Adventure 40 Rig


As I write, we are closing in on revealing the Adventure 40 design, but before we get overwhelmed by all the cool details in the renderings, and the resulting discussion, Maxime and I think it's important to finish writing about the specification that drove the design—we gotta know where we were heading to understand if we got there.

We have already covered:

So that leaves the rig. Let's dig in.

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Alastair Currie

I have mast head sloop converted to have an inner staysail, not a true cutter. To support the side loads on the mast I have fixed additional, aft lower shrouds. It works well as I can run off wind with minimal loss of boom out angle.

Guess which chain plates started leaking? The starboard new, additional lower aft chain plate, about 20 years in, easy to fix, no big deal at the end of the day.

I never really used my staysail as it was an old Dacron sail, but I bought a new staysail made in Vectron and what a difference, especially in strong winds. I am now wondering about changing my almost new roller reefing head sail, for a “working jib” but with more area than a pure working jib. I reckon that would be optimal for me with the staysail.

My masthead rig is a deck stepped, single set of straight spreaders, cap shrouds, lower forwards and aft shrouds (original standard set up), plus the new lower afts, is raked about 12″ aft, slight bend in mast by inner forestay, 10mm 1×19 wire. I have no adjustable backstay, just fixed. It works okay for me and I use a mini reef when the wind gets up to depower the main sail, in lieu of flattening with a backstay adjuster.

For me, the cutter style works and I don’t miss the backstay adjuster, it is simple but strong rig.

Looking forward to see the final decision for the A40.

Rob Gill

Hi John,

Big fan of Z-Spars (U.S.Spars in North America) having a 20-year old Beneteau 473 with Z-Spar masthead rig. We completely re-rigged the mast in 2018, and every part we wanted was available ex-stock from U.S.Spars, arriving within one week on our rigger’s shop-floor in NZ (he was impressed). All this at very reasonable prices that we couldn’t match in NZ.

On this alone, perhaps specify the A-40 mast as a standard Z-Spar foil section, to use all standard Z-Spar parts – no deviations. Then require the A-40 mast + boom & pole to have their own rigging diagram page on the Z-Spar / U.S.Spar web-sites so A-40 customers can order spares after market, by clearly identified part-number. And give owners a Z-Spar or U.S.Spar parts login / password in their boat manual.

This reduces costs and yard-time when it comes to rig renewals (which many A-40s will be doing every 10 years or less) – a big cost if any custom parts are needed. For example, we replaced the Z-Spar cast-aluminium mast plate, mast collar and mast shoe in 2018, not because they were worn. Rather, they were so in-expensive, not replacing them seemed a false economy.

Best regards. Rob

Vesa Ikonen

Cutter rig, no genoa, no paint on the mast.
I am really starting to consider buying the A40 although it sounds a bit small in terms of accommodation for more than two permanent crew.

I guess that just reflects the fact that 40-ish feet is simply too small for 4 proper bunks in two separate cabins – let alone 6 in three cabins, as typical boat this size has.

At least the designer seems to respect the ethos of seaworthiness, maintainabilty and good sailing characteristics over useless rear cabins.

Rob Gill

Hi John, Maxime,

Your analysis above doesn’t correlate entirely with our own experience of using a jib sloop rig for cruising:

  1. When we get rid of overlap, the mast must get taller so as to have enough sail area. We have the standard Beneteau masthead rig designed for a 130% overlapping genoa. To go offshore, on the advice of Doyle Sails we swapped to the jib using their high-modulus STRATIS construction. Mast remains short and we do not sacrifice speed, using modern sails materials and techniques.
  2. Low-overlap “blade” type sails are:
  3. Harder to trim well. Strange because we find our jib easier to trim upwind and downwind than the genoa was. Upwind at 13 knots TWS, we are at VMG cross-over. Between 10 knots and 13 knots we are slightly under-sailed with the jib. But in winds under 10 knots (12 knots in a steady breeze) we achieve a faster VMG upwind using our Code 0, compared with our previous STRATIS 130% genoa.
  4. Reduce visibility to leeward. This is true when close-hauled as our clew is quite low to maximise all-round performance, but with inboard sheeting we can easily look to leeward of the sail. Non-issue once outboard sheeted as enough gap opens under the foot to keep an effective watch.
  5. Don’t roller reef or furl well. We have three vertical battens in the leech so the jib furls and reefs well. Our first reef (with batten on the furl) is about 20% roll and second a 40% roll. This maintains a nice blade shape due to having a high aspect ratio sail. For us this is a big benefit over an overlapping genoa, especially offshore.
  6. To maintain decent trim as the wind speed changes, they must either be reefed or the jib sheet block continuously moved. We find the 103% jib not sensitive to windspeed sheet angle position and we leave it on our aft stop all of the time. Easing or tightening the jib sheet is enough adjustment. Only when reefing the jib do we move the lead forward on the tracks. We carry full jib upwind to 25 knots and reef above that for balance.
  7. When bearing off to a reach, the crew must re-reeve the jib sheet outside the shrouds to get a decent set. Yes, the leech quickly opens up spilling wind as you bear away, unlike a genoa which is more forgiving. But there is a good solution – twin outboard tracks on the cap-rail with twin sheets (inboard and outboard) each side. We swap from outboard to inboard sheeting using a turning block (with integral sheet lock) mounted on the cockpit coaming, near the sheet winch. We have to take a care to bring in any slack in the lazy sheets before tacking, to avoid tangles. These are simple tricks to learn (I guess much like tacking a cutter rig).

Some extra Pros & Cons on jib / code sail combo:

With short rig, the jib needs the Code 0 to provide the HP in light winds. May be too many $$ for standard A40?

Not sure jib would work with budget Dacron sails – so this may discount a jib for the A40. One reason it works well for us is the optimum designed-in sail shape with low-stretch fibres laminated in place. But Hydranet fabric should work OK with conventional construction techniques?

We have a removable Dyneema inner forestay (encapsulated in a Dacron sleeve) that attaches close to the masthead to take a storm-jib. The storm-jib hanks on using Dyneema soft shackles – may be the solution for your staysail? Glides up and down well!

A high modulus (low-stretch) jib with small clearance between deck and jib foot is somewhat vulnerable to wave-strike. No issue yet even after a number of large waves, but we use the high-clew storm jib in gale conditions.

In any reasonable sailing breeze upwind we’re closer-winded with our jib and with better upwind VMG than similar over-lapped B473, and I am sure any equivalent cutter.

Off the wind the code 0 is fast. It can be poled out to windward for running square in lighter winds. And jib can be poled out to windward for running square in heavier winds, by topping pole at the mast above horizontal.

Jib only needs two cockpit sheet winches (one each side) which reduces cost, frees up cockpit space and allows for large opening cockpit lockers.

Less windage forward when at anchor, with a tightly furled jib.

Previous Doyle genoa remains in our loft after seven years.

Scott Arenz

Hi John,

Seems like the A40 keeps getting better with every new article you put out. A mini-fractional, cutter rig with bowsprit, masthead spin halyard, backstay adjuster, and composite chainplates? Now we’re talking! Combined with the smart spec for the keel, this rig sounds like a sailor’s dream.

Seems like this configuration will allow for a range of personalization and performance options depending on the owner’s preferences and how much they want to spend on sails.

With the various affordances being built into different parts of the boat to allow owner customization, and now this more flexible rig concept (if I am understanding it all correctly), the A40 is really becoming a user-configurable “platform”, in a way. Hopefully folks will understand how that goes hand-in-hand with the “no options” principal: They actually have more freedom than they would if they had to choose only from a manufacturer’s options menu, while enjoying the financial benefits of pure economy of scale for the basic boat.

Question regarding the running backstays. Could both sets of anchors you mentioned be provided, the forward set for use with full main/upwind and the aft set for when reefed down? Or would the complication outweigh any possible convenience? Just curious about it, as I’ve never sailed a cutter.

Btw, as a sail trimming enthusiast, I’ll cast my vote for the mini-fractional rig with adjustable backstay. Perhaps a configuration using an economical block system instead of hydraulics can be found, that also preserves access and headroom underneath the arch.

Thanks as always for another compelling article!

Brian Russell

I enjoyed reading the description of the A40 rig-your excitement shows!
A few brief notes from my experience:
We have a true cutter rig on our Dix43. 108% yankee on a Furlex 400 and now the small staysail on a Furlex 300. Originally we had a hank-on staysail, but found that it was rarely used. Now with the furler we use the staysail frequently. It really adds pointing ability and power upwind. Definitely strike it when the AWA is approaching 90. We do not have runners but rather permanent “aft intermediates” as the designer calls them. Granted, they do interfere with the main boom being let out to a super-wide angle, but he trade-off is worth it to me. All sails Dimension Polyant fabric, heavier than “normal”, although I might go with Hydranet next time. But these sails will last me another 3-5 years.
Ditto the double reefed main/staysail heavy air combo you suggested. We did this for 11 days in 2020, Norfolk to Antigua, sailing AWA of 55 with the resultant increase in AWS to near 30 for 90% of the voyage. It may have been slightly slower than running the headsail, but much easier on the rig and crew. And perfectly balanced, so easier on the AP. Doublehanded offshore and in our 60’s we have found comfort and safety to be paramount over squeezing out an extra knot.
Here in Norway we have been using the cruising code zero quite often as we sail between the skerries and the inner lead, with frequent changes of wind direction and heading. With the CZ on a flex furler it is fast and easy to gybe the sail by simply rolling it in, moving the sheet to opposite tack and unfurling. We even leave it up and furled now when the wind picks up beyond AWS18 and we opt to use the yankee. Our CCZ is useable from 60-170˚, although this latter figure will only be achieved in flat sea conditions.
Finally, regarding weight aloft: Have you considered using dyneema rigging instead of stainless? My pal Barry just refit a Garcia 50 and saved hundreds of pounds aloft by using the fiber rigging. Not sure what the cost analysis is, but worth investigating? Easily field repairable, too, it is remarkably tough stuff.
Keep up the good work!
Brian on Helacious

P D Squire

Agree on synthetic rigging. It seems still to have problems with creeping. I don’t fancy retensioning the rig when I go to cold high latitudes, then easing it off again when heading for the warm.

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
I am always impressed with how much I learn from your articles, especially the compare and contrast aspects.
As to a cutter rig on a 40-foot boat, I have pushing 70k miles of ocean and coastal cruising miles on Alchemy and can confirm all you say about its versatility and ability to move the boat well. Versatility, and ease of use, often goes hand-in-hand with poor sailing characteristics and a dearth of options: limitations the cutter rig (especially where the mast is close to amidships) addresses well. A low-cut staysail and a higher cut jib topsail just plain work synergistically together and a modestly sized and strongly built asym in a sock fills in the gaps. In those miles I have never wanted more than a deeply reefed 3rd reef in the main and the staysail rolled in a bit: so no storm tri or storm jib and the attendant complications.
For a cruising couple, I would say that most will want the staysail to be roller furled: it is just really nice to be able to change gears quickly and easily and let the off-watch sleep when changes are called for.
The one place where I would suggest carbon fiber is in the whisker pole. In many days and many miles of wing and wing sailing, I believe it far better (both far easier and generally faster for cruising boats) to just head for destination (wing and wing) than to tack downwind. And my cf pole is 14 pounds and handling it on the foredeck in ocean swell in no way scares me like my old clunky aluminum pole did.
MY best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Dick,

thank you for the comment!

“A modestly sized and strongly built asym in a sock fills in the gaps”: yes, in my mind this should be the preferred solution regarding light air sails – although of course owners will be able to experiment with anything else, including code zeros, if they wish.

Andy Schell

It seems to me like the points above are trying to get the MOST performance out of the sailplan on all points with the LEAST amount of effort (ie not moving car positions fore/aft, inboard/outboard, not changing headsails, etc).

If that’s indeed the goal, I’m surprised the Solent rig didn’t make it into this discussion yet. Of all the boats I’ve done a bunch of miles on offshore (between Mia & I we did a complete Atlantic Circuit on KINSHIP in 2012/13), the Bob Perry-designed Saga 43 with a Solent rig had what I felt was the optimal setup. Two furlers right at the bow, one just behind the other. The headstay furler was masthead, with a typical 120-135% overlapping genoa; the Solent furler was set just aft of this, and just below the masthead, high enough to not require runners. Then there was an inner forestay, removeable, for heavy weather storm jib, with runners, but only needed in the really rough stuff.

The Solent jib was self-tacking and was the working upwind jib. The big genoa was for reaching and off-the-wind, plus you had your masthead spin halyards for light-air sails. The only downside was in very light wind inshore, where tacking the big genoa was impossible without rolling it in. But for offshore work, this rig was near to ideal (and so was the boat for that matter, I love the Saga 43!).

P D Squire

Perfect solution – very excited. Cutter rig is the way to go.

Mind you, I’m surprised you’re in favour of roller reefing. Most other sailors who care about sail shape and longevity are pretty agin it, even if they’ll tolerate roller furling. Although quite a few would rather drop the sails than leave them up furled, because of windage and it’s detrimental effect on progress to windward. I guess with the A40 we can leave the jib-top on the forestay for long downwind passages and only drop it to the deck on upwind passages with windspeeds above it’s operating envelope.

The proposed rig sounds fine without seeming to require roller reefing:
0-5 knots = full main and code zero
5-10 knots = full main and jib-top & stays’l
10-20 knots = depowered full main, jib-top & stays’l
20-30 knots = depowered full main and jib-top
30-35 knots = 1 reef (77%) main & jib-top
35-40 knots = 1 reef (77%) main & stays’l
40-45 knots = 2 reef (57%) main & stays’l
45-50 knots = 3 reef (36%) main & stays’l
50-55 knots = trys’l (25%) & stays’l
55 knots + = heave too or deploy drogue

The exact transition wind-speeds might be different, but with 3 headsails and 3 mainsail reefing points to choose from is there ever really a need to partially deploy any of the headsails? Can’t they be simply up or down?

Stan Blakey

Any update on the timeline for the adventure 40? What is the best and worst case?

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Stan,

this is difficult to estimate at this point. Just to give some idea, a reasonably fast case would be having the A40 prototype in water by the beginning of 2024, and then the very first of the series by late summer 2024.

But it all depends on the discussion with builders, and on the arrangements we can find (and on the impact of the current economic situation…). This will be the main subject for this fall. And before that, an important moment will be when we reveal the design by Vincent and team, and learn from you whether we’ve gone the right path!

Mark Sinn

I’m planning on my boat acquisition in the next 2 years and hope that fits within the A40 timeline.

I’d much rather have a new, well-designed boat than retrofitting an older boat. I understand it’s a big undertaking to build and introduce a new boat build.

I will remain hopeful for the A40.

Dan Perrott

It sounds like it will be really nice rig.
I like the idea that with the buyer choosing sails they can adjust the setup for their own use profile/preferences. Although I don’t think that this flexibility should be at the expense of making one setup close to perfect.

Is it possible to use forward jumpers (I hope this is the correct term) on the mast instead of running backs?
I have seen them on other boats supporting an inner forestay but I’ve no idea what the disadvantages are.
Perhaps cost or not as effective support.

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Dan,

interesting question! I fear it falls into “too much complexity and non-standard parts”, and suspect (I’ve never used such a setup) that it wouldn’t allow to tighten the inner forestay as much as running backstays do. But depending on what experience by John and others tell, the question could be asked to the mast manufacturers.

Dan Perrott

Thanks I’ve learned more about them.
Sounds like there may be very specific situations where they can work well but for the adventure 40 they will not be an ideal solution.
Now you mention it I can imagine it’s possible to get some very strange mast curves if badly tuned, or backstay tension is adjusted while sailing.

Scott Grometer

Regarding the necessity of running backstays with the cutter rig: I know the design might be antithetical to your current preferences, but The Lyle Hess-designed Bristol Channel Cutter incorporated an effective and proven alternative to runners. A permanent aft intermediate with upper attachment at same height as upper staysail attachment point shares the aft-most (outboard) chainplate with the aft lower. Also worth noting is that this design does not rely on swept-back spreaders either. Granted, this is an admittedly low-aspect mast by modern standards, and is also a very stout section, but nonetheless is a very proven design with countless ocean miles. Here is a drawing that illustrates the concept:

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I think that the cutter rig as outlined makes a lot of sense although it is certainly not the only option that would work. To me, it is in keeping with the goal of an offshore focused boat with good performance for a couple. It isn’t the rig that a fully crewed raceboat would use but that is not the point. It also isn’t the rig that I would pick for coastal cruising but the removable inner forestay solves for this nicely. If I were doing that, I would go to a soft stay as storing wire stays is a real pain in the neck and can make a mess of your mast anodizing/paint. You and Dick convinced me a while ago that a roller furling staysail is viable as a heavy weather sail also so double furlers might be okay too, especially in a place with a lot of wind like San Francisco or Buzzard’s Bay. In an ideal world, for coastal cruising if being a bit lazier and less performance oriented, I would take a solent rig and if being a bit more performance oriented, I would take a blade jib and a Code 0.

On our own boat, we have actually been playing around as when our current suite of sails comes up for replacement, we will switch away from hank-on sails. The biggest reason in our case is the storage space they take up, with a family of 4 being down below with several sails is less than ideal. One interesting thing I have learned is just how much variation we like in sail area, our biggest jib is 460 ft^2 and our smallest is 110 ft^2. In truth, the 110 ft^2 is probably smaller than we really need for our sailing which we have intentionally defined as coastal only right now, 150 ft^2 would probably be okay and on the top end, it is a pretty narrow wind range where the 460 ft^2 is beneficial over something like a 350 ft^2 with much less overlap. I am often amazed when I switch from an overlapped sail to a non-overlapped one and the boat speed barely drops but the boat heels a lot less. By far my favorite sail for our boat is what I call a working jib which is like a blade but with a clew cut a few feet higher although not as high as the picture you have of an Outbound. This is an incredibly versatile sail and provides great lift to drag and allows us to be much more close winded than our overlapping sails. I am sure that it is a little slower than a true blade but given that we are constantly steering around pot buoys and other boats, the extra visibility is well worth the tiny performance hit to me. We have inboard shrouds and sheet outside them but our previous family boat had a very similar sail except fractional hoist sheeted in the slot which was equally great and never required moving leads outside the caps. My experience with this actually very closely mirrors Rob’s experience with a blade although I have not found a true blade to be as forgiving as he describes. This sail is a little underpowered in under 10 knots and I want one of the overlapping sails at that point. Our boat has quite a tall rig for a boat its size (52′ air draft for 36′ length) so I am not tempted by lots of overlap but it definitely pitches more than I would like. I think we will either end up with a minimal overlap headsail (115%?) and our current asym or a working jib plus a code 0 depending on where we decide to go on the performance spectrum. With a working jib we probably would not need a higher wind sail just for coastal cruising but with anything that overlaps, it won’t be able to roll down far enough and we will need to figure something else out. My current thinking is a soft inner forestay with soft hanks and soft running backs. I have used this system before and it is great provided that you can put the sail on in its bag well before you need it, trying to put soft hanks on in anger would not be fun.

On the subject of weight aloft, I agree completely that it is a huge deal. Unfortunately it seems that many people who set up rigs don’t fully agree. Some of this is due to how aluminum fabrication works, on a mast the only logical way is to do an extrusion and that leaves you with limited options for tapering. I would never argue for scary low safety factors but this is an example where some analysis time should be spent eliminating material that is not needed to meet your desired safety factor. Similarly, the stuff that gets put up at mastheads can be scary heavy. I know of a few different boats that use sheave axles that must weight 5 lbs each. And I have seen a few lighting arrangements that were quite heavy as well. I hope you guys strike the right balance of being weight conscious and putting more development time and manufacturing cost at the top of the mast without making the boat less reliable. Thankfully anodizing is quite light although that is not the real reason why I would recommend it, it just is the right solution. Our mast is anodized and it is holding up quite well at 36 years old.

Is it safe to assume this will be a double spreader rig? That makes a lot of sense to me with a cutter as it provides a well supported point for the inner forestay. Also, any thoughts on continuous vs. discontinuous standing rigging? I personally prefer continuous but I realize the true performance oriented people will argue with that.


Eric Klem

Hi John,

Interesting thought, I had never contemplated in-hauling on our boat. I think that our current working jib might have just enough clearance to the spreaders to try sheeting inside the shrouds and trying it out to see if it works. We definitely do not have the most modern underbody and do have noticeable leeway so it would be interesting to see if it works outside of a narrow range of conditions. There also may be some benefit to keeping the groove wide for a while with our kids the ages they are, I want them to feel comfortable driving in more than just flat water. I haven’t gotten on a real raceboat in a few years now but I do remember being amazed at the insanely low sheeting angles and high boat speeds with proper sail trim and driving.

On our boat, I actually think the tracks are too far inboard by a few inches for sheeting outside. With all our jibs, they come up against the shrouds with a lot of draft still in them. The overlapping ones are a bit tricky to go hard on the wind in smooth water and often end up with the bottom few feet a little creased around the shrouds if I don’t rig a sheet outhaul. For our working jib and smaller, the large soft shackle we use for sheet attachment just bears against the cap shroud a little and it is actually quite easy to shape once this has happened.


Maxime Gérardin

Hi Eric,

thank you for the input!

Yes, there will be two pairs of spreaders, with the upper one at the termination of the inner forestay.

On continuous vs. discontinuous, we’ve not given thought to this yet. To me discontinous feels more stupid-proof, but it may be just a prejudice. Any thoughts welcome!

Eric Klem

Hi Maxime,

My preference for continuous rigging is around the ability to do more tuning and inspection from on deck. I find getting a good initial tune on a boat with discontinuous wire rigging to take an awful lot of sailing around in appropriate wind and taking trips up the mast, probably not something that all A40 owners would enjoy. And with a cutter, you will then invariably find the tune is wrong once the wind really gets up and you are using the staysail heavily. Of course you can pin the rig after getting that first tune but for various reasons like replacing the wire, you end up having to do the whole thing again.

With regards to inspection, it has been my experience that by far the most common failure point with wire is right outside the end termination. From this point, putting more fitting at deck level rather than up the mast is good and you also have less total fittings to go bad so statistically that should help reliability.


P D Squire

Most times when I go forward past the side stays on my twin spreader, fractionally rigged, 26′ racey cruiser I wonder why no-one puts the inners inboard and the caps outboard. Walking through the gap would be so much easier than trying to squeeze past the lowers. Especially if the reason I’m going fwd is to change to a smaller headsail, too late, and there is a lot of heel.

Now I see that it has been done. None other than Vincent Lebailly did it on his Biloup 109! I’m getting excited!

Maxime Gérardin

Hi PD,

one tradeoff to take into account with this slot issue is that the setup you have (with all shrouds outboard, if I understand well) allows placing the jackline well inboard, where it prevents a fall beyond the lifelines. With your lowers inboard, a jackline would have to go between the shrouds, as often seen, and not keep you as safe, or to go inside the lower shroud, which is safe but adds to the issue you report.

With the A40 rigged as a cutter we get the best of both worlds, since the lowers have quite a large angle to the mast, helping going forward while safely clipped on, and, as John writes, there’s enough space between shrouds and lifelines to walk freely, when clipping on is not required.


2 Questions

  1. Will the boat come with a Tides track on the Mast as standard? Need to have the sail go easy up and down. What is the plan?
  2. will a trysail track be standard on the mast?
P D Squire

The weight-saving resulting from the decision to build a cored epoxy hull could have allowed for increased ballast within the original overall displacement target, which would have retained hull volume. However, I believe the decision was to reduce the overall displacement instead, which (unless I’m mistaken) reduces hull volume. I hope there is still room to store the light air sails and stays’l somewhere readily accessible when not in use.

P D Squire

I’d taken the original “target displacement” (8-9 metric ton) as part of the “specification.” And assumed it was as much for for seakeeping reasons as for payload-carrying sufficiency.

All other things being equal, Can a 7-8 ton boat be as seakindly as an 8-9 ton version?

Of course, the lighter boat can have smaller sails & lighter gear, which will be easier to handle (including a smaller drogue to retrieve should the worst come), and easier to build within the target price.

As always, a plethora of pros and cons to chart a path through.