Conventional transom-hung rudders are often used on small sailboats because of their simplicity compared to rudders mounted under the hull; however, they present substantial performance penalties, including (1) the rudder is more likely to ventilate by drawing air down from the free surface, (2) the effective aspect ratio, and therefore the lift-to-drag ratio, is not increased by the mirror-plane of the hull bottom and (3) there is additional spray and wavemaking resistance that arises as a result of the rudder passing through the free surface. This case study focuses on a means to mitigate the last of these penalties, the increased spray and wavemaking resistance. While many transom-hung rudders are essentially parallel, or tapered with the maximum chord at the top where it meets the tiller handle, the reader will recognize that having the largest cross section of rudder at the free surface will generate significant spray and wavemaking resistance, especially when the rudder is turned. This study investigated the use of minimizing the rudder chord length where it passes through the free surface, demonstrating the findings by full-scale towing tests of a series of rudders designed for a Fireball-class dinghy. Running the tests at full-scale, therefore matching Reynolds number and Froude number, eliminated questions on scaling. Experimentation on the effects of sweep angle, section shape and chord length at varying angles of attack and velocities showed a noticeable increase in lift-to-drag ratio of foils with reduced chord length at the free surface and by sweeping the rudder forward. To complete the case study, a velocity prediction program was used to estimate the change in speed around a notional race course.

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