Olson 30: Rudders: Elliptical vs. Stock & Rudder Bearings
Olson sailor comments about the rudder:
We sailed Foreigner for 18 months with the elliptical rudder. The chord was not good, very flat, but the rumors are true, it does give much better control downwind and even with the asymmetrical spinnaker up. Saves many a wipeout. We now sail Perfect Balance with the normal rudder and although the shape is much better and it is a little faster downwind in light air, it is not a patch on the elliptical. A stainless post is a must, the stresses are too large for a glass post.
When she starts to wipe out though, you can give an almighty heave on the tiller and she will dip down wind. I had to be brutal at times, but, unlike the standard rudder, large alterations of rudder angle actually made a difference.
- Richard Sharpe
used to have both types available.
new to driving O-30's, but here are a few personal observations that
agree with most everything that others have shared with me. We have
both the original and the elliptical, and I'm still in the process learning
is felt that they are a little slower in light air conditions as they
have more wetted surface area and have a little less "feel"
than the standard rudders. I've owned and sailed with both. The elliptical
rudder does shine when reaching or running in a situation where you
are sailing on the edge. The better crews can survive quite well without
We've had our Olson for 15 years now; started with the original rudder, went to the elliptical soon after, went back to the original about 3 years later.
I still have the elliptical in the garage, I wouldn't use anything other than the eilliptical for an ocean race with big waves and big winds, or a distance race likely to have lots of power reaching.
In my case (although my crew contends I have an "Iron butt"), the original rudder gives me much better feel going to weather around the buoys, and with mostly windward/leeward courses these days, the elliptical just wouldn't save many crashes going fairly square downwind. The original rudder also has considerably less wetted surface, for lower drag.
That having been said, I've been passed to weather by really "great" drivers with the elliptical rudder (I guess you have to "use the force").
As far as someone's comment regarding the fact that you "have to have a stainless post" poppycock!!! The early ellipticals had stainless posts, with very little "memory" and a lot of strength. Once the post yields, it retains it's bent status, making the rudder unusable (ask Dave Carrel of "Speedy Gonzales", who lost an elliptical half way to Honolulu from SF, or Dave Oliver from "Zephyros" from many years ago). The unistrand post is the ONLY way to go, they're indestructible, repairable when worn, and plenty strong in our typical 25 knot SF winds. A stainless post will only cause folks much grief.
anyway, my two cents... Andy Macfie, HOOT
Rudder Bearings: Replacment and Removal
Olson 30 Rudder Bearings are friction fitted into the rudder tube that is glassed into the boat. There are two bearing, an upper and a lower. As these are friction fitted, care should be exercised when trailering the boat with the rudder removed from the boat, I lost the lower one several years ago! To remove the bearing, you will need a tool that can be inserted in the small horizontal gap between the rudder tube and the bearing and then moved around the circumference of the gap as you light tap it out. Bruce Rand, from O'Naturel put me onto the Old Forge 7019 - Puller Seal L-Type which retails for about $13.00, it does the job quite nicely!
Dave Wilby, O'ffliction
For replacement bearing contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org