Sailboat Hull Forms -- Fashion or Progress?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Sea Beaver, May 19, 2016.

  1. Sea Beaver
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    Sea Beaver New Member

    Some European yacht builders are making boat with very sharp plumb bows, vertical topsides, very flat after sections, and with the beam carried all the way back to the gigantic transom.

    They look a bit like certain racing boats, and no doubt there's lots of form stability which might allow for a larger rig, and there's tons of extra volume for accommodation. But is this progress? Or a fad? Are all boats going to look like that?

    When fin keels began to be widely used, the handwriting was on the wall for the full keeled sailing yacht. It took a few decades, but the full keel sailing yacht is just about dead. Likewise with Bermuda vs Gaff rigs, despite all the advantages of gaffers.

    Is this the same thing? Or not?
  2. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    In most instances it's just for fashion and price. A roomy hullform, light displacement and standard rigging keeps the production costs low. And for the avarage sailor it makes sense..

    BR Teddy
  3. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    It depends on the goals of the buyer... A wide transom boat can be faster on and off the wind compared to a true displacement hull, but there is a penalty. To work the boats need to be kept very light. I don't think they are, or will ever be for everyone, but where appropriate they are a great step in hull design.

    For the Beneteau/Hunter/Catalina boats they are designed to have huge cabins and sail acceptably. For the Pogo set they also have huge but simple cabins, but can out sail anything these size when pressed.
  4. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Its both. What you're used to tends to look better, so if you want to sell dual purpose/cruising boats they ought to look mainstream, whereas top end racers don't care so long as its quick.
    But there's no doubt that style gives you a lot of volume for your cash, which is also good for sales. If the racers went back to the old plank on edge style of the end of the 19thC where the boat sailed on its ear all the time, and you couldn't stand up unless it was bolt upright you wouldn't see much influence from that on the recreational market!
  5. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I think a lot of this is because of advancing autopilot technology.

    In the old days, say up through the 1960's, a hull that had good inherent course keeping capabilities was highly valued, especially for cruising. This is because wind powered steering vanes were a new and somewhat expensive technology.

    As the technology improved and became less expensive, full keeled boats started being replaced with shorter keeled ones. But the wind vanes did not handle sudden bursts of speed very well, as such changed the apparent wind effect. This restricted them to no-planing hulls.

    As solar panels became less costly, it was possible to replace the vanes with electric auto pilots, which were not confused by sudden bursts of speed. This and the greater physical power of these auto pilots, allowed boats that had even less inherent course keeping capabilities.

    Finally, with the arrival of canting ballast keels, it became customary for single handed racers to sail with their gen-sets constantly running. Now their was even more power to run a powerful autopilot.

    All of these changes helped lead to what I call the "Single Arrow Point" plan form of hull, which is probably here to stay, at least for single handed ocean racing.

    For coastal cruising, with sufficient hands, or a really good auto-pilot, it has much to offer, though it is too light and bouncy, for my tastes, for ocean cruising, though it is certainly capable of such.

    The problem is this hull plan form, with the displacement and keel forms, which allow it to be fast, present a lot of shock loads combined with heavy point loading, such as for the keel to Hull connections and shroud/stay Hull connections. Budget built copies of this Hull type, IMHO, are likely to be very dangerous for this reason.

    "Progress", IMHO, usually means just speed.

    There are certainly other characteristics to consider, when buying a cruising sailboat, but speed is sexy. And sexy sells.
  6. The Q
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    The Q Senior Member

    Oh it's definitely fashion, when the I.O.R. racing was at it's peak all the mass produced yachts went that shape as well.
    If Americas cup cats weren't so extreme they'd be making lookalikes of them for cruising. Mind you, don't they have plumb bows as well?
    Occasionally something will stick in use, such as the Bermudan mast instead of gaffs because it is an improvement that anyone can use, the problems of Wing sails when not in use have yet to be overcome for the average sailor.
    When the next set of rules come out for a big name class that catches the imagination they'll be copied in style...
  7. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

    Plumb bows max waterline length and therefore accommodation to reduce marina costs. No more graceful overhangs anymore...
  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    It's more than fashion, it's evolution. The massive amount of drag associated with full keel, built down designs was tossed aside, for canoe bodies and fin keels, making faster, more responsive boats. The same is true of the gaff rig, which has some interesting attributes, but generally is heavy, not very close winded and messy aerodynamically.

    Newer designs continue the progress toward faster, more maneuverable boats. The current trend toward fat butted boats is racing driven, though does offer surprising performance over previous designs and an accommodations benefit to boot. The next stage is set and cruising on foils is coming, with speeds double and triple what was once thought possible. Again evolution insures the dinosaurs stay dead, except for those that prefer the lure of a bygone era.
  9. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    You mean those graceful overhangs that rob boats of speed and comfort? Ya I won't miss them at all. They aren't graceful they are wasteful, there is no reason to have a 50' boat with a 32' waterline and a propensity to hobby horse in a seaway.
  10. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Dunno if overhangs are wasteful. As one designer noted, they are pretty cheap to build and can improve looks, utility and performance.

    Take your typical modern short-ended 34 footer like the current Oceanis. If you do nothing but add a 2' longer counter to it the cost is low, but you get 2' extra usable waterline and a more useful sugar scoop/boarding platform. The current boarding platform could be a bit too small when you're using it to put kit on when boarding from a dinghy; imagine the tragedy if the shopping bags or food and booze fell off that rather narrow ledge. You may also be able to get the space to fit some handrails to make boarding easier.

    Same with the other end. The current Oceanis, like many boats, has a stainless steel monstrosity of an anchor roller projecting about a foot from the bow, to stop the anchor and rode from destroying the stem. Why not give it a raked bow instead? It's probably little more expensive if any (assuming everything else stays the same) and you get extra buoyancy when needed. You also get to work the anchor ahead of the forestay, which makes a big difference IMHO.

    Then there's the aesthetics question. Why are Constellation airliners, Spitfires and E Type Jags considered to be more beautiful than Super Guppies, DC3s and VW Kombi vans? Some say that it's because they are longer and lower and have more compound curves. Surely a boat with longer ends fits that criteria more.

    Sure, aesthetics are also a matter of culture - but the current trend towards boats that just look square from the side can also be said to be created by a culture that happens to choose to measure, value and compare boats by their overall length. That in itself is just a particular cultural issue.

    And of course, looming over all this is the fact that short-ended fat boats cost less to moor. Around here, the difference isn't significant but it may be in other places. When I was in the trade it was often believed that people just preferred a boat that was thought to be bigger and/or faster for its LOA, despite the fact that it was a misleading measurement in many ways.
  11. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    On the other hand, Par, if the top-end speed that foils can bring is that important for cruisers then why do so few cruisers these days go for really fast boats? And in many popular sports outside of the USA, you run out of cruising space too quickly to have a fun day's sail to your favourite lunch spot and back, and moving at 15-25 knots in such crowded areas is not a relaxing experience in the same way that moving at 5-7 knots is. It's also a bit hard to see, IMHO, how the low drag rig you need for high speeds can also be a practical and economical cruising rig in mass market terms.

    Even in areas like racing dinghies, beach cats, boards and even sailing canoes/kayaks the mass-market trends seem pretty clear; moderate performance stuff rules. If you start heading to the extremes you slam into the law of diminishing returns.
  12. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Re the original post. Are long keels dead? What about the huge fleets of Dragons, the thousands of Folkboats, the hundreds of Tritons, Victorias and Vegas? Maybe we still tend to think too much in terms of what's happening on the new boat market?

    Maybe it's just that there are so many long keelers already out there with sound hulls and with costs amortised over decades that the market is saturated. New production can't compete with renovated older full keel boats (on one hand) and the modern fat plumb-stemmers with their low production costs on the other hand.
  13. Tanton
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    Tanton Senior Member

    Yacht Designers are in the fashion business. Be futuristic, past or present.
  14. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Why do folks buy '55 Chevy's, knowing they are what they are? Everyone can find some rationale for their decisions, but I remember a recent discussion with a fellow member, as he waxed about the "good 'ol days". I've appropriately edited some of it below.

    Are we subject to the whims of the designer, well yeah, pretty much, but this is driven by demand. You don't get commission for golden age of sail replicas very much any more. I've done a few, as has most everyone, but generally folks want raked windscreens, reversed sheers, crazy graphics, every wiz bang electronic gadget available, etc.

    A buddy of mine and I were out for a sail the other day and he said he can't tell the difference between a Honda and a Toyota. I explained it's just his perspective, though he insisted they all looked the same. So then I set him up and had him detail the difference between a 1950 Ford and Chevy. Well of course he had every detail committed to memory, because this is what he grew up loving. I have a similar love affair with certain era cars (and boats) and I suggested if we asked a 15 - 25 year old the details between the Honda and Toyota, he'd have every detail right at hand, because of his perspective.

    I'm pretty sure this is all it is with boats too. We have a fondness for some eras, maybe classic styling, etc. and the newer stuff, is just proving how much of curmudgeons we're becoming.

  15. Phil Christieso
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    Phil Christieso Junior Member

    Just build them cheap and light because 99% of them sit in marinas and go nowhere anyway so it doesn't matter. Its only when you have been in a storm at sea and
    had 9 yachts around you turn 360' you know you have the right boat.
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