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Hi To All Wharram Cat Owners,

I am now nearing completion of my Captain Cook Pahi 42 here in the Southern Cape of South Africa. I need to make a decision on the type of rig I am going to use and would appreciate the input from owners who have experience and would value your advice. I have taken over a half completed project and have inherited a completed wooden mast made of Douglas Fir according to JWD plans of the bermudan rig, however this mast must have been lying in wet grass while in storage, and I have found dry rot, and split timbers in places. It was glassed both on the inside and out, but the expanding timbers split the outside layer of glass and allowed water in. I have tried to repair these but keep finding new problem areas. In short I do not trust it and need to rethink my options? If I now go the route of purchasing an aluminium mast I can go the route of Bermudan cutter, Wharram wingsail or crabclaw? I intend using my Wharram, mainly short handed, with just my wife and myself, in open ocean cruising, mainly in Indian Ocean waters, but in the longer term to visit Indonesia and Asia. What are the pros and cons of each type of rig? Another owner of a Pahi 42 has told me that his Captain Cook, which used an aluminium masted Bermudian style rig had excessive weather helm...? (He also noted that his boat did not have the daggerboards) I like the look of, and the thinking behind the low aspect nature of the schooner wingsail layout, but I have read that this is not suitable for my boat? Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated. Regards, Graham Anley.

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Hi Graham! Nice to hear about your project. Certainly the mast you have sounds very dodgy, and now you have the excellent opportunity to build the rig you want. Our Pahi 42 has a conventional bermudan cutter rig, with fully battened main and conventional (ie not Wharram wishbone) boom. Foresails are hank-on. I'm pretty happy with this, I like the fact that I can reef the main easily, the battens stop any flapping about and lazy bag keeps the sail under control. Having said that if starting again I would probably go for a Wharram wingsail cutter rig, not the schooner. As far as I know both can be used on the Pahi 42 but the schooner is a bit too low aspect so under powered....? Some people use a boom with the wingsail, and that seems to work fine. Good luck with completing the project! Greetings, Andy

Hello Andy,

Thank you for your reply and sharing the details of your rig with me, and the ease of handling aspect of your fully battened mainsail. So do you find your sail plan balanced? You didn't comment on the excessive weather helm that I referred to? Has this not been a problem for you? From your pictures it appears that you have very little of a rake to your mast?

Do you use a wind vane or autohelm system at all?

Regards, Graham.

Yes, you are right, the mast is quite vertical. I'm not sure I would say we have weather helm, but rather that the steering is twitchy - she doesn't track so well. This could well be down to not having the daggerboards fitted, as these are used for balancing the rig. I would think if the mast was raked further back, it would induce more weather helm, as it would push the CofE further back. Currently we don't have any self-steering system, but I'm planning to fit something. I'm not sure yet whether to go for Hanneke's wind vane or an autohelm - any advice or experiences welcome!

I am a very new owner of a used Captain Cook, so I have very little experience of my own with the boat. The previous owner completed a solo circumnavigation on her, so I can say a little about how he set up the boat for his purposes. The mast was built per plan but has a conventional boom instead of the wishbone. The mast is raked back a lot. There is a roller furled genoa and a roller furled staysail. There is also a hanked-on yankee on a removable forestay. There is a Monitor windvane steerer. The boat was built without the daggerboards.

A crab claw rig would look amazing on a Pahi. I love that rig in theory--so beautiful and exotic. From what I have read, including by Wharram himself, I understand that it is not easy to handle and wouldn't be good for short-handed sailing.

If I remember correctly, the beam layout of the Pahi isn't appropriate for a schooner rig.

My understanding of the Wharram wingsails is from a number of Tiki owners I know who have them. I have read comments online from a few people who love the wingsail as is, but the people I know and have sailed with found that the fabric luff pockets could be difficult to handle, especially when wet. They all ended up replacing the luff pockets with dyneema lacing, which works extremely well -- very easy up and down on any point of sail. 

A disadvantage of the wingsail rig is that you can't use the mast for mounting radar, radar reflector, steaming light, mast steps, etc. 

That's about all I can say so far. I hope to have a lot more experience to share in coming months. 

Good luck with your building project!


A cran claw rig is very efficient, even to windward.

I have got one on my pahi 42.

The only problem is that it is a rig that nobody knows, so nobody can help you. You will have to search and try.

Hello Eric,

Thank you for your reply. I have been an admirer of your red crabclaw rig ever since I saw the photos on your profile page.

Please could you give me some more information on your rig. I have studied your photos carefully and would appreciate information on:

The height of your mast?

Your yellow gaff and boom spars=dimensions and what material have you used? Are they solid hardwood or laminated? How are they joined and attached to the base of your mast? Could you supply me a close up photo of that hardware?

How much do the spars bend/deflect under stronger wind conditions? 

From the date on your photos it appears that you have had the crbclaw rig for two years now- have your experienced and material failures or excessive wear that I could learn from?

I would appreciate and information and guidance you could provede?

Thank you for your interest.

Kind regards,

Graham Anley.
Delphine et Eric CUSANT said:


A cran claw rig is very efficient, even to windward.

I have got one on my pahi 42.

The only problem is that it is a rig that nobody knows, so nobody can help you. You will have to search and try.

We are sailing around the world, so sometimes it's difficult to send emails. I will take photos tomorrow and give you the informations you need.



Our computer take a bath of salt water ! So that kill it ! It's the reason why I'm late for the answer.

Our mast is 7.50 meters long. The 2 spars are about 9.50 meters long and they have a diameter of 9 centimeters.They are 3 ply laminated. The wood is fir (Douglas is too heavy and less flexible)

No problem with the spars, fir can bend a lot before breaking.

But you have to reme,ber that polynesians have sails that can tear easily, so they use to reef before the wind become to strong.

I do like that and I don't have any problem.

Our boat had a weight of 9 tons, our sail area is 30 m2 for the mainsail and 12 m2 for the jib.

We easily sail between 5 and 8 kts.

Best regards


Hello Eric,

Thank you for your reply. I am sorry to hear about your computer problems.

I appreciate the information and photographs. I am hoping to launch shortly in Knysna, and will be proceeding with the crabclaw design as my rigging. I already have the wooden mast made as per plan of Douglas fir, but still need to make up the spars.

I will post photos after our launch.

Kind regards,


Graham, hi,

Interesting that you are going the Oceanic Lateen route and with some experience with exotic rigs, thought I might chip in here -- I sailed from Durban to Knysna on an old wooden boat with bamboo battened (Chinese type) lug.....had a mooring in Knyna for a while before sailing west to the Atlantic. I love what Hans Klaar has done with his various craft and have taken note of what the Okeanos guys are doing here in the Pacific -- there are a few of the latest creations (Polynesian voyaging double canoes) here in Auckland with a single tall mast, a Sloop rig actually, and they carry two booms. One boom is short, which is for the Bermudan main, and then they carry another much longer boom which they say is for the "crab claw" sail. They exchange mainsail and boom for reasons they know best, and have all the usual modern headsails....which is great for light wind work.

I see the value in having the extra mast height for the headsails, and of course there is only one spar at the leading edge of the mainsail (instead of two, when there is a vertical yard behind the mast) so think that their compromise makes sense on a purely technical level.But if the object is do away with hardware (as Hans does) by eliminating a mast track and using the yard primarily as a reefing aid, then how about an alternative compromise in having a Gunter lug dropping at the first reef points.

I would not go for a crab claw or other "exotic " rig until you have sufficient sailing experience to handle such rigs and are able to judge re the pro's and cons of a conventional rig . Based on your experience ,neccessities and ,lastly esthetic preferences you can then decided to re rig the boat to for example a crab claw. 

Options for conventional rigs which you have  for your P42 are quite numerous . A schooner  is completely possible despite the beam layout . After all a Tiki 38 ( and a Tiki 46 ) have their foremasts mounted on a plank between two crossbeams. Whether this is such a great idea I will not discuss t now but it shows that it is possible and the same could be done on your P 42 .

If you go for a non original rig I would pay some money to a knowledgable multihull designer  who can make you the rig drawings who can give you an idea about how such a rig will work  .

I would not use a ( second hand ) monohull rig on any  cat . It never seems to work satisfactorily .

So that narows the choice to:

 1 a modern fully battened sloop ( or cutter ) rig. Pro : boat will sail well in light & average but might be a handful to handle ( reef)  in bad weather with a crew of two .Not ideal off the wind  ,. expensive. If you go this route choose one that allows you to drop the sail easily no matter where the wind comes from .

 2 Tiki sloop or cutter : For a cutter rig you need a longer mas then for a sloop . The inner fore stay would go where otherwise the main fore stay would go . You need the extra length, and'it'll be quite a bit , to create space for your main fore stay. Not ideal .I'd go for sloop . Biggest issue with a Tiki style mast is that the mast is only stayed from the top . So unlike a convenitional mast whihc you can give extra stiffness with diamond shrouds a Tiki mast needs to have sufficient strength form itself . On smaller boats this  is not much of a problem but for your boat it'd  likely be a faiirly massive thing . Heavy and not so easy to build or expensive to buy.

Tiki rig sails ,also without dedicated down wind sails , quite well off the wind. Advantage of a Tiki main is that you can drop it on any point of wind. If however you have a bimini then you'll find you need to have a boom for the mainsaill otheriwse she is nigh impossible to reef . Clambering around on a bimini in high wind conditions is unpleasant and dangerous  

3 conventional fully battend schooner . Nice and would sail well . Expensive though and off the wind not ideal .

You could fly downwind sails in those conditions but they'd be small due to the short fore  mast .

4 Tiki schooner. Tiki  rig performs quite well down wind . You can add a lightweight down wind sail if desired but it would be quite small . Length& weight  of the masts would be not be excessive . You could have a bimini because when seriously reducing sail area you simply  drop the foresail instead of reefing . 

Big advantage ,esspecially smaller , tiki rigs is that you can drop the sails ( in a hurry or otherwise ) without having to turn into the wind. 

Overall I'd go for a Tiki schooner rig in your case 

                                     Maxim Jurgens 

                                       Siam Sailing, Phuket 



I have a kutter rig, aluminium mast,staysail, and 130% genua. Works perfekt in every condition singlehanded


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