One thing Scott and I dreamed of on Rasmus was having an inner forestay or "baby stay" that would house a small jib or stays'l for heavy weather. While we were pretty diligent about checking weather and only moving in good windows, we were caught in a few nasty squalls that left us wishing for more options (and less sail area). We were never comfortable rolling in our genoa to "reef" it, and furling it completely while sailing with only a reefed main was not ideal either. Enter the 'cutter rig'.
While I'm not sure if our Brewer 44 is a "true" cutter rig, we know that a) it is already set up for a baby stay b) the mast is farther aft than on other Brewer 44's and c) there is an extra set of shrouds that add strength to the mast, eliminating (or at least reducing) the need for running backstays (if you look at the diagram of our boat at the bottom of this page, you will see it's designed with an inner stay). Knowing these three things, we - after consulting with our sailmaker buddy and a professional rigger - have made the decision to add a baby stay. This seemingly small change will thus turn our sloop into a cutter, or, if you want to get really technical - a slutter. Yes, that is a real term. Which means when people ask us what kind of rig we have we can say in all seriousness, "She's a slutter". Pretty awesome.
Like anything on a boat, there are plusses and minuses to having two headsails and, for us, obviously the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The main advantages we see are having more sail options, particularly in a blow. To be able to roll in our genoa and roll out our storm sail when conditions call for it will make our lives much easier and safer. In addition, the dual headsails will provide us with more options in almost all points of sail and opportunity to better balance the helm of our boat in various conditions. The overwhelming negative of this configuration is the fact that tacking the genoa becomes difficult at best because the inner stay gets in the way. To that we say: good thing we're cruisers who don't tack much!
To solve the tacking issue, some people install a "quick-release" baby stay that can be removed and stowed at the mast when not in use. We strongly considered this but have opted to rig our baby stay permanently on a roller furling. Our foredeck has PLENTY of room for this, and the whole point of the inner stay - for us, anyway - is to have a stays'l ready for action at a moment's notice. If you're interested in learning more about cutters and staysl's, here's a thourough article on the subject.
Do we have any fellow cutters or slutters out there? Care to weigh in? What's your optimal sail plan/configuration?