Originally Posted by PCP
On a reach that weight will work well, except on very light winds. See it as moving ballast. sitting on the opposite side of heeling they are maintaining the boat more vertical where it sails with less drag and on stronger winds they allow more sail to be carried without reefing. also they can move to the bow (light winds) or to the stern when going downwind with stronger winds giving the boat a perfect balance on any conditions.
They work like water ballast in a boat with several ballast tanks but they change the position of the ballast much more quickly
In fact I think that the weight and number of crew should be penalized on what regards ratting. that would contribute to better boats, more adapted to cruising.
Things seem to be going in the right direction since a duo crewed boat won the last Fastnet, a first, showing not only that modern boats can work better than the old ones with a short crew but also that the ratting is on the right direction.
However I think that they are one considering ratting benefices to duo sailed boats. If they had on a big boat 3 instead of 15, it would not make any difference. I think that should be reviewed.
Under IRC there are limits to the number of crew a boat can carry for a given rating, though obviously one can exploit this rule by swapping out 12 sumo wrestlers for 12 school children when the wind goes light.
Practically speaking, of course, it is not easy, at the non-professional level, to find suitable - i.e., competent - crew in adequate numbers to play that game.