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Butterfly History

The Butterfly sailboat was designed in the early 1960's and was put into production in 1961. It was designed to be a fun, lightweight, small lake version of the ILYA C-scow. It is one of the pioneers of One Design sailing, meaning in a racing situation, all of the boats are identical, so the race is truly a measure of the sailor's ability.

The class today is virtually unchanged since 1962. Updates have improved only the overall quality of the boat, making new boats stronger and longer lasting than ever yet maintains the same level of performance. As such, the Butterfly is a regatta favorite and old boats and new alike sail together in the spirit of great competition.

Because of the Butterfly's small size, light weight, and extreme durability, it is a very popular cottage and vacation boat. If you're launching from a shoreline, it's important to have a boat that can be easily handled, even by the kids - after all, there's no point of buying a sailboat if it's just too heavy and spends most of it's life on a trailer.

The daggerboard and spring assisted rudder allow for the Butterfly to be launched and recovered from any sandy or grassy shoreline or off a trailer.

The stayed mast allows the sail to be raised and lowered. This feature allows the Butterfly sail to be easily hoisted - even by younger kids, and allows for the mast to remain on the boat when you're taking a break or done sailing for the day. If it gets too windy on the water or a sailor needs to take a break, it's an important safety feature to be able to lower the sail as needed. Many small sailboats do not enjoy this feature and have sails that fit over the mast and require removing the mast to take the sail down.

The Butterfly is a comfortable boat for the young, old, and everyone in between. The foot well is 15" deep - much deeper than most boats in it's size and weight class, allowing room for adults well over 6' tall to sail comfortably.

The Butterfly is found on most vacation lakes, and is a popular youth training boat. Many youngsters have enjoyed their first sailing experience on the Butterfly. For a more complete history, visit the National Class Website history page.

How To Rig A Butterfly Sailboat

Reprinted with permission from our supplier Northern Lakes Sailboats

To see how to use the optional floation panel, click here.

Rigging a Butterfly Sailboat can be done in just ten minutes with a little practice. The following is a very detailed step-by-step method we suggest for properly rigging the Butterfly:

Step 1

If the stays are attached to the mast, proceed to Step 4. Place the forestay hound over the mast with the holes in alignment. Bolt the shroud tangs on top of the hound with the tang bolt and nylock nut. The nut should be barely snug and shall allow the tangs to move freely. The stays do not need to be removed for future trailering, just coil them up and tie or Velcro them to the mast.

Step 2

If the shroud adjusters are not attached to the shrouds, attach them now. Proper setup generally results from setting the pin two or three holes from the top. Once attached, they do not need to be removed.


Step 3

If the forestay keyhole adjuster is not attached to the forestay, attach it now. Start with the pin toward the top few holes - you can tighten it later as needed.

Step 4

Rig the halyard (36 foot, 3/16" line) through the casting and over the sheave wheel on the masthead. Tie the ends together so that the halyard will not slip out when stepping (setting up) the mast.

Step 5

Step the mast. One person can easily step the mast on a Butterfly. If two people are available, have one person raise the mast while the other holds the base of the mast on the mast step. If one person is stepping the mast by themselves, it can be easier to step the mast if the boat is level from side to side, but the bow is lower than the stern.

Lay the mast the length of the deck with the top of the mast toward the stern. Attach the two side stays to the stay adjusters with the clevis pins and split rings included. Set mast on the mast step in the center of the deck and walk it up. If you have help, once the mast is up, have one person push slightly forward on the mast to make sure it stays standing until the forestay is attached. If you're doing it by yourself and if the bow is lower than the stern, gravity will help hold the mast forward.

Attach the forestay to the rear (smaller) hole on the bowplate. Adjust the forestay tension at this point so that the stays are snug. The shroud tension is about right if you can rotate the mast 90 degrees, but no more. Readjust stays so that the mast is vertical or slightly raked back when the boat is level. Once the correct mast angle is determined the adjusters may be left on the stays and removed from the boat at the captive pins.

Step 6

Slide the boom through the sleeve on the bottom edge of the sail. It is easiest to fold the gooseneck flat against the tube and slide the forward end through the sleeve. Fasten the captive pin on the gooseneck through the grommet in the corner of the sail.

Step 7

Attach the halyard to the sail using a bowline knot or a loop and stopper. Position the boat with the bow facing into the wind. Tie a simple over-hand knot in the halyard about 15 inches from the end. Tie the same end of the halyard to the head (top corner) of the sail about 6 inches from the end. Leading the luff edge of the sail (the edge with the sewed in rope) into the mast slot, carefully raise the sail by guiding it into the slot. Insert the gooseneck slide into the same slot and raise sail to the masthead. Guide the halyard through the lock on the forward edge of the masthead. By pulling sail down slightly the knot is locked in the jaws of the lock. (A mark can be made on the halyard so that the exact tying position can be easily determined.) Secure the free end of the halyard to the cleat on the side of the mast. To release the halyard, simply pull the free end forward out of the lock.

To see how to use the optional floation panel, click here.

Step 8

Attach the outhaul. One of the 3/16" x 40" lines is the outhaul. Tie the clew (aft corner) of the sail to the boom. Pull just tight enough to remove large wrinkles in sail. You will adjust the outhaul tighter for higher winds, looser for light air.

Step 9

Attach the downhaul. The other 3/16" x 40" line is the downhaul. Tie one end to the ring on the gooseneck. Pull line down to remove large wrinkles in sail and tie to cleat on aft edge of mast. Use more pressure for high winds and no tension for light air.

Step 10

String the mainsheet. Attach the two blocks (pulleys) on the boom parallel to the boom - one in the middle, and one at the stern end. The shackle clevis pins should run through the holes in the block strap. Attach the block on the bridle with the shackle turned 90 degrees to the block so that the block is also parallel to the boom. The clevis pin should not go through the holes in the block, only through the strap. Feed the end of the mainsheet (36 foot heavy line) onto the boom end casting and tie a figure eight knot. Feed the line down through the bridle block, up and through the rear boom block, then through the mid boom block.

Step 11

Attach the rudder. Make double sure that the tiller goes under the bridle, then attach the rudder to the fittings (gudgeons) on the transom. Be sure that the safety spring on the rudder snaps past the fitting. (This is to prevent the rudder from coming off if the boat should capsize.)


Step 12

Insert the daggerboard. Dip the daggerboard into the water so that it slips through the snubber easily and then insert it through the slot with the rounded edge forward.

You did it! Now it's time to go enjoy Butterfly sailing!

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