Re: Tartan(s), Sabre, Pearson(s), C&C(s), Catalina(s) - "Chesapeake Draft"
You're seeing major differences in centerboard hardware because there are major differences in boats with a centerboard (no ballast) and a swing keel (lots of ballast) or weighted centerboard (somewhere in between).
My understanding is that swing keels are the ones that you really need to keep up with. Having a 1000lb or heavier centerboard swing down with no notice would be a major liability.
A lot of the larger boats with centerboard appear to be built with ballast in a shoal keel, then a centerboard that swings down to improve windward performance. That style of centerboard can be a lot lighter and require a lot less hardware to raise and lower.
I have no personal experience with this, I freak out if I'm sailing in less than 10' of water (almost never happens around Seattle).
boats that I sail on regularly: Pearson 28-2, Rondar 505, Yankee 30, Blanchard Junior