I have been totally away from sailboats for a decade or so. I grew up sailing in Michigan with my familty, and continued on in my 20s doing some decent ocean voyages and many weekends on Long Island Sound. A move the the West Coast saw me keeping a beach cat on the beach in Santa Cruz for many years. The dream!
I moved to Portland, OR and have been focused on other things for a decade or so.
Lately I've got interested in sailing again, and went out and bought some magazines and have been looking at some manuacturers sites, and reading this forum just lately.
I don't think of myself as a curmudgen, in fact I was a huge multihull fan back in the 1980s. I do, of course, still love the traditional blue water numbers like Valiants and Pacific Seacraft and such. But progress is a good thing and I really do like the look of the newer cruiser/racers. They look fast, which is something I always liked about multihulls.
But there are a few trends that I just can't believe are going to last. (Of course I thought that about rap music in the 1980s.)
- Twin rudders. These were popular on surfboards in the 80s, then they went to tripple fins. Should we expect that same in French boats soon?
- Twin steering wheels. I'm still a tiller guy at heart, but a nice wheel is great, too. I guess two fins require two wheels?
- Giant steering wheels. (I mean really giant!!) wheels. Wheels so big that they fill the cockpit from one side to the other. So that you have to get up on deck to move from the back of the cockpit to the front. Wheels so large that they disapear into slots in the deck! (Can you steer from underneath in the aft cabin while lounging in bed?)
- Open transoms. I get the 'fast draining' thing. I've been in a Hans Christian when a wave completely filled the cockpit and sat in the resulting two and a half feet of water until the cockpit drained, which took what seemed like a few minutes. But still, we're talking ALL THE WAY OPEN here. Lots of room for anything not firmly attached to go overboard in a wave. And speaking of waves, seems like a following sea might do a pretty good job keeping your feet wet too.
I see these on ocean racing boats, and yes, it does look fast, but (despite a couple widely spaced safety lines) it seems all to easy to lose a crewperson through that giant void. Would the cockpit really drain THAT much slower with a 6" or 10" slot across the bottom of a full transom? I doubt it, and safety would be much enhanced. (Yes, I know we're meant to be on the wire at all times when on deck, and I never break safety rules, ever, really)
(I came off the back of my Nacra at about 15 knots one time, just didn't have a firm enough grip for the motion of the boat... but that was 1/2 a mile off the beach on a sunny afternoon. Not 20 miles off shore or in the middle of a large bay.)
OK, bowsprits, asymetrical spins, wider beam (which I realize covers several of these) are here to stay. I'm not completely sure about the severe "A" shaped boats, but I guess what's fast wins, and what wins sells.
It's odd to think that things like Valiants (a boat I've always admired) are becoming sort of a nostolgia style, like cat boats or clipper rigs were in the 20th century. People will still buy them, just like people buy cat boats, but the conventional wisdom will have moved on to boats as wide as catamarans with tripple rudders.
I still can't believe that rap music is 30 years old.