Originally Posted by PCP
On another thread there was an interesting discussion in what regards the relation between size of a boat and seaworthiness and also in what regards mechanical helps.
Some would think that will not apply to fast performance cruisers, at least in a significant way, I mean mechanical help and automatic systems but they are plain wrong. Sailing speed is related with size of the boat and if you really want a very fast boat then you want a big boat. Big boats needed a big crew to be sailed and that's a problem. Well not anymore, the problem is the extra money to buy complex systems and eventually more reliability problems even if the huge number of big sailing boats using these systems will contribute to a much improved reliability that seems already quite reasonable.
Have a look at what I am saying: This Swan 60 should have big grinders to be sail fast. Instead it has a lot of buttons.
have a good look at that mainsheet and boom controls. We don't see any big and complicated purchase system. The lines come clean from the boom.
They say about the Swan 60 set up and particularly about the above boat (that has been doing very well racing):
"Race-optimized versions, like Emma, have a racing boom rather than the Park Avenue style that comes on the cruising version. However, Emma is equipped with a Magic-Trim system that does away with the traveller, drastically reducing mainsail trim options. A racing mainsheet system is available as part of the optional $35,000 competition package.
On deck, sophisticated sail control systems and an ergonomically designed layout allow the Swan 60 to be easily sailed by just three people. The Magic-Trim mainsheet is a very safe innovation for cruisers, as it has no exposed finger-jamming blocks and includes a quick release that allows the main to be dumped in response to a large gust or when bearing away......All winches on board are electric, enabling effortless sail trimming and creating an uncluttered central cockpit devoid of pedestal grinders."
The supplier of the Swan mainsheet system is Cariboni. you can have a look at the hydraulic purchase system and also to the the boats that use this suplier system from this supplier. This will give an idea of how expanded is its use among not only big yachts but big yachts that race extensively.
Wally uses the same system:
We will have to get used to more complex sailboats at least in what regards bigger sailboats. That's the only way they can be sailed by a couple or a very short crew and that's such a big advantage that justifies the use of more complex systems that have no reason not to be reliable given time and development...only more expensive
The very successful SF-based Mills' designed King 40 Soozal
was optimized by Easom Rigging with electric mainsheet winches which, surprisingly, were not penalized under IRC - or at least not sufficiently to prevent installation or compromise winning performance.
I think the chief hurdle to using these systems in smaller boats - e.g., under 40'-50' - is likely to be power consumption. Admittedly, in cruising boats you don't typically trim your sails all that much, so presumably you wouldn't drain your batteries by using electric main sheet, primary and secondary winches, but in performance cruising mode you'd probably suck some amps, particularly if you're shorthanded and running autohelm, AIS and other instruments.
So, probably need to see continuing improvements in power generation and storage before these systems become ubiquitous. And, of course, there's always that underlying issue about electricity and salt water - you'll need to have some kind of manual back-up solution in the event you lose power.