Sliding Gunter
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First trials

One of the best sources of the chronological development of the star rig is on the web-page of the Mid-Conneticut Star Fleet (Mid) (, from where the following data and drawingshave been taken (see also:

Star of the 1910’s

Spars and Sails: Sliding Gunter

Mast, deck to sheave 18'5"

Boom 18'4.2"

Gaff (Or Yard) 17'62"

Mainsail Luff 7'4"

Mainsail Leech 28'6"

Mainsail Foot 18'4.2"

Jib Luff 17'9"

Jib Leech 15'3"

Jib Foot 7'8"


Star of the 1920’s

Spars and Sails: Short Marconi

Mast, deck to sheave 27’0”

Boom 18'42"

Mainsail Luff 24’11”

Mainsail Leech 28’10”

Mainsail Foot 18’42”

Jib Luff 18’4”

Jib Leech 15’7”

Jib Foot 7’7”


sliding gunter rig plan
Short Marconi Plan

The Star, as originally drawn up by Mr. Sweisguth, was a gaff rigged boat with a long boom, very typical for racing boats of the day. The luff of the mainsail was 24”11” as opposed to 30’6” now used on the modern rig and the foot of the mainsail was 18’4” as opposed to 14’7”. As the Star Class continued to grow and develop during the late 1910’s and early 1920’s it became clear that the rig should be modernized. The first step was to change to rig from a gaff rig to a Marconi rig. This changeover occurred gradually during the early 1920’s. The same mainsail could be used on either rig.

The 1922 Log shows the Star sail plan with both the gaff rig and the Marconi rig. The caption to the plan states that the same sail can be used on both rigs. It is interesting to note that the number on the mainsail of the boat in the sail plan is # 6. While this is just a conjecture, it seems most probable that Mr. Sweisguth was responsible for drawing this sail plan.


Gaff & Marconi low rigg

From the various sources found and studied it was not very difficult to extract information for the dimension of the historic spars, as long as length is concerned. There were some slightly contradicting data about sail leeches and spar lengths and - as there have been in the early years of the star class no clear and well defined measurement instructions and measurement points ( like the famous Point “B”) as we have today - the definition of “length” was sometimes not exactly clear. We found it quite useful and meaningful to apply the modern class rules and definitions as far as possible, e.g. height of boom above deck etc.

The design parameters of the rig concerning the cross-sectional dimensions proved to be a real challenge. Data from the historic sources were contradictory. The dimensions are more or less known only from the specification and purchase contracts with the boat builder(s). Some didn’t make any sense from the engineering and construction point of view, considering the loads and forces to be expected under sail. As the boat designers and boat builders at that time had a lot of practical experience and know-how, some of the published information is probably based on miss-understandings or typos in the long oral and hand written tradition of the data.

Other interesting open questions have been the longitudinal shape of the spars: Was the sliding gunter slightly bend as most of other sliding gunter rigs of racing dinghies at that time? Some drawings and some of the old photos show indicate a slight bend, while some photos show a straight spar. Is the diameter of the sliding gunter reduced towards the top? How much? And the mast?

The rig drawings have been developed step by step and we kept changing and adapting the unknown and undefined dimension until we found it logic, practicable and in accordance with the state-of-the art of boat construction in the first decades of last century.

An overlay of the historic sliding gunter rig with today’s rig and sail illustrates the strong change in shape and dimensions. What can be seen also is that the keel moved obviously aft over the years. One major concern during the “re-development” and reconstruction of the gaff rig was about the different centre of the sail plans and underwater.

star - 1911 & 2005 Ausschnitt