The Dipping Lug Sail
The Dipping Lug
Sail is one of the most efficient and
cheapest, types of sailing rig especially for small sailboats.
it is less used than either the standing
lug or the balanced
of the need to 'dip' the rig on each tack.
Having to 'dip' the sail means that this rig does not suffer from the
tack' of the other two, where the sail is pressed against the mast.
It is possible to tack and leave the sail on the windward side
of the mast, she will still sail but the speed will drop, which might
not be such a bad thing in a crowed anchorage.
However, close hauled or on a close
reach, the curve of the dipping lugsail is a thing of efficient beauty
producing great power with seemingly little effort.
Traditionally this rig was used by boats where short tacking
wasn't the norm, as it is a grand sail for running free.
And the simplicity of the rig and the lack of gear as well as
the ease with which everything can be unshipped made it an excellence
sail rig for driftnet fishing.
Having caught their fish the next priority was a powerful rig
to get the catch home to market as quickly as possible.
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traditional method for tacking the dipping lug is to lower the sail as
she comes through the wind, cast off the tack tie down, carry the sail
and yard around to the new leeward side of the boat, reattach the tack
line and re-raise the sail.
If done smartly enough this can be accomplished in time to
settle on the new tack but that is a lot of work where short tacks are
On small boats the yard can be dipped, in other words the yard
isn't dropped fully just far enough for the front end of the yard to
hauled down far enough for it to be swung aft around the mast.
With some of the larger boats the sail would be lowered to the
deck, unhooked from the traveller, hooked up to a Burton stay, and then
swung around to the other side of the mast.
As this process could be dangerous in rough weather, some of
the larger boats would carry two sails one on each side of the mast, so
one could be raised as the other was lowered.
Some boats would also have a variety of tack tie down
positions to suit varying conditions.
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Dipping Lug Efficiency
the dipping lug is only attached
to the mast at the yard, the tack and the sheets the sail makes a great
sweeping curve from the forward end, around the mast and back to the
There is nothing in front of the sail to interfere with the
flow of air.
Because there is no boom to hold the foot of the sail out, it
does lose some efficiency when sailing off the wind.
However, on a multihull, even this disadvantage can be
by using a curved traveller track that keeps the sheet at the correct
angle all the time,
Now if we are to talk of efficiency in relation to cost, ease
of building and setting up then lug sails generally are far and away
better than the conventional Bermudan sail.
Properly designed and set up the lug rig can be very nearly as
efficient as any Bermudan particularly when on a run.
But the monetary savings on blocks, vangs, rigging wire, rope,
etc, etc can be enormous.
And the whole
rig and sail can be built by any competent
“The only ship you can truly steer in this ocean is the one you're sailing.
Quit trying to alter the winds; harness them.”
(Richelle E. Goodrich)
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