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Rudder Design Change, April 31, 1966 (page updated July 20, 2010)


The change in builders from O'Day to Yankee was preceeded by a number of design changes. One of these was to go to a more efficient rudder. In addition to providing a smoother flow it decreased the total wetted surface slightly while increasing the area down low. Below is a section of a drawing found in S&S' files. It appears that this 'design change' was in fact catching up with changes that already had been made by O'Day, or perhaps individual owners


Webmaster Note: Jim Kurt (The Rachael K # 4) told me that the original aluminum rudders were built by Jim Armitage of Star Marine in Guilford, CT - later acquired by Kenyon.

May 17, 2010. The key elements of the original are a parallelogram form - top edge parallel to the bottom edge, the trailing edge parallel to the leading edge, and a rounded top aft corner. A bit of a mystery - we still have not found a photo of a rudder on an early Dolphin built to that design.

This is  Passage's rudder, Marscot/O'Day #10 - not to the original design - vertical trailing edge, sharp top aft corner. This appears to be a fiberglass rudder or at least fiberglass wrapped.

Marionette's Marscot/O'Day # 12

Neither of these early O'Day rudders are built to the above design. Maybe there was a change in the very early Dolphins. We'll keep working on this

This is the rudder from Dick Watson's O'Day # 29, Sea Glass (formerly Bodes Well ).  It's aluminum and appears to have the parallelogram design that is in the drawings. You can see the restored rudder by clicking the Sea Glass link above. Mark Steinhilber, a marine architect whose father had Rascal, an early O'Day (hull # not known), offers the following observations (minor edits)

Bode's Well shows an early O'Day rudder with the parallel trailing edge, parallel top and bottom, prop cutout, bronze shaft insert at top for the tillerhead fitting, and an obvious aluminum welded plate insert repair at the bottom of the rudder.  So here is the photo your looking for.

Rascal's rudder was exactly the same, and so were the Lunn rudders.  The aluminum tube at the bottom shoe would get eaten up by the galvanic action between the shoe and the rudder, so the repair to Bode's Well's rudder was just like the repair work we had done in the 1970's to Rascal's rudder.  We changed the shape to the new design profile at the time, and added a rudder centerboard that came out of the bottom for use on windy spinnaker reaches...it wasn't worth the trouble, but we weren't afraid to try things like that...should have raised the centerboard 10-20 degrees instead to move the center of lateral resistance aft...

I suspect that Passage's rudder is actually fiberglass over the same aluminum rudder, another repair method for aluminum rudders, convenient when there isn't a good TIG welder handy.

Mark S

June 28, 2009 Postscript. Jim Kurt, The Rachael K, Marscot/O'Day # 4, has an interesting story he told to your webmaster today. It fits nicely here:

I spoke with Jim today. We got to talking about rudders and Jim told us an interesting story about his aluminum rudder. Seems like The Rachael K was racing in her first overnight race - this being held out on Long Island Sound sometime back in the late 60's/early 70's. They were leading the race and, on the last long beat to the finish line off Pine Orchard YC in Branford, CT, they lost control of their rudder. The tiller would move but there was no response.

They managed to keep reasonable steering control with the sails, he on the main sheet, his son on the jib sheet, while the 2 other 'boys' fashioned a makeshift rudder from the spinnaker pole and the bosun's chair. They finished the race getting the gun and First in their Class.

They made their way in to the docks at Pine Orchard YC, and were tying up when 3 Club officials came over and asked them to move the boat down to another slip on the otherside. Without further word out came the 'steering oar', they reversed out of the slip, motored over to the new slip using the oar,  no problem - the 3 officials just watching....

The Rachael K had an aluminum rudder. The aluminum tube had corroded and was partially broken near the waterline where the rudder tube exits the hull and is incorporated into the leading edge of the rudder. Somehow, the rudder stayed with the boat.

Jim said that these early Dolphin aluminum rudders were made by Jim Armitage's Star Marine Hardware, originally somewhere out on Cape Cod, later in Madison, CT - his company was eventually bought by Kenyon Marine. Jim Armitage repaired the broken rudder.

The Rachael K still has her aluminum rudder and it's pretty heavily pitted. Had he kept the boat, Jim was planning on fiberglassing it this Spring.


Casandra Rose's (O'Day #56) rudder looks like the original design(?!)

Robin Lee's rudder, Yankee # 118 - the 'new' design


July 20, 2010. Jay Picotte's Recovery, a Tripp built Dolphin, had a foam cored, glass wrapped rudder that was delaminating. Thirteen years ago he had a new one built for her by Darling's Boatworks in Charlotte, Vermont, of white oak, using the original bronze post and straps.

In the picture above those seams you see 'disappear' when the boat is in the water and the wood swells

Besides Recovery having a wood rudder she has something else interesting you can see in this picture. She has a 'tab" molded to the hull above the rudder - filling in that gap between the hull and top of the rudder on early Dolphins - see the dotted white line. At this writing we do not know if that tab was in the hull mold, or was added, althought it seems likely it was added later. Hal White, who was the first owner (then her name was Imp), was a serious and successful racer and this seems just the kind of change he might make. Here is another view.

Note the trailer keel guides


For more on Rudder related issues click here to go the Technical Section and scroll down to Rudders/related

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