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There has been some confusion in sailing circles regarding the Sailomat name owing to the fact there were two separate companies using the name. The legal battle between the parties involved lasted for several years and unsettled the market.

Sailomat Sweden AB was founded in 1976 by the three Swedes Bostrom, Zettergren and Knoos. With financial help from the Swedish treasury the company developed the Sailomat 3040 double rudder system. Elegant and innovative, the design was the first to couple a servo-pendulum system directly to an auxiliary rudder in this way. The system was also tremendously expensive, and fell beyond the reach of many sailors. Exaggerated estimates of the potential market and personal disagreements between the three partners probably contributed to the problems of the company. Production ceased in 1981 and the company was dissolved shortly thereafter. H. Brinks/Netherlands, the former European marketing representative for the company and inheritor of the legal rights to the system, continued to sell off existing stocks for several years. The system was later sold under the name STAYER as a result of legal disputes between the former owners. It finally disappeared from the market at the end of the 1980s.

In 1984 Stellan Knoos founded Sailomat USA. He designed servo-pendulum systems (Type 11) at his base in California and had them manufactured in Sweden.

The Sailomat 500, a hybrid autopilot/windvane system, was launched in 1985. The windvane supplied the steering impulse for on the wind courses +/- 60 degrees and the autopilot was connected in other cases. The idea failed to catch on and few systems were built.

The Sailomat 536, similar in many ways to the Sailomat 500 but with a 360 degree windvane, appeared in 1987. The pendulum arm could be raised 90 degrees to one side, which in practical terms actually meant that the rudder had to be removed after use because it would otherwise have stuck out some distance from the side of the boat. Mounting components had to be custom made; variable mounting flange and remote control were not available.

Sailomat 601 Windvane

Sailomat 601

Next to appear was the Sailomat 600, launched in 1993. A development of the 536, this system had a variable mounting flange and remote control and permitted the pendulum rudder to be lifted up through 170 degrees.

The Sailomat 601, which appeared in 1996, was similar except that the pendulum arm angle had been modified.

Sailomat systems do not use a bevel gear linkage. Damping is achieved by angling the shaft of the pendulum rudder aft so that the flow of water past the blade slows and damps the lateral movement of the rudder. This angle has been modified a number of times:

Sailomat 3040



Sailomat 500



Sailomat 536



Sailomat 600



Sailomat 601


The manufacturer recommends further modifying this angle setting, e.g. by inclining the windvane shaft (whose angle with respect to the pendulum rudder shaft is fixed), to match the damping characteristics to the particular circumstances. This means accepting a corresponding increase/decrease in the working range of the windvane, because once the shaft is inclined the windvane no longer has an exact amidships position.

The windvane to push rod signal transmission needs to be fine trimmed manually. A total of 18 settings (6 at the windvane combined with 3 at the linkage) are provided for this purpose. The push rod is designed like a kind of bottle screw: its effective length changes regularly with every course change when the windvane is adjusted or turned. The operator must be particularly careful here, otherwise frequent course/wind changes may tighten or loosen the screw excessively; the amidships position of the windvane/pendulum rudder is never exactly defined. The wheel adaptor is a fixed drum. Fine adjustments to the course are made by shortening/lengthening the steering lines.

The system is available with different shaft and rudder blade lengths for boats of up to 60 feet. The Sailomat gear is present at some of the US boat shows but is seldom seen at the international shows in Europe. It can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.


This American system is a servo-pendulum/trim tab hybrid (Type 9). The pendulum rudder is connected underwater to the trailing edge of the main rudder by a long bracket. The bracket transmits lateral movements of the pendulum rudder directly to the main rudder. Damping is provided by the V vane, which is very effective thanks to its wedge-shaped profile.

The Saye's Rig is built in small numbers in the USA. Depending on the position of the main rudder, the transmission bracket may have to project a long way aft to reach the pendulum rudder. As the two rudders are fixed relative to each other, trim can be adjusted only at the windvane. It is often difficult to move the rudder of a wheel steering system from the wrong end in this way. A bypass valve is not adequate to adapt hydraulic steering systems for the Saye's Rig gear since the oil in the main cylinder still has to be circulated. A bypass valve would also prevent manual steering in the event of an emergency.

Manual steering is only effective once the pendulum system has been disconnected or removed. Owing to the unusual design this system is suitable for only a few types of boat and main rudder.

The Saye's Rig comes in one size and is available from Scanmar International USA. SCHWINGPILOT

This German servo-pendulum system (Type 10) is built in aluminium using industrial methods and first appeared in 1974. Schwing, an engineering company active mainly in the field of concrete pumps, placed particular emphasis on the possibility of mounting its systems on the pushpit. The gear consequently used a horizontal pendulum arm rather than the conventional vertical arm. The extremely long pendulum arm could be dropped out of its mounting and removed for manoeuvring. As long as the pushpit was stable this system gave good, sensitive steering performance. The course was set using an endless worm gear. Production recently ceased.


John Adam founded Windpilot in 1968 after returning from an eventful voyage from England to Cuba aboard a LEISURE 17. The story of how, exhausted after days of storms, he ran aground and was arrested by the Cuban military appeared in the press all over the world. He was held for weeks, and it was during this captivity that he finally decided to set up the company.

The following systems were hand made in stainless steel.

System type 3: V vane auxiliary rudder system; model names ATLANTIK II / III / IV for boats of up to 25 / 31 / 35 feet; produced between 1968 until 1985.

System type 5: V vane auxiliary rudder and trim tab system; produced between 1969 and 1971.

System type 10: V vane servo-pendulum system; model name PACIFIC V; produced between 1970 and 1975.

System type 11: H vane servo-pendulum system; model name PACIFIC H; produced between 1973 and 1983.

System type 8: H vane trim-tab-on-main-rudder system; model name PACIFIC custom; produced between 1971 and 1974.

These systems were of very robust construction and most of them are still in use even after the best part of 30 years.

The somewhat unconventional acquisition of the company by the author of this book occurred in 1977. Friends John Adam and Peter C. Forthmann went sailing and agreed a swap: the company for a steel yawl!

Windpilot stopped building its stainless steel systems in 1984/1985. The average length of boats equipped with windvane steering had by this time grown to considerably more than 35 feet.

Windpilot Caribic
John Adam, founder of Windpilot leaving Weymouth in 1986
Windpilot Caribic

Windpilot Caribic auxiliary rudder Windpilot Pacific H vane stainless 1974

system 1988

Windpilot Caribic auxiliary rudder Windpilot Pacific H vane stainless 1974

system 1988

The all-new PACIFIC and PACIFIC PLUS twin systems, a state of the art servo-pendulum gear and a double rudder system based on it, were introduced in 1985. With boats getting larger and larger and centre cockpits which were unfavourable to conventional servo-pendulum systems becoming increasingly prevalent, this synthesis of the advantages of an auxiliary rudder gear with those of a servo-pendulum system proved to be the logical answer.

The PACIFIC and PACIFIC PLUS designs have changed very little since their launch. They have all the features of a modern servo-pendulum system: infinitely adjustable; easy to remove; H windvane; infinite remote control; bevel gear linkage for automatic yaw damping; lift up pendulum rudder; adjustable mounting components; short transmission paths; infinitely adjustable wheel adaptor with a universal mounting flange for all wheel steering systems; low weight; compact modular construction in AlMg 5 grade aluminium alloy. The systems are manufactured using industrial sand and die casting methods and then machined on modern 5 axis CNC equipment.

Both systems won prizes for their avant-garde design and have been exhibited at the German Museum for Art and Design. The novel features of the systems are legally protected by German patent P 36 14 514.9-22.

Pacific Light Windpilot

Windpilot Pacific Plus Winpilot Pacific (1998)

In 1996 the design team of Jörg Peter Kusserow, Peter Christian Förthmann and their CAD workstation produced the PACIFIC LIGHT. This system, conceived especially for boats under 30 feet, is the lightest servo-pendulum gear in the world with a proper bevel gear linkage and has all the features of its bigger sister.

Windpilot plans to expand its range at the top end as well with the introduction in 1998 of the PACIFIC SUPER PLUS, a double rudder system which will allow connection and disconnection under load and which is suitable even for boats over 60 feet.

Windpilot has been around now for over 29 years and is probably the world's oldest surviving manufacturer of windvane steering systems. It is certainly the only one currently offering a complete range of modular systems for all types of boat.

John Adam Windpilot

Winpilot Pacific Light (1996) Windpilot Pacific (1985 - 1997)

The range includes:

• System type 11: PACIFIC LIGHT for boats < 30 feet

• System type 11: PACIFIC for boats < 60 feet

• System type 12: PACIFIC PLUS I for boats < 40 feet

• System type 12: PACIFIC PLUS II for boats < 60 feet

Windpilot systems are marketed worldwide and are supplied directly by the manufacturer. The company is represented at all the major European boat shows. A US subsidiary will be starting up in January 1998.

Aries Windpilot
Winpilot Pacific (1998 model) multifunctional mounting system


This English manufacturer recently launched a servo-pendulum system (Type 11) which resembles the ARIES in even the smallest details. Time will tell whether copies such as this will survive in the market even when the original is available at a better price. The system can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.

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