Designer Ian Farrier provides various options for the steering possibilities for the F39. Unfortunately none of these meets my needs.
There are two kinds of sailors. Those who like tillers and those who like wheels. First of all there is the choice for tiller or wheel. Just like everything else to do with boats, the wheel/tiller debate is highly subjective. Both systems have their own pro’s and con’s. I always had boats with tiller steering. For me this alone is a good reason for a change. One of the advantages of a tiller, the simplicity with only a few moving parts, is not going to work in the F39 centre cockpit. Like the wheel steering a tiller also needs some kind of mechanical transmission to the rudder stock.
Then there is the aspect of space. The tiller devides the cockpit in a starboard and port part. In this rather small cockpit this compromises access to the coveted space under the dodger. The wheel on the other hand devides the cockpit in a fore and an aft part. The helmsman has is own part of the cockpit. I love that more than a sweeping tiller. Standing behind a wheel while maneuvering in close quarters is more comfortable than with the tiller between the knees. So, for me enough reasons to go on with a wheel.
Now what size? A wheel with a size small enough to walk along is not what I want. In that case I would have bought a sports boat 😉 So as big as possible which turned out to be 900 mm. at a height of 800 mm.
As now these basic questions have been answered the next step is the most difficult one. The decision about the transmission system. Roughly there are four basic types:
Cable or rope steering – in my opinion too prone for faults so not for me;
Hydraulick steering – no rudder feel, also not for me;
Transmission steering – sound and good rudder feeling;
Rack and Pinion steering – sound and straight forward.
I prefer one of the last two systems with first choice the rack and pinion system. At this time the rack and pinion system is subject of study. Some photos and thoughts in the steering study page.