facebook-pixel

Why are Skeg Hung Rudders Good for Ocean Sailing?

Skeg-Hung Rudder and Dual Keels Support the Weight of this Sailboat

Skeg-hung rudders are good for ocean sailing because they provide good steering control and stability, even in rough conditions. The skeg, which is a vertical fin that projects below the hull of the boat, helps to keep the rudder from being damaged by waves or other obstacles.

Why Ocean Sailboats Need a Skeg-Hung Rudder

Here are some of the reasons why skeg-hung rudders are good for ocean sailing:

  • Stability: The skeg helps to keep the boat stable, even in rough conditions. This is important for ocean sailing, where the boat may be subjected to large waves and strong winds.
  • Control: The skeg helps to provide good steering control, even in rough conditions. This is important for safety, as it allows the boat to be maneuvered in difficult conditions.
  • Durability: The skeg helps to protect the rudder from damage. This is important, as the rudder is a vital part of the boat’s steering system.
  • Overall, skeg-hung rudders are a good choice for ocean sailing. They provide good steering control, stability, and durability, which are all important factors for safe and enjoyable sailing.
No Skeg, Rudder Attached to Full Keel.
Image Source: Pinterest
Skeg-Hung Rudder Supports the Weight of this Sailboat.
Full Skeg-Hung Rudder.
Image Source: Pinterest
Twin Spade Rudders Supporting a Sailboat
No Skeg, Two Spade Rudders Support the Weight of this Sailboat

Disadvantages of Skegs

Here are some of the disadvantages of skeg-hung rudders:

  • Weight: The skeg can add weight to the boat, reducing its speed.
  • Maintenance: The skeg can be difficult to maintain, as it is located below the hull of the boat.
  • Cost: Skeg-hung rudders can be more expensive than other types of rudders.
  • Despite these disadvantages, skeg-hung rudders are a good choice for ocean sailing. They provide good steering control, stability, and durability, which are all important factors for safe and enjoyable sailing.

Do you really need a Skeg to Sail Offshore?

The skeg is traditional advice. But if you start digging a little deeper, there are those who say you don’t need a skeg.

“Skegs do tend to be rather long and of limited fore aft thickness hence of rather spindly and weak as to impact strength but they do add a second vertical strengthen compared to non-skeg mounted rudder so there is a sharing of loading across the two structures…Then in the ‘60s leading yacht designers such as Sparkman & Stephens moved to fin keels and hung the rudder on a skeg. This became the norm for cruiser-racers until – in pursuit of ever more speed – skegs began to disappear and most rudders became ‘stand-alone’ spades.” – Cruisers Forum

“…early fan of properly built spade rudders but if you’ve never seen a Dashew designed spade rudder you’ve missed something. The rudder can take the weight of its share of the boat. They are very large rudders with bullet proof internal structures.” – Cruisers Forum

If you browse Hylas and Amel new ocean cruising designs, you’ll see they went from skeg-hung rudders to spade rudders…hmm. Something to think about.

Tell Us Your Thoughts

Is a skeg-hung rudder necessary for offshore sailing? Are the advantages better than the disadvantages? Can a spade rudder do the job safely? Join the discussion down below.

4 responses to “Why are Skeg Hung Rudders Good for Ocean Sailing?”

  1. Jorge Venazuela Avatar
    Jorge Venazuela

    Full keel = fully protected rudder. That’s my 2 cents.

    1. Ian Avatar
      Ian

      Do you really want the performance decrease in a full keel? You’re in the ocean, not a lake with tree stumps popping up everywhere.

  2. Sailor Lucy Avatar
    Sailor Lucy

    Pretty sure Hylas and Amel aren’t making pieces of crap. I’m confident their spade rudders will outperform and be just as strong as any old skeg-hung rudder. I just can’t afford one of those yachts.

  3. Jim Avatar
    Jim

    Interesting thoughts about the skeg being not as strong as they thought they would be. Also interesting to think about big ocean yachts using spades. I’d like to hear more about this rudder topic. Thanks for a great article Sailboat Life!

Throw in your two cents, start a discussion