Preview: My Favorite Rig and Why—The Unstayed Mast, by Ellen Massey Leonard

December 18, 2014

Ellen Leonard

My Favorite Rig: Simple, Safe, and Unstayed

© Ellen Massey Leonard, 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Unfortunately, the only boat I own with my favorite sailing rig is my 7-foot dinghy. My 40ft floating home and voyaging friend is a cutter-rigged Marconi sloop, just like most classic boats of her size. I love her speed, her asymmetrical spinnaker, and her gorgeous lines drawn by Francis Kinney, and she was in my price range when I bought her second-hand. I could have bought a voyaging boat with my favorite rig, but I couldn’t bear to forego those gorgeous lines and mahogany accents. If I had all the money in the world and could have my own custom cruising yacht designed and built, she would have it all. She would have a beautiful sweeping sheer, a mahogany cabin, and a freestanding mast.

Simple and safe, the unstayed rig of a Nonsuch. Image © International Nonsuch Association

Simple and safe, the unstayed rig of a Nonsuch. Image © International Nonsuch Association

A decade ago Hal Roth wrote in How to Sail Around the World: “All these architects and businesspeople [who worked with unstayed rigs] figured that recreational sailors would dump the bermudian rig and tun to freestanding masts in large numbers. Unfortunately, the builders and designers were dead wrong. . . . [B]oatowners are not necessarily progressive.” This comes at the end of a section in which Hal Roth extolls the simplicity and safety of unstayed masts, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

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