All AeroSouth Products ARE made in North Carolina, USA!
The FS rudder blade is made from a laminate of naturally rot-resistant sapele wood and carbon fiber. Blades are protected with a high-performance, two-part epoxy coating for the ultimate in UV, scratch and water resistance. They are pre-drilled to fit the standard rudder cheek assembly, making the upgrade from the legacy blade simple. The smaller surface area, thinner hydrofoils and use of wood plus carbon fiber result in a strong but light blade that results in noticeably improved sailing performance. ORDER YOURS NOW AT THE AEROSOUTH STORE.
Combining the most advanced flow prediction methods with 40 years of experience in wing design, AeroSouth has developed a new rudder that significantly reduces drag. The board's hydrofoils and planform have been custom-designed for sailing craft at typical speeds. A unique aspect is the small, thin chord where the fin pierces the water's "free surface", lowering free-surface drag and moving the center of side force away from the water surface to reduce losses. The elimination of sweep and distribution of area fore and aft of the rudder's axis of rotation reduces weather helm to a minimum.
L/D (ratio of side force to drag) versus angle of leeway for the new AeroSouth FS rudder (red) and the legacy Sunfish/ZUMA rudder design (blue). The FS rudder has a 100% higher maximum L/D, meaning half the drag at the same side force. Low sweep and a modern, laminar hydrofoil shape result in low weather helm and better performance when maneuvering.
AeroSouth's FS rudder has been inspired by the important work of famed Dutch scientist Joop Slooff, whose hydrodynamics research played a critical role in the inverse taper / winged keel of the 1983 America's Cup winner, Australia II. (Slooff and the owner of AeroSouth, Kent Misegades, attended the same graduate school, the Von Karman Institute of Fluid Dynamics in Brussels, Belgium.)
The standard Sunfish/ZUMA rudder is a simple design with high sweep and a relatively flat cross-section. It creates more drag than the standard daggerboard despite having 40% less area. With the daggerboard retracted, it produces most of the underwater parasite drag. Its high sweep reduces maximum side force while increasing weather helm and drag. Of fiberglass construction, it is heavy and brittle, making it vulnerable to damage and difficult to repair.
The FS rudder blade is made from a laminate of Sapele wood, a widely-available species of mahogany. Strength is maintained through the strategic use of CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) elements supplied to AeroSouth by Rock West Composites of West Jordan, Utah.. Surfaces are accurately shaped using modern CNC milling equipment and then sealed with epoxy coatings for near-impervious protection from water and UV radiation. We partner with Prestige Millwork of Star, North Carolina, an outstanding company specializing in precision woodwork for a number of markets.
AeroSouth founder and president Kent Misegades (160 lbs/73kg) demonstrates the remarkable strength of the FS rudder blade. Smooth contours optimized for low drag combined with a smooth finished surface are the key to improved performance of the FS rudder blade. The unique, narrow chord (width) of the FS rudder blade at its upper end lowers the normal performance losses where a rudder blade penetrates the water surface. Don't sail a Sunfish or ZUMA? Let us design a rudder blade, dagger board or center board for your sailboat using our advanced "FS" methods. Contact us here.
The FS Rudder blade was designed to fit the standard Sunfish rudder cheek bracket without modification. It also fits the ZUMA with no needed changes. Steve Ross, a ZUMA sailor from California reports: "On Friday I installed your rudder and had a great sail in 8-15 kts of wind. No issues with installation and the rudder has about an inch of clearance with the transom. My first thought was 'feels like butter'. Definitely less weather helm, maybe 40% less in a 15 kt breeze. Sailing for an hour would have been very tiring before but an hour passed by quickly and didn't feel like I was fighting an unbalanced boat. Thanks again for your dedication in designing this great product!" Thanks Steve!
Well-known Long Island Sunfish competitor and blogger Lee Montes has posted this video on his first impressions of the AeroSouth FS Rudder blade. On his first experiences with it in the water (12/2020), he reports: "I was actually able to sail both rudders yesterday in steadier conditions. I started with the AeroSouth rudder and when I went back to the regular rudder I race with it was abundantly clear how much drag and weather helm is on the traditional rudder." Thanks, Lee!
Long Island Sunfish icon Lee Montes has posted this video on his first impressions of the AeroSouth FS Rudder blade under sail. "There's no drag, zero weather helm, I'm steering with one finger. It's a nice, balanced rudder. I'll probably sail a lot longer with this rudder, using the same energy." Thanks, Lee!