terms of overall efficiency, a well set up bermudan sail will
out perform a well set up and properly trimmed lug sail.
However, it is rare indeed to find an average small boat cruiser who
does set, trim and sail his bermudan sail efficiently.
For the average non
racing sailor any differences in sailing efficiency
will be barely noticed.
What will be noticeable is the reduced cost of the rig, the ease of
setting it up and the ease of actually using it.
One of the problems with the balanced lug, is having the sail distorted
when it is pressed against the mast on one tack, something that the
dipping lug overcomes.
However the ease of tacking far outweighs any slight loss of
efficiency, a loss that the average cruiser will barely notice, to tack
a balanced lug merely push the tiller over.
The other argument the bermudan aficionados trot out, is its ability to
sail closer to the wind but so often these same folk will be the first
to get tired of the effort of tacking up a narrow channel and switch on
Once the sheets are eased however the balanced lugsail really begins to
prove its worth, down wind they can outperform the bermudan unless it
goes to all the bother of hoisting and controlling a spinnaker.
What the bermudans don't mention is that the wind close to the
is slower and less powerful than the wind at the top of the mast.
Yet that triangular sail is at its smallest at the top, whereas more
traditional, less hi tec rigs such as the balanced lug have
of sail area up there where the wind is at it's most free.
But I guess that if you have just spent a fortune on a bermudan rig and
attendant necessary bits you need to find a way of justifying the
On "Mignonne" I
have elected to use the fully battened Chinese
of the balanced lug.
For a dinghy or any smaller boat, a simple' western' balanced lug is
better option because of its simplicity.
The junk rig may give more control over the sail shape and more bits of
string to play with but those extra bits of string do need the extra
space on deck and in the cockpit to keep them tidy.
Apart from the ease and cheapness of these rigs there are other
Because of the balanced lugsail shape, a given sail area requires a
shorter mast then for a similar bermudan sail area.
And that sorter mast means;
less windage when the sail is dropped,
it is much easier to stow, especially when
and a much easier climb to fix mast top fitting on a
The Basic Balanced Lugsail
Looking for Rigging gear?
tend to describe the balanced lugsail as being 'square' however,
strictly speaking most are quadrilaterals, as the opposing edges are
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,
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 sail.
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
should have some flexibility, which is another good reason for using
A certain amount of flex in the boom and yard will allow the sail to
develop some curvature.
I am perfectly aware that the majority of Wooden Boat aficionados are sensible folk. However, I need to point out that I am an amateur wooden boat enthusiast simply writing in order to try to help other amateur wooden boat enthusiasts. And while I take every care to ensure that the information in DIY Wood Boat.com is correct, anyone acting on the information on this website does so at their own risk.