About the Aries

Pendulum Self-Steering

There are quite a few types of windvane self-steering. The pendulum system has proven to be the most reliable. In short: the Aries Vane Gear has a windvane which is put parallel to the wind. If the wind angle changes, the wind will tilt the windvane slightly backwards. This movement is transferred to a small rudder that consequently twists, creating more resitance in the water. Because of the increase in resistance, the rudder wants to move upwards, helped by the forces of the boat’s own speed in the water. This force is substantial and strong enough to pull on steering lines attached to the wheel or tiller. This puts the boat back onto its preferred angle to the wind.

One of the biggest benefits of a pendulum system is that it is fool proof, easy to set up and alter and most importantly, the boat uses its own rudder, which has been designed to steer to boat in any wind and is therefore more efficient than an auxillary rudder.

History of the Aries Vane Gear

The story behind the Aries Vane Gear is not a story of just one company or just one man. The system has evolved trough time by the knowledge and experience of different people. The history of the Aries Vane Gear goes back to the 60’s of the previous century.

Nick Franklin & Peter Matthiesen

In the 60’s, the golden age of (shorthanded) ocean racing, Nick Frankling invented the first Aries. It was in 1964 when he built the first model. He kept redesigning and the current Aries is based on his third model. Nick Franklin built many Vane Gears, but he had to sell the company due to his health. He passed Aries Vane Gear over to the Danish Peter Matthiesen in 1994. Aries moved to mailland Europe and the process of converting from imperial to metric was finalized. 

Peter Matthiesen owned Aries Vane Gear for over two decades. He improved the designes even further and prepared the Aries for the 21st centrury. In 2015 he decided that it was time for someone else to build a sailor’s best crewmember and the Dutch Lean Nelis jumped right in.

Lean Nelis in the Netherlands

When given the opportunity to take of Aries Vane Gear, Lean did not hesitate, quit his job and went straight to Denmark to meet up with Peter. He spent two months in Denmark to learn all about the ins and outs of the Aries. Currently, Aries is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. All the right tools and moulds are set up in the workshop, just a few minutes from Amsterdam Central Station and easy to go by public transport.

Lean is an avid sailor, part-time liveaboard his steel Brian Lello sloop, which obviously is powered by an Aries. He has a one year old son.