The Vane gear

The vane gear is a mechanical steering device that keeps the boat on a constant heading to or from the wind. The model yacht sailor is able to make adjustments to the heading when the boat comes to shore and thus ‘trim’ the boat such that it may sail efficiently along the course.


The history of the vane gears dates back to the early 20s, the mainstream design typically  consisted of simple vane gears mounted on the mast head. Although vane gears could react to changing winds and courses thus being superior to the out-dated brain gears they were not used in competition until 1935. The first vane gears were typically developed in the USA during WWII. The increased interest led to demand of new, more developed vane gears and the design was continually developed. Old fashioned brain gears were superseeded by the new discopveries of the vane gear. By the 1940s most vane gears had the abillity to self track to a preset angle, thus more control could be achieved.

Many present day skippers prefer to use “break-back” gears which are sophisticated variants of  the early vane gears. These “break-back” gears allow fine adjustments which can result in the loss or win of a board. Many work independently from the sheeting arrangements and can be easily transfered from boat to boat.


The Vane gear – “Do it yourself design”


Below is an article from Acquiant magazine regarding a design for a vane gear, courtesy of Graham Reeves. Please click on the images for an expanded view.

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