The four rudder types are: full, spade, skeg, and outboard. This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The full or full keel rudder lies at the aft end of a full length keel. The keel-rudder streches along the entire length of the bottom of the hull. The full rudder is safe and nearly invulnerable to damage. The leading edge of the keel protects the rudder from flotsam. The full rudder is quintessential of offshore cruisers like Wetsails and Cabo Ricos. Even grounding may not cause damage. The boat will sit comfortable on its side until the tide returns and floats the boat back up.
The spade rudder lies at the aft separate from the keel. A spade rudder is easy to turn because the water rushes both against its fore and aft edges – great for using a tiller. A spade rudder is also fast as the wet area less than a full keel. The boat racing along with less resistance. Spade and partial spades are becoming the most popular rudder type. The Hylas 70 has a partial spade rudder as well as early 54’s.
A skeg rudder is more modern in performance and safety. It is the most popular and common type of rudder on production boats these days. The rudder is fast and looks like a spade keel. Except, the skeg rudder has a fake keel which extends from the hulls aft and protects the fore edge. Most Hylas yachts have skeg rudders.
Outboard rudders are seen on smaller boats. They simply hang over the stern of the boat. For example, racing prams use outboard rudders. They are easy to fasion as emergency rudders. You can make one out of a handlerail and cabin door.
A rudder is either full, spade, skeg, or outboard. Each type has its benefits. The most important part is make sure she is in good condition and have a spare.