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Home >> Barge Building >> Build Reports & Building Tips >> Notes on Sail Control - by Kimosubby

PostHeaderIcon Notes on Sail Control - by Kimosubby

Some notes on sail control

By Kimosubby

From my notes gathered from various sources I’ve put together this very simple document for sail control. Experience gained, not only by me, has shown that good sailing can result from just rudder control, with no extraneous sheeting required, if a balanced rig has been assembled.

BUT, we all want to try and here’s some simple suggestions, and my complicated one which has been simplified due to that experience. (That’s not to say I will not try complicated again!)

Your radio gear is probably installed a bit like this, or could be. There is no rule, whatever way you want is correct for you.


From this initial set up sail control was devised to be like this.


John Jeffrey has been sailing and building barges for some time, and this type of internal set up is used by many – including Richard C among others.

A simpler set up could be like this, as it eliminates control up front, and leaves only the main sheet and vang to your control.

NOTE in this diagram 3 and for diagram 2, the amount of sheeting on the vang is only about 4-5 inches, the actual rigged vangs being still attached and used to stop the spreet “laying on” the top mast back stays.


Now, I’ve tried to show my set up as simply as possible. The sail winch lays sideways in the hull forming a continuous loop up through the deck. To this is attached a loop which runs completely round the deck through four pulleys. Both loops are kept taut by the spring (which should always be introduced when a closed loop on a winch is used to maintain tension) and this spring is also the attachment point for the various sheets about the boat as labelled. 


Because the sails when filled with wind are sheeted in on one side, the opposite to the wind, there must be sufficient slack sheet on the other side not to interfere, hence the longest run possible is used about the boat.

You have to imagine the loop in operation to appreciate it. As the starboard staysail sheet is pulled in, the deck loop is moving clockwise, so is giving port sheet out, and dropping the starboard lee board whilst taking in the starboard jib sheet around the bow. It means a lot of slack sheeting laying about and it always tangles up.

So even though it looks good on the table I went back to fixed fore and main, no board movement and only control the staysail – which is the power house anyway.

Hope that gives you some ideas.

Of course, a sail arm servo can do what the winch does, and is far easier to set up. Just remember to get a long arm. And that most of the sheeting effect is in the middle part of the arms movement.

Last Updated (Monday, 07 May 2012 09:23)