Garry Hoyt has been bringing new ideas to sailing for almost 40 years. He founded Freedom Yachts in 1976 and proved that a freestanding mast was a viable option on oceangoing sailboats. During the 1980s he worked at Harken to develop and produce seagoing two-pedal boats, the Waterbug and the Mallard. (I had a friend that had one and she could be seen pedaling her egg-shaped Waterbug past Newport’s Castle Hill Light on her way to Brenton Reef Tower.) Since then Hoyt has gone on to design a patented single-line reefing system, the Hoyt Jib Boom and the Hoyt Gun Mount (for handling spinnakers). He also worked closely with TPI, Inc., on developing the Alerion Express.
Hoyt’s most recent innovation is the Hoyt Balanced Rig. The patented rig involves a horizontal gaff and boom that are carried out to the side of a freestanding mast by a special offset arm. The result is a clean leading edge that is free of wind interference from the mast and standing rigging. The arrangement allows both the gaff and the boom to extend forward of the mast, balancing the rig and reducing weather helm. The sail is attached to the mast with a light, stiff, aerodynamic sleeve that allows the sail to rotate 360° around the mast.
As with many of Hoyt’s designs the rig is a bit unusual looking. Traditionalists might gasp at the sight of a squared-headed mainsail fixed to a square gaff rather than continuing upward to a triangular peak. But Hoyt claims that radical profile results in less drag and minimizes tip vortex. Hoyt also claims the rig has reduced sheeting loads and is safer to jibe. For more information and to watch a video of the rig in action, visit www.garry