Westerly 22 rudder design

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In the spring of 2009 our Westerly 22 lost its rudder to drying out on a very uneven sandbank in very uneven weather. Luckily, it was still possible to steer her with the outboard to the lift out position. As soon as she came out it was obvious, even to an inexperienced sailer, that a crucial part of the yacht was missing. Further inspection revealed that the steel rudder bar had also been eaten away over the years at the water line.

missing rudder
Missing rudder

Welding a new rudder blade onto the existing rudder bar was unlikely to produce a a strong construction due to the lack proper access. It was decided the new rudder had to

  • be a stainless steel construction
  • be mountable in situ at the drying mooring

Being part of a fantastically supportive sailing community, a fellow sailer offered to get a new rudder designed and build. The following drawings were made by Terry McMennamim for which I am very greatful.

The design is such that the stainless steel rudder bar slides in from the top through the rudder blade mountings. The rudder is then fixed to the bar by tightening the clamp construction and inserting grub screws. The construction has been tried and tested for the past 3 seasons. In anything over F4 and our Westerly requires 2 hands due to exessive weather helm and we managed to keep a reasonably straight course so far.


Fig 1 shows the complete system put together. One could possibly skip the anti-lift ring as the weight of the construction has never lifted the rudder bar out of the existing (40 year old) heel bearing in the past 3 years.

rudder assembly
Fig 1. The rudder assembly

The actual rudder blade was cut out of 2.5cm marine ply (no dimensions available) and covered in expoxy (see Fig 2).

blade mounting
Fig 2. Rudder blade mounting

The tiller mounting was welded on top of the rudder bar. Over it will fit the tiller pivot mounting (see Fig 4).

tiller mounting
Fig 3. Tiller mounting
tiller pivot
Fig 4. Tiller pivot mounting

The rudder bar heel bearing was designed but never fitted as the new stainless steel rudder bar fitted well in the existing socket mounted on the skeg.

heel bearing
Fig 5. Rudder bar heel bearing

A PDF file with this information can be downloaded here Media:Westerly_22_rudder_design.pdf‎.

Final result

The final construction looks like this.

new rudder in place
The new rudder in place

Further references How not to mount a rudder and The actual muddy work