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Old 05-15-2009
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The Worst Ever Feature

I have had a thought: what is the worst ever detail or design feature added to a sailboat? It could be the most dangerous or most dysfunctional – something that really ought not to be there.

My own candidate by a fair margin is the swing keel.

No doubt they will eventually figure out relatively foolproof ways to apply this – a fluid-based, counter-balanced system, perhaps – but to me, the notion of having a movable mechanical contraption to hold the ballast where it is needed seems to be inviting disaster.

“Why did you capsize?”
“Oh, we had the ballast to lee” or “The wind shifted” or “We turned too quickly” or, as in the Volvo race: “The keel got stuck to one side.”


Can you raise the stakes much higher than that?
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