Some guys have said that they had learned something on this thread about boats. I am happy and proud with that.
Regarding that shared knowledge I have posted a generic post on another thread that I think can contribute to those global better view of cruising sailboats and I will post it here too:
Any sailing boat is also a sports machine unless you chose not to use it like that and stay in port when you can have fun with the boat.
Sailboats are slow if you compare them with a car and a car is slow if compared with an airplane but the sensations you can get on a sailboat are not with accordance with that slowness, the same way you can have much more vivid sensations in a car comparing with an airplane that is way faster.
Between sailboats a 1K difference is a lot and you can say that is nothing but that is not what is more important between a performance cruiser and a modern cruiser sailboat it is the sensation and precision you have at the wheel.
The sensation you got at the wheel of a light sports car has nothing to do with the sensation you have at the wheel of a modern turbo diesel sedan even if the two can go at the same speed in the straight line (and on the boats the performance one will be faster). While on the sports cars you put the car exactly where you want it with a minimum effort, on the Diesel sedan, is more or less. Of course, all that precision calls for an experienced driver to take advantage of it.
That's about the difference you have in what regards steering between a modern cruiser and a good performance cruiser. Now that the boats have a two wheel set up the differences are even more noticeable. The two wheel set up takes sensibility to the wheel and to compensate that there is needed a top ruder system, not only stronger but with a very low friction.
When you go out downwind at 10k (I hope it would be more in my next boat) with 25/30K wind surfing two meter waves that come slightly sideways you have about the same sensation at the wheel as when going fast on a twisting dirt road with a powerful car or bike: You have to have the wheel in constant motion to control the slides, you know, just like in a car, before it happens you have to compensate and before the slide finishes you have to have the wheel strait again.
The sensation you have in a boat on these conditions are not very different from the ones you have in a car going fast with the additional pleasure of controlling 8T with the tip of your fingers. I guess you will understand by this the importance of having a very sensitive steering.
The difference between a more sportive boat and a heavy boat here can be very important: While on this conditions a lighter sportive boat maintains a very light steering a heavy cruising boat can be hard on the wheel and what is a pleasure on a fast boat can turn up in a muscular tiring effort on a heavy boat, not to mention the much bigger control a sensitive wheel gives.
And if you think this are not very frequent conditions, well in what regards coastal cruising they are not but in what regards crossing oceans in the trade winds they are.
Another similarity I found is with my old racing dirt bike, I mean when you are powering upwind full sails on 18/20K wind. My boat could go at 7K sometimes jumping 3m waves crashing down and most of the time just breaking them, water flowing all around, in a very powerful and bumpy ride. The power that the boat is making on these conditions is huge and you can feel it at the wheel. Lots of work with the wheel to prevent the boat to slam and not to lose speed, keeping that power and speed up.
After some hours of this I was always amazed to find an intact interior. It is just wonderful that a cruising boat can take this kind of punishment without the interior coming apart.
A good cruising sailing boat is two things, a caravan and a sports machine. There are ones that are more a caravan others that are more a sports machine. For some sailors the sportive part is completely irrelevant, they only want a sea caravan, others only wanted fast cruising boats for racing.
For the ones that like sports and want also a sea caravan for the family the trick is too chose the right combination between interior space and sailing performance and regarding this you can be sure of one thing: The boat that you will see at the boat show with the bigger and nicer interior will not be the best sailing boat, specially in what concerns the space on the front cabin.
I am a fan of New Zealand boat designers, boat builders and top sailors and now also a fan of sailing research in what regards sails and sailing. It is just amazing the contribution that this small country has done to modern boat design and sailing.
Linked to the Auckland University they run a Yacht research unit that is producing some great work that is already used by some of the VOR boats. Take a look:
Regarding that kite boat.... I think it would really be interesting if they created a one person monohul, almost like a kayak, with pedals to control the rudder. Can you imagine how fast and easy it would be to get air? Similar to kite boarding.
The boat that won more races in sailboat historyt is back, at least a faithful replica. Came on, do you think I am exaggerating about the victories? The boat won 231 races and stayed competitive for about 30 years!!!
..George Lennox Watson received a commission from Prince Albert Edward for a sailing yacht in 1892. He designed His Royal Highness' Yacht Britannia to the "Length And Sail Area Rule" as a First Class cutter .. She was launched on April 20, 1893…
By the end of her first year's racing, the Britannia had scored thirty-three wins from forty-three starts. In her second season, she won all seven races for the big class yachts on the French Riviera, and then beat the 1893 America's Cup defender Vigilant in home waters.
Despite a lull in big yacht racing after 1897, the Britannia served as a trial horse for Sir Thomas Lipton's challenger Shamrock I, and later passed on to several owners in a cruising trim with raised bulwarks. In 1920, King George V triggered the revival of the "Big Class" by announcing that he would refit the Britannia for racing. Although the Britannia was the oldest yacht in the circuit, regular updates to her rig kept her a most successful racer throughout the 1920s.
In 1931, she was converted to the J-Class with a bermuda rig, but despite the improvements, her performance to windward slopped dramatically. Her last race was at Cowes in 1935. During her racing career she had won 231 races and took another 129 flags.
King George V's dying wish was for his beloved yacht to follow him to the grave. On 10 July 1936, after the Britannia had been stripped of her spars and fittings, her hull was towed out to St Catherines Deep near the Isle of Wight, and she was sunk by HMS Winchester (L55), commanded by Captain W.N.T. Beckett RN. This fate marked the end of big yacht racing in Europe, with the smaller and more affordable International Rule 12-Metre Class gaining popularity.
A new replica of the Britannia was built Russia in from 1993 to 2009, and after legal problems in securing her release from her Russian shipyard, she was shipped to Norway and subsequently sold to a foundation in Cowes that will finish and rig the yacht.