It is needless to say, that sailboat design has evolved a lot just during the last twenty or thirty years. However, not all of the development is positive, since in my opinion, the design philosophy has changed too much towards the living comfort in the harbour, which is often achieved at the cost of seaworthiness and kindliness. However, the idea of this blog post is not to argue whether a modern or traditional boat is better than the other. Both design philosophies clearly have their pros and cons, so the question depends on personal valuation and needs. What I would like to discuss, are some of the observations that I have made at the boat shows for example, and compare those to my own experiences of owning two, more or less traditional sailboats during the last six years.
|Modern design features on the First 30 (edited from Beneteau press photo). Image: Beneteau|
Some time ago, the Finnish boating magazine Vene tested Elan 350 RP — also a twin-rudder boat — which scored high points on the control under sail. Indeed, one potential problem with beamy and flat bottomed boat with only one rudder, is the loss of control, when the rudder raises out of the water at higher heel angles. So the twin rudder construction is clearly a definite plus in this respect. Another great thing is having a spare rudder in the case one would fail. In my opinion, the second rudder is much more useful addition, than nowadays more popular twin wheels but only one rudder concept.
|Large T-bulb in First 30|
Easier and more comfortable sailingThe boat designers are constantly looking for ways to make sailing easier and more comfortable. As the size of the boats has been rising a lot during, say the last twenty years, this has often meant adding electrical winches and furling sails, which makes things easier but increases electricity consumption and/or complexity.
|Rope/halyard bin in HR 412 (image by Hallberg-Rassy)|
|The cockpit of HR29 is far from 'line-free' due to the |
halyards and the mainsheet located in the front part.
Note the small bridge deck in front of the companionway.
One more thing that I would like to talk about are the swimming or bathing platforms. Having sailed mostly with boats that do not have one, I can certainly appreciate the rationale behind the platform. For example, boarding or de-boarding the dinghy is inconvenient and even risky from the swimming ladders, especially if there is swell. Therefore, bathing platform will be included in the wish list, when looking for the next boat. However, nowadays, many of the cruising boats have a lower-able bathing platforms, which is again something, that is nice to have in harbours or anchorages, but perhaps not the most practical solution at the sea. At least it makes using the wind-vane steering impossible. Furthermore, some boats with this concept do not have any boarding ladders available, when the platform is raised. It is a potential safety hazard, if one cannot lower the ladders from the water!
There were some of my observations on the modern sail boat design. As I said in the beginning, the modern sailboat design has improved many things, but not all of this development is positive in my opinion. However, I understand that one should spend a lot of time on the water sailing different boats in order to get a picture on, how different design features work in the practice. In this sense traditional features are well tested, whereas some of the newest trends and innovations may suffer from childhood problems. How about you, are you a modernist or traditionalist when it comes to the sailboats?
|Fixed companionway doors in Nauticat 37|