Posts Tagged ‘Scale Sailing’

Hello. It’s been awhile.

Last year brought major changes for me, both in my work and my interests. ScaleSailing had to take a back seat while my new business partner and I launched our T-shirt design business, “odd guy art.” We have great plans for that business, and it will continue to take much of my working time. Also, some of you may know that family health matters complicated the latter half of the year. Thankfully, that worked out well in the end.

So, I have chosen to get ScaleSailing back in the water, as it were, by seriously streamlining the business. I intend to concentrate solely on the production of the Kittiwake K2 and OPUS rig/sail kits. A few of my custom accessories will be available, too, but I will no longer sell servos. Check out the products page at ScaleSailing.com for the new line up.

The Kittiwake K2 will be supplied as the same craftsman quality (yet easy-to-build) kit as before. With the comprehensive step-by-step building instructions and the extensive CD of building photographs, K2 is regarded as one of the best kits on the market. The kit builds a beautiful, fine-sailing wooden boat. Two years of increasing production costs and smaller production runs mean that I will no longer try to compete with the cheap (mass produced) kits on the market. However, ScaleSailing kits will still be produced with the same care and love that I always applied in the past and I truly hope that you will still find them to be great value for your money.



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Pre-built boom assemblies
Six OPUS rig boom assemblies ready to go.

During this week and next I will be completing the initial batch of OPUS rig kits and filling my pre-production orders. These 6 are part of the initial batch of 24 rigs. OPUS rigs will have an attractive yellow sail as standard with white as a special order option. The sails will be plain yellow without the large OPUS logo in case you might be wondering about that. You can add the footy logo using our template available seperately if you wish or just freehand it!

OPUS rig drops into a carbon mast tube.

The extruded carbon mast socket tube  (3mm internal) is included in the kit, the rig simply drops into the tube. Switching OPUS rigs is quick and easy requiring just the main sheet to be unclipped (the sail control thread) then you lift out the whole rig as one. All sail tuning will therefore remain intact as you store the complete rig as one piece. Switching rigs doesn’t get any easier. Extra carbon mast socket tubes will be available so you can order a set of 3 to go with a rig if you are experimenting or want extra rig positions to help in tuning your footy.

I will be making the rig available through our main ScaleSailing web site by the end of this week, so watch out for that at http://www.scalesailing.com/product.htm

Any questions? Ask away 🙂


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The final prototype of the Dragon is being built and this is being documented to form the photo building sequence for the new kit ‘photo. CD’ in the instruction set.

As mentioned in the previous post about this boat the deck will feature a dinghy style spray rail to deflect water from the mast tube. This gives Dragon quite a distinct appearance and for me more of a feeling of the real thing. The rail is tabbed into the deck for easy location. The large hatch gives quick and easy access to the radio control equipment. Construction of the hatch is based on concentric laser cut ‘rings’ of plywood to ensure a good fit. Subsequent varnishing controls just how tight the hatch fits. On the two test boats for this method no fastennings were required, the hatch simply snaps on and has proven watertight even in heavy winds.


Construction will follow our usual clean and simple approach. The forward cavity contains the two part plywood mast tube foot which locates the carbon mast tube and is sealed at the bottom with epoxy. The servo tray/keel support is in the main radio bay. There is lots of excess bouyancy provided by the foam core construction so like the Kittiwake K2, Dragon will be unsinkable 🙂


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The Kittiwake design of footy has become something of a standard in the footy world to my immense joy. At the beginning of October K2 number 400  was part of a three kit fleet which went to the Czech Republic and they have become  some of the first (if not the first) footys to be registered in that country.  I hope you enjoy them and the fun racing they will give you and your friends Phillip.

In August three kits went to Osaka, Japan too, I think they were the first K2’s to arrive there too. I should make an up to date list of countries where Kittiwakes create their little wakes, just for fun.

People who are unfamilier with the name have asked me what a Kittiwake is. Well from Wikipedia…

The kittiwakes are two closely related seabird species in the gull family Laridae, the Black-legged Kittiwake (R. tridactyla) and the  Red-legged Kittiwake (R. brevirostris). The  “Black-legged” and “Red-legged” are used to distinguish the two species in North America, but in Europe, where R. brevirostris is not found, the Black-legged Kittiwake is often known simply as Kittiwake. Interesting huh 🙂

So now we are looking forward to racing through the 400’s and celebrating the sale of Kittiwake K2 number 500! In the meantime we are going to do something I will call ‘K2: Ten Specials’, every tenth kit starting with KW2:410  will be a little bit different  in having coloured sails  or a mix of colours instead of the standard kit white sails.  These specials will be listed on the ‘Specials’ page  http://www.scalesailing.com/specials.htm  at our web site. As each ‘K2: Ten Special’ kit is produced I will list it there. If no one pre-orders it at that stage it will simply go out to the next customer in the usual numerical order. These will sell for the normal price. First come first serve of course and only on the numbers I list on the specials page so you can’t ask for KW2:480 until that batch is in stock and listed ok 🙂

Have fun footying…

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Well it’s been a lovely summer so far here in sunny Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The lakefront is looking beautiful and the lake itself is sparkling daily. My walks along the river have never been more fun and the Opti’s dancing in the harbour more delightful. The coffee tastes great, the music lively, the arts scene busy and the company is entertaining. So this is where I have been, choosing life!

The Kittiwake business is not being neglected though, sales have been good this summer and enough to keep me busy with those rather than any new additions to the fleet. A batch went to Canada for a youth construction project which I hope is going well. I had the first Kittiwake K2 go to the Czech Republic a few weeks ago and a batch of three will be leaving for Japan this week. Supplies have been challenging though, my usual source for carbon extruded tubing has been very slow fulfilling a current order. This is not impacting the K2 kits but it has stopped me being able to start production of the OPUS rigs just yet. Hopefully this will be resolved soon, no doubt there is a huge shipment on it’s way across an ocean somewhere.

Dragon continues to sail well and will be having one change before the final production version, a larger rudder. I have come to the conclusion that the una rig is a little more reluctant to tack than a sloop rig as on the K2 and a more powerful rudder will bring it back to the snappy tacking I think these footys need.

Other news is that the 3x cell battery boxes with integral receiver switch are selling very well. It’s a nice simple solution, I convert the boxes with a servo lead so that they plug directly in to your receiver without a seperate switch harness. Three of the Lithium Energiser dry batteries give plenty of voltage (they are marked as 1.5v but give more like 1.75v even under load) for operating a footy. I have been using the 3xAAA box in the Dragon prototype and it just seems to keep on going and going!

Other other news, my daughter in England just bought her first house so I’m ‘chuffed to bits’ for her about that. So I’m told I need a plane ticket to go and help with the painting and decorating. Cheap accomodation, I can camp out on the job 🙂 . My MGB engine work has just been completed so I’m looking forward to getting my hands back of that and starting assembly intead of stripping things apart. That looks like an over winter rebuild now but I’m determined to have it ready for the spring. Of course my daily runner Ford, isn’t, running that is. But it’s a Ford right, pity it’s only a 4 cylinder or I could get it ‘clunked’!

Anyway, I hope your summer sailing is proving to be fun too. If you are in the northern parts like me, enjoy it while you can, get out of the basement 🙂


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Over the winter I have been developing a different style of una rig and a new footy to test it on. Early talk about flexible rigs and their benefits for use on footys centred around the flexible mast but apparent complexities in their design meant there was little development in that direction. Later the  ‘McRig’ came on the scene and it’s simplicity was infectious and it has become rightly popular. Rather than the mast bending it used a torsion bar for the mast pivot allowing the whole rig to flex from it’s base. I wanted to go back to those earlier discussions and see if I could make a bendy mast rig work.

In developing OPUS I was inspired by the una rig on the Laser dinghy. The curved mast on the Laser is shaped by the sail pocket. I decided to create the mast curve with a backstay instead which allows the mast to be shaped independant of the sail thus allowing some sail camber control. A pure Laser rig would have the mast set too far forward for a short hull like the footy so I have adopted an offset pivot on the main boom so the rig now became a una swing rig. I have been careful to allow no flex at the base and boom mounting so all of the flex and gust reaction is handled by the flexible carbon mast and sail itself.


The OPUS rig was tested briefly in the light Fall airs here before the winter freeze set in. Over the winter the idea was developed further and hand held tests in varying winds were photographed and studied to see how the rig was behaving. Clearly the rig worked nicely as a swing una rig which would make it a nice rig to use were it simply a stiff unit. What I was looking for was how would it behave in gusts as this is becoming a key element in racing footy design.

steady breeze                        stronger                              gust reaction

Well the results looked good, in a gust when the rig is close hauled or in a reaching position the mast bends away to leeward as might be expected but it also curves back more under the action of the sail and induces more twist in the sail. We know that bending away and dumping some wind in a gust is good but increasing twist is possibly even better. The movement adds upper drive due to the twist while dumping air and also keeps the lower area of the sail as set and driving the boat forward.

‘Laser’ style swing rig in action on the Dragon prototype.

The ScaleSailing Dragon/OPUS combo saw water again on the Friday of the NCR in Orlando, FL. I took the opportunity to sail the boat and with a good but variable wind blowing was able to see how the newest version of the rig behaved on water compared to land in a variety of wind strengths. It looked good on the water, I particularly like the elegant shape of the curved mast which was different from everything else on the water that day. The sail approximates to an elliptical shape which is typically considered to be an efficient planform. Tacking was quick and easy with the sail filling quickly and the boat accelerating away well. I think this initial sail size I have chosen handled the stronger wind well and should make a good ‘working’ rig to cover a range of conditions. Being used to sailing two sailed sloop rigs I did love how easy it was to turn on to the run downwind and not have to hope the jib popped out opposite to the main. Yet there was no odd behaviour as is sometimes reported for the classic two sail swing rig set up. I am prepared at this stage to say that this OPUS rig works and works well. Clearly there will be things to learn in tuning it, controls available are mast shape via the backstay, sail foot shape and initial twist shape via sliding rings on the boom.  

As an aside, construction of the prototypes proved difficult to get the required accuracy so I had a friend make a special tool which now allows me to make the boom/pivot/mast stub assembly quickly and with the required accuracy. When the ScaleSailing OPUS rig comes into production the boom assembly will be supplied ready made along with a prefabricated mast/masthead and sail ready to simply plug together and play.

All content of this blog including text, photographs and the model designs are the sole property of Graham McAllister Designs.
Copyright 2009 by Graham McAllister Designs.

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Over the weekend I was asked for my thoughts on windy weather footy sailing by a group in Florida. I thought more people might be interested in a few ideas of how to handle strong wind conditions and  I can perhaps expand here on how I answered them.

The first thing to say is that the wind can get too strong for any size rig, even the tiny ‘B-rig’ as specified by the footy rules will simply be too big for extreme conditions. So these thoughts will assume that although the wind is strong it is not enough to change down in sail size. So we will look at how to tune the sails to manage the conditions better. Also this discussion assumes you are using a sloop rig with a main sail and a jib sail. 

Your main tool to combat strong wind conditions is sail twist. Allowing the sails to twist away from the wind towards the top of the sail will dump more air from the upper parts of the sails but maintain a good drive from the sails. The mainsail twist is controlled by the kicking strap or vang fitted from the main boom to the mast. The jib sail twist is controled by the ‘topping lift’ which is the line running from the rear of the jib boom up to a point on the mast or mast head where the forestay is attached.

By loosening the kicking strap the main boom will be allowed to rise and in doing so will control the amount of twist in the main sail. Likewise tightenning the topping lift will raise the rear end of the jib boom (you may have to ease the forestay tension a little) imparting twist in the jib. Set the jib twist to echo the shape you see in the mainsail, look from the rear with the wind filling the sails to see this.

Pond Sprite showing sail twist in main and jib

Pond Sprite showing sail twist in main and jib

The balance of the boat in high winds will tend to gain more weather helm, in landlubber talk that means that the boat will turn up harder into the wind when you are close hauled sailing close to the wind. Using more twist in the main than the jib and flattenning the foot of the main more than the jib are ways to control this ‘luffing’ into wind. Also you can move the jib pivot further forward on the bowsprit if you have one to combat weather helm in strong winds.

Sail foot curve is generally reduced too in strong winds. Set the outhauls (rear bottom corner sail attachment on booms) to allow about a 1/2″ curve from the sail edge to the boom at the mid point.

For a strong wind racing day I like to have a rig (about the size of the original Kittiwake I rig) which is set up with the ability to add a lot of twist in the main and the jib. The rig can then be detuned to be almost like a B rig and tightenned up considerably if the wind does ease a little. Then if the wind does get even stronger you can still change down to a rules size B rig.

Victor V12 with nicely set twist in a blow

Victor V12 with nicely set twist in a blow

Those windy days can be enjoyed, not avoided with the right set up and tuning, give it a try… footys on a B rig can handle just about anything, just make sure they are watertight! And unsinkable is a plus!


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I’m not sure if it’s because the two words start with the letter ‘F’ but Footys and Fun seem to go well together. Just pottering about should be fun of course, that goes without saying, but racing? I have raced both Marbledeads and International One Metre model yachts and those classes can be fun but have a habit of getting very serious rather quickly! I raced the old ‘575’ yachts back in England too and yes without a doubt they were fun just like the footys.

For me what makes the difference is the relaxed nature of the racing with regard to the rules. Now this doesn’t mean that the racing is a free for all or a barging binge, but it does mean that it is very rare that the racing is aggressive and verbal. Many footy sailers are complete newcomers to sailing in general and yet they do turn up at regattas and are openly welcomed and encouraged to have a go as best they can. Seeing experienced skippers and beginners racing together and getting along is very pleasing. Somehow the overall foolishness of racing these little tiny boats deflates the big egos and encourages the newbies… brilliant!

There is a wonderful word which regulates the best of gentlemanly sail boat racing, corinthian. The word corinthian is to be found in the names of so many yacht clubs around the world and for good reason. It is an ideal, to be lived up to by participants in amateur boat racing throughout the world. I understand it to mean racing with the most basic respect for your fellow racers and their boats. You race to win but first you race fair, give others room to race and do it with good humour. It can be as simple as the difference between calling “room please number 10” in good time when you have to tack because of an approaching bank rather than barking at the last moment “ROOM number 10”

Now anyone who has been following the recent Footy Rules ballot could be forgiven for thinking that this fun element wasn’t reflected in the debate. Well I think that is true but without a doubt the few volunteers we have who have taken on the task of administering the class are doing their best to mold the rules to reflect the wishes of the majority of the registered owners as seen in the ballot.  There are those who don’t like the likely outcome but that’s democracy right? I voted against changing the battery rule but now that it looks like the rule will change I am excited about the possibilities that the change will open up.

I suggest that we all get behind those officers who are trying to move the class forward and welcome the new rules openly when they are published very soon. We need the guys who are working so hard on this to survive the process and stay with us. Without Angus, John, Flavio, both Bills and others we could lose the energy and direction which has brought our new class so far so quickly. Tell them on the forums that the normally silent majority is behind them and accepting of the new rules.

I am convinced that the Fun will remain in Footys and the rapid growth in races being organised will continue. We will be organising the ‘Sheboygan Footy Fest’ here again in May 2009 and hope to get another good turnout. In the USA Florida is packed with great racing being organised by a host of clubs. New Hampshire ran races this year and a group in Michigan is trying to get a start. If you are in a club with a few footys get some informal racing organised. It’s amazing how quickly the unbelievers change their minds about these small boats when they see what fun they can be around the course.

See you at the pond,

Copyright 2008 by Graham McAllister Designs.
Text and photos may not be reproduced without written permission from Graham McAllister Designs.

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Over the last two days I have been making a batch of the ScaleSailing Gooseneck & Vang upgrade kits. So now I have a whole heap of them!

These brass fittings make a really nice upgrade to a Kittiwake or of course they can be used on your own design footy.  The assembly only weighs 4g (modified turnbuckle, carbon mounting tube, cotter pin, crimp, silicone tube). A small weight penalty considering the ease of making small adjustments to your boom height which it allows. Fine boom control translates into fine main sail twist control which can be vital to good tuning. With this turnbuckle based vang you can sail in, make a half turn and be off again in moments.

The solid brass turnbuckle is a German made item which I modify to suit this use. It has a left and a right hand thread so turning the body of the turnbuckle causes the ends to both move out or in. Shown below is the assembly bound to an extended mast socket. The gooseneck and vang can also be bound to a mast in the usual way too. Find them at http://www.scalesailing.com/product.htm

and I am looking forward to doing some sailing this weekend, either a footy or my Victoria. I hope that all of my readers in the mid-west are keeping dry though. If your basement is full of water the last thing you want to think about is sailing I am sure. Here’s hoping the rain is over with for a while and that the water can go back to where it should be, in the lakes and rivers. Take care and stay dry, until next time.


All content of this blog including text, photographs and the model designs are the sole property of Graham McAllister Designs.
Copyright 2008 by Graham McAllister Designs.

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