When it comes to rigging, one size does not fit all.
It is important that your chosen rigging company has the necessary knowledge, experience and capability of working with the various rig and rigging configurations. A refit project can be a stressful period of time for the captain and crew and having confidence that the riggers will complete the project with minimum issues will alleviate at least some of this stress.
Let’s kick off our ‘One Size Does Not Fit All’ overview with the large cruising genre of yacht; these are typically large, heavy weight sailing yachts designed with ocean crossings and world sailing in total comfort in mind.
Many of the large Dubois boats or the Perini Navi ketches are of this ilk and have mast and rod rigging packages ideal for world cruising. A majority of these yachts have rigs, hydraulics and winch packages that were not originally designed with competitive performance or fast, efficient sail handling in mind. The likes of Rosehearty, Marie, Q and Bayesian cover a lot of sea miles; their high volume hulls and superstructures are fabricated in aluminium and are heavy but very comfortable making them ideal for cruising in far off destinations around the world.
However when, on occasion they enter a regatta like the Palma Superyacht Cup or the Saint Barths Bucket a team of pro-sailors are often brought on board to optimise the manoeuvres and the way the boat is sailed around the course to get the best results.
With these vessels covering a lot of sea miles their rigs need to be well maintained, with regular checks by the crew who must ensure the rod manufacturers service guidelines are followed and that recommended service professionals are contacted when required.
Sitting between the large sailing yachts that are built solely with cruising in mind and those designed for regatta sailing are the beautiful dual-purpose genre built for comfort and performance. When these sailing yachts are in the design process the owners know that they are interested in taking part in super yacht regattas as well as long distance round-the-world cruising. With this in mind the designers and builders look carefully at the deck and hardware lay out with the aim of making it easier for sails to go up and down and the boat to get around a race course as efficiently as possible without compromising the cruising orientated luxury interior.
Yachts that sit in this group are the likes of S/Y Ganesha, Unfurled, Perseus 3, Aquarius…
More often than not the newer built of these boats tend to have composite rigging packages, however there are some that are built with rod standing rigging. RSB Rigging have completed a number of retrofits changing out rod to full composite packages to remove weight out of the rig and reduce the weight for performance optimisation.
At the other end of the super yacht design spectrum are the large sailing yachts that are designed and built with regatta sailing as a primary objective but with the capability to cruise in comfort . These yachts can and do cover large distances when required but are designed primarily for the purpose of competitive sailing. From day one of the design process the build team would have known that the boat was being built for the regatta circuit and therefore must be as light weight as possible without compromising on the necessary comforts. Yachts like Visione, Win Win, Nilaya, and Inoui will have full carbon composite standing rigging and race orientated rig and hydraulic packages aimed at getting them around the course as fast as possible. The rigs on these boats will have been designed with the higher loads associated with racing in mind and are generally built with stronger lighter materials using technology that has been proven on the grand prix race circuit. As such these masts are lighter weight and are more susceptible to damage so therefore require more maintenance and frequent visual inspections by the crew.
And finally, moving on to the next category, we have a bit of an anomaly that sit in a class of their own in more ways than one. These are the classic J Class. The J’s, in comparison to the high performance super yachts are actually heavy, slow boats; however they have the most superb hydraulic packages, they are all running professionally run regatta campaigns, have the ultimate rigging packages from Southern Spars and Future Fibres, and run massive budgets on sail plans and performance; in essence, they are as race optimised as they can be for this classic style of boat, whilst being required to do a little cruising.
There is more of a safety margin here than with other racing yachts as they can cruise being sailed by their crew; however then when the pro sailors are brought in for the regattas the J’s can really perform.