Our SO47 Temptress of Down was suffering with damp in the rudder when we bought her in 2000, back then the rudder was drilled, drained and dried under a vacuum before she was relaunched for us, her new owners.
Since then an accidental encounter with a quayside and the actual design had not exactly helped matters. Apart from the poor aesthetics of a lumpy, bumpy rudder, by 2012 there was little surface over which water could flow unimpeded. And as were planning an Atlantic crossing, prudence prompted us to replace it for peace of mind if nothing else. We were keen though to keep the old rudder in store in the UK as a serviceable spare in case anything should happen to its replacement. Initially our boat builder contacted Jeanneau via a UK agent but despite us supplying as many details as we could including the hull number to identify our particular boat the rudder shipped did not match the one on the boat.
The existing rudder has elegant curves, the replacement was more utilitarian in shape and somewhat shorter. At first we were tempted to simply fit the new one but coincidentally at that point the boat was being surveyed for insurance purposes and the surveyor unasked, proffered the opinion that it would dramatically alter the handling of our SO47.
With the old rudder she was perfectly balanced on a beat, almost steering herself with little intervention from the helm and once the sails were set, there was little weather helm. Both characteristics we were keen not to lose. The boat builder went off to do some research and found a local south coast UK company that would create a mould and the appropriate drawings from our old rudder.
Then by carefully prising it apart and using both rudder, drawings and the original steel work as the basis to design and build new steelwork prior to building a new mould for the replacement rudder itself.
Despite some terrible winter weather which delayed the actual shipment, twelve weeks later the new rudder was delivered, perfectly matching the old one. There was some debate about whether or not to replace the rudder bearings too but as these were fairly new, having been replaced four years ago it was decided that this wasn’t necessary.
As for a spare rudder – as Temptress had become the proud owner of a set of moulds and the drawings for steelwork for a replacement rudder. At time we said: "We also now know that it would not take long to build and ship to wherever we happen to be."
That was prove rather too prophetic, as just a year later whilst on route from Africa to the Canaries, we hit an underwater object hard, which we now suspect was a sunken teak log, which destroyed the rudder, and cracked the stern rudder tube, leaving just the stainless rudder frame.
We used TWS to manufacture and mould the second replacement rudder, which is perfect and has now crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific.
If any other SO47 owners want to replace their rudder please contact us (Temptress of Down) as we can put you in touch with JWS, our boat builder who would be more than happy to assist. We are led to believe that this rudder is also the same as the rudders on several other Philippe Briand Jeanneau designs from 46 to 50 feet.
Kevin and Susie Harris - Temptress of Down - Sun Odyssey 47