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Docking a dual rudder sailboat.

twin rudder yacht

Dual rudders, also referred to as twin or double rudders, are becoming more and more common in modern sailboats, both cruising and performance yachts alike. Since dual rudder boats handle differently than single rudders when maneuvering under engine power, it’s important for our charterers to know which boats in our fleet have dual rudders and to understand differences in the way they handle in tight spaces like dock slips and narrow fairways.

First, let’s have a look at the advantageous reasons dual rudders are becoming popular in modern boat design, as well as the challenges they can present to the uninformed. We’ll then give you some tips to help you get prepared for successful maneuvering in and out of the marina.

Dual Rudder Advantages

  • To make for roomier cockpits and more space below deck for accommodations and storage, design trends are leaning toward wider transoms. Dual rudders improve the handling of a boat with a wide transom.
  • Dual wheels accompany dual rudders, which means a more open cockpit layout and better visibility for the driver on the helm.
  • Dual rudders facilitate better tracking. When the boat is heeling, there is always one rudder in the water, which means better control and a reduced tendency to round up.
  • The propeller lies forward and between the twin rudders rather than in line with a single rudder. This means there will be no prop walk effect when backing up in reverse.

Dual Rudder Challenges

  • Bow thrusters can help compensate in difficult conditions, but before you attempt to use bow thrusters, focus on learning how to dock without them first, and be sure to read this article: Bow Thruster Basics 

Twin Rudder Dual Rudder versus Single Rudder Modern Sailing.png

twin rudder yacht

Boats with Dual Rudders in the Modern Sailing Fleet

Helix  (Beneteau Oceanis 30.1), Traharta  (Beneteau Oceanis 35)  Survivor  (Beneteau Oceanis 38),  Liberty  (Beneteau Oceanis 38.1),  Ry Whitt , (Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409) and Attitude Adjustment (Beneteau Oceanis 41) are equipped with twin rudders and helms. Survivor and Liberty also have bow thrusters.

Tips for Docking a Dual Rudder Boat

Departing the Dock Slip

IMPORTANT: With a single rudder, when you apply a quick burst of throttle, prop wash over the rudder allows you to steer the boat without needing to accelerate. With dual rudders, you’ll need a longer burst to accelerate the boat enough to steer.

  • If you need to turn your stern to starboard to head left out the fairway, then turn the wheel to starboard. This applies to B Dock boats Helix , Traharta , Survivor , and Liberty . 
  • If you need to turn your stern to port to head right out a fairway, turn the wheel to port. On A Dock boats Ry Whitt and Attitude Adjustment , back up straight, and once sufficiently clear from the dock, turn away from shore to avoid nearby shallow areas. (Rocks - ouch!)
  • You’ll need to use your best judgement to determine how far to turn the wheel – it will depend on the wind and current.

Let's imagine you're backing Traharta out of her slip on B Dock. Put the engine in reverse gear and apply a bit more throttle than you normally would on a single rudder boat. Keep the boat as straight in the slip as possible as you begin to back up. When the boat is 3/4 of the way out of the slip, turn the wheel to starboard, shift the engine into neutral gear and allow the boat to glide backwards into your starboard turn. When clear of the dock, turn the wheel to port, put the engine in forward gear, and slowly increase throttle as you head out of the fairway. 

While you're out on the water, we highly recommend you take some time to practice maneuvering a dual rudder sailboat in a safe area like an unoccupied mooring field. (Of course, always check the charts before entering an unfamiliar area to ensure adequate depth.) You can use mooring balls or buoys as points of reference as you get a feel for how the boat maneuvers. Be sure to give plenty of room for error around fixed objects. You’ll especially want to practice slowing the boat to get a feel for the speed at which it loses steerage. This will help you to better judge the minimum amount of speed you'll need to maintain control of the boat as you maneuver.

Entering the Dock Slip

Heading down the fairway and approaching the dock, once again, you’ll need a bit more momentum than you would in a single rudder boat. As you begin to turn toward the dock slip, don’t slow down too much or you could lose steerage and miss. Maintain momentum until you have completed the turn and the boat is aligned with the slip. When you enter the slip, at the last moment, reverse the engine and throttle up to stop the boat. Because you entered the slip with more momentum than you would on a single rudder boat, you’ll also need to apply more RPMs to stop the boat. Again, use your best judgement on how high to throttle up based on the conditions.

Want More Training?

Here's some of the ways you can get docking practice and training with one of our experienced instructors:

  • ASA 118, Docking Endorsement Clinic
  • Platinum Fleet Dockkng & Maneuvering Clinic
  • Development Sails
  • Private Lessons

Need Help at the Dock?

Whenever you find yourself approaching a docking situation that feels uncomfortable for you (such as in a strong wind), it's always okay to ask for help. Call the Modern Sailing team on VHF radio channel 71 if you would like some help with a slip-line departure or dock entry. Please be aware that only our licensed and certified instructors are qualified to provide docking instruction, but a fleet team member standing on the dock can help you cast off or catch your lines as you depart or come in. We're happy to help!

Did you find this article helpful? See our Member Resources library for more like it.

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In development, ocean sailor news, genesis of the twin rudder.

  • March 7, 2020
  • , Ocean Sailor News

‘It’s the ultimate Blue Water design crime’

If you want to go blue water cruising then buy a cruising yacht, if you want to win races buy a racing yacht. A racer-cruiser will never be both the best racing boat and the best cruising boat. That’s because the compromises made are compromises too far when it comes to producing a safe blue water yacht.

My beef isn’t that these boats are bad boats per se it is that they are bad boats when marketed as suitable for world cruising.

This design amalgam now affecting all modern blue water boat builders originate from the popularity engendered by sailboat racing such as The Volvo, The Vendee Globe, and The Jules Verne Challenge.

The evolutionary process has been as follows:

  • To lighten construction by using lighter and stronger materials, such as carbon- fibre and a whole variety of aramid materials and alternative construction methods.
  • To change the shape of hull and stern so that this lighter yacht can now plane.
  • To widen the stern so that increased form stability enables the yacht to carry more sail area.
  • To change the shape of the hull to a full delta ‘wing’ style, maximising the ballast ratio to lighten the yacht further and increase the sail area further.
  • The payback for that is a stern so wide that, on the wind, a single central rudder is levered half out of the water, losing traction and therefore steerage way. Which leads us to:
  • The use of twin rudders, one for each tack so that one is always fully immersed.
  • So brilliant, now the boat can plane and sail exceptionally fast.

But hang on, we’re supposed to be cruising, aren’t we?

What has all of that got to do with a safe, comfortable, blue water cruising yacht?

Nothing at all.

However on the boat show stands, families are understandably impressed by cockpits big enough for a game of badminton; apartment-sized aft cabins; and dinghy garages, all features that are very different, and sometimes treacherous, spaces on a rolling, open ocean. 

The boat show sales folk will ask you to slip off your shoes, proffer the glass of Prosecco, then invite you below decks, but it’s below the waterline that counts: hull form, keel and rudder.

What, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many in the marine industry who still remain silent in the press, has occurred is that these design demons are now becoming standard, even with top brands that have, in the past, been synonymous with safe Blue Water cruising. The latest models from builders including Hallberg Rassy, Amel, Oyster, and Discovery, all have twin rudders.

A single spade rudder is vulnerable enough to the hazards of ocean sailing, but two, and what’s more two that are out of line with the keel, is simply asking for trouble.

It’s crazy to think you can sail across the seas and oceans of this world increasingly littered with debris, containers, logs and, thanks to wild life protection campaigns, inhabited by growing schools of whales without risking fundamental damage to one or other of these unprotected steering blades. 

Maybe not this week, perhaps not this month, but as your log clocks up the miles, sure as hell there will be a hazard with your boat’s name on it.

Dick Beaumont

Another sailing expert speaks out

Hallberg-Rassy ‘Gave Away’ Design Pedigree

Leading yacht designers’ Hallberg-Rassy ‘gave away their pedigree’ by switching to bolt-on keels and spade rudders, top yachting expert, Duncan Wells told Kraken News in February. 

Wells, who owns and sails an old-style Hallberg-Rassy with a long keel and skeg-protected rudder, said: ‘We all know spades can fall off. If you are going to punch through the rough stuff at sea then you want something substantial beneath you. The trouble is, these days, they all want to go faster…much faster and they gave away the pedigree when they made that change.’ Wells was delivering one of his popular Stress-Free lectures on boat safety at the Cruising Association HQ in London’s Limehouse. 

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Sirius Yachts - rudder design

What’s the best rudder design and why are Sirius Yachts so easy to manoeuvre?

If you’ve seen the videos of our deck saloon sailboats manoeuvring effortlessly in the tight space of a marina, you may wonder how we can make it look so easy. The simple answer is that it looks easy because it is easy. Years of practice are absolutely not required as we prove on every test sail; after 10 minutes of simple instruction anyone on board who is more than eight years old can manoeuvre a Sirius with the same confidence. Part of the reason our yachts are so easy to manoeuvre is rudder design, combined with the position of the propeller.

A rudder needs to work well for both sailing and motoring, but many believe a rudder can only be good for sailing or motoring, not both. Most boatbuilders nowadays just focus on producing a rudder that’s efficient for sailing, but it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can indeed have both. We even have a solution for hard-to-manoeuvre twin-rudder yachts, which have no prop wash to steer with.

The three rudder options we offer

We offer three rudder options. The first is a single, partially balanced spade rudder with a skeg for added protection. This is the standard setup on all our fin-keel yachts and also on the twin-keel versions.

On all our lifting keel yachts we use twin rudders because when the yacht is dried out, the height from the hull to the sea bed won’t allow enough span (rudder height) to give good control under sail. Instead of one deep rudder, we use two shorter rudders, angled outwards at the bottom so that at any heel angle one rudder is always fully immersed and close to vertical for optimum performance. Twin rudders also give the security of a wider support base when the boat is dried out.

The third option is three rudders: the standard twin rudders as above plus a small, central third rudder whose sole purpose is to improve manoeuvrability under power, especially from a standstill and at low speed.

Siriuus Yachts - Our twin-rudder boats have the option of a third rudder

The best rudder design for motoring

Let’s first look at how our rudders are optimised for use under power. If we were making a motorboat, the rudder would have little or no area forward of the rudder stock. It would only need to be the height of the propeller, and the distance between rudder and propeller would just be a quarter to half of the propeller’s diameter. Most motorboats are steered entirely by prop wash (the flow of water from the propeller passing over the rudder). As mentioned above, our twin-rudder boats also have the option of a smaller, central third rudder. Like a powerboat rudder, it steers the boat by efficiently deflecting prop wash and also directing a laminar current onto the two rudders.

Life isn’t so simple for our single rudder designs; they have to be equally efficient under sail and power. To get maximum manoeuvring efficiency from prop wash we locate the propeller at an optimum distance from the rudder, so that the cone-shaped, moving mass of water is the same height as the rudder when it hits it. The positioning has to be precise. The rudder blade needs a large surface area for efficient performance under sail, and if it’s too close to the propeller there will be a lot of pressure on the rudder, making it heavy on the helm with lots of vibration under power. If it’s too far away from the propeller, the energy of the prop wash dissipates into the surrounding water before it hits the rudder. One reason we prefer saildrives, rather than shaft drives, is that they allow us to fit the engine in what would typically be an aft cabin (this is one reason why the aft cabin of the Sirius 40 DS is transverse), which puts the propeller in an optimal position and gives the owner an excellent mid-cabin plus a workshop. We do also fit shaft drives to some of our yachts, but they generate more noise and vibration and this moves the engine a bit further forward. You can have whichever drive you prefer.

Sirius Yachts - The rudder blade needs a large surface area for efficient performance under sail

When a yacht is motoring, the area of rudder blade forward of the post (or stock) is doing the most work. It’s under the highest pressure from prop wash and helps to deflect more water over the high-pressure side of the rudder. The area forward of the stock also helps to balance the helm. Without it, the rudder would require more effort to turn. But if there is too much surface area forward of the stock, the rudder will become unbalanced and twitchy under sail – the helm will require constant attention, which is clearly a bad thing on a cruising yacht. It’s all about striking the right balance (if you’ll excuse the pun) between a rudder that provides a good steering response and one that is not hard work to turn at high speed.

The water pressure is highest at the point where the prop wash hits the hull, and because our propeller is closer to the rudder than on most other boats, a lot of pressure is exerted on the top (or root) of the rudder. One way to avoid it experiencing too much pressure is to remove the area forward of the stock where the pressure is highest. We do this with the addition of a skeg. Under power, the skeg absorbs the water pressure and directs the flow of water over the rudder. It acts like the wing of an aircraft and the rudder is the control surface on its trailing edge – if the whole wing of an aircraft were to move in flight it would be very unstable, it’s the same principle. The skeg stabilises the flow of water, so by the time the water hits the rudder there is minimal turbulence. This translates into less movement and vibration of the rudder under power. Adding a skeg is an expensive complication in the production process, that’s why it is rarely seen in production yachts. Twin-rudder yachts don’t suffer the same way because the turbulent water from the propeller passes cleanly between the rudders, and in our triple-rudder design the third rudder is small enough and designed not to be affected.

The best rudder design for sailing

Our yachts are not just designed for party tricks in marinas, they are also designed to sail well. So any rudder design we use has to work at least as well, if not better, for sailing as it does for motoring. To achieve this the rudder blade must be deep, so when the yacht heels there is still enough of the rudder in the water to maintain control. Under sail, it’s the trailing edge of the rudder that is doing the work and is under the most pressure.

Sirius Yachts - The rudder blade must be deep to maintain control when the yacht heels

Why twin rudders have become popular

There is a trend for yachts to carry their maximum beam a long way aft to enlarge the aft cabins. Sirius yachts don’t need the aft cabins to be the master cabins because the accommodation is on two levels, and we prefer to keep our cockpits low down for greater comfort in rough seas. For single-rudder boats, the problem with a broad, overly buoyant stern (apart from excessive heeling and being vulnerable when docking) is that as the boat heels, the root (top) of the rudder is lifted out of the water. If the top 30cm (1ft) of a 1.3m (4ft 3in) rudder blade comes out of the water, more than a quarter of the blade’s effectiveness is lost. The top quarter of the blade becomes useless and the rest of the blade is operating in less dense water. The angle the blade is working at also makes it less effective and when under pressure it will ventilate: a vortex of air swirls down one side of the rudder, which loses its grip in the water, causing a sudden loss of control as the boat rounds up into the wind. To stop that happening, the crew needs to play the mainsheet constantly in gusty winds, which is exhausting if you’re sailing long distances, and the yacht will need to be reefed (and unreefed) more often.

Sirius Yachts - Many yachts have twin rudders that are angled outboard on each side of the stern

To avoid this effect, many yachts have twin rudders that are angled outboard on each side of the stern. As the yacht heels, the leeward rudder is pushed into deeper, denser water and becomes vertical, making it more efficient. Twin rudders tend to be narrow-chord with a short span (short and skinny) and they must be set well apart to make them efficient while sailing. The problem is that there’s no prop wash over the rudders when manoeuvring in harbour, so unless the yacht is moving relatively fast through the water you have no steerage. When the yacht is stationary, she cannot be turned by applying helm and giving the engine a burst of power. Only when there is water passing over the blades at a speed faster than is prudent in confines of a marina will the yacht start to turn. One way to overcome this trait is to fit a retractable stern thruster in addition to the bow thruster, but they come at extra expense and need to be operated simultaneously with the rudder and engine and bow thruster, as well as using more power. Also, they take up space inside the hull and they’re something else for debris to catch in.

Sirius yachts don’t have fat aft quarters, they have a more balanced hull form for better all-round performance and comfort and safety at sea, so we don’t need twin rudders or stern thrusters – a single rudder works well. When a Sirius heels, the rudder blade is deep under water and remains fully immersed.

The reason we use twin rudders on some of our yachts

We do, however, use twin rudders for a different reason on our lifting-keel and twin-keel yachts, which are designed to dry out. With a draught up to 75cm (2ft 5in), a single rudder wouldn’t have a long enough span to work properly. Where we fit twin rudders, they have a relatively long chord (wide blade) and because our hulls are only moderately wide at the stern, the rudders are quite close together. A burst of power from the engine can be diverted by the rudders, creating a turning effect – not as much as with a single-rudder boat, but more than most twin-rudder yachts.

Sirius Yachts - We use twin rudders on our lifting-keel and twin-keel yachts

We can fit twin rudders on any of our yachts. We offer the option of twin electric drives (for propulsion and power regeneration) and we recommend twin rudders, one behind each drive, to give the very best manoeuvring ability. Not only is the thrust directed over both rudders, the two drives can be powered individually so with one drive in forward and the other in reverse she will pivot on the spot.

Sirius Yachts - A well-designed, strong rudder design doesn’t need a skeg for support

Construction of the rudder and skeg

As mentioned above, our single rudders have a half skeg that serves many purposes. As well as absorbing the energy of turbulent prop wash at the top of the rudder it also helps direct the water passing onto the rudder blade while sailing. It boosts the efficiency of the rudder and also protects it from hitting submerged objects. Inside the skeg is a stainless-steel structure that is through-bolted and bonded to the hull. We don’t hang the rudder off the skeg, though; three bearings would create a rudder that is harder to turn when heeling and wear out the bearings faster. Instead, we use two self-aligning bearings. A well-designed, strong rudder design doesn’t need a skeg for support, only for protection.

The wide foil at the tip of the rudder spreads the load and prevents the rudder blade from sinking in

A rudder to dry out on

We use an alloy stock in our rudder blades that is optimised for seawater and strength. The blade is built in two parts, laminated onto the stock on the inside, and filled with closed-cell foam then laminated along the leading edge. On our yachts that are designed to dry out, the rudder has a wide foil on the tip to give a larger surface area for the rudder to rest on. When our twin-keel yachts dry out on concrete or any other hard surface, the rudder will be about 80mm (3in) off the ground and she will sit happily on her keels – we wanted to see how stable, so we had 12 guys jumping up and down on the stern and they were unable to get her to move.

Sirius Yachts - The rudder is designed to provide a stable tripod stand for the hull

On softer surfaces, like sand and gravel, the keels sink in by about 2-5cm (1-2in). Our boats’ longitudinal centre of gravity is slightly aft of amidships, so the stern tends to sink in a bit further. The wide foil, or foot, at the tip of the rudder spreads the load and prevents the rudder blade from sinking in. The rudder has a Delrin sheave to transfer the weight onto the hull and it is designed to provide a stable tripod stand for the hull. The rudder is deliberately a little shorter than the keels for added safety – when you run aground while feeling your way into your perfect spot to dry out, the keels will touch the bottom before the rudder does. On our lifting keel models, the twin rudders support the stern of the boat so she will dry out upright.

General Manager – Torsten Schmidt SIRIUS-WERFT GmbH Ascheberger Straße 68 24306 Plön/Holstein

Fax: 0049 – 4522 – 744 61-29

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twin rudder yacht

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  • Sun Odyssey 32.2
  • Sun Odyssey

Available in both keel and centerboard/twin rudder versions, the new Sun Odyssey 32.2 is notable by its voluminous accommodations and it's bright interior. Clearly this boat is made for cruising. The Sun Odyssey 32.2 combines all of the top qualities that make up a true JEANNEAU sailboat: Optimal freedom of movement above deck : going forward is done in safety thanks to wide decks and handrails running 2 meters along the roof. A spacious cockpit for more comfortable sailing with wheel steering for easy sailing. Easy access to the cockpit through a swinging transom helmseat. All sailing control lines led to a central location. Down below, light and space : The standing headroom is remarkable for a 32 footer : 1,80 m / 5' 11" The number of portholes and the quality of the teak woodwork creates a commodious salon that seats up to 6 persons. The teak furnished nav station, with lots of storage and places for electronic displays, fits in perfectly within the salon. The functional "L"-shaped galley and the forward-facing nav station are well thought out and exceed all expectations on a boat this size.

The SUN ODYSSEY 32.2 : the best of vintage 1998 sailing

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Sun Odyssey 34.2 │ Sun Odyssey of 10m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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Sun Odyssey 37.2 │ Sun Odyssey of 11m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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Sun Odyssey 39i │ Sun Odyssey of 12m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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Sun Odyssey 40 DS │ Sun Odyssey of 12m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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Sun Odyssey 40.3 │ Sun Odyssey of 12m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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Sun Odyssey 41.1 │ Sun Odyssey of 13m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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Sun Odyssey 42 CC │ Sun Odyssey of 13m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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Sun Odyssey 469 │ Sun Odyssey of 14m │ Boat Sailboat Jeanneau

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twin rudder yacht

  • Q&A, Coming Alongside (Docking) With Twin Rudders

I have a boat with twin rudders and a single propeller on centre line. Will your docking techniques in this Online Book work for me and, if not, what should I do?

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More Articles From Online Book: Coming Alongside (Docking) Made Easy:

  • Introduction to Coming Alongside (Docking) Online Book
  • 10 Tips to Make Coming Alongside (Docking) Easy
  • Coming Alongside (Docking) in 4 Easy Steps
  • Rigging The Spring That Makes Docking Easy, Or an Alternative
  • 10 Ways to Make Your Boat Easier to Bring Alongside a Dock
  • Coming Alongside (Docking)—Manoeuvring in Close Quarters
  • Coming Alongside (Docking)—The Final Approach
  • Coming Alongside (Docking)—Taming the Wind
  • Coming Alongside (Docking)—Backing In, Part 1
  • Coming Alongside (Docking)—Backing In, Part 2
  • Q&A Backing Out of a Bow-In Med Moor
  • 14 Tips for Coming Alongside Single-handed—Part 1
  • 14 Tips To Come Alongside Single-Handed—Part 2
  • Leaving a Dock Against an Onshore Wind—Part 1
  • Leaving a Dock Against an Onshore Wind—Part 2
  • Going Alongside (Docking) in Current—Fundamentals
  • Going Alongside (Docking) in Current—Turning in Confined Spaces
  • Going Alongside (Docking) in Current—Backing In
  • Going Alongside (Docking)—12 More Tips and Tricks


Hi John I have an Ovni 445 with twin rudders. I agree with you for the usefulness of a bow thruster , but also of the Maxprop propeller. I can turn the boat in one side “in her lenght” with the propeller only , when the wind is light (big windage…) KR

John Harries

That’s good news, indicating that twin rudders retain more prop walk than I feared. That said, I still think that a bow thruster is a good idea for these boats because of the lack of prop wash. (With prop wash I think you would be able to operate without a thruster even in higher winds, although that said, lifting keel boats can be challenging to dock.)

Dartanyon Race

I’m hoping that you’ll cogitate, perhaps even ruminate, on coming along side with a heavy current, perhaps even one that’s in opposition to the wind. If you’re interested in more specificity – we back our 45 foot Norseman along about 275 feet of before getting to our section of dock. The marina is in the mouth of a river that when the tide is going out gives us a 3 knot current pushing off the dock. The fairway is about 65 feet wide.

Hi Dartanyon,

Wow, that’s challenging! I will give it some deep cogitation.


When we had our 55 foot Aluminium lift keel boat designed the designers informed us that due to our request to have a minimum draft of 1,5 meters we had to have twin rudders…For the reasons obvious I was mordicus against it given the crowed entrances to locks and harbours in the Netherlands. They than came up with the solution to fit a, much smaller, third rudder behind the propellor. Jefa had done this a few times before and they designed the rudder geometry. We now sailed 15000 Nm in four seasons and are very happy with this configuration although it’s more complicated and costly… And yes we also have a bow thruster but only have to use it in unfavourable windy conditions.

That’s interesting and good to hear it works. Like you, the complications would worry me, but then boats are all about tradeoffs and it sounds like you have balanced yours well.

Svein Lamark

Hi Douwe, is it the wonderful ship Stayer you are writing about?

Hi Svein, Yes it is… hopefully you and your wife are well and we can meet again in the near future!

Hi Douwe, we are fine sailing in Denmark in our small double- ender hoping to get home in the North before the sea ice close our harbour. I believe Stayer represent a new positive development in yacht construction with her tree rudders and many other solutions. I have observed Stayer enter rather difficult harbors in Loften and docking elegantly without using trusthers. However the rigg of Stayer is very tall. How is Stayer to handle when docking in much wind? When I saw her there was no wind. I have observed that Stayer is extremely fast when sailing off-shore. Is she also comfortable off-shore? To mee Stayer seems like a unique modern construction: Good in shallow coastal waters, but also a fine long distance sailor. We would like to meet you again and discuss you experiences with Stayer.


For those considering a bow thruster, check out a Yacht Thruster. It’s an external unit, easy to install and able to be run for long durations because the motor is underwater-no overheating issues. It’s not speed robbing like a tunnel and requires one hole the size of a typical thru-hull. I was skeptical at first about having this torpedo shaped device hanging from the hull. But after three years, no complaints. One benefit, if the next owner doesn’t want it, it can easily removed and hole faired in a jiffy.

That’s interesting, although I have to say that the thought of adding such a thing to a hull that was not initially designed for it, particularly structurally, worries me a lot.

Just to be clear for everyone else, I’m not advocating for bow thrusters and in fact don’t recommend them, except for very special situations like twin rudder boats.

richard s

your observing that dual rudders are becoming more commonplace makes me wonder why ad this defeats the k i s s principle so important with sail craft especially…is also just that much more to incur damage…i think more than the std single rudder is jst asking for trouble

Hi Richard,

I agree. We are not fans of twin rudders here at AAC.

Eric Klem

My limited experience with twin rudder boats has highlighted a few things for me.

Like most boats, you can usually get the stern into the wind even if it is against the direction of prop walk. Once you are in this orientation, it is relatively stable even without prop walk to help. I use this trick a lot on full keel boats and it works reasonably well here as well.

Backing down fairways can be a better bet as it makes changing direction easier and these boats usually back just fine. By getting steerage up in reverse out in the open, you deal with the harder to control direction change (assuming it is not a tailwind) out there.

Twin rudders is really unforgiving for people who drive as if they are using an outboard. It is crucial that you steer for the direction of water flow across the rudder and not whatever the engine is doing (this seems to be an issue for a lot of people based on my informal observation).

I learned something new in our single screw single rudder boat that should have been obvious a few weeks ago. I was trying to turn around our 36′ boat in an ~50′ wide creek that was turning hard to the left with the current behind us. I started my usual back and fill turn to starboard for our prop walk and the boat didn’t seem to want to turn. I then realized that the current on the outside of the turn was going faster so I switched to a port turn and the boat went around really easy despite being against the prop walk.

Great tips, as always, thank you. I had not really thought about the importance of realizing that water flow over the rudder will be different from the way the prop is driving for some time after changing the latter. I will need to incorporate that in a couple of future posts, so thanks again.

Peter Tobiasen

Hi John As I do most of my sailing single handed, I am still crossing my fingers that you will make another video of you coming alongside singlehanded using the balanced-point aft running spring and tying everything off singlehanded. Please 🙂 Kind regards, Peter

That reminds me that I need to do a single handed chapter, will do. Not sure a video will help a lot since all you would see is me making lines fast instead of me. Not a lot of value. Rather I think we need to explore getting the first line ashore and the dangers of getting off a boat that’s in gear.

Anyway, cogitating now.

Looking very much forward to reading that chapter. Happy cogitating ?

Ernest E Vogelsinger

Hi John, did you already come around to that “single handed chapter”? I’ve just searched AAC and couldn’t find one except preparing for a singlehanded atlantic crossing?

Not yet. I plan to get back to docking this summer, now that I have MC back in the water.


Hi all, on two delivery trips with french raceboats (Archambault 35) I found that these boats -twin rudders, very wide stern- really ask for being backed into their slots. As Eric mentions, they are backing very well pretty much regardless of wind direction. Position one crewmember at the docking side of the pushpit, get a line ashore and power forward to pull the boat alongside. Works really well because of the wide transom and the resulting good leverage. The challenge comes when singlehanded, you have to be quick as the distance from tiller to the boat’s corner is rather long on this type of boat.

That makes sense. Another data point for my backing in chapter, thanks.


Hi John and Douwe, On my brothers sail boat Flyer, where the prop is maybe 20ft forward from the rudder, I guess he would love to have a small 2nd rudder just behind the prop. When we recently hauled out my motorboat, was surprised to see the (large)rudders could only swing 60 degrees from side to side, while the rudder indicators show about 100 degrees and yet it handles very well in tight spaces. During my hi-school summer hollidays I worked on river Rhine barges, single prop and two rudders about 3 ft apart, but could turn the rudders close to 180 degrees. No bow thrusters in those days, but did have a bow (balanced) rudder that could be lowered and handled with a long tiller. As you know, now the maneuvring is (greatly?) enhanced with articulated rudders. Has that system found its way on pleasure boats? Rene

Drew Frye

Your focus is on larger boats with inboards. As multihull sailor, even the larger cats I’ve sailed or owned have always been outboard powered. With twin screws that far apart you have a whole world of tricks that I’m not going to get into. Some have had single engines. And what all of these have in common is trivial prop walk and no flow over the rudder.

But many small boats with outboards have something else they forget about all the time. The thrust can be directed by turning the motor. Unlike power boats, they have a rudder that works without prop wash.

One handy trick, say coming alongside on port, is to turn the rudder to starboard (tiller to port) while turning the engine to port and bumping reverse. The result is that the boat goes mostly sideways, slowly coming to a stop just touching the dock. Quite handy on a bulkhead with boats fore and aft.

There are other variations.

So true. The most manoeuvrable boat I have ever handled was a 28′ power cat with twin outboards. Even with a disabled 35′ sailboat lashed alongside I was able to work her into a tight marina and drop the sailboat off with no issues at all.

Ronnie Ricca

I have concern that the balance point spring aft method may not work like it would with a single screw/single rudder vessel. In a normal setup the prop wash over the rudder and the rudder angle dictates where the bow and stern go when you are pivoting on that spring. A twin rudder will only be able to push ahead on that spring and not control any direction of bow/stern. In my opinion, I think a further aft spring would help with keeping the boat pinned to a dock as there wouldn’t be as easy of a pivot. Once pressed to the dock other lines could be made off the the thrust left off.

Am I making sense with this? Just to be clear, I’m still suggesting a quarter point for a spring, but only a little more aft for a single screw/twin rudder yacht.

Thanks for the very detailed posts on this too, by the way! Hope your cruising has gone well this season!

Yes, of course you are right, the balance point spring won’t work nearly as well with twin rudders. I should have thought of that, thanks for pointing it out.

As to moving the spring further back, that will help in some cases, but in others, such as a hard offshore wind, I think it could be a problem since it would be difficult to get the bow in, and there’s a good chance that as the spring is loaded the stern will come in with a bang.

What will work, is the balance point spring and a bow thruster working together, so I think that you point reinforces my thinking that for twin rudder boats a thruster goes from being an undesirable complication to a requirement.

John, Good points, I didn’t think about a offshore howling you off. I do agree that a bow thruster is probably your only option.. Well, next to adding a third rudder or removing the two in lieu of one big one. I don’t think any of them is cheaper than the other once said and done.

Hi Ronnie and John,

I think that the magic spring line will still work well even without the help of prop wash. The thing that pulls the boat against the dock is the spring line itself (with a single rudder you can cheat and use prop thrust instead if the spring line has no angle to it) so the keys are getting an appropriate load on the line and having it pull in the correct direction. To get a load on it, you simply need to power against it, the more throttle you give it, the higher the load will be.

Getting the direction of the load correct is dependent on where each end of the line is attached to. Lines can only react tensile forces in line with them so the line needs to have an angle to the dock so that it can react your engine thrust and also pull the boat towards the dock. Too steep an angle and the stern will end up too far in, too shallow an angle and it will end up too far out (where the line is fore and aft also has a similar effect). For boats with shape like Morgan’s Cloud, you get a decent angle with a short spring that leads to a cleat right there on the edge of the dock. If the boat carries her beam aft, you might need to lead it to the far side of the dock finger to get some angle. Unless the boat is quite large, getting the exact right angle is not that big of a deal, you should be able to deal with a 10 or even 20 degree misalignment using fenders and by pulling on the bow and stern lines. The point is that you can hold yourself stationary indefinitely in approximately the position you want to be in while you sort out the other lines.

Even in the case where you have wind blowing hard off the dock and you start perpendicular to the dock stern-to, you should be able to get into place with this method, it will just take a minute. Because the line will be coming from the rail rather than centerline, there will be a torque when you motor ahead that will turn the boat so that the thrust will start to push the boat along the dock causing the spring line to pull you against it. In this extreme case, it is likely you won’t come in parallel so wide fender placement is critical.

That all makes sense and will be of comfort for twin rudder boat owners, thanks.

That said, I’m pretty sure that the “magic spring” will not be nearly as easy to use without prop wash on the rudder, as you allude to with your comment about fender placement.

In thinking about it, I’m guessing that the worst situation may be with the wind blowing hard onto the wharf. In this case with a single rudder we just steer hard away from the wharf to counteract the tendency (on most boats) for the bow to blow in and hit the dock hard as the boat comes in. On a floating dock this might not be too bad since the bow can land on a well placed fender, but on a high fixed dock the pulpit will be at risk and here, on a twin rudder boat, a burst from a bow thruster will be useful.

(I wouldn’t recommend a bow thruster for just this use, but given that twin rudder boats don’t have the benefits of prop wash in many other situations I guess I would stick with my recommendation in the post above.)

Brian Russell

Hi John, Perhaps I missed it, but was hoping to find some hints in this book on docking related to a wind + current situation. We experienced this the other day and I made rather a mess of it…That’s no anchor roller, it’s a battering ram.! Wind was from ahead, current from astern , dock on port side. On retrospect i probably should have faced into the 2 kt. current rather than the 13 kt wind… thanks!

You remind me that I need to get back to this Online Book, probably be this summer.

On current, the key tip is that you can’t think of it like the wind. Unlike the wind, current does not pivot the boat in any way, but rather moves the entire boat. A good way to think about it is a model boat on a table with two people carrying the table: the motion of the table is the current.

So yes, in that situation it would be better to stem the current and have the wind on the stern. In fact, as I explain earlier in this online book, contrary what may people believe, it is actually far easier to dock a boat with the wind on the stern.

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Twin Rudders on a Sailboat: Increased control and safety

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Yachting World

  • Digital Edition

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How to manoeuvre a yacht under power

  • Rachael Sprot
  • September 20, 2023

Want to understand better how to manoeuvre a yacht under power? Yachtmaster Instructor, Rachael Sprot walks through her most important rules for handling under power

twin rudder yacht

When handling under power is done well, it’s like a black art. It wasn’t until I became an instructor that I realised it could be broken down into a few key concepts. I called them ‘The 10 Golden Rules of Boat Handling’. However, when I wrote them it was largely from the perspective of a heavy displacement yacht with fine ends, using a shaft drive. Most of the large yachts I’ve sailed in the past 10 years, such as the Clipper and Challenge yachts, matched this profile.

Recently, I’ve realised that the rules need updating. Yacht design has moved on considerably, and sail drives, long waterlines, bow thrusters and high topsides are now the norm, and twin rudders are increasingly commonplace.

Flexisail, which operates a fleet of modern cruisers, kindly lent me the keys to Varvassi , a Hanse 418, for a day last winter to refine these Golden Rules, and in this two-part series I’ll explain how to make manoeuvring under engine so much easier.

There are two elements to good boat handling: understanding the boat’s handling characteristics; and understanding the external factors which impact a manoeuvre. In the first of this series we’re going to look at how a boat behaves, and next month we’ll consider the real-world scenarios we find ourselves in.

twin rudder yacht

Keep it as slow as you can when manoeuvring in tight spaces – things then go wrong more slowly and you have more time to make corrections. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Rule 1: Slow is pro

The number one rule of boat handling, especially on large yachts, is that if it’s all going wrong, go wrong slowly. You’re unlikely to do much damage at 1 knot. At 3 knots things become expensive. There are times when a burst of power is necessary and, carefully applied, this is an important tool. However, panic revs can cause more problems than they solve. If in doubt, step away from the throttle and pick up a fender – just use the throttle to maintain slow control.

Minimum speed is essential on a heavy boat which carries its way. Once moving, many manoeuvres can be done in neutral. However, the Hanse 418 didn’t hold her way as much as I expected so I had to be more assertive on the throttle, both to keep her moving and to stop her.

twin rudder yacht

A burst of prop wash flowing over the rudder while the boat is stationary creates ‘Type 2’ steerage. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Rule 2: Maintain steerage

The counterpoint to Rule 1 is that you always need steerage. Steerage is created when water flows over the rudder. There are two ways of achieving it which I call Type 1 and Type 2 steerage. Type 1 is what you experience when you’re actively propelled through the water, either by the engine or the wind. It’s easy to forget that the wind can still be used for propulsion, even without sails up. If you’re doing a downwind park (perhaps into the tide), or have some way on, you might not even need the engine in gear to achieve Type 1 steerage.

Type 2 steerage is what is generated when a burst of prop wash flows over the rudder while the boat is stationary. This is an effective technique for tight turns when you need to control the direction of the boat without covering any distance.

In a lighter boat like the Hanse, Type 1 steerage is more effective than Type 2. Under way, Varvassi ’s high-aspect spade rudder was extremely efficient. She was responsive in both ahead and astern. However, there was less response from a power burst. This is probably due to the saildrive, which positions the propeller further from the rudder and creates a delay between action and reaction.

I suspect also that the high aspect rudder profile, though powerful when making way, can’t ‘catch’ as much of the jet created by the propeller. I’m no hydrodynamicist, but a big barn door of a rudder seems to make better use of this thrust. It felt like Type 1 steerage was much more effective than Type 2 steerage in this modern design of boat.

twin rudder yacht

Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/EYOTY

Twin-rudder variation

If the boat has twin rudders, Type 2 steerage is nearly impossible to achieve. The propeller sends water straight between the two, missing the rudders entirely. You’ll need to keep the boat moving faster in order to maintain steerage and predict what the boat will do until the rudders have gained steerage.

Rule 3: Gear then steer

I once overheard a watersports instructor coaching teenagers in a RIB. ‘Steer, then gear, Henry!’ he exclaimed, too late, as they drifted into a raft of dinghies.

Henry looked crestfallen, but he’d demonstrated that RIBs and other outboard-powered vessels work the other way round to most sailing yachts. In displacement boats with rudders, the rule is: gear, then steer.

In a tight spot every centimetre counts and there are gains to be made from following this simple rule of timing. In a heavy displacement yacht change gear from ahead to astern (or vice versa) first but don’t change the way you’re steering until the boat has actually started moving and water is flowing over the rudder in the desired direction.

This is particularly important when switching from ahead to astern since it takes longer for the boat to stop and water flow to reverse over the rudder. From astern to ahead the steerage switch is more immediate because the prop wash hits the rudder before the boat has started moving, negating the reverse flow sooner.

Varvassi was quicker to regain steerage after a gear change than a more traditional, heavy displacement yacht. The power bursts were less effective but, once moving, steerage was quickly established. It gave me more confidence to change gear in a confined space which, in turn, changed the kinds of manoeuvres I might attempt.

twin rudder yacht

Varvassi has negligible prop walk with her saildrive, so on a boat like this make wider turns and keep up momentum. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Rule 4: Use your prop walk

I’ve learned to love prop walk over the years. The sideways push from a burst astern is like having a stern thruster, albeit in one direction. With a propeller shaft, the steeper the angle, the greater the kick will be.

Boats with skeg-hung rudders often have offset prop shafts too, which induces even more kick one way or the other. On a shaft drive boat I tend to think of it as being right- or left-handed. A boat that kicks to port in astern is right-handed and favours a turn to starboard, and vice versa.

Article continues below…

twin rudder yacht

How to handle heavy weather

On Tuesday 15 June 2021 our Swan 48 Isbjorn was positioned near 51° North, some 350 miles south-west of Fastnet…

Tidal data accuracy can be critical when navigating in areas like Brittany’s Raz de Sein

How to: navigating in tide

Wherever we have current (tidal or other) this will always influence the sailing wind and the boat’s course over the…

Many shaft-driven boats will turn in a boat length if you utilise a few short bursts of astern propulsion, just enough to boost the stern around but not enough to get going in, and establish, reverse steerage. This shapes your manoeuvres. In confined spaces a right-handed boat is best positioned on the port side and is easiest to park portside-to, since the prop walk draws it in that way, and creates an escape route by making room for a starboard-hand turn. There are times when this is thoroughly inconvenient, but if you plan your manoeuvres with prop walk in mind it’s largely a blessing rather than a curse.

Varvassi had very little prop walk thanks to the saildrive whose propeller sits vertically rather than tilted downwards as on a shaft drive, so the thrust comes off more cleanly. Furthermore, a saildrive is located further forward, so has less leverage around the boat’s pivot point. I found that a traditional tight turn method isn’t effective on a yacht with a saildrive, and would be even more difficult on a twin rudder boat.

In such cases, a bow thruster would be a really useful tool. Without one you’ll need to keep the momentum and stay in forward gear, but the turn will be wider. Or make a three-point turn by turning hard one way, then reversing back into the space you’ve come from, reversing the steerage too and bringing the bow around in reverse.

twin rudder yacht

Consider how the pivot point of the boat moves in ahead and astern, and beware turning too sharply with a boat with wide beam carried right aft. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Rule 5: Use the pivot point

Understanding the location of a boat’s pivot point is important for any close quarters handling. However, the pivot point is hydrodynamic and changes with the direction of travel. Going ahead it’s just behind the mast; going astern it shifts aft to somewhere around the cockpit, and during acceleration it shifts further to each extreme.

In forward gear we need to be aware of how much boat is behind the pivot point. In reverse it’s the bow we need to watch. It’s important to remember this when dodging an obstruction you’re being set onto. Once the pivot point is past the obstruction you need to turn towards, and not away from it, to keep the rest of the boat clear.

Varvassi ’s full-width stern is a bit like manoeuvring with a pantomime bustle: the danger is not just where you’re looking, it can be behind you. The bigger the boat, the bigger the bustle. To exit a berth I sprang the bow out and drove away with a straight rudder. It took much longer to get clear enough to turn the helm away than it would on a fine-ended yacht.

Bringing it all together

In reality, there’s a complex relationship between the boat and its environment. However, when you’re skippering a new boat it can be helpful to isolate handling behaviours by practising in benign conditions. Is that twitch on the bow when you go astern the result of prop walk? Or was it a gust of wind? Understanding steerage, gear changes, prop walk and pivot points allows us to respond with more precision.

If you enjoyed this….

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While mini keels and daggerboards provide lateral resistance to leeway, rudders allow directional control and steerage. Catamarans always have twin rudders which contribute to their safety. Having reliable steerage on any cruising boat is essential and cannot be overestimated. Twin rudders provide positive redundancy, superior tracking, and reduce the loads on autopilots. Just as the majority of today's cruising catamarans are mini keelers, 90% of them are also equipped with fixed spade rudders. However, there are a number of variations that are perfectly suited for the various adaptations of a cruising multihull .

Usually multihull rudders are much smaller than their monohull counterparts. There are four reasons for that: First, there are two rudders, unlike the single one on a monohull, so the lateral area is combined. Second, a multihull will typically travel faster than a ballasted boat, therefore rudders do not have to be as large. The slower the boat the larger the rudder has to be in order to steer effectively. Have you ever seen the rudder of a tug boat? They are 3 times the size of your average door. Thirdly, rudders will always remain nearly vertical and so be more effective. Lastly, the narrow high-aspect-ratio hulls of a catamaran will help the boat track straight and not require a large rudder surface area as there is less directional correction necessary. Designing a multihull's rudder is a challenge however. The performance window of a catamaran is much higher and a rudder that has to work at 3 knots must be prevented from cavitating at 25 knots when it surfs. Cavitation, or ventilation, as it is sometimes referred to, happens when, at very high speed, air is drawn down the low pressure side and detaches the flow of water around the rudder area.

There are also additional problems for multihull designers because the configuration of a catamaran, with its shallow hull, makes rudders much more vulnerable to impacts than on monohulls, which have a 7' keel protecting them. Normally the depth of the rudders are slightly less than the mini keels or skegs ahead of them, and their position should be roughly 20% aft of the lateral pivot point

Skeg Catamaran

of the vessel. Generally, non-hydraulically operated rudders on multihulls are connected to one another by either a crossbar tube or another type of mechanical linkage. This provides a straightforward and reliable system. If one side fails, one should have the ability to quickly isolate one rudder in order to regain proper steerage. By far the most popular type are the spade rudders that are mounted on either stainless steel or aluminum (sometimes even aramid) stern-tube rudder stocks. In case of a failure emergency tillers can be quickly fitted to the top of the stocks. Fixed spade rudders are also referred to as "balanced," as the rudder stock enters the foil aft of the leading edge, leaving an area forward, which aids in turning the rudder. Spade rudders are usually located well aft for good lever action; they are also the most efficient type. Often the gap between the hull and the rudders' upper edge is less than one inch, making the hull act like an endplate. Spade-type rudders are straightforward to build and provide the most sensitive feedback to the helmsman. As many of today's multihulls are fitted with hydraulic steering systems, which are known for the absence of steering "feedback" to the helmsman, the spade-hung rudder nevertheless will be the best means to translate the forces back to the wheel. Freely suspended rudders are not without vices; they can snag lines and are vulnerable to damage, especially if they are not protected by skegs or mini-keels. Another type is the skeg-hung rudder, which has the advantage of being mounted behind a solid appendage. It is not as easy to build and has less feedback than the balanced, free hung rudder. Both types should be designed to take the weight of the boat without damage when beaching.

Unlike the above fixed types, lifting rudders allow a reduction of draft. They can either be the daggerboard - vertically lifting type, hung on transoms - or built into hinging stern sections. Another variety is the centerboard kick-up type, usually hinged onto transoms. Presently only few production manufacturers equip their catamarans with lifting rudders. They are more expensive to construct, are complex in nature and lack the efficiency of the fixed rudder. Anything moving more than it must presents a potential weak spot, and the forces of Nature will usually find them at the most inopportune time. Having simple, reliable rudders is of the essence on a well-designed multihull.

below Beautifully finished in Aston Martin-blue, like the owner's car, this top-of-the-line catamaran is ready for launch. Note the anodes on both sides of the aluminum semi-balanced rudder.

Catamaran Rudders

"The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature, but plunges him more deeply into them."

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - Wind, Sand and Stars

Dinghy Kick Rudder

008 by Gregor Tarjan. Click here for terms of use. ■ ®

Halyard and reefing winches are firmly riveted to aluminum base plates and conveniently located at the foot of the mast, ready to hoist and douse sails.

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Readers' Questions

How to calculate rudder area for a performance cruising catamaran?
Calculating the rudder area for a performance cruising catamaran involves considering factors such as the boat's length, displacement, and desired maneuverability. Here is a general approach to calculating rudder area: Determine the displacement of the catamaran: Displacement refers to the weight of the boat when it is fully loaded. Measure or obtain the displacement of the catamaran in pounds or kilograms. Calculate the wetted surface area: Wetted surface area refers to the surface area of the hulls that are in contact with water. Use the catamaran's length, beam, and draft to estimate the wetted surface area. This can be done using empirical formulas specific to catamarans or by using more precise methods, such as integrating the hull shape's cross-sections. Determine the Lateral Plane Area Coefficient (LPAC): LPAC is a coefficient used to determine the rudder area based on the wetted surface area. It depends on the desired maneuverability and varies for different types of vessels. For performance cruising catamarans, a typical LPAC value ranges from 0.03 to 0.05. Calculate the rudder area: Multiply the wetted surface area by the LPAC to obtain the rudder area. The formula is as follows: Rudder Area = Wetted Surface Area x LPAC For example, if the wetted surface area of a catamaran is 500 square feet, and the LPAC is 0.04: Rudder Area = 500 x 0.04 = 20 square feet. Remember that this is a general approach, and it is always recommended to consult with naval architects or boat designers who have expertise in catamarans for more precise calculations specific to your vessel.
Do rudders mounted underneath the bridgedeck of a wharram catamaran work?
Yes, they do work. Rudders mounted underneath a catamaran's bridgedeck can provide the same directional control as rudders mounted at the stern of a single-hulled vessel. This is especially true for sailing catamarans, which are designed with a long bridgedeck that extends forward of the transoms to create a wide platform for steering and control. Because this bridgedeck extends far enough out of the water, it can accommodate a rudder and provide the same steering capabilities as a traditional rudder.
How to tune catamaran rudders?
First, check your boat's steering system and adjust the rudder angle as needed. Check the tension on the steering cables and make sure they are properly adjusted. Make sure the rudders are properly aligned with the waterline. Trim the sails to the optimal angle for the prevailing conditions. Place the rudders at the correct angle to the waterline. Test the steering at slow and fast speeds. If necessary, make adjustments to the rudder angle to ensure maximum response. Test the steering at different angles of heel to determine if the helm is balanced. Make sure the rudders are kept in good condition and regularly maintained.
How to build mini keels for a catamaran?
Building mini keels for a catamaran requires precise measurements, proper materials, and some woodworking skills. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to build mini keels for a catamaran: Gather the materials: You will need marine-grade plywood, epoxy resin, fiberglass cloth, sandpaper, and marine paint. Measure and design: Decide the size and shape of the mini keels based on your catamaran's specifications. Measure the keel's length, width, and thickness. Sketch the design on paper. Cut the plywood: Using a jigsaw or a hand saw, cut the marine-grade plywood according to the dimensions outlined in your design. Make sure to cut two identical shapes for each keel. Shape the keel: Using sandpaper, smooth the edges and shape the plywood according to your design. Take your time to achieve the desired keel shape. Apply epoxy resin: Coat both sides of each keel with epoxy resin to seal the plywood. Follow the epoxy resin manufacturer's instructions for mixing and applying the resin. Allow it to cure completely. Apply fiberglass cloth: Cut fiberglass cloth slightly larger than the keel's dimensions. Apply epoxy resin to the keel's surface and lay the fiberglass cloth over it. Smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles using a squeegee or putty knife. Apply more epoxy resin on top of the fiberglass to fully saturate it. Allow it to cure. Sand and paint: Once cured, sand the keel to remove any rough spots or imperfections. Make sure the surface is smooth and ready for painting. Apply marine paint to the keel, using several coats to ensure durability. Install the keels: Consult your catamaran's design or consult with a boat builder to determine the optimal placement for the mini keels. Install the keels onto the catamaran's hulls using marine-grade screws or bolts. Make sure they are securely fastened. Final touch-ups: Give a final sanding to the keels after they are installed to ensure a smooth finish. Apply additional coats of marine paint if necessary. Remember to take safety precautions, such as wearing gloves and protective eyewear, when working with epoxy resin and power tools. Additionally, consulting a boat builder or experienced sailor for advice and guidance is recommended to ensure the mini keels are correctly designed and installed for optimal performance and stability.
How weel do twin rudders track?
Twin rudders usually track very well, as the two rudders create an increased force and rudder area compared to a single rudder. This allows for more precise control and little to no lateral drift.
Do catamarans have keels?
No, catamarans do not have keels.
Can rudder propeller be used for catamaran boats?
Yes, rudder propellers can be used for catamaran boats. They are commonly used as a propulsion system to provide thrust and maneuverability. Rudder propellers are typically designed with two propeller blades mounted on a common shaft. The two blades can be adjusted independently, allowing the boat to move forward and backward, as well as turn.
How to makea catamaran rudder?
To make a catamaran rudder, you will need the following materials and tools: Materials: - Marine-grade plywood or fiberglass sheet - Stainless steel or aluminum for the rudder stock - Nuts, bolts, and washers - Epoxy resin and hardener - Fiberglass cloth - Sandpaper - Marine-grade paint or varnish Tools: - Jigsaw or handsaw - Drill - Router or file - Screwdriver - Paintbrush - Sanding block or power sander Here are the general steps to make a catamaran rudder: Design the rudder: Determine the size and shape of the rudder. Make sure it is suitable for the specific catamaran design and sailing conditions. Create a template: Trace the outline of the rudder on a piece of cardboard or plywood to create a template. Cut it out and refine the shape until you are satisfied with the design. Transfer the template to the rudder material: Place the template on the marine-grade plywood or fiberglass sheet. Use a pencil or marker to trace the outline onto the material. Cut out the rudder shape: Use a jigsaw or handsaw to carefully cut along the traced outline. Take your time and ensure smooth, even cuts. Sanding and shaping: Use sandpaper or a power sander to smooth the edges and shape the rudder. Round the leading and trailing edges for better hydrodynamics. Take your time and regularly check the symmetry and balance of the rudder. Prepare the rudder stock: Cut and shape the stainless steel or aluminum for the rudder stock. Drill holes in the stock for attaching to the rudder and boat. Attach the rudder stock: Use epoxy resin to bond the rudder stock to the rudder. Reinforce with fiberglass cloth and more epoxy for added strength. Finishing touches: Sand the entire rudder surface to create a smooth finish. Apply multiple coats of marine-grade paint or varnish for protection against water and UV rays. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Install the rudder: Attach the rudder to the catamaran using appropriate nuts, bolts, and washers. Ensure it is securely fastened and aligned properly for optimal performance. Remember to consult any specific plans or guidelines provided by your boat's manufacturer or a professional boat builder.
Do catamarans have rudders?
Yes, catamarans typically have two rudders located at the back of the hulls.
Do catamarans need rudder?
Yes, catamarans need rudders for navigational control. The rudder is connected to a steering system which helps to control the direction of the vessel.
Do a catamaran need one or two rudders?
A catamaran typically has two rudders.

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Twin Rudders For Blue Water Cruising

— 18 Aug 2011

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Oyster 885 tank testing, Wolfson Unit

Having been a proponent of twin rudders for well over a decade Rob Humphreys and the team at HYD has good experience with the arrangement through a range of boat types, from the rather esoteric world of Open 60s and Volvo 70s through to moderately heavy cruising yachts. Our knowledge of what to do and how to do it has been partly theoretical, partly intuitive, and – through feedback from our boats – partly empirical. However, it is only very recently that we have had the opportunity to really quantify the benefits. This came through an exhaustive tank testing session on behalf of the new Oyster 885, which David Tydeman (CEO, Oyster Group) decided would both help the development of the 885 and the rest of the Oyster range.

In the early design brief discussions last year on the Oyster “PC” as it was code-named, David and I sat down and ran through his ideas for how this new yacht should fit into the range. David wanted a yacht with a beam to match the 82 (to work within UK road transport limits), a mast further aft to provide a powerful blade jib and room for 4 Owner/Guest cabins in a hull length “no more than 20mm’s” short of the LY2 MCA “24 mtr rule”. David’s naval architecture background quickly helped me persuade him that twin rudders were the way to go!

It was clear that this was going to be a bit of a sea-change for Oyster and I was pleased that David was keen to push this onwards and also to support this breakthrough with a decent budget for tank testing. We both felt it would be helpful to have fairly tangible reference information for those owners trying to understand the shift from a skeg-rudder to the twin rudder form for this exciting new model.

In fact our testing session set out to do more than just this because we also used the opportunity to let the spade rudder have its say, just for some form of completeness. We have often been asked why Oyster has tended to steer clear of spade rudders and the answer has more to do with potential vulnerability than any disrespect for its potential qualities. As any Oyster owner knows a blue-water cruising yacht has to be accomplished in a number of different ways, and one of the lower profile requirements has to be an ability to slide backwards against a Mediterranean harbour wall without necessarily endangering the steering gear. One paradox of success for Oyster is that with so many boats out there, if it is possible to do something then it has usually been tried. The expression ‘tried and tested’ comes to mind. A spade rudder, whatever its qualities in other respects, is not quite as bomb-proof as rudder hung off a full-depth skeg, but again David’s racing & technical background pushed the decisions forward.

In our tank testing we were focusing our attention on a fully-pressed up set of sailing conditions, with the boat heeled over to twenty degrees and sailing at nine knots, with a variety of leeway angles and load conditions. Separately we had commissioned North Sails to run their proprietary CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) panel code “Flow”, to determine the exact three-dimensional centres of pressure that are relevant to Oysters, so that we could keep an eye on what was happening to the balance of the boats. We tested a lot of other things as well but the rudder testing part was most interesting and was totally supportive of all that we had learnt to be true in the field. For a given side force and leeway angle the skeg rudder and the spade rudder were in a roughly similar ball-park, whereas the twin-rudder equivalent was in another world altogether. For example, with the twin rudders set to just two degrees to the flow the spade rudder needed to be at over six for an equivalent moment, and the skeg-hung rudder at eight – all for the same yaw moment.

Put another way, the leeward twin rudder provided 4 times as much force than a skeg rudder!

Much of the distinction comes from the fact that the twin rudders are operating in clean water whereas centreline rudders – of whatever denomination – are operating in a disturbed second-hand flow coming off the keel. The result is a much more satisfying steering experience and at the same time a significant reduction in resistance – so more speed.

From our perspective twin rudders represent a huge benefit and an Oyster owner will really appreciate it too as soon as he has the wheel at his finger-tips. But what’s also interesting is that the system fares a lot better in terms of potential reliability, especially against the spade rudder. The blades are significantly smaller and more lightly loaded, and the span is considerably shorter, making it almost impossible to damage the steering gear when reversing into a quay. And of course, with two rudders rather than one there is an obvious increase in the level of redundancy. Unlike some twin-rudder installations, the arrangement we have for Oyster means that even assuming the worst-case loss of one rudder it would be possible to still sail the boat on the compromised tack, albeit with reduced canvas.

All in all we learnt nothing new in a qualitative sense; however, in quantitative terms it was a bit of an eye-opener, not just for me but for the Wolfson Unit who had not previously run such a benchmarking comparison.

twin rudder yacht

CFD analysis of the sailplan by North Sails

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A beautifully proportioned, luxury 60 foot sailboat, with customised build solutions and effortless shorthanded sailing capability

The Oyster 595. The perfect all-round adventurer.

Well-proportioned, with generous living and entertaining spaces and excellent sailing capabilities to meet any cruising requirement.

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Performance cruising

Increased hull volume and longer waterline provide excellent all-round performance, fun and comfort, and the ability to maintain smooth, fast passage-making speeds.

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Magnificently spacious

The extremely large volume below decks offers safe, luxurious living and entertaining space for up to eight family, friends or crew.

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Adaptable configuration

Available in standard or shallow-draft keel, with an optional extended transom and various interior layout options, the 595 offers extensive choices to suit any cruising lifestyle.


Join us at our London Private View at St Katharine Docks, 24-28 April 2024, to see the Oyster 495, 565 and 595

Iconic Oyster styling, remarkable hull volume and our trademark deck saloon are just some of the outstanding features of this ocean cruiser for sale.

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Better by design

The next-generation oyster 595 sets the standard for future true bluewater cruisers with her outstanding ocean-going capabilities and liveaboard qualities..

She displays all the hallmarks of an Oyster, from the impressive volume of the Humphreys-designed hull with twin rudders and wide, clutter-free flush teak decks, excellent stowage, a choice of entertaining spaces and the optional bathing platform.

Available in two keel formats, standard or with a shallow-draft centreboard keel, which is ideal for those wanting to explore shallow coves and cruising grounds. For ultimate bluewater adventures, the extended transom variant provides additional stowage and a truly vast lazarette.

The ergonomically designed cockpit features twin helm stations, alfresco dining for eight and a sprayhood on the deck saloon to keep guests protected from the weather, whatever the conditions. Safe and easy to move around under sail, she is fun to sail and a joy to relax on while anchored in secluded bays.

The Oyster 595 is designed to perform day in, and day out in all sea conditions, to deliver safe, comfortable and enjoyable sailing experiences.

Equipped with the latest and most reliable sailing equipment, she is a pleasure to sail shorthanded. Her silky smooth, soft motion, even in a head sea, delivers consistently fast passage-making at only a modest angle of heel, making light work of ocean crossings.

Unlike other ocean cruisers for sale, push-button in-mast furling, electric mainsail and genoa winches come as standard and she offers responsive finger-tip control on the helm, thanks to the twin rudder design. The helm stations feature all the technology required for relaxed operation and navigation, with the winches within easy reach. There is a large sail locker on the foredeck to store your sails, spinnaker and Code Zero, and the long waterline, excellent stability and wide beam aft harness the significant sail power, no matter what sail wardrobe you choose.

The word ‘quality’ never quite captures the meticulous finish of our yachts. Our constant endeavour for excellence brings together our master craftspeople with advanced materials, production techniques and the latest engineering technology.

This is reflected in a hull design that epitomises the standards Oyster believes all bluewater cruising yachts should meet – an uncompromising strength of construction. Built to rigorous Lloyd’s Register certification, we demand only the very best materials. From the drawing board, we overspecify the hull superstructure by four times the strength when compared to the competition, with a strong, longitudinal construction and additional materials around the keel structure and slam zones. For added peace of mind, Lloyd's surveyors also sign off each hull and deck as part of the build process, reflecting our uncompromising approach to quality control. 

We don't accept anything less than perfection in terms of fit, finish and engineering integrity, that's why the Oyster 595 has outstanding quality and character.

Contemporary, luxurious styling and volume below decks make for the perfect living space for any adventure.

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Inspired living space

The oyster 595’s contemporary interior is refined and luxurious. the saloon, the social heart of this boat, offers a wealth of space and convenience for crew and guests..

The open longitudinal galley, navigation station and saloon are light, bright and airy thanks to the seascape and wrap-around saloon windows – forward units are opening, providing excellent natural ventilation at anchor. Every detail, practicality and seamanlike feature on this bluewater cruiser has been considered, from the optional convertible saloon table, which doubles as a day bed, the pop-up TV addition, galley fiddles for bracing when heeled, through to the extensive range of galley appliances. There is deep, comfortable seating for relaxing, with space for six at the saloon table, along with lots of stowage, essential for any bluewater adventure. Combine this with the handcrafted fit-out to a standard rarely found on a 60 foot sailboat, blended seamlessly with practicality and seaworthiness, the Oyster 595 makes living aboard for extended periods a truly pleasurable experience.

With the welcome hull volume, choice of hardwoods, exquisite fabrics and materials, the Oyster 595 offers versatile configuration options and many opportunities for personalisation.

Building on ideas and innovations from our fleet, the 595 offers a comprehensive range of accommodation options. There are three well-appointed layouts to choose from – an aft ensuite master cabin with three guest cabins, one amidships and two guest cabins forward, creating privacy and comfort for up to eight family or crew in any configuration. The aft ensuite master option provides private access to a spacious cabin featuring Oyster’s signature seascape windows, which flood the space with natural light. There is also a sofa, optional television and ample stowage.

Throughout the cabins, Oyster’s attention to detail reveals itself in everything, from the beautiful handcrafted cabinetry to the deep mattresses, island berths, optional full-length mirrors and cedar-lined wardrobes. Not forgetting the walk-in showers and mood lighting for any occasion.

The latest, new-generation technology adds another dimension to the capability of the Oyster 595, whether you plan to relax or work aboard her.

Technology and tradition come together in complete harmony on the 595, making her well-connected with seamlessly integrated navigation, entertainment and onboard systems. Oyster Command™, Oyster’s intuitive CZone-managed digital switching system, connects everything from the entertainment, utilities and lighting, to monitoring the latest black box technology, which provides real-time status and control of onboard systems through the Oyster owners App.

Specify your favourite AV systems, satellite connectivity and WiFi technology to keep connected and able to work aboard in the world’s remotest corners. All technology and systems are specified for robustness and reliability and nothing is installed that has not been proven at sea.

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The joy of Oyster ownership

There is more than just pride on offer when it comes to owning an Oyster 595. Every new Oyster comes with a comprehensive warranty, personalised care, access to our global service network, unrivalled support, life-changing experiences and so much more.

On an Oyster the world is yours.


Ownership benefits rarely experienced in marine

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Specification and features

Lloyd’s register certified hull and deck moulding.

Peace of mind is built into this bluewater cruiser with Lloyd’s Register certification of the hull and deck moulding and also complies with EU RCDII.

Hydraulic in-mast (IMF) and headsail furling

In-mast furling (IMF) for the mainsails and Seldén Furlex hydraulic headsail furling gear are fitted as standard. Hydraulic-powered, push-button controls are on hand for both systems on both helm pedestals, close to the primary winches, for complete control and ease of use.

Handbuilt oak & walnut interior

The standard joinery throughout is oak with a satin finish varnish. Cabin soles feature random plank, crown-cut walnut veneered boards, with rubber seals to minimise movement and squeaking.

Retractable hydraulic bow & stern thrusters

Slide into the tightest berths and manoeuvre in busy marinas with the powerful Sleipner retractable bow and stern thrusters.

An Onan 11kw 4-cylinder diesel generator is almost silent in operation thanks to its sound shield and anti-vibration mounts. Power for all your 240v equipment and charge your batteries efficiently.

Seascape windows

The 595 saloon and owner’s cabin feel light and airy thanks to the four sets of signature Seascape windows that create a powerful connection between the interior and the ocean outside.

Powerful 150HP engine  

The Oyster 595 features the powerful 150hp (110kW) Yanmar 4VL. Motor or motor sail with the throttle backed-off and you can consume the miles at speed with excellent fuel efficiency. This engine has been chosen for its quietness, power at low revs and it’s compliance with worldwide emissions levels. But more importantly, in Yanmar, you have an unrivalled global support-and-service network to help you maintain your engine in peak condition.

Interior layout configuration

The large volume of the Oyster 595 hull makes for a versatile space. There are two configurations to choose from – an aft master cabin and ensuite with two double ensuites forward and one bunk amidships; or two doubles forward sharing one head, with a workspace or bunk amidships. See interior plans for more details.

Wood options

Beautiful solid wood is a hallmark of Oyster 595 interiors. Choose from a range of wood options including walnut, maple and cherry.

Keel options

Oyster 595 centreboard variant – if you love cruising shallow coastal waters, you can upgrade from the standard lead-bulb fin keel to a shallow draft centreboard option with a minimum draft of 179cm/5’10”.

Bathing platform

Upgrade the standard open-stepped transom with an impressive hydraulic-operated bathing platform, providing easy access for swimming and hopping in and out of the tender.

Extended transom

The extended transom option offers more space on the aft deck along with acres of space in the lazarette below.

Hull colours

Tailor the look of your yacht with hull, mast and boom in your favourite colours with complementing sail cloths. Vinyl wrap and paint options let your imagination run wild. Try some different options with our colour picker.

Hydraulic passerelle

The 1.9m letter box retractable hydraulic passerelle extended from the transom lets you board and disembark in style.

Plans and interior layouts

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Almost 10 years ago I posted about this subject when two rudder setups started to be applied to almost all cruising boats, a time when many still doubted the efficiency of the system. Today the situation is different, most boats have a twin rudder, but curiously we see now an increase of cruising boats with a  single rudder set up.

On the main market mass-production cruisers many use now a single rudder, and in the last article about 40ft main market mass-production cruisers, there were more using a single rudder than a twin rudder. I believe that in this case this has mostly to do with cost-saving, and not with rudder efficiency. A twin rudder setup is more expensive than a single rudder and on these boats, they cut in anything they can. This does not mean that a twin rudder is always more efficient. There are many top racing boats and top cruiser racers with a single rudder.

Rob Humphreys describes here the benefits observed through tank testing that was performed on an Oyster 885 model, and that convinced Oyster management regarding the benefits of using twin rudders on their line of yachts:

“David’s naval architecture background (David Tydeman is the CEO of Oyster Group) quickly helped me persuade him that twin rudders were the way to go! It was clear that this was going to be a bit of a sea-change for Oyster and I was pleased that David was keen to push this onwards and also to support this breakthrough with a decent budget for tank testing.

We both felt it would be helpful to have fairly tangible reference information for those owners trying to understand the shift from a skeg-rudder to the twin rudder form for this exciting new model.

In fact our testing session set out to do more than just this because we also used the opportunity to let the spade rudder have its say, just for some form of completeness. 

We have often been asked why Oyster has tended to steer clear of spade rudders and the answer has more to do with potential vulnerability than any disrespect for its potential qualities. 

As any Oyster owner knows a blue-water cruising yacht has to be accomplished in a number of different ways, and one of the lower profile requirements has to be an ability to slide backwards against a Mediterranean harbour wall without necessarily endangering the steering gear.

We tested a lot of other things as well but the rudder testing part was most interesting and was totally supportive of all that we had learnt to be true in the field. …

From our perspective twin rudders represent a huge benefit and an Oyster owner will really appreciate it too as soon as he has the wheel at his finger-tips. But what’s also interesting is that the system fares a lot better in terms of potential reliability, especially against the spade rudder. 

And of course, with two rudders rather than one there is an obvious increase in the level of redundancy. Unlike some twin-rudder installations, the arrangement we have for Oyster means that even assuming the worst-case loss of one rudder it would be possible to still sail the boat on the compromised tack, albeit with reduced canvas.”

This pretty much resumes the advantages of twin-rudders, but that quicker response is translated also in a smaller sensitivity. They have more inertia due to more moving parts.

Besides Humphreys was making the comparison between twin rudder and a typical spade rudder used in main market cruising boats, not a comparison with a very deep high-performance spade rudder, typically used in more sportive boats.

Regarding more advantages of a spade rudder over a twin setup, if you want to make a sharp turn or turn around, the single rudder can do it much faster, and in a much tighter circle, and that is important in regards to manoeuvering at the marina or port, especially if you don’t have a bow thruster, and also very useful while racing around marks.

A single rudder is especially adequate for a not very beamy boat.

On modern ultra-beamy sailboats having a solo rudder implies a deep rudder and that increases the problems regarding med mooring and also the needed boat draft.

Also, unless the rudder is extremely deep (and for that it needs a deep draft) at high angles of heel, when the boat is heeled by a gust or is over-canvassed, the twin rudder allows the boat to be kept under control. All the rudder is in the water and the water flow is centered with the rudder, while on a single rudder, it will be partially out of the water, and the water flow will be passing sideways to the single rudder. In these circumstances, this gives a higher efficiency to a twin rudder setup.

Only sportive cruiser racers or race boats have really deep spade single rudders. Very beamy main market cruisers have relatively deep single rudders but much less deep than on sportive boats, which normally are not so beamy. And when they are very beamy, like Pogo, they use twin rudders.

Main market beamy cruisers are designed to sail with relatively small angles of heel, and in those situations, their single rudders work perfectly well, and can even be more agreeable to steer than twin rudders, but in extreme situations, they will not offer the same boat control as a twin rudder.

If the boat has a single rudder and is to be sailed in the Med I advise against buying the shallow draft option because the keel can be shorter (with more ballast), but not the rudder, and you will end up with both keel and rudder with almost the same draft.

As the depth near the quay is always less than some meters away you will end up risking hitting the bottom with the rudder while backing instead of hitting it with the keel. The keel is resistant to small impacts while the rudder has a much smaller resistance. If you need a boat with a small draft buy one with a twin rudder.

Looking back at the rudder design, the first sailboats had a full keel and the rudders were on the continuation of the keel, offering the best rudder protection. But besides the full keel being responsible for a lot of drag, they had an efficiency problem and had to be big: the rudder to work well has to be in the way of the water flow, and the further away from the keel the better they work. The rudder on a full keel is just immediately after the keel, and that does not allow them to be very efficient.

The next step in the evolution of yacht design towards a more efficient and better sailboat was to separate the rudder from the keel, using a modified fin and bringing the rudder aft. Almost all the rudders of that era used a skeg, most of the time an integral one that protected all the length of the rudder. That improved the rudder efficiency over the previous solution but also revealed some problems regarding using skegs. 

But they found out the skeg could not be very strong. If it is very strong the skeg would not break with a very strong impact or grounding, but the force transmitted to the hull, multiplied by the long arm due to the depth of the rudder, would risk breaking the hull at the insertion point, what is far worse than a broken rudder.

Skegs become weaker, and, like the rudders, sacrificial, to preserve hull integrity in the event of a truly violent shock. The sad situation with Orca attacks on sailboats, mainly in Portuguese, Spanish, and Moroccan waters, showed that all types of rudders could be damaged and that the 4 sunk sailboats went down because the rudder breakage led to a loss of hull integrity, and that, to water ingress.

It is relevant the case of a Moody 66, one of the last Moody to be built, a strong boat with a skeg rudder that was attacked by orcas and that did not sink almost by miracle, due to the help of a powerful water pump delivered by helicopter. The skeg did not break and as a consequence, the hull broke. The damage was quite impressive, making for a costly repair.

One more step brought boat design to modern spade rudders, designed for maximum efficiency, far away from the keel, designed with a sacrificial function: they should be strong enough to sustain all the abuse strong sea conditions could have on them, resist small shocks but towards big shocks, they should break or bend before the hull breaks, to protect hull integrity. Not an easy compromise designing a rudder that responds to these two opposed constraints.

More efficient keels, with a smaller foil (increasing the distance to the rudder) better-designed hulls, and lighter sailboats, gave cruising boats a better sailing performance while the development of solo racing boats, to be sailed mostly on the trade winds, showed that very light beamy boats, with the beam brought aft, had a performance advantage in regards to easiness, being more stable, and sailing with less heel, making them easier to plane downwind, even under autopilot, without losing too much performance upwind. Overall that easiness makes them, out of very weak winds, or upwind sailing, the faster boats.

But they had a problem with rudders: being extremely beamy they would need a hugely deep rudder that would not be very efficient upwind with the boat heeled due to an extremely asymmetric water flow, meaning that, while heeled the wet surface would be a diagonal, the center of it passing far away from the single rudder.

This led to the use of twin rudders located aft, at the center of one of each asymmetrical narrow water plans (wet surface) that were formed when the boat sailed upwind heeled, to port or starboard. These rudders have the additional advantage of being much smaller, less deep, and therefore generating less effort than a single rudder, making them more resistant.

It took some decades for the big brands to opt for extremely beamy hulls, with beams brought aft, as the typical hull design to be used in main market cruising boats, mainly because they had to wait for the unusual shape to be accepted by the typical conservative cruiser, as a nice one. 

The first production cruiser to be designed this way, decades ahead, was the Levrier des Mers/Cigale by Finot/Conq. They had designed previously several of those solo racers (IMOCA) and were actively involved in their development and security. 

The Cigale/Levrier des Mers, in their first versions, appeared almost 30 years ago. The difference between the two denominations had only to do with the interior layout.

The 2004 Cigale, a 46ft boat with a 4.20m beam looks today moderately beamy, if compared with today’s main market cruisers of about the same size, for instance, the new Hanse 460 (45.5ft), has a beam of 4.79m or the Dufour 470 (45.9ft) with 4.74m beam, and they are not the only ones, being that the contemporary design tendency for this type.

It should be said that the reasons for designing the Cigale this way had to do with providing an excellent sailing performance in the trade winds, maintaining good upwind performance, and allowing for a boat easy to sail at speed.

The Hanse design has to do with sailing with little heel, not needing much ballast (relying mostly on hull form stability) and most of all offering a huge interior volume. 

twin rudder yacht

Both the sail performance and safety stability have nothing to do with the Cigale’s and they are incomparably worse.

The 2003 Cigale displaced 10000 kg, the slightly smaller Hanse 12600Kg. Both have about the same draft (2.20/2,25m) but the Cigale has a 33%B/D and the Hanse only 26.7% and I am not sure if this is not only true for the version with a 1.75m keel (being the B/D smaller on the version with 2.10 keel).  The Cigale had also water ballast. 

They have in common a single rudder and the beam pulled aft. Only on the more recent versions of Cigale, the 16, by Marc Lombard (2017), and the 15, again by Finot/Conq (2024), that are beamier, do they have twin rudders.

The new version comes with a swing keel, with all ballast on the keel, and has a considerably bigger length than the Hanse 460 (45.5ft to 47.6), however, it has a less beamy hull (4.70 to 4.79m).

twin rudder yacht

Deep rudders, some almost the depth of the keel, are more vulnerable, not only due to the bigger efforts that a deeper rudder generates, but are also more exposed to breakage due to groundings or eventual shocks with submerged objects. 

The better protection that the keel offers to a single rudder while sailing is no match for the greater reliability of having two rudders, instead of one. When a rudder breaks due to a shock with debris, if you have two, you still have steerage on the boat, and only upwind with some heel will you lose all steerage. 

We can also talk about the superior directional stability a twin rudder provides, making the work of an autopilot easier and that’s one of the reasons why almost all offshore long-distance racers have twin rudders.

So, the single spade rudder is as dead as the skeg rudder? No, both types, the spade rudder and the twin-rudder have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the design criteria and type of hull, one can be a better solution than the other.

twin rudder yacht

I continue to see designs of racing boats and of top performance cruiser racers, designed with CFD and VPP extensive use, that continue to use a deep very narrow spade rudder. Rating formulas can have to do with that. Still, I am more inclined to think that for absolute maximum performance, less drag, and maximum rudder sensibility, those rudders can offer advantages, especially if the racer is not very beamy.

But we are talking about boats designed to offer maximum performance, with somebody full-time at the steering wheel, and sailing on the limit, with a busy crew controlling the sails.

Solo racers have for many years adopted twin rudders as the better solution for sailing with a short crew on very beamy boats, and that has probably not to do with absolute performance, but with the advantages in speed that a more easily controllable boat can offer, and at the superior speed an autopilot can be used while racing.

Regarding cruising, if the boat is not used also for racing (cruiser-racer), and if it does not have a moderate or small beam, the advantages of a single rudder over a twin rudder are less than the disadvantages, especially if the beam is huge, like in many contemporary main market cruisers.

twin rudder yacht

The main advantage and the main reason why it is used in less expensive and very beamy cruising boats is to be cheaper to build, allowing to cut costs.  Also, it can offer a slightly better sensibility and mainly, it gives better maneuverability in the marina, but most of the owners that buy these boats have them with bow thrusters, and that makes this last advantage negligible. 

However, if you want a sportive boat and don’t want a bow thruster, it can make a huge difference and a single rudder can make sense.

Today marina “corridors” are narrow and the easiest, and sometimes the only way to put a 40ft boat (or bigger) on a berth without a bow thruster, or help from a marina dinghy, is to sail backward and turn sharply over the berth. 

A boat with a very deep spade rudder will be able to turn almost over its keel and with practice you can do this without trouble. With a twin setup, the turning angle is much bigger and it will be much more difficult or even impossible to do that. 

On a not hugely beamy cruiser-racer with a very deep rudder, you will not have less control at big angles of heel, you will enjoy the extra sensibility a single rudder can offer, will be able to put the boat where you want, and choose your way in between the waves, with a precision a  twin rudder set-up will not be able to offer. 

You will have more precise and nervous steering and you will have more fun at the wheel. But on autopilot you will miss the superior directional stability of a twin rudder, which will be able to steer the boat in conditions where, with a spade rudder, you will need to hand steer, needing to reef the boat sooner and go slower to use the autopilot.

Of course, these are generic considerations that are valid but do not take into consideration the way each boat is balanced and designed. The rudder does not work alone but in conjunction with a hull, and hull design has an influence on the rudder’s effectiveness and feeling.


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ch 5 presentation of data class 11

ch 5 presentation of data class 11


  1. Docking with Twin Rudders

    Sep 24, 2020. Maneuvering a twin-rudder boat like this Beneteau Oceanise 30.1 requires a slightly different mindset. Photo courtesy of courtesy of Beneteau. Twin-rudder raceboats have been with us since the mid-1980s. In the last 10 years or so, they've also become increasingly popular aboard cruising boats, including those available for charter.

  2. Docking a Dual Rudder Sailboat

    Dual Rudder Challenges. Twin rudders depend on the momentum of the boat for steerage. In other words, when the boat is stopped, hydrostatic pressure on the rudders is not established until the boat starts moving through the water. There is no effect of "prop wash" (the flow of water over the rudder produced by the spinning propeller).

  3. Tips for docking dual rudder boats

    Twin rudder boats behave significantly differently from single-rudder boats when maneuvering under engine, it is going to take some practice to get used to it. The main reason for the difference is that the rudders are not inline behind the prop, so revving the engine when the boat is stopped does not establish flow on the rudders until the boat starts moving.

  4. Genesis of the Twin Rudder

    The payback for that is a stern so wide that, on the wind, a single central rudder is levered half out of the water, losing traction and therefore steerage way. Which leads us to: The use of twin rudders, one for each tack so that one is always fully immersed. So brilliant, now the boat can plane and sail exceptionally fast.

  5. Twin Rudders For Bluewater Cruising

    With twin rudder installations already in action on Oyster 82s and an Oyster 655, and now specified as standard on the new Oyster 885, in addition to being available on the SuperShoal versions of the 54, 575 and 625, we see their use spreading through to the standard keel yachts. Watch this space for the next new model!

  6. How rudder design affects your yacht's handling

    We even have a solution for hard-to-manoeuvre twin-rudder yachts, which have no prop wash to steer with. The three rudder options we offer. We offer three rudder options. The first is a single, partially balanced spade rudder with a skeg for added protection. This is the standard setup on all our fin-keel yachts and also on the twin-keel versions.

  7. Twin Rudder Steering Systems

    Owen Clarke Design are designers of yachts with single and twin rudder steering systems, with over forty racing and cruising yachts with two rudders on the water. Fixed twin rudders, lifting rudder and kick up rudder designs for cruising sailboats, open class yachts and multihulls are a specialty. Where proprietary bearings and parts are not suitable OC custom engineer yacht steering system ...

  8. Sailing performance

    Sailing performance. The Oyster 495 is a joy to sail - a responsive and fast-moving 50 foot yacht on all points of sail. Twin rudders offer fingertip control even in the liveliest conditions. A range of advanced technology makes shorthanded sailing effortless, with in-mast furling and B&G navigation controls operated from the helm positions.

  9. Sun Odyssey 32.2

    Available in both keel and centerboard/twin rudder versions, the new Sun Odyssey 32.2 is notable by its voluminous accommodations and it's bright interior. Clearly this boat is made for cruising. The Sun Odyssey 32.2 combines all of the top qualities that make up a true JEANNEAU sailboat: Optimal freedom of movement above deck : going forward is done in safety thanks to wide decks and ...

  10. Q&A, Coming Alongside (Docking) With Twin Rudders

    Answer: Twin-rudder boats seem to be ever more common and this question has come up several times in the comments, so I'm going to tackle it in a short Q&A chapter. As we discussed earlier in this Online Book, the key to getting alongside in good order is using prop walk and prop wash to move the stern around with very little forward motion.

  11. Twin Rudders on a Sailboat: Increased control and safety

    It leads quite naturally to the twin - rudders. Better control when reaching and tacking Is positioned every rudder around one heeling average from 13 to 15¨ in the middle of the streamlines. In these conditions, the rudder to leeward is perfectly fed in the middle of the drainage. ... The Murray Yacht Sales Team has been serving the Gulf ...

  12. How to manoeuvre a yacht under power

    Twin-rudder variation. If the boat has twin rudders, Type 2 steerage is nearly impossible to achieve. The propeller sends water straight between the two, missing the rudders entirely.

  13. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379

    Simple—twin rudders. Even after reefing the main and taking up a couple of turns on the headsail, the boat heeled pretty dramatically in the puffs. But the helm was always light and refreshingly balanced as we accelerated to over 7 knots, thanks to the fact the leeward rudder was always properly submerged to provide positive control.

  14. Rudders

    Twin rudders provide positive redundancy, superior tracking, and reduce the loads on autopilots. Just as the majority of today's cruising catamarans are mini keelers, 90% of them are also equipped with fixed spade rudders. ... Drill holes in the stock for attaching to the rudder and boat. Attach the rudder stock: Use epoxy resin to bond the ...

  15. Twin Rudders For Blue Water Cruising

    Having been a proponent of twin rudders for well over a decade Rob Humphreys and the team at HYD has good experience with the arrangement through a range of boat types, from the rather esoteric world of Open 60s and Volvo 70s through to moderately heavy cruising yachts. ... David wanted a yacht with a beam to match the 82 (to work within UK ...

  16. Oyster 595

    Unlike other ocean cruisers for sale, push-button in-mast furling, electric mainsail and genoa winches come as standard and she offers responsive finger-tip control on the helm, thanks to the twin rudder design. The helm stations feature all the technology required for relaxed operation and navigation, with the winches within easy reach.


    A boat with a very deep spade rudder will be able to turn almost over its keel and with practice you can do this without trouble. With a twin setup, the turning angle is much bigger and it will be much more difficult or even impossible to do that. Grand Soleil 44, which won the ORC world championship on.


    Twin rudders provide exceptional control and reduce the tendency to broach. The yacht does not stall easily, as her pitching moment is reduced. The twin rudder system provides finger-tip directional control, especially when heeled.

  19. Twin rudders sailing yacht

    ocean cruising sailing yacht JPB 40. fast cruising motorsailer expedition. Overall length: 11.97 m. Width: 3.95 m. Draft: 1.87 m. The JPB 40 is a large sailing yacht of just under 12 m capable of taking a whole family on expeditions to the poles or to the warm seas of the Caribbean.

  20. hanse electric sailboat

    Apr 24, 2018. Hanse's E-motion electric rudder drive represents a true breakthrough in auxiliary propulsion for saiboats. When news that Hanse Yachts had launched a new form of electric-powered yacht first broke in the winter of 2016, it was widely reported. After all, Hanse is one of the world's biggest builders of sailing boats, so this .....

  21. fast catamaran boats for sale

    40' MTI. ( (SOLD)) Luxury 2009 40 MTI with the Tilt Trailer.$399K This boat is a one-owner powerboat used only in freshwater. Powered with two Mercury 700s stage 3 motors with original 150 HR this boat is nice. "Don't miss out" For viewing please make an appointment with us @ (928)208-8460..... These powerboats use the following propulsion options: outboard engine.

  22. The Metaphorical Boat: Moscow Metro

    It has been over a year since first being introduced to Limerick based 4-piece Moscow Metro* through their wonderful debut double-A side containing the tracks "Spirit of a City" and "Cosmos" for free, which sounded near perfect in spite of the band only being together for a few months at the time of recording. Now fast-forward 12 months, and as a result of the initial love for the band, they ...

  23. amadeus sailing yacht

    Built by the famous Dynamique Yachts shipyard and having undergone a refit in 2018, sailing Yacht Amadeus was designed to please the most demanding of yachtsmen. Built for smooth sailing, this elegant cutter rigged sloop has a sleek hull design, comfortably reaching top speeds of 12 knots and ensuring excellent sailing performance. ..... The 33.5m/109'11" 'Amadeus' sail yacht built by the ...