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post #17 of Old 02-25-2005
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high quality yacht brands?

Paulo- If you believe “that a sailboat, except if it is a pure racer, is not only designed to sail, but also to live aboard. The quality and comfort of that life aboard and the autonomy of the boat will also influence its form, not only the interior, but also the hull shape”, then this statement goes far in defining your preferences in the yacht design continuum. It becomes apparent to me that creature comforts play at least an equal roll to sailing performance in your ideal boat. The degree to which one is willing to allow interior accommodations to influence hull shape, for example, goes a long way toward establishing priorities and establishing criteria to meet individual needs. Some may, and do, reverse this equation.

As you say, it is absolutely true that there are many kinds of sailing, or traveling, that people wish to do. This is precisely my point, that there are quality yachts built for various intended purposes. One cannot define quality simply in terms of design type. They are separate subjects, often intermingled in these discussions. And to make matters more complex, within these types of sailing purpose, there are divergent design aesthetics that appeal to individual sensibilities differently. Ergo, Malo may build a quality yacht, but all quality yachts are not necessarily built like a Malo, or like Swan, or whatever other brand we may name. “Quality” is a difficult to discuss in general terms. We tend to define it based on taste, aesthetic appeal and personal preference. We know it when we see it, but it’s real tough to achieve complete consensus. The discussion would be easier if it were first reduced to boats of a specific purpose so that we are all talking about the same thing. Or else ask the question; “What traits are common to all high quality sailboats, regardless of purpose?”

One maxim I do believe to be universally true is that excess weight above the waterline is always bad. Ballast weight should be maximized as deeply as possible while all other displacement contributors should be minimized to the extent it is possible within the design parameters. What the optimum ballast / displacement ratio should be is a little beyond this discussion, but any increase in displacement, other than ballast, creates a chain reaction which feeds upon itself; necessitating more powerful sails, which require even more ballast for stability, which demands stouter structures, which add more weight yet… you’ve heard it all before.

The intuitive argument has often been made that increased displacement produces better motion comfort. Some also feel that it’s necessary for robust construction. Both of these claims are false. I do not believe that Swan intentionally built the 46 to be heavier, only that they were appealing to customers with different priorities. Luxury equipment and solid wood joinery are not light and the people who are drawn to this yacht place a higher priority upon these things than sailing performance, simple as that. They did not make the boat heavier to improve motion or strength.

As it has been stated here before, if you are willing to pay for greater displacement, which is another way of saying “a bigger boat”, and you wish to maximize motion comfort, buy a longer waterline length instead. You will get more interior space and greater speed as a free bonus! If you care little about these things and wish luxurious appointments and systems galore, buy a Swan 46. My guess is that either of the Swan 45s will be much faster, more comfortable and easier to sail too, but I certainly don’t know that from the experience. Priorities, my friend. -Phil
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