Group Buy - Cape Horn Windvane

Hey all,

The Westsail Owner’s Association has a large group placing an order for Toucana model Cape Horn windvanes, the same model Yves uses for most Bristol Channel Cutters. We have twelve buyers so far, so Yves is giving a whopping 25% discount! - that’s $900 off, making the total cost of the vane around $2600.

I assume that, seeing as the W32 and BCC use the same vane, Yves would be happy to let any interested BCC owners jump on the train.

Rod of S/V Iduna has one of these vanes installed and you can see it on the Cape Horn website:
Cape Horn on BCC

If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll talk to the owner who is heading up the buy.

Love, luck, and sweet tomatoes!

Aaron N.


Please add me to your group of buyers.

Richard Graver
s/v Susie Q

The BCC Itchen is also fitted with a Cape Horn Windvane Steering System.


I’ll check with Cape Horn to make sure we can add BCC owners. I don’t think it’ll be a problem - they’re loving the large group!


I currently have a Monitor windvane on my BCC. When it works, it works well. However, the gears seem to always get out of “mesh” (ya, I’m no engineer) and then it doesn’t work. I assume that is because some parts are worn and are in need of replacement.

The thing I do not like about the Monitor is its large, bulky size. The Cape Horn is aesthetically much more elegant.

Can anyone compare the performance of the Monitor windvane to the Cape Horn wind vane?

Search the forum for a reveiw of the Cape Horn windvane. Calypso has a monitor windvane.



I’ve sailed with both windvanes on Westsails. They perform comparably, but I felt the Cape Horn was more sensitive on a run - that’s to say, it actually worked!

I currently have a Monitor installed. I am going to sell it and buy a Cape Horn as part of this group buy for that added downwind performance and the much, much cleaner installation. The Monitor is very large, weighs almost 100 lbs, makes my boat 3 feet longer, and is dangerous to work on underway because it is so far out. Further, the Monitor has more “stuff” to worry about. Lots of welds, lines running in and out of tubes, blocks attached via adjustable mounting pads, big gears that can get misaligned, little springs, little C clips, little chains with more little stuff. All suspended out over the water. Lots of “stuff”!

The Cape Horn by comparison is like a pencil. Utterly simple with nothing to service, very few little parts, no little blocks on awkward pads, no bearings, no chains. Plus it’s lighter, it mounts much more simply and does not extend aft of the boomkin (at least, not on the BCC).

So, this is why I’m going to switch. I’ll have to spend a bit, but I feel the Cape Horn windvane is indeed a “3rd generation” gear. It does a better job in a simpler way, weighs less, is easier to keep up/service/use, AND costs less!

Hope this helps!

Aaron Norlund

Following is a review of wrote:

Review Cape Horn Windvane Self-Steering System
Posted by: IDUNA (IP Logged)
Date: February 16, 2006 03:32PM

Tom Harrer, BCC White Wings II, asked for a review of the Cape Horn Windvane Self-Steering System fitted to our BCC, IDUNA. There are several good self-steering windvane systems on the market. The one that obviously comes to mind is Scanmar’s Monitor (, as well as the Australian Fleming system ( and the German made Windpilot unit ( I also need to mention the Aries windvane. The original Aries system was developed and produced by Nick Franklin and set the standard in the 1970’s for the modern horizontal axis windvane connected to a servo-pendulum rudder (Aries - Providing Vane Gear Spares and information). The Aries is now produced under license in Denmark ( but parts for the Franklin unit are still available. Links to eleven windvane self-steering systems may be found at [].

The windvanes listed above are all horizontal axis servo-pendulum rudder systems. If you are interested in a Pardey type windvane then please visit Mike Anderson builds a backstay “vertical” axis windvane coupled to a balanced trim tab which is attached to the boat’s outboard rudder. Perhaps one of our readers who owns one of these systems would be kind enough to review it for us. Regardless Mike Anderson runs a cool website and is the owner of Anderson Boatworks in Newport Beach, CA.

Our first purchase of a Cape Horn Self-steering system was for our Nor’star custom built aft-cabin Flicka in 1995. We needed a system that would fit under a bumpkin (boomkin) and of lightweight. In a our initial conversation with Yves Ge’linas, the developer and founder of Cape Horn, he said, “No Problem.” The Cape Horn fitted to our Flicka weighed about 32 lb. with teak servo-rudder attached, steered the boat in light air and heavy air conditions. We soon discovered the key to using a windvane was balancing the boat. The only time the windvane did not steer the boat was while broad reaching up the Houston Ship channel. Winds were light, so we set a tri-radial spinnaker that was original built for an Evelyn 26 racing boat. As the day wore on, we were unaware the wind was increasing. The boat was running fine, maintaining her course and the bow wave was a mass of “boiling white water.” This should have been a hint. About mid-afternoon the boat started to yaw to port and starboard along her course. I tried to adjust the windvane then started to think bad thoughts about this piece of “junk” until I released the windvane control lines connected to the tiller. I was sitting to starboard. With the tiller control lines released, the weather helm pulled me out of my seat and introduced me to the boat’s port cockpit seat. After recovering my pride and apologizing for my bad thoughts, our lesson about balancing the boat was learned. We also began to sense when the wind is increasing. When using a windvane self-steering system, one learns to watch the input into the tiller. If the windvane is constantly correcting for weather helm, the boat is not balanced. Most windvane systems handle some degree of weather helm but at some point, the system will start to yaw around her course. This is caused when the weather helm becomes greater than the power available in the servo-pendulum rudder. Some may wonder how we could set a spinnaker from an Evelyn 26 on a 20 LOD boat. Our little custom build Flicka had a 33 ft stick, 12 boom and set 410 sq.ft. of working sail area - LOA was 27 ft. She was based on the original Bruce Bingham design not the Pacific Seacraft version.

Our criteria for selecting the Cape Horn for our BCC was as follows: cost, “clean” looking installation, could be fitted under the boomkin, light weight, strongly build and previous experience. The unit weighs less than 40 lb. fits inside the bumpkin, is strongly built and well supported by four 1" O.D. electro-polished SS tubes. All strut end-brackets are bolted through the bumpkin. Installation requires some thought to ensure the unit is as vertical as is possible on a boat, the support struts are well triangulated to ensure a strong mounting and the servo-rudder clears the main rudder. One has to cut and fit the support struts. Each strut is manufactured with an adjustable end fitting to make fitting easier. Fitting the unit is not difficult but does require some time. We fitted and mounted our unit from a floating dock. It would be easier and faster if the boat was on the hard. Images of our Cape Horn are available in the BCC Gallery under Projects.

We are pleased with the unit’s performance under choppy, heavy air conditions as well as light air conditions. I need to improve the lead for the control lines that run from the servo-rudder to the tiller. At present, the lead angle from the turning block to the tiller is too acute. Because this angle is close to 45 degrees, we are not taking full advantage of the power and sensitive available in the Cape Horn. Still the unit works but once I change this lead angle to closer to 90 degrees to the tiller, servo-rudder power and sensitivity will be significantly increased. Nothing is perfect, so let’s list and discuss some of the Cape Horn’s pros and cons as related to the BCC.


Lightweight and strong

Manufactured to a high standard - clean welds, electro-polished stainless steel, Delrin bushings, adjustable strut end fittings

Excellent performance in light air conditions and heavy air conditions both upwind and downwind,

Simple design that can be repaired by a machine shop and/or welder,

Excellent factory support,

Servo-rudder swings sideways when stored in place,

Uses bunges cords to hold the break-away servo-rudder to the its rudder stock, the rudder has a safety lanyard should you hit something,

Easy to inspect and maintain,

Priced lower than most other windvanes


No reduction gearing for the windvane course change control line, hence practice is required to make small course changes without over correcting,

Difficult to connect and disconnect the servo-rudder from the boat because of the bumpkin, we normally do this operation from the dink,

Swinging the servo-rudder into its storage position can only be done at very low speeds or when the boat is stopped,

Not NEMA compatible.

As with some other brands, two windvanes are provided for light air (<15 kt) and heavy air (>15 kt.), hence one has to step part way out on the bumpkin to make the changes. Because the windvane control tower is mounted inside the bumpkin, one can brace themself against the backstay, still, as with some other windvane brands, this is not the best arrangement when the seas are rough (this issue is a result of the bumpkin mounting required for the BCC.).

The Cape Horn is a good unit that is noted for its excellent light air performance downwind. It has its pros and cons and as with the other brands, the boat’s sail plan must be balanced to achieve the best performance. This is the key to making any good windvane self-steering system work. I can not emphasis this key point enough. A general rule we follow is to balance the sail plan such that we can steer the boat with two fingers. Sometimes we give up a little speed to reduce weather helm and achieve optimum performance from the self-steering system.

A word of warning:

If you fit a windvane system to your boat, it is important to understand, unlike an autopilot that steers a compass course, the windvane steers to the wind. If you are single-handing and running along a coast, a change in wind direction could run you onto the beach or rocks if you are asleep. This has happened.

If you have any questions about using a windvane, please post them in this thread and I will attempt to answer them.

Fair Winds,



Thank you for your comments - they are very helpful.

Please include me on the list of BCC owners interested in the Cape Horn windvane (there may be a glut of Monitors on the market!)


Gary and Richard,

I sent an email to Erik of Cape Horn Windvanes this morning (he’s running the shop while Yves is off sailing). I’ll let you know when I hear back.

Please email me so I can forward the correspondence to you, and your emails to the WOA “list keeper”. “ at comcast dot net”

You two will bring the list to 15 or 16. It’s possible we’ll get a further price reduction if we reach twenty or more buyers; possibly a whopping 30% off! He did not say “this is as low as I’ll go!” so we’ll see!

Fair leads,
Aaron N.


Maria & I are in… I’ve sent you our information.

Thanks for the heads up! Don’t need it right away but can’t pass it up at that price.

Bryon & Maria
BCC Cosmic Dancer

I own a SLM built Falmouth Cutter. Does the Cape Horn fit the FC22?


I heard back from ?ric at Cape Horn this morning. BCC owners are IN! I’ve pasted the correspondence below.


I did not specifically ask about FCC owners getting in. I’m sure they can make a vane for your boat that works splendidly. (see below)

Please feel free to visit the WOA forum thread about this; you can read how this has all led up and all of the correspondence with Yves and his crew.

WOA Cape Horn Thread

Here is the correspondence from ?ric this morning. I had also asked him whether it was worth my selling my Monitor to get a Cape Horn.

?ric Wrote:

Dear Aaron

I think there would be no problem if for a few BCC owners to jump in but I think it is important to let the Westsail group be aware of this, since 3 or more newcomers will increase the production and delivery time.

Now for your stuff,
I’m pasting below an extract of our website, written by Yves G?linas, which explains the performance of our windvane in light air. All I can add is that I myself experienced a newly installed CapeHorn steering a Formosa 44 in a 3 to 4 kts wind.

Before the CapeHorn came on the market, self-steering systems had a reputation of performing poorly downwind, especially in light air. This is understandable : downwind, the apparent wind is at its weakest and the energy developed by the vane is often insufficient to overcome the inertia and the friction inherent in the transmission system.

Windvanes were made of plywood or a comparable material. The CapeHorn windvane is much lighter : spinnaker cloth over a 1/8?? (3 mm) wire and reacts to the lightest impulse. (True, it could prove too light for heavy weather; so a second vane, made of aluminium sheet replaces it when it is time to reef.)

Transmission between the vane and the servo-pendulum was done through a number of gears or connecting rods (or both). The CapeHorn needs only one moving part between the connecting rod and the stock of the servo-pendulum. This reduces friction considerably, making the system even more sensitive. As a bonus, fewer moving parts also means less play between parts, making the whole system much more precise. The travel of the connecting rod is also shorter, which ensures a much quicker transmission to the servo-pendulum of the signals given by the vane.

All this means the CapeHorn is the only windvane that really works downwind in light air. The photo above shows two boats self-steered in light air, wing-on-wing, and there is no whisker pole holding the clew of either genoa to windward. We have all tried to keep the sail from collapsing while steering by hand and seen how difficult it was ! This illustrates how precise a course the CapeHorn steers.
Let me know when you will have done your work on I will add a link to your page or make a special page myself on this topic on the CapeHorn website.

Thanks for your interest in our product

My original message (minus the part about switching from a Monitor for brevity.)

Good morning ?ric,

First off, I am curious if a couple Bristol Channel Cutter owners can jump on the W32 group buy bandwagon. I believe you all use the same gear for both. They have a small owner base, so I suggested on their forum that this might be a good time for prospective buyers to join. Please let me know if this is OK and I'll have the interested owners contact you.

OK, Richard, Gary, Bryon. Please email ?ric at:
- (yes, it is “caphorn”)

Jerry, go ahead an email him and ask about the FCC. Let me know what he says so I can keep the WOA updated.

Because this is such a large order, production of the vanes will not be completed until the Fall of this year. The move full paying orders to the front, for obvious reasons. They would like a $500 deposit from all participants by the end of June. ?ric can tell you to where it must be send it.

Anyone else who is interested, please let me know and also email ?ric.

Glad we can all work together on this!

Fair leads,
Aaron N.

Whe we purchased our 1st windvane from Yves, in 1995. He quoted me a price and I sent him a deposit. About three weeks later Yves telephoned to let me know my unit was ready to ship and would I send him the rest of the money. Then he added, the value of the Canadian to the US dollar has changed, you owm me less money than quoted. How many companies would tell you that after given you a quote. We have enjoyed our relationship with Cape Horn and always look forward to visting with Yves and Eric at the Annapolis Boatshow.

Considering the high price of stainless steel the group price quoted is a bargain.



As you suggested, I sent Eric a message regarding my interest in a Cape Horn unit for my Falmouth Cutter and asked him his views on the suitability of the Cape Horn windvane for installation on the Falmouth Cutter and if I could participate in the group purchase. I’ll let you know his response.

Thanks for being the catalyst for this effort.



We have a Cape Horn on Anita Rock.

Hi Aaron,
I would like to be added to the group as well, I’ll email Eric to let him know too. Thanks for setting this up. Anyone interested in a cheap Aries?

Jonathan Fulford

Hi Aaron,

I would like to be part of the group order as well. I will email Eric to let him know. Thanks for organizing this. Anybody interested in a used Aries?

Jonathan Fulford BCC#36

Dear Aaron

Thanks for putting your trust into CapeHorn Self-Steering.

I think you can say to everyone to uncross their fingers, Santa did his job but he his gone now!

Building a Toucana takes around 4 days, maybe 3 1/2 because I work faster when all the units are the same. But I also have to keep some time to build the other full price units. So making 20 units will take at least 18 weeks. Since I’m making all the units together, I aim for a late October delivery for all the units. Since all the participants may not be at the same stage in their boat preparation or in their voyage schedule, it could be a good thing if I could know who can wait longer before receiving his unit. Byron Dahl already told me he does not plan to relaunch until late 2009 so he will be delivered close to the last. This will allow me to set the work pace.

I would be a good thing if you could post this message in the forum.

Thanks to all the group, I’ll be waiting for all your personal and boat info (and deposits)


I had a positive response from Eric Sicotte of Cape Horn that a Toucana model would accommodate an FC. I’m not certain of what measurements are required, but when those are nailed down, I plan to place an order.

Thanks, Aaron.