Fat Ass Sterns of New Boats
I don''t know what boats you were looking at but I find my ''99 Cataina 36MKII more than easy to steer from the coaming. No I do not have 6 foot arms (Far from it ! I''m only 5''7"). The wheel is right there ! and its comfy resting my back on the lifelines.
You shouldn''t be so quick to make broad statements that are not accurate. If you noticed something it would make more sense to note "Make Models and years".
Take a look at this picture of the New Catalina 350 which has a very wide stern ! (Go here http://www.catalinayachts.com/main.phtml )
As you can see the helsman can *easily* steer the boat from either coaming. I guess the extra large wheel''s on the newer boats help. Also note that the Jenny Winch''s are right there where the Helmsman can easily adjust if he wants to, which would make singlehandling a bit easier. Traditional boats have the winches about 4 feet forward which means that the helmsman needs 6 foot arms or a crew to do the constant trimming (or like most people do, turn on the autopilot and go forward)
So I think you just like to trash anything that does not fit into your idea of what a boat should be....Which sounds like Ultra traditional. Hey I like traditional too, but there are some new innovations that are not bad.
As far as what effects a wide stern has on sailing I will leave it up to the others. I know some high end boats (Hylas for one) are widening their stern. From what I have read there are pro''s and con''s. I have read that some of those "pinched off" canoe type sterns are not quite as efficient a sailing design as first though, something to do with turbulance in the aft end, etc, etc. plus a wide stern can add to bouyancy of the stern which can be a good thing. I''d be less concerned with the wide sterns on some boats, than the "ever increasing" freeboard you see on some of those newer boats (Think wedding cake). In high winds and large breaking seas I might be a little more concerned with all the exposed hull above the water line. And That is where all the room in the aft cabin is from, not the width, but the height.
I feel if you need stairs to walk off the dock into the cockpit then the freeboard is too high.
I recall the early days of roller furling headsails and all the traditionalists trashed them too.
ps...I sail my boat all the time and she sails great and I love sailing her.....I''ve been out the last three weekends and that''s pretty early for up here. So I also appreciate some more modern features like a walk thru transom, Not having to carry the dog or lift the children over the side when cruising is a god send......Its all in how its designed. The devil is in the details.