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Review of Ruddercraft Airfoil rudder

Apr 11, 2020
Hunter 170 Grapevine
I ordered the HDPE airfoil rudder from Ruddercraft through Blue Water Yachts. It took a little over a month for the order to be fulfilled, but no big deal there.

As requested, it came un-drilled. Drilling was easy, using the old rudder as a template.

The first time I lowered it into the water, it floated and I had difficulty pulling it down into place. This has become less problematic over time. I suppose this is a result of the rudder taking on some water(?) and me learning to tension the hold-down cable while releasing the hold-up rope, taking advantage of the downward momentum to get it fully into vertical position.

At first I was disappointed as I seemed to be dealing with as much or more weather helm than with the original rudder. Then I realized that my hold-down rope was slipping in the clam cleat, allowing the rudder to rise up out of its optimum position, so I switched it out. This has made a big difference.

What I am seeing:
Pointing is definitely improved (2 to 3 degrees)
I am seeing significantly less turbulence in the wake off the stern
There is less weather helm
I am believe I am seeing an increase in boat speed (maybe .2 to .3 knots on average). On a recent outing I was sustaining 6.7 to 6.9 knots on a broad reach.

I'm not sure about the purported "less heeling" benefit I seem to remember reading about somewhere. Perhaps I could comment on this if I had an inclinometer, but I do not.

I replaced my old jib last season, and I would say the airfoil rudder had a greater effect on my boat's performance than the new jib.

Bottom line - a worthwhile improvement. If you are sailing your Mac 26 with the stock rudder, you are not getting maximum performance, IMO.
Jul 7, 2004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
One of my earliest upgrades to my 26S, with a quick release hold down cleat.
Apr 11, 2020
Hunter 170 Grapevine
Small world. I just added one of those a few days ago. Hopefully no more broken cables when I go to Lake Travis next time!
Jan 19, 2010
Hunter 26 Charleston
Try a new main next. Tell that will help your weather helm.

you didn’t say if you have the 26s or 26d. If you have the “s” try swinging your dagger board up just a little. Have someone else do this while wrestling weather helm and note (mark) the position when the rudder feels loose.
Apr 11, 2020
Hunter 170 Grapevine
It is a 26S. The main that came with looked like a pair of baggie underwear, and I replaced it immediately.

Thanks for the suggestion.

When I recently replaced a broken centerboard haul-up cable, I used the drawing in the specs as a go-by for the centerboard angle. I recently replaced the cleat for the haul-up rope with a cleat, with the intent of doing exactly as you suggested. I will say with the current lack of weather helm (I can completely let go of the tiller on a close reach without it moving) that any improvement will be minor, but I love tweaking, so I will most likely tinker with it.