The beauty of the gaff

Not being an artist, I can’t explain why the sail plan of a yacht which a child would draw is so ugly, with its tall, ungainly mast and since the days of masthead bermudan sloops, it’s got even uglier.  Just why the gaffsail, which you’ll see in these pics, is so much more beautiful  – I can’t explain.

One forum member tried:

“Is it because the gaff juts out?   I prefer gaff, I don’t know why; bermudan seems bland in comparison, though more efficient.”

To which someone replied :

Only when sailing close hauled. I recall several 1975 Fastnet yachts of similar size going home from Plymouth could not keep up with Hoshi in a Force 4 just forward of the beam. She did have 7 sails set against their 2.

A modernist [shudder] opined and a Morgan owner later hit back:

Same sort of thing that has people buying Morgan cars, and living in draughty old houses. Sentimentality.

It’s actually much more than that – a gaff rigger will clean up bermudans on most points of sail except close-hauled.  And yet not all gaffs are beautiful – it does seem, as that chap said above, that the proportions are important.  To me, the ketch design is the most balanced sailplan and seems to go on “boatier” boats as well.

As I get older, beauty assumes greater importance and if something or someone is not beautiful, then elegant simplicity and a sense of proportion can compensate for that wonderfully.

2 comments for “The beauty of the gaff

  1. MadPiper
    November 1, 2010 at 17:06

    “As I get older, beauty assumes greater importance and if something or someone is not beautiful, then elegant simplicity and a sense of proportion can compensate for that wonderfully.”

    The last fits the word Classy (or Classic) to a T. And I agree.

  2. November 1, 2010 at 20:05

    I feel so good seeing craft like that but to sail one … aaaaaah.

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