where a few WalkerWing Sail (HardWing)boats that have been out sailing for years, one made it around the world. There is an A-Class and a C-Class for racing wings and we don`t want to forget the Old Stars and Stripes winged cat from 1988. also here is the TECH. side of it.
Innovation, experimental and very expensive - all of these certainly. But, for cruising ? Cruising in far off distant lands? These designs will remain on the drawing board. Even the pivoting wing mast (which certainly provides lift) requires additional hardware and rigging.
Many of the designs had their beginnings in the AYRS CLICK
Many years ago when the first wing sails were being discussed and tried, I believe that one of the first to sail transatlantic ran into trouble and the skipper was lost at sea.
I remember little about it except that there was a lot of discussion about the inability to sufficiently reduce "sail" area which they speculated was the reason the boat and skipper were lost. Very sad. The details could be a bit different from my memory of them, but I do remember that the skipper was lost, and I have this vague idea that he was the designer's son.
Anybody remember that? I believe it was in the late '80s, but before '91.
Anyway, it impressed me so much at the time that any mention of wing sail frightened me. The North Atlantic and many parts of the Caribbean have lots of wind for long stretches. How would one handle that with a wing mast that can't be reduced in size?
In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".
yep i remember. i believe it was a hard wing however. these soft wings can be lazy jacked just like a fully battened sail. and if you need to just dowse sail you just let the halyard out. folds up like an accordion.
Bigcat has some good ideas. however i would look at the little Wharram sailing round with the twin bi wings. I believe its called the Pha.
things happen in life. make them all into good things.
Bigcat looks very like a "parallel" implementation of the "series" cat ketch designs of Freedom and Tanton et al.
For someone who should know better than to express an opinion on such highly specialised matters, Steven Sponberg's straightforward ideas about the use of freestanding rotating mast just do it every time.
My own suspicion is that this sort of innovation is so technically sound and cost effective in volume as to threaten both new and after market sales potential for anyone presently involved in supportng masts that won't support themselves - or, even worse, reduce techy rigging conversation at the bar to a few whispers about the good old days when masts were masts and boys climbed up'em!
Back in the day I did a lot of deliveries and races on those Tanton 43 and 45 cat ketches. Those boats were awesome, we won the Daytona Bermuda race in one, which was a completely light air race and only a couple of 60 plus full race boats finished ahead of us on elapsed time, on corrected we destroyed everyone. But in the heavy weather was where they really shone. We got 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Round Long Island race aginst over 300 boats in the remains of Hurricane Bob, 50-60 kts of gale. I had them in huge gales several times, and while there was stuff to worry about, you did not have to worry about the rig one bit. Just look at the mast steps and partners. And they had wishbone booms, no vang needed, perfect sail shape, and did some gybes all standing in 40 plus knots without a big crash, the wishbone acts like a shock absorber.
We sailed one of them against the exact same model boat from the factory that came with the regular cutter rig, and could basically sail circles around them, even though they had more working sail area and a foot deeper keel at the same displacement. Downwind they would HAVE to hoist a spinnaker and still couldn't keep up with us.
Those masts were filament wound carbon composites. At 54 feet they only weighed 200 lbs and had something like 25 times the strength of the boat's entire righting moment. They were spun up by some military contractor, on the same machine they used to make fuel tanks for the space shuttle, among other things. Their only drawback was that they were round, not elliptical, and non rotating. The cutter rig's mast was taller, and I would imagine a 60 foot aluminum mast with all the attendant standing rigging would weigh around a thousand pounds, vs four hundred for the two carbon masts. The cat ketch had vastly increased stiffness due to the weight savings aloft, and out performed the cutter with LESS sail area on the exact same boat.
After a lot of sailing on those, I became totally paranoid about stayed rigs. You have umpteen places where loss of a tiny cotter pin can bring down the entire rig. When rounding bouys in races, we used to shoot bent cotter pins at the other guys' sails with rubber bands. When a cotter pin pinged on deck apparently from aloft it would freak them out, usually enough to squeak past them. Airplanes originally had wires holding the wings up, and they did away with those ASAP. The only time I was ever dismasted was due to a failed cotter pin in the forestay. A couple of other times we had close calls but managed to rig halyards in place quickly enough to prevent the mast crashing down after a shroud or stay failed.
In short, the freestanding mast is superior to the stayed rig in EVERY possible way, strength, safety, performance, you name it. It's actually idiotic that we are still using stayed rigs. Kind of like using "Ugh, man make fire with oil" to power the ENTIRE world is as far as we have advanced, but that's a whole other story. The cat ketch absolutely outperforms Marconi rigs on every point of sail The biplane rig is just putting them side by side instead of fore and aft. This is another HUGE advance for a catamaran! The past several years I have been deciding on this set up as my ultimate boat. Looks like there are not many of us but I am not the only one thinking of this.
The only reason these rigs have not caught on is that people think they are "funny looking" and won't buy them, therefore builders won't build them, thus they are custom made and very expensive.
A cat is not as seaworthy as a trimaran. It has less wetted surface, and so is faster in the light stuff, but does not handle the waves the same as the tri. And, most importantly, the mast is not in a hull but mounted right on the center of the main beam, the most stressed part of the boat already. Adding a huge compression load to the beam stresses it much more. Putting one mast in each hull is the obvious solution. The only other way would be an A frame mast for a crab claw rig, which would probably be really good too.
This "bigcat" seems to have a brilliant setup. A junk rig is one of the best sail shapes, highly efficient, super easy to reef. It's main problem is that it works much better on one tack than the other, because on one tack the battens are all getting deformed by laying against the mast. In one fell swoop this guy has killed two birds with one stone. Having double battens form a teardrop around the mast and then have a hinge aft of the mast is just brilliant, doing away with that problem, yet keeping it simple and low tech. AND, it gains all the advantages of a rotating wing mast without the super expensive bearings , the super expensive wing, and the huge weight aloft of the wing, merely using a simple cylindrical mast. I think this is one of the greatest designs I have ever seen.
What a great and, clearly, heartfelt post based on a real positive experience of unstayed rigs - this in complete contrast to my totally instinctive response!
I hadn't actually picked up on the "teardrop" around mast with a "hinge" aft but I'll look again cos this looks very much like a pretty straightforward advance on the wraparound, doubled up sails of (I think) early Freedom 35s, maybe Wharrams which address the smoothing of air flow around the mast as a rotating rig.
Edward de Bono - he of lateral thinking fame - talks about great advance being dependent on "provocations" which tend to cut across and, therefore, challenge, traditional, accepted logic but then can be justified by that same traditional accepted logic retrospectively - as exemplified by that well known expression, "Damn, why didn't I think of that!".
I'm not sure how de Bono would see wingsails, freestanding rigs or rotating masts in the greater scheme of things but, they do seem to cut across our otherwise accepted thinking and challenge conventional approaches to fixing, stabilising and controlling a wing in an airflow to maximum effect.
Now all I gotta do is get some real experience of the genre and, maybe, find one for sail at a price I can afford before their unusual form is recognised as a condition of enhanced performance and demand increases to exceed supply with the inevitable results.