Paulo, I really don't disagree with any of your points, they're certainly valid in terms of allowing older or less experienced or fit couples to sail bigger and bigger boats... I simply think that's not necessarily a good thing... I see all the time, people out there in boats that in my opinion are way beyond their ability to manage physically, especially if some of these sailhandling systems go down... And yes, the loss of something like a bow thruster should not necessarily spell doom, and yet I see people today who really are incapable of docking without them, or of getting off a dock when pinned against it by the breeze, without such assistance...
For me, the essence of Seamanship is basically the constant posing of the question "What IF...?"
What happens if we don't arrive a X before nightfall, what happens if I don't attend to the bit of chafe I'm seeing on that sheet, and so on... So, I look at that sleek, elegant mainsheet on that HR that disappears into the boom, and I wonder "What IF...?"
Here's how H-R describes the setup:
"The mainsheet system only has one single visible line. There is a hydraulic cylinder and line purchase hidden inside the boom. The hydraulic vang is very powerful."
Hmmm, HIDDEN INSIDE THE BOOM???
Seriously? Well, I'm sure it works nicely, certainly gives the boat a sleek and uncluttered look, but I sure don't like the sound of such a system, maybe a few years down the road...
Now, perhaps Selden has made the provision for inspection or servicing such an arrangement very convenient... Still, I don't like this modern trend towards hiding lines and other critical gear... "Out of Sight, out of Mind..." Any hydraulic cylinder will begin to leak eventually, will the first indication of the mainsheet failing on such a boat be a stain on the teak decking beneath the gooseneck? If that system develops a problem offshore in a blow, what then? How easy do you suppose it will be for an older couple to deal with servicing a large hydraulic ram (which often requires highly specialized tools and presses that can realistically only be done in a shop ashore) that is hidden inside the boom?
Again, perhaps it's just me, and I'm the only delivery skipper out there who has ever had the misfortune of having this sort of gadgetry go tits up... But, I'm guessing maybe not... :-)
I'll admit, my perspective on much of this stuff is different from most... In the delivery business, it's very common for me to be running brokerage boats that have sat unused for an extended period, or might not have seen the best of maintenance recently... It's one thing when these complex arrangements are new, or are being 'exercised' routinely... But when such boats sit unused in Florida for a couple of years before being sold, it can be a whole different ballgame, and simplicity rules the day... I really have to wonder about the longevity of much of this stuff, many years on down the road... The original owner will have long moved onto something newer and more slick, but the owner of boats relying upon such complexity 20 years down the road are likely to find themselves in a situation of a car owner who drives their cars basically until they die, and are eventually plagued with the failure of things like power windows, with no means of opening them manually, and so on...
No need to ask me how I know this... :-)