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Closet Powerboater
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I've been wondering about the nebulous concept of "performance" lately as I weigh the pros and cons of different boat designs. Sailing performance, or windward performance, are terms that are batted about and various metrics such as the PHRF rating are used, but I wonder, what exactly does it all mean?

I'll try and explain. Larry Pardey of all people should be concerned with sailing performance. He is one of the very few sailor that goes engine-less. And yet, he favors battenless sails, heavy displacement full keel boats. He sails, and is happy with, boats that are NOT considered "performance boats" in general.

Steve Dashew prefers battens, roach, long LWLs and likes to surf short-handed going at high speed with his hair on fire. His boat might be considered "high performance" but I have a friend who sails Moths who would call any Dashew boat a slow "lead mine." Multi-hull sailors probably think we're all slow.

What about going to windward? Even a WestSNAIL 32 would knock the socks off Captain Cook going to windward (and in every other way), but would bore the pants off someone who races modern sleds.

So if Captain Cook would be impressed, but Palo would be bored, and Larry Pardey would be happy but Dashew would be upset, is this concept of "performance" we talk about really just a matter of perspective? i.e. is it all in our heads?

MedSailor
 

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MedSailor,

I think you answered your own question. Absolutely up to the individual! I've been reading up on sail trim lately. I'm astounded to learn that after you go through all this sail trim "picky" stuff... we're talking about tenths of a knot. Really??? To me, the cruiser, getting the sails up and kicking back with a good book, some tunes (or not), a beverage and the wife to take turns with on watch is what it's all about. ;) If I want my boat to "feel" like I'm going mach 5, I can do that, but I either just slowed down, or gained a couple tenths. BUT... this is Dave's view of sailing. I'm not a racer, I'm a cruiser. The boat I own is one I picked for it's liveability, not it's speed.

Good "thinking" post though, thanks.

Dave
 

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Comparing mono-a-mono - I think "performance" is pretty negligible in the short term - but can definitely make a difference in the long term on a passage.

Comparing mono-a-multi - huge difference. A Moth isn't going to be sporting around the Carib. A multi will be - and will typically doing it at twice the speed (or more) of a mono.

So in the arena of cruising - I think there's a lot of "in our heads" stuff.

But then you consider a VOR70 or 65. These boats at doing 20+ knots in big seas. And the AC72s are doing 40+ knots in flat seas. That's performance, and it's impressive for any boat, period...especially one with sails.
 

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I'm thinking for cruising, windward performance is sort of a safety thing. I'd like to know that my boat can get itself off a lee shore by sail power alone. I recall a beer can race a couple years ago where several large, full keel, heavy displacement boats couldn't even get across the start line. No thank you!
 

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I've been wondering about the nebulous concept of "performance" lately as I weigh the pros and cons of different boat designs. Sailing performance, or windward performance, are terms that are batted about and various metrics such as the PHRF rating are used, but I wonder, what exactly does it all mean?
I think it's a real mistake to consider performance a "nebulous" concept... Well, if you like to actually SAIL, that is... :)

It's also a mistake to assume that a boat like the Pardey's is what you appear to think it is. The BCC is actually a very lively sailing boat, easily driven with a SA/D ratio of around 16, with a LWL comparable to many boats far larger. I ran a Cape George 31 south last winter, and was VERY favorably impressed with her sailing performance, given the 'type' of boat she is...

In my observation, those who try to talk themselves into the notion that performance under sail is all "relative", doesn't really matter all that much on a cruising boat, and it won't make much difference when the boat becomes heavily laden with all the crap today's cruisers 'need' to go cruising, all tend to wind up having one thing in common...

They greatly extend the life of their sails, by so rarely unfurling them... :)

 

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The worst sailed boats on Puget Sound are sailing at maybe half the speed of what the fast racers and cruisers are doing. This can be the difference between sailing from Seattle to Friday Harbor in one day or two. For me that matters -- if I have a week vacation (9 days total) I'd rather spend 2 transit days and 7 days exploring the San Juans then 4 transit days and 5 days exploring the San Juans.

Using the spinnaker or not is worth at least one knot on my boat for deep broad reach and downwind sailing.

Good sail trim (all tells flying well and using the full height of the sail) is easily worth a knot between "sails are overtrimmed" or "sails are lightly luffing" and "sails are well trimmed"

When you read about tenths that is between a well sailed boat and a really well sailed boat. That is what makes racing fun.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
...- if I have a week vacation (9 days total) I'd rather spend 2 transit days and 7 days exploring the San Juans then 4 transit days and 5 days exploring the San Juans.
This is the part where I get to gloat that my slip is 6 nautial miles from James Island State park in the San Juan Islands. :D I can leave at 10am and be there in time for lunch.

Of course it would be rude to just gloat. The slip is for sale, so you too can buy a really big (up to 60' fits in the slip) slow boat and still spend all your time in the San Juans. ;)

MedSailor
 

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I'm astounded to learn that after you go through all this sail trim "picky" stuff... we're talking about tenths of a knot.
Alex is correct in that tenths of a knot are what one would experience between the front of the fleet and the back during a race. But between a sloppily sailed boat and an efficient one? I've seen 2-3 knots difference between similar boats.

I once moved the traveler car 2" and picked up 3/4 a knot. It just amazed me that I could get so much from doing so little. I generally care a lot less about electronics, batteries, and engines than the shape of my sails and condition of my rigging. Sometimes I just feel like chucking all that crud and buying a foiling moth. Just wanna sail, don't care on what.
 

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The real difference is in the trigonometry of the sailing angles attained or compared by a lackadaisical to a precise sailor/helmsman.
A 'sloppy' helmsman may be getting through a 45+45 degree tacking angle, while the precision helmsman, who also constantly 'tweaks' also to precision, may be getting through a 35+35 degree tacking angle

2(cos 45°) ÷ 2(cos35°) = 1.15 .... inotherwords, the precision sailor sailing at essentially the SAME speed will be traveling 15% more efficiently to the same waypoint; and, while sailing at that SAME speed will be arriving at that very same waypoint 15% 'faster'.

In 'efficient' sailing its not always how fast youre sailing; but rather, sailing in the 'right direction' at the highest possible tack angle.
 

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I've accepted the fact that my "cruising" will mostly be day trips and the occasional overnight, at least for the next year or two. Even then, though, we'll likely never do more than a 3-5 day stint aboard the boat. Given the home ports around us, that doesn't leave a very wide set of destinations. The first "overnight" trip I've suggested to my wife is a sail down to Atlantic City, spend the night, then back the next day. MAYBE a 3-day weekend in Cape May. But that's really the extent of our use. Yes, it would be great if the boat made the trip from our home port to Cape May in 10% less time. But as a practical matter, that would buy me about an hour. Yes, I could sleep an hour later in the morning before we left, and that would be good, but it's not going to make much of a difference in the end.

If I were regularly doing trips like Chef2Sail where it was hundreds of miles each way, then a boat that is more "performance" oriented would be great. But for my purposes, I am more worried about comfort. So I agree with Med's take, that "performance" is relative. I guess that makes me less of a true sailor to some. I'm OK with that.
 

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Might want to check some passage times if you believe a multi is 2+ times faster than a mono.....

Comparing mono-a-mono - I think "performance" is pretty negligible in the short term - but can definitely make a difference in the long term on a passage.

Comparing mono-a-multi - huge difference. A Moth isn't going to be sporting around the Carib. A multi will be - and will typically doing it at twice the speed (or more) of a mono.

So in the arena of cruising - I think there's a lot of "in our heads" stuff.

But then you consider a VOR70 or 65. These boats at doing 20+ knots in big seas. And the AC72s are doing 40+ knots in flat seas. That's performance, and it's impressive for any boat, period...especially one with sails.
 

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This is the part where I get to gloat that my slip is 6 nautial miles from James Island State park in the San Juan Islands. :D I can leave at 10am and be there in time for lunch.
I work a full time job and get to go sailing 2-4 times per week year round by having my boat at Shilshole. It would be fun to have a boat in Anacortes and be that much closer to the San Juans, but I'd probably sail 10x less than I do now. That isn't a worthwhile tradeoff to me.
 

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"Sailing performance" is a tangible asset. How, when and why you use it is up to you. All boats have trade-offs, it's up to you to decide which are applicable to you.
 

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I've been wondering about the nebulous concept of "performance" lately as I weigh the pros and cons of different boat designs. Sailing performance, or windward performance, are terms that are batted about and various metrics such as the PHRF rating are used, but I wonder, what exactly does it all mean?

MedSailor
I agree, mostly. I think the effect of performance is more in our heads than reality. Extremes aside(die hard racers, cruising rock stars), most of us are sailing a variety of boats on our home coast where 20 seconds a mile PHRF, or even a knot, makes little difference in when we get 'there'. For all the new boat advertising speed hype, in the last 50 years of boat design, we're not moving a family of four on a mid sized coastal cruiser at such a speed increase as to change sailing logistics for the way most of us sail.

Boats aside, the effect of sailing performance can be a strong component of the sailor. If you're into sailing, it doesn't matter what you're sailing.

Dashews or Pardys boat, you'll just want to try to make it sail better. You'll want it to sail more often, you just can't help yourself.

 

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This is the part where I get to gloat that my slip is 6 nautial miles from James Island State park in the San Juan Islands. :D I can leave at 10am and be there in time for lunch.
MedSailor
MedSailor, I get to out-gloat you! I'm half owner of two boats (that's sort of like owning one whole boat, right?). One of them is in Anacortes and the other is on Lake Union. When I want to go sailing, I have the difficult decision to make; do I head north and sail the San Juans or do I head south and play around with my Seattle sailing buddies?
 

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Might want to check some passage times if you believe a multi is 2+ times faster than a mono.....
Well, I'll put it this way. In the offshore racing I've done on a PS37, the multi class has been in port at about that rate while we were still racing...even when we've won our division. It likely has a lot to do with the sailor...not the multi.
 

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Well, I'll put it this way. In the offshore racing I've done on a PS37, the multi class has been in port at about that rate while we were still racing...even when we've won our division. It likely has a lot to do with the sailor...not the multi.
I do not think that cruising cats are that much faster than monos.

We sailed a 24 hr. passage on our 40' mono together with a 38' Lagoon cruising catamaran.

Winds where on or aft of the beam (no uphill sailing) all the time , varying from 10-25 kts.

We got to our final destination less than 0.5 mile apart.
 
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