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What are the Rule Regarding Vane Gear


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What are the Rules Regarding Vane Gear if any.

I see people talking telephone numbers for a vane gear and have seen some elaborate designs

But what ARE the rules

Is it simply that the Gear SHALL use only Wind Power to drive the Rudder


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Dave, the answer to your question is simple, there ain’t any. It’s a piece of kit that has got to do a job and there are many and various types. They come in all shapes and sizes dependent on what you are using it in. Little ones for 36’s, big ones for A’s and anything in between. Roger Stollery published his design and you can ask him for a copy. The Clem Edwards ones are very accurate and easy to use but are like rocking horse p*** to find. Ken Jones made an effective one out of wire and again examples are hard to find. The there are the Fred Shepherd ones, moving carriages, and the Corby’s and there are of course the one offs and variations on a theme. A Vane gear is a piece of kit that you get used to, foibles and all, you will learn what it can and can’t do. The one thing for certain is that when you find one you can get on with you hang onto it and you enter into a deep meaningful relationship with it. You don't lend it out, you look after it and tend to it’s every need. Sorry I can’t point you in any other direction but if you are a good boy I’ll show you mine next time you’re down at Bournville. Now theres an offer that’s difficult to refuse.

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Thank you Bill

Not that I intend to run up and down a pond with a stick I my hand but, I did this in the 60's with my Father, was reviewing the 36 and A vane rules after having read a post on this site regarding some vane gear being available and near fell over when I read the Sellers price expectation and the number of people who were near despite to part with money to acquire such apparatus.

And sitting on my bench whilst I was doing this was a Micro Controller board costing £2.50.

I connected a vane to an input; a micro servo to an output and in two hours of coding a most effective Vane Steering Gear immerged. BUT it is not Wind Powered.

However the essence of the rule was maintained

The Skipper has to set the Gain AND Offset himself. So in reality nothing has changed , the same challenges are maintained but the availability of this inexpensive technology would possibly mean new life to Free Sailing


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  • 3 years later...

Just cruising the forums looking for interesting content.

Back in the 70's experimenting with 36's and vane gear I built a couple of vane units. Not difficult to make, soldered brass sheet. 

However I also have been thinking like Dave above that a bit of new tech could be added to the Vane systems, it would also allow self tacking without all the messing around with rubber bands.  So many more people now have programming skills in Arduino or others and this might really add to the popularity of vane boats.

I still remember my first one steering itself up wind, the pleasure that gave me.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Currently, the Free Sailing Class Rules Supplement specifies,

"1.2 The use of radio control, or any device not activated by the force of the wind, including timing devices for the operation of a tacking guy, is prohibited."

Exactly what might be meant, or intended, by the phrase "activated by the force of the wind" is a very interesting question.  A vane feather connected to an Arduino or similar is certainly "activated by the wind".  But is the consequent control of the rudder via a servo also therefore activated by the wind?  Do we need to understand "activated" as both "controlled" and "powered"?

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