Fin and skeg

The Sparkman & Stephens design office turned out a great many yachts in the 1960s and 1970s that are now considered to be classics. All old Swan yachts had a long fin and the rudder mounted separately on a robust skeg. The frame pattern was similar to that of the long keel designs and V shaped frames were used here as well to ensure comfortable sailing, gentle motion and peace down below. These boats were likewise tremendously seaworthy, but faster on account of their smaller wetted surface area and better behaved under engine - even in reverse.

A long fin is fairly easy to steer since, although the boat can be brought back onto course with less steering force, the keel still has sufficient surface area to keep the boat heading in a straight line. The steering forces required are less for this design than a long keel because the rudder blade has a balancing portion below the skeg. Fin and skeg boats are equally well suited to autopilots or windvane systems.

The fin and skeg configuration is clearly the preferred choice of the fleets of sailors passing through the Canary Islands bottleneck every year en route to warmer climes. All the classic cruising boats from Hallberg Rassy, Moody, Najad, Nicholson, Oyster, Amel and Westerly fall into this category. The very first grounding, collision with flotsam or storm is enough to convince every sailor of the significance of that strong skeg retaining and protecting the rudder.

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