All blue water boats should steer themselves
After cruising under sail for half a century
and not having to steer his boat,
Yves Gélinas has become a master
in the art of making a boat steer itself.
Yves Gélinas purchased a first boat in 1967, and to sail alone in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, built a vane gear that used energy of water flowing past the hull to drive the rudder and keep course, similar to what Blondie Hasler had used in the 1960 OSTAR and called “servo-pendulum”.
He acquired a second boat in 1973 and equipped it with a vane driving an auxiliary rudder that corrected the course, the rudder of the boat remaining locked. He sailed to the West Indies, made a few voyages between Québec and the WI, some of them single-handed. Sailed across the Atlantic in 1977, wintered in Brittany, cruised to Sweden.
Back in Brittany, he designed a definitive self-steering gear to be used in a voyage alone around the Great Capes. He had often seen his auxiliary rudder overpowered in severe weather; he concluded that only the boat’s rudder could keep control in all circumstances.
In 1981, he sailed from Saint-Malo France, headed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence the other way around the world, via the Southern Ocean. Rounded Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin, was capsized and dismasted in the Pacific and reached Chatham Islands under jury rig. Spliced and re-stepped the mast, sailed around Cape Horn and reached Gaspé after 28 200 miles. In 282 sailing days, he did not steer one hour.
Yves Gélinas maintains that all blue water boats should steer themselves and in 1989, launched CapeHorn Marine Products to demonstrate they can. Over the following years, he designed new models for boats with different stern configuration or steering systems. 25 years later, CapeHorn steers more than 1500 boats.
He considers each boat individually, researching with the owner the most elegant way it can be made to seer itself. For production boats, it is a matter of consulting the database, the solution has already been arrived at; however, it still happens that he has to combine features of different models or create a new one. Each CapeHorn gear is custom-built for perfect fit and impeccable steering performance on each boat.
Two boats, wing on wing in light air, no pole on the genoa