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Old 01-09-2011
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Speed vs Cruising

This is a great thread; pity I didn’t spot it earlier. Lots of interesting boats and info – but across a very wide spectrum! There appears to be an undertone “I want to sail really fast – and I’d like to go cruising in it.” Wouldn’t we all?

There are reasons why a clever designer hasn’t built such a boat long ago. Many of the boats in this thread fail to tick the necessary boxes. Before you protest: I certainly do not mean that all the boats in this thread fail the touring test – I’m only suggesting a critical look at each.

First, storage and buoyancy: beyond a few days of coastal cruising, most of us want more than a T-shirt and shorts. Pile in some weight and you can chuck these polar diagrams out the window.

An extreme example is the Dragonfly trimaran. I love the boat – great engineering, immaculate workmanship – but cruising? The 35 is possibly best of the series until the new 32 arrives; the 1200 is comfortable but way heavy for a tri – before you load provisions. A DF1200 completed the ARC rally some weeks ago, and the crew posted their observations on the DF forum afterwards: “As a rough guesstimate I would recommend multiplying the given numbers (in the polar diagrams) for 8-18knots of true wind speed by … maybe 0.66 in a boat equipped for cruising.”

The following is anecdotal and probably never to be repeated, but still: Last autumn I outsailed a Dragonfly 1000, a boat capable of 20 knots, in my touring Ovni 395. The winds were not strong, some 7-9 knots, not ideal for the “slow” Ovni. We happened to follow the same course, and I expected the tri to just lift off and disappear under the horizon, but after a couple of hours side by side it became obvious that Ovni pulled ahead. How so? Trimarans must stay light to perform, and this (German) tourist probably sailed with full holiday provisions. His tri just didn’t have the buoyancy to go. A characteristic of good cruisers is that they maintain good performance under a range of loads.

What is a touring “load”? I found out in December when my 395 was trucked overland. The truck had a permitted load of 10,000kg and I said, “No sweat, my boat is eight-something ton from the shipyard.” How wrong! It tipped into the red on the truck’s 10-tonne scale, implying stores of 1,5-2 ton. Disbelieving, I double-checked and conceded. 700L of water and fuel, dinghy, life raft, spare sails and ropes, galley and food, more tools than I ever hope to need, oil and misc. paints, washing machine and all the other extras, books, clothing and people – it adds up to way more than you think.

A Dragonfly 35 weighs 3900kg and takes a payload of 1500kg incl. crew. I doubt that it will be flying with 40% added weight?
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