Re: Modern Hull forms and Motion Comfort
Analogies of motorcycles, race cars, sports cars and pick-up trucks not withstanding, I would like to come back something that is closer to the topic, albeit not precisely on the topic. In these discussions there is often a tendency to use anecdotal evidence to make a case. When we discuss some topic, examples are often cited of some particular case that may only be peripherally related.
I respectfully suggest that looking at the current crop of racing boats to discuss a topic titled "modern hull forms and motion comfort" seems a little counter productive, even if the topic shift went towards adapting these racing hull forms to cruising, or the seaworthiness of the current design trends. Similarly, looking at examples of how encapsulated keeled or bolt on keeled coastal cruisers may not be relevant to a purpose-built, nearly custom distance cruiser.
The reason that I make this broad statement is that when you look at almost any boat, it is built to meet specific criteria. And those criteria, whether it is to cross an ocean faster than the next guy, or sail around a short race course better than the rating says you should, or carry enough supplies to cross the Pacific in comfort, to be quick to get underway and provide an elegant day sail, or provide an inexpensive way to explore comparatively protected coastal waters and provide all the comforts of home when anchored, shape a wide range of range of decisions about the design of the boat; how the hull will be shaped, how it will be appointed, how it will be rigged, and how it will be constructed.
And while there may be reasonable analysis points that come out of comparing boats designed for disparate purposes, such as saying one type is faster or one type needs more overall displacement, it is very hard to bore down and begin to project the impact of design details from one type to another.
To me, a good example of this type of projection is the discussion of the reliability of race boats today vs race boats of yesteryear. I have to say that at the grand prix level, race boats have always been pushed to the limit. Examples of spar failures, structural failures, and short shelf life designs have been with sailing almost from the beginning of yacht racing. Frankly these kinds of failures happened pretty routinely in the days of commercial sail as well.
I suggest that whether designing that close to the edge is proper, is a philosophical question that is not germane to my point, or this thread, and frankly could be debated ad-infinitum with neither side presenting a definitively compelling case.
But where some of this goes off the rails, is in trying to interpolate the ultimate direction of mainstream yacht design from experimental elements of racing technology. Yacht design history if full of examples of controversial measures that became mainstream after they were declared impossibly bad ideas, and other ideas which were lauded as the future of yacht design, only to end up in the dustbin of history.
Its easy to forget how controversial external ballast was when it was fist introduced. Traditionalist opponents were sure that the motion of yachts with external ballast would roll the rig right out of the boat. Inboard rudders were treated with similar disdain. Bermuda rigs were decried. Keel centerboard boats were declared as unsafe for offshore use and seen as being a high risk design done only for speed. Fin keels, while not fully agreed to be all even today, were seen as dangerous experiments only appropriate for use by daredevils. Roller reefing booms were cited as the 'next best thing'. Mundane things like winches for offshore use were debated since the internal parts could fail, but tackles could always be rerigged.The list goes on.
But at the heart of it, the jury of real life interceded and some of these items became mainstream, while others like roller reefing booms of the 1950-60's thankfully disappeared.
While racing craft are trying all kinds of interesting experiments, I suggest that it is premature to try to declare any of them as 'the winner'. In my life, I remember sailing on a new Tartan 41 (1970's IOR boat), with miter-cut dacron genoas, and radical head chutes, and the crew were so impressed with the boat, that members of the crew concluded that boat designs had advanced as far as they ever would.
I remember seeing moveable water ballast as the next trend that would become the norm for cruising boats. (My boat was set up so that the drinking water could be shifted side to side on each tack for longer passages.)
So when I look at the current crop of extremely beamy, articulated keel, carbon fiber boats, I see new ideas being tried. I see them working positively in many ways. I can see why someone might build and own a boat that was built that way. But at this point, I do not conclude that this trend in yacht design portends an ultimate direction that more mainstream design will choose to follow, evolve from, or ultimately ignore.
But lastly, I do not mean these comments to be seen as a criticism of any particular point of view, or individual, or group of denizens of this discussion. In fact, I mean them in large part as a kind of Mea Culpa, since I see myself as guilty of perpertrating the sins that this posts decries. But I have been thinking about this for several days, and thought that it probably might help create a back drop for moving the discourse forward.
Maybe that is just me....now back to the regularly schedule program.......
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 04-13-2013 at 10:37 AM.