Members' Online Book: Voyaging Boats from Boréal, Chapter 4 of 13

Rudder Options

A really interesting thread of comments has developed about rudders and other movable appendages on the French aluminum expedition yacht from Boréal.

Jean François Eeman, one of the partners at Boréal, has been kind enough to send us this picture, which will help to illustrate his comments:

Going windward : as soon as you have more than 10-12 knots of wind you start lowering the downwind daggerboard. When a puff arrives, the boat comes up closer to the wind and heels more immersing the daggerboard more and bringing the boat back on its initial course.

The systems works : when the boat is well trimmed she can goes windward for minutes (sometimes 30 min) without you having to touch the steering. In rough conditions you can see its impact on easing the work of the pilot by checking the amperemeter.

Going downwind in windy conditions: you lift pretty much the whole keel, moving the anti-drift center aft. And you lower the two daggerboards… The boat is like on rails

Best regards,


Boréal is a corporate member of this site. They started supporting us when it looked as if AAC was doomed due to expenses that way exceeded income.

However, the amount they pay is modest and certainly does not influence what we say about their boats.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

10 comments … add one
  • Matt Marsh Jun 10, 2010, 9:02 pm

    The mini-daggers are quite an intriguing idea. Yes, it’s two more things to deal with when changing course, but I imagine you’d just leave them alone if you’re tacking in tight quarters. From a hydrodynamics standpoint, I think it’s quite a clever trick, although it would clearly take a fair bit of design experience to work out the exact angles, cambers and areas to make it work.

    How big are the mini-daggers, compared to the boat’s other appendages (or total lateral plane)- ie. how much of a turning moment do they actually produce compared to the rudder?

  • Victor Raymond Jun 11, 2010, 6:35 am

    This is all very fascinating. How many ways there are to solve the age old problem. Of course one solution may be better on one particular boat than another. But clearly Boreal seems to lead the pack of boat designers at the moment. This is the high tech field of modern cruising sailboat design. Previously the high tech designs came from the racing boats.
    Here is another very interesting expedition sailboat, Glory of the Sea, . Twin rudders, saber daggerboards, double hull, inside steering. Definitely designed for the expedition minded sailor.

  • Robert in Norway Jun 11, 2010, 12:08 pm

    I would never have off center appendages on an ocean cruiser. Exposure to damage from semi-floating debris, extra first time cost, extra maintenance cost, extra weight, all in all an elegant solution to a non-existent problem. For me the number one consideration for a rudder is its suitability for control by a transom mounted servo-pendulum windvane, that means an inboard spade rudder with maximum area and balance and a simple tiller. Now that’s Attainable Adventure Cruising.

    • John Jun 11, 2010, 5:34 pm

      Hi Matt,
      Good question. Perhaps Boreal will answer it.

      Hi Victor,
      Took a look at Glory of the Sea. An interesting boat, although she does look more complicated than I would like. Not sure about the double hull either. I think I would prefer putting the weight into thicker plate. Finally, the Danforth style anchors do not work well in the high latitudes, at least in my experience.

      Hi Robert,
      I would agree with you if the offset appendages were mission critical. For example, I’m no fan of twin rudders for just the reasons you state. But in the case of the Boreal where the dagger-boards are not, as I understand it, required to safely sail the boat, I think they may be a very good idea. If they are as effective in improving tracking as Boreal claim, they would really help a self steering vane out. I’m also thinking that should the main rudder be damaged, the combination of the dagger boards and the paddle of the self steering vane as an emergency rudder might easily get one home.

      One thing I would want to be sure of is that in the event of a collision the dagger-board would shear off without damaging the casing and potentially starting a leak.

  • Jean-François Eeman Jun 13, 2010, 7:31 am

    A lot of comments, with a lot of questions and remarks.
    Thank you !


    Jean-François Delvoye’s son is a hydrodynamic engineer working for a big company in that field of expertise. That made it possible for us to do a lot of research which usually is not done for this kind of boat. We are happy to show to visitors to our yard the method we applied and the results… But I’m sure you understand it is something different to put all the results of hours and hours of research on the internet…


    I saw Glory of the Sea some years ago in Ushuaia when Jacques Peignon was sailing her. I cannot agree more with what John says about her. This point of view was confirmed to us last week, when the skipper who did the last delivery of the boat came along to visit us.

    Robert, John,

    The daggerboards are of wood and are meant to shear off without damaging their casings (moreover there is a watertight bulkhead in front of the casings and the ruddershaft).

    We too did not want twin rudders for the same reason as yours (see also my previous comments). The daggerboards really help the pilot, so they would help a windvane as effectively…
    Like Matt says it is indeed one more thing to trim but the trim has a real and immediate impact you can feel when steering yourself.

    • John Jun 13, 2010, 7:41 am

      A very big thank you to Colin for a really excellent review. I wonder, if the Boreal 47 had existed before we commenced what turned out to be a three year refit on Morgan’s Cloud, what we would have done…

      Also, a special thank you to Jean-François(s) for their very open attitude, even when their brain child was criticized, and the clear way in which they have answered all of our questions.

  • Timothy Jun 24, 2010, 6:07 am

    The Alden design office used an extra centerboard located on the centerline aft in several of its big centerboard designs. The reasoning being that a rudder large enough to suit them was not possible with shallow draft. The aft board was lowered to help steering control offwind, and helm balance in high winds.
    Steve Dashew comments.

  • Richard Elder Jun 25, 2010, 11:07 am

    As I recall the Garcia 45 Passion which my friends Bernard & Monique sailed from Bear Island (N of Spitsbergen) to Cape Horn about 20 years ago had a retractable centerline daggerboard ahead of the rudder. They used it running downwind in heavy conditions to provide directional stability. Raised the center keel entirely leaving a flat bottom. Also, the boat was built with 12mm plate to the turn of the bilge- no worries about letting her dry out!

  • Neil McCubbin Sep 19, 2015, 2:36 pm

    We have a Garcia Passoa 47, similar to the boat described by Richard.
    The after daggerboard can be put down to about 2.4 m draft, and reduces weather helm when pressed hard on the wind.
    We also pull the main centerboard all the way up when the wind is any more than about 20 degrees aft of the beam, with the daggerboard all the way down. Steers finger and thumb on the wheel in 45 knots plus.
    More importantly, I do not think we can broach.
    I understand the Boreals have a VERY shallow keel, so will not be quite to resistant to broaching, but will still be much safer downwind than a deep keel boat.

  • Victor Raymond Sep 19, 2015, 5:05 pm

    The Boreals have a keel box or foot that has two functions as I see it.
    1) It provides a wider flat bottom for the boat to sit on when beached
    2) it serves as a housing for the keel when in the “up” position.
    A third possibility is that serves as a mini keel for directional stability when going downwind. This would have to be verified by either of the two Jean-François of Boreal. Obviously they know much more about it than I.
    I do believe though the possibility of broaching a Boreal is slim especially with a daggerboard down. Hopefully Jean-François Eeman will weigh in on this topic again.
    We have no dagger boards or other appendages on our Meta Dalu 47. We do however have a fiberglass deep rudder in the rudder cassette than extends another 2 feet or so below the hallow alloy rudder. In addition because the rudder is transom hung the the effect on steerage is remarkable i.e. a little turn makes a big difference.

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