All boats in the Pacific Cup need to have an emergency rudder. It is a requirement of US Sailing’s Offshore racing rules. It is for good reason, as steering failures are one of the most common failures in offshore sailing. But, few boats have an emergency rudder, so it is a custom piece of fabrication. I researched various designs and techniques. Some people rig a spinnaker pole as a tiller, and use a floorboard as a rudder. Apparently it can work, but the idea alone seemed something I didn’t want to try. Others have a more refined rudder, bolting gudgeons on the stern of the boat, and having a rudder that can be easily installed and removed. This requires some fabrication which would be expensive to someone not able to cut and weld stainless, and fabricate a fiberglass rudder.
I looked at and considered various designs. One I liked was a cassette design. Gudgeons are installed on the stern of the boat, but instead of the rudder installing directly on the Gudgeons, a “cassette” is installed first. The cassette is small and out of the water so it is easy to install. Then, the rudder board is dropped in the top of the cassette, and into the water. This makes the rudder much easier to install.
I saw an 8’ 200lb emergency rudder for another Morgan similar to mine. The thing is so huge, I don’t know where I would store it. And how do you install that thing in the middle of the ocean? One advantage though, it is as large as the main rudder, so there won’t be any loss of maneuverability and you could keep racing after it was installed.
In the end, my answer was simple, and was made for me. I have a monitor windvane for cruising. The windvane is an apparatus that mounts on the stern, and uses the wind to steer the boat. It is like an autopilot that doesn’t need any power or electronics. The manufacturer makes a kit to convert it to an emergency rudder. As a bonus, it is an emergency rudder that still works like an autopilot and doesn’t need to be steered manually, although you still can manually steer if you wish. The rules don’t allow the use of autopilots, so if we need the emergency rudder, and still want to race as opposed to just make it home safe, we would be manually steering.
The rules require that we test and demonstrate the rudder works as expected. Sometimes common designs seem well founded, but fail miserably. I was a bit concerned about not having enough leverage on the rudder, without the benefit of a large wheel or long tiller. The rudder worked great though. Because it is part of the windvane already on the boat, deployment took less than 5 minutes. We didn’t have the maneuverability of the full rudder, but in 15 kts of wind, we were able to control the boat both up and down wind, and both tack and jibe.