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Old July 29th 17, 04:24 PM posted to alt.sailing
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Default Some sources regards balanced lug sails

Some sources regards balanced lug sails


Lug Nuts
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By John C. Harris
April 2012
Lug Rigged SkerryUsed to be, I couldn't sell a lug rig to anyone. The
early Mill Creek kayaks had lug rigs, and of course the Eastport Pram
had a standing-lug rig starting in 1999. At the time, one prospective
customer's reaction to the Pram's humble but effective sailplan was
typical. He called it a "square rig." Gently corrected, he persisted.
"No, I'm calling it a SQUARE rig!" he harrumphed, and what he meant to
say was that he thought the boat would be a barkentine when it came to
sailing upwind. He was wrong, of course; lug rigs are the most
close-winded of any traditional type. Driving a carefully-rigged lugger
with an expertly-cut sail, I can and have done horizon jobs on "modern"
sloops that were sloppily set up and handled.

My own devotion to the type never wavered. My very first sailboat
rigging project, age 10, was a lugger. It was a cheap rubber raft, to
which I fitted a thwart, plywood leeboard, broomstick mast, and
loose-footed standing-lug sail cut from a blue cotton bedsheet. I was
assisted in rigging by a 1950's-era Sea Scout manual, which assumed that
a good scout should know how to set up a lug sail. My lug-rigged raft
could get up a boiling bow wave on Gem Lakes.

As far as lug sails go at Chesapeake Light Craft, public acceptance
improved, and I'm even prepared to put a date on it. In March of 2005
our friend and colleague Geoff Kerr grabbed the front cover of
WoodenBoat Magazine with his Oughtred-designed lug-rigged Caledonia
Yawl. Around that time, the #1 question about every CLC sailboat
shifted to, "Could it have a lug rig?"

The lug is an ancient type of sail, my guess being that the Vikings
invented it when sailcloth improved and they found they could brace
their square sails around and sail upwind. Phil Bolger wrote that the
lug sail is "the most powerful windward sail possible with primitive
technology." To do any better upwind, you need stainless steel cabling
to tension the luff of a jib. By the way, Bolger's book 100 Small Boat
Rigs is the best book ever written about sailing rigs. Actually, I
think it's one of the best books ever written about small sailing craft,

Parts of a Lug Sail
The nomenclature of a balanced-lug sail.
Click to embiggen.
A lug sail is a quadrilateral shape, with a yard at the top. (Please
don't call it a gaff.) There are three main types: dipping lugs,
balanced lugs, and standing lugs.

We won't linger over the oldest and historically most-used lug rig, the
dipping lug. Dipping lugs were very common in working sailing craft,
especially in Europe. They offer the most power, especially upwind, but
require a highly trained and patient crew, so they are unknown in
yachts. To tack, you must drop the sail, pass the yard to the other side
of the mast, and rehoist. A good choice in a boat that doesn't need to
do much short tacking. My drawings for an Everglades Challenge
competitor show a dipping lug, to be deployed when there's a single long
tack ahead.

Balanced Lug Rig
The dipping lug sail on this sliding-seat racer is deployed from a
folding A-frame mast.
Balanced-lug sails are the most popular type in the 21st century. You
can read a complete guide to setting up a balanced lug sail, here.
Balanced-lug sails always have a boom, and are distinguished by a tack
that's positioned well forward of the mast. The sail area in front of
the mast helps balance the sail area aft---thus the name---and so
sheeting loads are lighter. The mast DOES cut into the sail on the
"bad" tack, but nobody has ever established that luggers are much slower
on that tack. The signal advantages of the balanced lug sail are the
speed at which it can be hoisted and stowed and the ease of reefing.
You don't need a boom vang because the boom is locked horizontally by
luff tension, eliminating horsepower-robbing twist in the sail. The
center of effort (a very approximate geometric location of the sail's
thrust) is comparatively low for a given amount of sail area, meaning
that there's less heeling moment for a given amount of thrust. This
isn't guaranteed---I've had builders with overbuilt yards and the extra
weight canceled out the gains. But a 65-square-foot lug sail will
create a noticeably more stable boat compared to a 65-square-foot
triangular sail.

Passagemaker and Eastport Pram Lug Rigs
The Passagemaker Dinghy has a balanced-lug, while the Eastport Pram
(right) has a standing-lug.
The standing-lug looks like a balanced-lug at a glance. The difference
is that the tack of the sail is fastened at or near the mast. The
reasons to choose this rig over a balanced-lug are somewhat incremental.
The spars tend to be short, making them easy to stow (say, in an
Eastport Pram). On my drawing board standing lugs usually appear when
the boat's layout demands a mast placed far forward in the boat, such
that the balance-lug rig would shift the center of effort too far
forward. You can also rig a standing lug without a boom, which is nice
if you hate getting clocked in the head.

To those of us who know the secret lugger handshake, lugs are an obvious
choice for pleasure sailing. Why aren't luggers more popular?
Unfamiliarity is the main culprit. While comparatively simple, getting a
lug sail rigged for best performance requires a certain artfulness.
Most luggers that I see lack enough tension in the outhauls on the boom
and yard, so that the sail is too baggy. Those boats don't go to
windward well, reinforcing the incorrect notion that "traditional" rigs
have innate deficiencies upwind. Once you hoist the sail, you need
loads of downhaul tension, too. Even if you get enough tension at the
beach, the halyard and downhaul will stretch under way and need to be
tended often.

Another troubling misconception is that traditional sails are just flat
sheets of canvas. All sails are wings, and require careful shaping to
generate lift, much less drive a boat upwind. There is a careless
tendency to dismiss the sailmaker's art in traditional smallcraft. The
lug sail in a $1000 dinghy needs as much thoughtful three-dimensional
shaping as a mainsail on a million-dollar racing yacht. Years ago, I
had a lot of trouble getting CLC's lug and sprit sails made because the
volume name-brand sail lofts didn't have design software that covered
quadrilateral sails! (I suspect they've fixed that by now, but at the
time those sails always came out too flat.) CLC's longtime sailmaker,
Douglas Fowler, is absolutely obsessive about broadseam and the "round"
built into the head and foot of the sail. The combination of
ultra-modern synthetic sailcloth and hand-wringing over sail shape means
that you don't have to give up anything in performance in a modern lugger.

Dory Lug Rig
Northeaster Dory with the stock balanced-lug rig.
Passagemaker Dinghy Lug Rig
Passagemaker Dinghy with the same balanced lug sail.
Spars offer bewildering choices to the designer and builder of a
lug-rigged boat. Generally speaking, the spars should be desperately
light. Shave them down to just this side of breaking, especially the
yard, which is up high trying to capsize you with its weight. On the
other hand, spars that bend too much will make the sails baggy, which in
heavy air will set up a regressive cycle that ends in capsize or broken
spars. But I'm always testing the limits. The lug sail is laced to the
yard, of course, but it's more common to not lace the boom, as in this
CLC Skerry:

Skerry Lug Rig
Skerry with Balanced-lug Rig
The deep round in the foot of the sail looks good on paper AND on the
water, but bewa you need a much stiffer (and thus heavier) boom.
Lacing the sail to the boom adds a lot of support, so the boom can be
lighter, and makes it easier to control the draft of the sail without
very high outhaul and downhaul tension. I admit, I prefer the looks of
the unlaced foot.

For years, the Skerry, Passagemaker, and Northeaster Dory have shared
the same 62-square foot balanced-lug sail. This is just a coincidence
of the three boats having similar displacement and stability
characteristics, though it DOES help on the cost to have a stock item.
All have slightly different halyard and downhaul attachment points, to
shift the sail so the center of effort lines up best.

Northeaster Dory: Lug Rig and Sloop Rig
A comparison of the Northeaster Dory with lug and sloop rigs. All things
being equal, the jib makes the sloop faster on all points. But it's
fussier to rig.
Many rigs were considered for PocketShip, including a lug yawl. This
version would be less expensive than the sloop and quicker to set up,
but wouldn't be as fast, particularly upwind. Jibs function like
leading-edge slats on aircraft wings, accelerating the flow around the
lee side of the mainsail. Drop the jib on a PocketShip sloop and the
boat feels sluggish. Still, for a cruiser there are interesting
advantages. Engineering the tabernacle for the cantilevered mast is the
only major challenge here.

Pocketship Lug Rig
A shipshape yawl rig for PocketShip
Pocket Change, a proposed "budget" version of PocketShip, is also a
lugger, with a yawl rig. Scarcely any sailing hardware at all is
needed. This one would give PocketShip a real fight once in awhile.
[Update January 2015: This little sketch of "Pocket Change" has
generated a startling amount of email. I think it's a design worthy of
completion. But alas, quite a bit of development work remains and there
is currently no timeline for a release. Click on the image for more

CLC "Pocket Change"

from above is
" You can read a complete guide to setting up a balanced lug sail, here.
Balanced-lug sails always have a boom, and are distinguished by a tack
that's positioned well forward of the mast."

and that is he

Great drawings with measurments!
"Pocket Change" is a water-ballasted yawl with a daggerboard.


The Balanced Lugsail
Sailing Rigs
Lug Rigs
Sail Cloth
Ropes & Rigs
How to rig an easy cheap sail on a small boat.
The balanced lugsail is one of the cheapest and easiest rigs to set up
on a small boat.
They can even outperform the modern bermudan sail in certain conditions
and points of sail.

How to rig an easy cheap sail on a small boat It is the most popular
form of lug sail for small boats as it is powerful, docile and easy to


We tend to describe the balanced lugsail as being 'square' however,
strictly speaking most are quadrilaterals, as the opposing edges are
rarely parallel.

The basic characteristic of all lug sails is that the sail is hung from
a yard in such a way that the majority of the sail hangs behind the mast
while the leading edge extends forward in front of the mast.

The yard is raised and lowered by means of the halyard and is loosely
held to the mast by a short length of line known as a 'parrel'.

It is normal to find a Lug sail hung from the port side of the mast,
this seems to be from convention rather than from any practical reason.

With the balanced lugsail the lower edge of the sail is attached to a
boom, which also continues forward of the mast to hold the luff of the

The boom usually has a parrel holding it to the mast, a controlling
sheet at the clew end and most importantly it will have a downhaul at
the forward end.

The downhaul is used to control the luff tension.

While a balanced lugsail mast is usually short and stiff, the yard and
boom should have some flexibility, which is another good reason for
using wooden spars.

A certain amount of flex in the boom and yard will allow the sail to
develop some curvature.

The amount of hardware/fittings required for a balanced lug will depend
on the size of the sail.

Basically you need a block or sheave at the mast head to take the
halyard and somewhere to tie off the halyard.
Tackle and rope clutch to control the downhaul.
And somewhere to tie off the sheet.

Clearly the larger, heaver and more powerful the sail the greater will
be the need for extra purchase, especially on the halyard.

However, as the forces involved and need to constantly adjust are
minimal there is really no need to spend a fortune on hi tec, fancy,
'friction free' blocks.

The only concession to hi tec might be the use of low stretch rope for
the halyard.

It is possible to set up a jiffy reefing system that could be operated
from the cockpit or even roller reefing around the boom.

But to my mind this will only detract from the beautiful simplicity of
the rig.

And with every added complication comes the risk stuff going wrong, line
tangles extra friction, etc.

What could be simpler and less prone to snarl ups that a set of reefing
tapes sewn on and ready to tie.

One slight complication that might be worth while considering is a
combined topping lift / lazy jack to make dropping the sail that bit tidier.

The balanced lugsail is one of the best traditional rigs, especially for
small boats.

It is a rig that is capable of very good performance, however this
depends on getting the shape and set up right for your particular boat.

The position of the mast and how the spars and control lines are
attached will also affect how she performs.


has pictures of how they attach by ropes, both the yard and the
boom to the mast.

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