Check the polar diagrams. That will give you a rough idea of how a well-sailed boat will perform under various wind speeds at various points of sail.
Another way to compare boats, at least on a rough basis, is to look at their PHRF ratings. The higher the rating, the slower the boat.
There really isn't a lot you can do to enhance the performance of a boat. Other than keeping excess weight off the boat, fairing and smoothing the bottom and keeping it free of growth, keeping your sails in good shape, etc... but the basic speed of a given boat won't change much.
Some designs are just going to be much faster than others... Multihulls are a good example of that... trimarans, and to some degree catamarans, are going to be faster than their monohull counterparts.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.
Last edited by sailingdog; 04-22-2010 at 10:20 AM.