Rudder Cheeks & Tiller

Ahoy Team!

So, we’re getting ready to make a new tiller for Cymba. The current tiller which came with the boat is the standard aftermarket laminated tiller and has been delaminating. We plan to make one back to the original drawing in the construction manual.

My plan was to also pull off the rudder cheeks to take advantage of winter and bring them indoors for refinishing. However, when I was at the boat yesterday to take them off, it became apparent they are sealed with something between the cheeks and the rudder (see photo). So…some questions for the wisdom of the board:

-Does everyone else have this sealant too? Or was it added at some point during a prior refinishing? It seems a bit unnecessary to me.

-I’ve seen photos/threads of others that have removed the cheeks…is this a bigger job then I realize?

-Anyone recognize what wood this is? My assumption was to make the tiller out of ash, but I admit I am terrible at wood recognition and I’m not sure what the cheeks are. Thought it might make sense to match the new tiller with the cheeks.

Thanks, as always for the help!