Join Date: Nov 2005
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Hull speed and wide sterns
Let me begin by complementing the restraint of my main man Denr! I was looking forward to some pyrotechnics, but maybe your brain is more engaged in thinking about a big sail this holiday weekend????
Jeff, I, too, read that article in Sailing World and have to admit I chuckled a bit when I read it, thinking of the "big ass stern" topic. Unfortunately, no where do the authors state that "excessive" (my term) volume in the stern is a good thing. The authors speak of "extra volume" and "extra buoyancy" without defining what that is. Extra compared to what?
Obviously, sailboats need SUFFICIENT volume in the stern to achieve the performance goals intended by the designer. Working from memory here, but someone wrote on here that you can even look at a Bill Crealock canoe stern and see how beefy it really is. They are most correct because Crealock makes sure to design enough reserve buoyancy into the stern. As he puts it, most times when in a storm out at sea the stern effectively becomes your bow while running before a storm. He criticizes the modern wide sterns with sugar scoop transoms because of what is likely to happen if the stern is swamped by a big wave.
Of course, Bill Crealock designs all his boats for blue water. the modern designs with the huge cockpits and scooped transoms are primarily on coastal cruisers -- a different animal to me.
Someone else pointed out in the Fat Ass topic that the new Volvo Ocean Race boats have wide sterns, and they must know something about speed. Yes, they do. But again I see those boats as entirely different animals from the kind of boats most everyone else on this list will ever need. The VOR boats use extreme beam for form stability to save overall weight. They also use water ballast to keep the boats upright. As Isabelle Autisier (no doubt misspelled) has demonstrated on a couple of occasions, turn these modern, wide ocean racing boats over, and they will stay there. Bill Crealock designs his boats, hopefully, to stay upright to begin with, but if they do turn turtle, they will bounce back up in a hurry.
And to repeat several other posts in the Fat Ass series, we really are talking a preference for "traditional" design vs. "modern" when addressing this wide stern phenomenon. But we also are mixing apples and oranges in my humble opinion concerning the intended uses of these boats and their design elements. While lots of people cross oceans in Beneteaus (not to pick on them obviously), give me a Crealock or Tom Gillmer design anyday for a blue water cruise.
In my short career as a part time freelance writer, I''ve had the good fortune to interview Olin Stephens, Bill Shaw, Tom Gillmer and Bill Crealock. When asked who is the best modern designer, Stephens told me "Bruce Farr, but I don''t like his designs very much." Shaw, Gillmer and Crealock all stressed moderation in their designs. Also, Shaw and Crealock are in their 70''s, Gillmer is in his 90''s. I expect that naval architecture has discovered a few things since they all went to school -- although the Sailing World article goes back to wave theory we all studied in high school physics. (Well, I did anyway.)
Admittedly, Bill Shaw probably would be cranking out fat assed stern boats if the old Pearson Yachts was still around because the company was there to sell boats, and people like those big cockpits and the swim platforms. Heck, if I can ever buy that new 38 footer it will have that, too. But I don''t intend to sail to Europe, either.
Bottom line after all this: yes, big ass sterns have their place in sailboat design, and we all have our own opinion of exactly where that place is. Buy the boat you like, for the purpose you have in mind. Then go sailing. I wish I was on the Chesapeake right now!