The genesis of a new
search of Speed, Sefety and Weatherly Performance
The ideal rig for sail training should include square
sails on at least one mast, particularly if operating
world-wide on the Trade Routes when the trainees have
time to become conversant with its complexities. The
exciting downwind performance is normally offset by an
inability to go to windward effectively. This can
frustrate plans to reach upwind locations and, in the
worst case, increases the risk of becoming embayed.
A modern solution is to ‘motor-sail’ using the engine,
making excessive noise, wasting fuel, and creating an
uncomfortable motion, which puts unnatural stress on the
rig. Not a good solution.
Fore and Aft Rig
The desired weatherly performance can, of course, be
achieved with Fore and Aft rigs, which are not so crew
intensive, but can become very threatening downwind, in
severe conditions. Historically, a compromise has been
struck in the Topsail Schooner, but it remains only a
partial solution to the dilemma.
Polacre / Xebec Rig
Philip Goode, yacht and sail designer, based in
Majorca as the Lloyds agent, had a particular
interest in the Barbary coast Xebec, the most
successful corsair of the Mediterranean for two
centuries and, arguably, the fastest
displacement sailing vessel of all time for its
hybrid sail arrangement of the 'square' Norse
sails on the main mast and a massive
'triangular' Lateen on the fore in one ship had
spawned a cult of swift and weatherly pirate
ships whose ability to outrun their pursuers was
geometry of the Xebec rig, Philip had designed a number
of sail plans for modern yachts which he tested on scale
models but, in spite of achieving exceptional results on
all points of sailing, they did not appeal to the owners
of today's maxi-yachts. Fortuitously he was put in
touch with Graham Neilson and a collaborative project
was launched for the PELICAN.
test vehicle, Philip Goode built a 12½:1 scale
model of PELICAN, incorporating the
his 3-masted, 12-sail rig.
of gravity (CG) and meta centre (GM) had to be
scaled to that of the future ship and she had to
run on her predicted draught marks.
was 3½ metres long and weighed nearly ¼ of a
PELICANINA was sailed in the open sea off Palma.
The results, recorded on video, were
extra-ordinary and spectacular.
She proved to be
perfectly balanced, sailing fast to windward in
scale winds up to 60 knots - unheard of in a
Her speed off the wind was
exceptional and downwind there was no tendency
It seemed that the secrets of her Arab
forebears were being slowly revealed.
As expected, the Model identified several
technical problems to be solved before this
performance could be replicated at full scale:
pole masts were required. (a la 'polacre'). The
tallest to be 100ft.
b) The yards had to brace within 18 degrees of
(normally 35 degrees for conventional square riggers).
c) To avoid distorting the square sails at these
extreme angles, the pivot point of each
be in perfect alignment ( not possible in
conventionally stepped masts).
points of yards and some stays had to be
of the Rig by Lloyds of London
the unconventional sail distribution and rigging
plan were bound to raise questions of strength and
security, it was decided to submit all elements to
scrutiny under the 'Verification of Rig' procedure
now available at Lloyds Register, in London.
Computer Generated Analysis
Here, all sections of the masts, bowsprit and
standing rigging were 'modelled' and subjected
to the maximum wind speeds acceptable for Full
and Plain sail, ultimately reducing to 'bare
poles' in hurricane conditions at 122 knots!
predicted sail loading and ship movement the mast
scantlings were analysed for axial force (vertical
thrust), bending and buckling. Rig tensions were then
calculated and the standard Safety Factor of 3.5:1
applied to ensure that the chosen wire rigging and
terminals would be sufficiently robust.
A 16-page report
and annexes, with colour computer graphics concludes:
"the minimum acceptance criteria were satisfied in all
The masts are 20 sided steel in hollow section. They
are fully galvanised.
'lower' masts were always stepped on the keel, emerging
at the weather deck through mast collars, with wedges,
packing and aprons to prevent leaking. Now, stump masts,
which are integral with the hull and deck structures are
Lloyds preferred option, and are fitted in PELICAN.
These terminate in a flange, ½ metre above the wooden
deck. The mast itself, with an identical flange at its
base, is then bolted to the stump ensuring continuity
and water tightness.
More from the maker of the masts: