With all due respect to my estemed colleague and co-moderator, I would argue that there is just about no such thing as a truly seaworthy performance cruiser-which is also an IOR rule based design.
Perhaps the apparent difference in the opinion expressed by Faster and myself comes in how we each would define term 'seaworthy performance cruiser'. To me a seaworthy performance cruiser must be able to quickly adapt with a small crew to changeable conditions and be seaworthy, seakindly, and easy to handle at the upper ends of the wind range while offering reasonably good performance at the lighter end of the wind range.
No matter how you look at it, IOR era boats were designed to be handled by big strong crews and to have a lot of weight on the rail. By the very nature of the IOR rule, IOR boats counted on huge overlapping headsails to gain performance in anything below a half gail and counted on a large inventory of incrementally larger, heavier and lighter sails.
You can work around this some with modern sail handling gear and with oversized (perhaps power driven) winches and by using smaller sails that are cut slightly fuller from a lighter weight, lower stretch high modulus sail cloth (kevlar, spectra, or carbon) to increase their wind speed range.
But even with all the optiomizing that is possible using modern science, these boats have a lot of drag, low SA/D's and not much stability without a whole lot of weight on the rail, which means that their sails will still have a comparatively narrow wind range (even with roller furling). And that is where I have a problem seeing these performance cruising boats. If you don't do a lot of sail changes you are stuck with one of three poor choices as a cruising boat; either:
- Sailing with a small headsail and having no light air performance,
- Sailing with a large overlapping headsail and have a bear of a boat to push around, especially as windspeeds increase,
- Or doing more frequent sail changes, which is hard to do with a small crew and which also disquailfies it by my my definition of a seaworthy performance cruisng boat since it can't respond qucikly to changing conditions.
Then there are the hull form issues. Most of the IOR era boats came with the gift of a hullform conceived to beat a rule but almost by design, were inherrently skitish when pressed hard. These boats, with enough weight on the rail, were impressive going up wind in a moderate breeze, pointing high and moving well. But as soon as you began to reach or run these boats began to develop nasty habits, so nasty in fact that you lose a key heavy weather survival technique, namely running off under bare poles.
Then there is the robustness issue. While many of the early IOR era boats were pretty solidly built, (boats like the Tartan 41, or Peterson 34) most were not. Boats like the C&C 41 or the Islander Peterson 40 certainly were not especially robust when they were built, let alone 25 years later and even a reasonably well maintained Tartan 41 or Peterson 34 will need a lot of help making it suitable and relable for cruising.
I should say of all the IOR era designs I am particularly fond of the maverick designs which were not strictly designed as IOR designs such as the Contessa 33 (which I raced on for 6-7 years), J-36, Oyster SJ 34, Taylor 39 and 41, and Lightwave 39, Express 37, Frers 36, Hogfarm 30, Soveral 33 and (less so) 39 or many of Farr's racer-cruisers of this era or full blown racers like the Farr 37, and (Garratt)41, which were often departures from the rule that produced better all around boats.
But more to the point, if you are looking for a good, seaworthy, performance, cruising boat then you should really be looking at boats that were not designed with any thought about the IOR rule. If you are going to buy an older boat to fix up, then my advice is to start with the best designed boat that you can find, and improve from there rather than investing your heart and soul in design that will always be limited in performance and seaworthiness by the rating rule it was compromised to beat.....
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay