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Hans Christian 38T

“I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that I don’t have to listen to my autopilot ever again while under sail. This is truly an amazing piece of kit.”

From: Peter Metcalfe
Sent: February 09, 2023
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Re: Peter Metcalfe – Hans Christian 38T – Hydrovane model VXA2D L(shaft length)/H/H or H/A

Hi Richard,

Just wanted to say hi and express my thanks for getting us our unit a few months ago. We are currently 50 off Baja right now headed for the Sea of Cortez. The Hydrovane has steered us flawlessly since we left Ventura two weeks ago. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that I don’t have to listen to my autopilot ever again while under sail. This is truly an amazing piece of kit. I never got the chance to order some spares, but I plan to when we haul before our potential pacific crossing next season. Once again thanks!

Peter & Olivia

SV Kessel

Roberts 44

“The Hydrovane steered through a Force 10 in the Atlantic, with associated ramp up and down over 4 days.”

From: Mike Brooks
Sent: January 02, 2023
To: Will Curry
Subject: Re: Hydrovane Rudder | Michael Brooks – Roberts 44

Hi Will,
Many thanks for your email.
Currently I am in the UK and Cornelia is in Ireland for her internal refit. Hopefully I get back to her in Feb to carry on with it.
I fitted the Hydrovane in Panama at the beginning of the year and sailed back solo via, Bahamas, Bermuda, Azores, then onwards to Ireland double handed.
The Hydrovane steered through a Force 10 in the Atlantic, with associated ramp up and down over 4 days. I needed to use the Hydrovane in conjunction with the autopilot in the wave troughs of the force 10, as there wasn’t enough wind / bad wind for the vane, but other than that the Hydrovane steered the entire way.
I took a boarding wave which bent and snapped the vane frame. I’ve repaired it as best as I can and the frame circumference is now 3” shorter, but carried on working well for the remaining 2000 miles of the trip.
I needed to tighten a set of screws in the axles, when I noticed the vane wasn’t gimballing properly, but aside from that, it’s done tremendously.
The grey rudder rattles a bit, but seems fine.

Cornelia won’t be going anywhere over the next months. If it’s necessary to change the rudder, when back in Ireland I can arrange shipping, or can bring it with me when I next return to the UK and deliver to the factory.

Met Tom on a yacht called Skyfall in Azores. Recommended Hydrovane. Believe purchased.

Hope all is well,



Island Packet 40

“Our Hydrovane seems made for our IP40”

From: Shaen Tarter
Sent: 22 December, 2022
To: Will & Sarah Curry
Subject: Re: Transaction –  – APPROVED

Will and Sarah-

Nice interview with Paul Trammell. Your point about weather helm and properly sized and configured headsails is spot on. We replaced our 135% Genoa with a 100% Yankee cut jib a few months ago. It’s much more appropriate for tradewind conditions, and works beautifully with our staysail in cutter configuration. Less weather helm, less flogging, and we can actually easily tack now with the inner forestay in place.  And our Hydrovane seems made for our IP40 🙂




Beneteau 43

“…we think is probably the best investment we have made on our SV Vitamin Sea!”

From: Blanca Boira
Sent: December 18, 2022
To: Will Curry
Subject: Spare parts

Dear Will:

Hope you are well.

We installed our Hydrovane around 2 years ago. We are now 250 miles away from reaching Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, having departed from the Canary Islands. We are more than delighted to have the Hydrovane, it has given us such peace of mind, we think is probably the best investment we have made on our SV Vitamin Sea!

We would like to order some spare parts. Those are as follows:

– One Vane cover

– Two plastic bolts for the frame case cover

– Three locking Pins


Could you please advise how can we proceed?

Kind regards

Ramiro Salom

Allures 45

“I told the crew after it was fitted, ‘prepare to be amazed…’ and they were”

From: S/V Timeless Odyssey
Sent: December 19, 2022
To: Will & John Curry
Subject: Order a spare cover for a stubby

Hi Will/John

Greetings from the mid-Atlantic where Juluka our 5th crew member is steering the dream. I have to say the vane has been a real winner.  I had some new crew on out of Gib for Madeira. I know this was unconventional but we left Gib with some concerns about the Orca attacks, so we left the Hydrovane rudder off in case we had our rudders disabled by the Orcas.  We would then have a limp home option. The strategy was to get clear of the area where attacks were happening, and then think about putting the Hydrovane rudder on. I obviously would not recommend doing this at sea in normal circumstances but we were lucky. We have a sugar scoop stern and with safety lines on two of us got the rudder on more easily than we thought it would be.

Anyway, I told the crew after it was fitted, ‘prepare to be amazed,’ and they were.

Anyway, I would like to order spare vane cover for our Stubby vane. I am sure you know but for avoidance of doubt it is 50 x 100cm surface area.

Could it please be delivered to my daughters address [removed].

Thanks All and Merry Christmas



s/v Timeless Odyssey

Rhodes 43 Sloop

“It was our first experience installing and using a vane and I’m already in love!”

From: Mark Chew
Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2022 7:24 PM
To: Will Curry & Richard Minielly
Subject: Happy Customer

Just wanted to let you know that we fitted your Vane to our 65 year old boat in November and did our first serious cruise through the Bass Strait Island to Tasmania early this month. It was our first experience installing and using a vane and I’m already in love!

There is a short film of the trip here

It really is miraculous!

Feel free to use any of the footage plus I have plenty of stills if they are of any use to you.

Regards and Thanks


(FAIR WINDS Rhodes 1956)


Regatek 41

“Merci Hydrovane pour ces 15 000 mn parcourus ensemble!”

“Thank you Hydrovane for these 15,000nm traveled together!”

From: Jean-Eudes DE PARCEVAUX
Sent: December 10, 2022
To: John, Will, and Sarah Curry
Subject: Fwd: Hydrovane : besoin de votre témoignage

Notre premier chantier dans la préparation de notre voyage de 2 ans en voilier fût l’installation de l’Hydrovane. Quelques émotions nous envahissent lorsque nous dégainons la perceuse pour transpercer la jupe des 6 trous nécessaires à la fixation de ce nouvel équipier 😅 !

L’Hydrovane nous a accompagné fidèlement pendant notre voyage, particulièrement pendant nos traversées de l’Atlantique. Malgré notre
voilier rouleur et gîtard et nos 2,5m de tirant d’eau, il a toujours piloté le navire avec efficacité !

Et quelle tranquillité d’esprit !! Nous naviguions seulement à deux, alors c’est bien rassurant d’avoir cet équipier modèle avec nous. Dans les scénarios catastrophes à imaginer pour être le mieux préparés possible, l’Hydrovane en compense plusieurs.Consommation énergétique trop importante ?
Problème de pilote automatique ? Plus d’électricité à bord ? Problème de barre ou de safran ? L’Hydrovane prendra le relais pour éviter que le rêve devienne un cauchemar.

Merci Hydrovane pour ces 15 000 mn parcourus ensemble !

Jean-Eudes & Pauline

English translation:

Our first project in the preparation of our 2-year trip on a sailboat was the installation of the Hydrovane. Some emotions overtook us when we brought out the drill to pierce the hull with the 6 holes necessary to fix this new teammate 😅!

The Hydrovane accompanied us faithfully during our trip, particularly during our crossings of the Atlantic. Despite our rolling sailboat and heeling and our 2.5m draft, it has always steered the ship efficiently!

And what peace of mind!! There were only two of us sailing, so it’s very reassuring to have this model crew member with us. In the disaster scenarios to be imagined in order to be as prepared as possible, the Hydrovane compensates for several of them. Too much energy consumption? Autopilot problem? More electricity on board? Shaft or rudder problem? The Hydrovane will take over to prevent the dream from becoming a nightmare.

Thank you Hydrovane for these 15,000nm traveled together!

Jean-Eudes & Pauline


Beneteau Oceanis 423 Clipper

“It performs even better in very light winds than electronic system.”

Sent: December 11, 2022
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Re: Hydrovane installation Gilles Clement Nymphea

Hi Richard,

My Hydrovane is installed and tested during a 18 hours sailing.

It exceeds my expectations.

It performs even better in very light winds than electronic system.



On 12 Dec 2022, Richard Minielly wrote :

Hi Gilles,

We’re so thrilled to hear this! Thank you for reaching out. Do you mind if we post your email to our True Stories page?

As an installation note, please remember to check the tightness of all the mounting bolts now that you have gone for a test sail. These should be checked periodically and before large passages. The bolts should be “snug, plus ¼ turn”.

Fair winds!

Richard Minielly

Sent: December 12, 2022
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Re: Hydrovane installation Gilles Clement Nymphea

No problem to post my e-mail.

What train my decision to install an Hydrovane?

The story is that I was on passage between Panama and Marquesas Islands single handed (68 years old) in last June when my Auto pilot broke down at 1000 miles from arrival… So, 11days at the helm with 4 days of heavy weather and sea conditions.

Once is enough!




“Rounding Barbuda at the end, we were able to make the necessary course corrections (probably like 30degrees) entirely on the Hydrovane and sailtrim.”

From: Ludwig Hoogstoel
Sent: December 05, 2022
To: Sarah Curry
Subject: RE: HOOGSTOEL – Testimonial Etap 46 DS

Hello Sarah,

10K nm these last 12 months since we got the Hydrovane installed. On this last trip, from Hampton VA to Antigua we were VERY happy we had it as we had some issues with the upper bearing of the main rudder. So we managed the main rudder (which stayed functional for the trip) as to alleviate all pressure on it and had the Hydrovane do all the work, as is more or less our habit on ocean passages.

One remark/question though : we notice that the housing which needs to be 90degrees of the centerline of the boat keeps ‘shifting’.  We had that when we arrived after the Transat, then again when we arrived in New England for the summer. Now on this last passage, we made sure, prior to departure that we had ‘aligned’ everything as per your instructions and tightened everything we could possibly tighten. The result was indeed that we had our best sail yet with the Hydrovane. Rounding Barbuda at the end, we were able to make the necessary course corrections (probably like 30degrees) entirely on the Hydrovane and sailtrim. We thought we had this finally figured out. Then, upon arrival, when we checked the housing…it had shifted again. So, despite that shift, the Hydrovane performed better than ever.

Any input ? Should we not care as much about this “90 degree to centerline” ?

Best regards


From: Richard Minielly
Sent: December 5, 2022
To: ‘ludwig hoogstoel’
Subject: RE: HOOGSTOEL – Testimonial Etap 46 DS

Hi Ludwig,

Great to hear from you. Sarah and Will pass on their best, and we all congratulate you on the incredible distance traveled in the past year!

Your story is an amazing testament to your abilities as sailors and the Hydrovane. Do you mind if we add it to our True Stories page on our website?

Regarding the issue of the Drive Unit rotating, it sounds like there might be some residue or lubricating substance sitting between the Drive Unit and the shaft. I recommend removing the drive unit, wiping the shaft and the inside of the Drive Unit with alcohol or another quick evaporating solvent, then re-attaching the drive unit. You shouldn’t need to tighten the bolts extremely tight, as the unit should have a tight friction fit on the shaft assembly. We recommend going only to “snug, plus ¼ turn” on the bolts.

Another good idea is to replace the M10 nyloc nuts. Repeated tightening and loosening will wear down the nylon and make the nuts more likely to come loose again. By removing the old nuts, cleaning the threads, and replacing with a new nut, you should reduce the risk of loosening.

When adjusting the bolts at all, please be very careful to always adjust evening, keeping the gap in the casting equal, and not applying excessive force. If the casting is stressed unevenly it can crack.

If you are in good service, please send me some photos of your unit showing the upper portion and where it connects to the shaft. This can be helpful to spot any more obvious issues.


Richard Minielly


Oyster 545

“The vane performs great”

From: Dr Anthony Freeman
Sent: November 01, 2022
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: RE: Hydrovane spares

Hi Richard

We are only as far as Reunion [from Queensland, Australia] but leaving for Richards Bay tomorrow. The vane performs great and I have learnt a lot from other users. We are shorthanded and very dependent on it hence making sure I have plenty of spares. [Editor’s note: parts order details and shipping information have been removed]

Thanks, Tony

Gunfleet 43

“Watching the vane dip from side to side whilst Skyfall responds like an obedient dog, I am in awe of the ingenuity of past generations, unable to utilise modern electronics.”

Posted 21 November 2022 to

A Question of Balance

Judo is a sport all about balance. A judicious touch, push or pull, executed in the right place at the right moment, can cause huge weights (your opponent) to move in ways they least intended. I was reminded of this by the recent Banksy artworks which appeared in Ukraine after the liberation of Kherson. Apart from the obvious symbolism, the picture of  ‘little guy throwing much bigger guy’  beautifully illustrates what timing and balance can achieve.

Which is perhaps a tenuous introduction to a piece about the Hydrovane self-steering on Skyfall. Let me explain. Clearly, if you want to carry your home around the world with you, it is going to be heavy. Skyfall is (loaded) the best part of 16 tonnes. And to move such a heavy object, as quickly as Skyfall sails, requires quite some power. The power comes from the sails. I forget the actual square metres of sail but the photo below makes the point.

So what if someone told you that they could build a system where the power to control all this weight and all this sail, would come from a small vane with about half a square metre of area? “Impossible!”, I hear at least some of you exclaim. But it is possible: with our Hydrovane system.

There is a small vane which is angled into the wind. The vane is fixed to the boat so if the boat changes course then the angle of the vane to the wind changes. The wind now exerts more pressure to one side (or the other), pushing the vane down. This force is transmitted, via a gearbox, to move an auxiliary rudder mounted below.  But the force from the vane is tiny. Firstly the area of the vane is small. But, more importantly, you need a rudder correction with a course change less than 10degrees. So there is a sine(10 degrees) multiplication factor too – which is also  small. It ought not to work but, of course, it does. It is all a question of balance.

I like the Hydrovane because it forces you to set your boat up correctly. A prerequisite for success is that the boat, without any external influence(i.e. a wave) or correction from the Hydrovane, is set up to sail straight. The sails need to be properly trimmed. You must reef down in time to prevent excessive heel and weather helm. In other words, keep everything in balance. In this case, a very small rudder correction is all that is needed to gain complete control.

The trip from Lanzarote to Cape Verde is the first time we have really tried to use the Hydrovane. As we sailed past Fuerteventura I played with the new toy. It would not matter (I thought) if I messed up here, there was no one watching. However, in today’s world, Big Brother is never far away. Or in this case Big Sister! Sheila had been following our progress on “Why is your course so wobbly?”, she innocently inquired by text.

I like the Hydrovane for it’s simplicity and effectiveness. Watching the vane dip from side to side whilst Skyfall responds like an obedient dog, I am in awe of the ingenuity of past generations, unable to utilise modern electronics.

I also like the Hydrovane because it requires no electrical power. Although an electronic autopilot is quite efficient with no waves, on  an  ocean passage with wind and swell, it can easily consume 4A. Using the Hydrovane means there is circa 100AH less power to generate daily.

But the main reason I like the Hydrovane is that it provides a backup. Sure, it is not as efficient as a modern autopilot. And you would never use it if you wanted to push for maximum speed. But our electronic autopilot has failed twice in 6 years. If that should happen on a long ocean passage without others on  board to share the handsteering, then life would be tough on the skipper. Now we have a second simple, ‘agricultural’ system where it is hard to imagine a failure.

Apart from playing with the Hydrovane, the passage to Cape Verde has been largely uneventful. We have had all strengths of wind, varying from drifting along in sunshine to hunkered down, sailing with only a reefed genoa. But we managed to eat well, sleep reasonably and Annick’s new bucket remains unchristened. Annick is currently writing a post to elaborate further.

Feeling 1350

Just wanted to say how impressed we are with the Hydrovane steering in both light and fresh airs, dead runs and close reaching.

Tony Bale on Whatsapp, 11 November 2022:

Hi Richard, just a little Hydrovane update. Scáthach and crew are currently in the Canary Islands and heading to the Caribbean this winter. Just wanted to say how impressed we are with the Hydrovane steering in both light and fresh airs, dead runs and close reaching. We just let it get on with it. All best, Tony

Gaia 36 - Tapio Lehtinen

“Hydrovane is great! Just completed a gybe with the biggest spinnaker and a full main in a fresh F4 with boat under full control.”

@ggr2022 on 20 September 2022:

Sep 20, 2022, 6:10 PM 06: #TapioLehtinen (Finland) – Gaia 36 “Asteria”: Hydrovane is great! Just completed a gybe with the biggest spinnaker and a full main in a fresh F4 with boat under full control. Wasn’t doable 4 yrs ago.

Taling 33 - EMERGENCY - We lost our steering

“We lost our steering! Our quadrant broke…”

@sailingblackmoon on August 30, 2022:

We lost our steering! Our quadrant brok -this triangle connects the steering wheel with the rudder. This could have gone wrong in so so so many ways.

Unfortunately at that moment we were at the Tuamotus – the most remote islands you can imagine…

Fortunately we discovered it in time and in calm conditions. Also we are so luckely to have a Hydrovane – this selfsteering system has his own rudder. So while sailing we always fixate our main rudder and let the hydrovane steer – which adapt it self on the wind.

We even used it as an emergency rudder while motoring. Also we attached a poke on the little helm to steer more controlled to anchor. We fixated the crack with a piece of stainless steel and the quadrant itself with a vicegrip. Kudos to Niels for macguyvering this all 💪

This way we made it safely to Tahiti to fix or even replace the quadrant. After 3 weeks back and forth with several machine shops there was no way to make a new one, but finally we found someone willing to weld it and he did a super job! Now it’s time for the big test 🤞

Hamble 50

“I wish all the others equipments on board were of the same brilliant efficiency”

From: Pierre-Henry Mahul
Sent: August 25, 2022
To: Will Curry
Subject: Hydrovane

Hello John, Will, Sarah, Brooklyn and all your team

This is to report about the HV and the W&S I have installed on my new Hamble 50 Whisper of Michaella last week in Guernsey.

Some stories have a happy end, our one had a happy start with a two days delivery to Guernsey which I couldn’t think was possible. Note that UPS is the carrier described by the locals as to be the most effective on the island. They delivered on behalf of DLC right down to Victoria marina and the driver let me use her trolley to bring the parcels to the boat. With 107kgs of stuff to carry when you are alone, you do appreciate this.

First of all you have now a very good and helpful man on Guernesey island with David Le Cras of DLC marine equipment. He supplied and installed my new Garmin electronics to my full satisfaction and despite being very busy he took the time to make all the wiring of the W&S for me while I was making very good use of his two trainees/apprentices, mostly Charley, to install the W&S ad the HV whose seven packs (very well made) were looking impressive taking the most part of my deck space. Charley is now proud to be the HV specialist in the island.

This job was done in two days with no major trouble except that I could not find a 50mm pipe on the island, the one I have been sold for a 50 was too big so I decided to use the small tubes of the brakets as a template and it worked good this way. Fortunately the transom of Whisper of Michaella is nearly flat and the sanding I did start in order to gain half a millimeter on the H bracket mounting plate proved worse than the original so I went back to the original un-sanded socket, thanks for supplying two. For the A brackets I did not use the mounting pads as they fitted nicely and this allows to have the control unit mounted closer inboard to the cockpit always better for safety.

After two days of intensive work the beast was looking great in the starboard side of the boat … when I realized that this was the side of the radar mast that had been dismounted by Dave working on it at the time of my decision… too late !

The next day, actually last Friday the 19th, I was due for a trail from Guernsey to Cadiz Spain about 1200nm to bring the boat to the yard where she is going to be refitted. It was at the same time the opportunity for me to discover her singlehanded. I left at 7pm with 25knt of wind against me. As we all know close hauled is the favorite situation for vanes and I was happy to discover the HV working perfectly since the first second despite a very powerful boat with a huge mainsail. Since then I am sailing with a growing admiration for your very fine engineering kit which is able to cope with a 165° route with 25knts of real wind 18 apparent without a gybe. I only discovered the far right position yesterday … what a power she gives !

I am now totally confident in the HV, I have always been doubting about her self steering strength or lack of it reported to me by an English guy with a Beneteau 57 who was altogether not unhappy with the HV Now I do not doubt any more in her possibilities and I am eager to be in the GSC in the screaming fifties planning with her, by the way she is Brigitte, and the AP in second as you suggest. In fact during those past days it appeared to me that the HV is enhancing the sheer pleasure I have in  sailing which is all about fine tuning the boat, the rigging, the sails, the rudder to make the best of the elements.

I wish all the others equipments on board were of the same brilliant efficiency. thank you guys !

About the W &S it is my second and I had many troubles making work the first one on my trimaran but the factory had been here to help me, I am happy that  this time it worked perfectly since the beginning. In this boat its noise is hopefully far less aggressive than it was in my little tri, or could it be my ears with age ? Their instruction manual is nothing compared to yours and I although I mounted it 300mm into the water on the opposite tack it is very often cavitating so I will have to put it 100mm deeper. Their mounting kit proved useless as its does not take into account the transom curvature, I had one mounting braket superbly made to measure in s/s by Nigel in Guernsey (see Dave)

Well you are the first mail I am sending while I get some network in front of Peniche Portugal as the Iridium and its related software is no HV and these equipments  does need more running-in time that I had to give them

all the best

Pierre Henry Mahul

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