Should Power Assited Systems be Allowed?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by RHough, Dec 29, 2005.


Should Power Assisted Systems be allowed?

Poll closed Mar 29, 2006.
  1. Yes

    8 vote(s)
  2. No

    14 vote(s)
  3. Yes, but only in One Design Classes

    17 vote(s)
  4. Who cares?

    3 vote(s)
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    BOATMIK Deeply flawed human being

    In a lot of ways canting keelers are an accident of history.

    Remember that trim tabs on keels were banned because they would add complication and expense.

    Now look at the situation.

    If the vested interest of traditional yacht clubs and the various regulatory authorities had not restricted the fleet to monohulls these new boats would be irrelevant.

    That is, if multihulls had been accepted by the RORC and CYCA and CCA 40 years ago the present debate would not be being had.

    It is such a silly idea to have a big lead weight under the water that is pushed from side to side by a massive hydraulic ram.

    Q; Why have it under the water?

    OK move it above the water to cut drag further - the boats will go faster still.

    Q;Aw hell, what if the wind backs?

    OK we can cut the weight of the airborne lead if we make it buoyant and as the viscous drag is less we can use less lead by putting it on a longer pole.

    Q;We won't capsize but ever time the lead hits the water we slow down suddenly - what do we do.

    OK make the lead a low drag hullshape so when it hits the water the drag is not too bad

    Q;But it the lead extension is looking like a second hull

    OK how about slimming down the main hull to reduce wavemaking drag - why not make them the same and share the displacement between the original hull and the extended hull and get rid of the lead.

    If multihulls had been accepted by the traditional yacht clubs there would be no reason to develop canting keel boats.

    What we are looking at is another abberation brought along by assumptions made by racing rules.

    Like narrow gutted English cutters that heeled over to to 15 degrees from horizontal in moderate boats (ref Marchaj/Herreshoff)

    Like bumps on IOR boats

    Like long ends on square metre class boats.

    All of them can be FUN.

    The question is whether it is good for sailing?

    My feeling is if some rich ******** want to entertain themselves by building 30 metre monohulls that are 50% faster than other 30 metre monohulls I am not going to step out and say they can't have their fun. All strength to them.

    But I am wary of the complication and expense filtering down and becoming a necessity for the boats that the rest of us sail.

    It think it was probably correct to ban trim tabs 35 years ago - a good decision for sailing.

    BTW don't get take away the idea that I am a multi nut. My first affection is with monohulls.

    Best regards
    Michael Storer
    my web site
  2. Alan M.
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    Alan M. Senior Member

    And if your present engine isnt big enough, just get a bigger engine, right? Well, in the interests of safety, of course. Why not just get rid of all those dangerous sails and masts? Just stick an even bigger engine in the thing! When is a sailboat not a sailboat? When you have to be running a motor in order to move, thats when. Using powered winches means there is no limit on how big a boat, and its rig can get. Why not just build one that stretches from Sydney to Hobart? At what size does a boat become a bridge? At what size engine does a sailboat become a powerboat? To me its obvious. A sailboat will sail whatever the course, without relying on an engine.
  3. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    Michael, this boat may be the leading edge in the monohull revolution and sure is one way to eliminate canting keels: it uses sliding deck ballast for RM. It's Bethwaites Maxi Skiff and is similar to your ,uh, proposal except that the boat doesn't sail on the buoyancy pods. But with every new idea comes an old argument: some have had the audacity to call this monohull a multihull even though ,again, it does not sail on the outside "hulls":
    Still probably needs power to move the weight though maybe not.. Perfect candidate for Moth type foils. I like the concept so much I've done preliminary design work on an 18' singlehander version except that the wing moves along with the ballast....
    By the way trim tabs aren't banned: the new Cookson 50 uses one on a canting keel; so does Project Amazon and probably other modern canting and non canting boats. The guys at CBTF have another patent in the wings on a CBTF boat that uses a "trim tab" to increase downforce(RM) on a canting keel.
  4. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Can't wait 'till a 100' version of that comes screaming up the Derwent!:D
  5. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    I'm tired, my head hurts - I'm going home for the weekend - sorry Doug - I have to leave you to fight the naysayers on your own for a couple of days...
  6. RHough
    Joined: Nov 2005
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    RHough Retro Dude

    "Well, windsurfers hold the official world speed record so I guess it is possible. And for a sit-on boat almost nothing under 21'-mono's or cats- can beat an 11'(12.75') Moth. It's already been published that when they're sailing in good conditions for both types the Moth is faster than an A class cat,I14, 49er, and just recently a Tornado flying an asy spin was beaten by a mediocre(his comment) foiler Moth off wind. "

    Correct, the higher the moving ballast to weight is, the faster the boat becomes. Simple physics. Yet no Moth or Windsurfer is going to beat my Catalina 30 in an ocean race. Does that make my C30 fast?

    The fact is the physics that make a Moth fast do not scale to a boat that has to sail for 24hrs a day.

    Moving live ballast doesn't scale to 100' ocean racers either. Since the laws of physics can't be changed, the rules of sailing had to be changed to allow the boats to race.

    "When the big mono's start using foils you may see some really surprising results."

    Basic physics again. When big mono's start using foils, they will still be slower than a big multi using foils. The mono has to haul lead around, the multi does not. Just call Hobie up and have them knock out a 100' tri-foiler, that would sink the leadmine in short order.

    "If the vested interest of traditional yacht clubs and the various regulatory authorities had not restricted the fleet to monohulls these new boats would be irrelevant."


    Sailing fast is nothing new. It's just something that Mono's don't do after extremely high moving ballast to total weight can't be achieved.

    "But even now there are reports of Volvo raceboats exceeding 35 knots and some have commented that 40 knots is not unrealistic. Those speeds are in the vicinity of the highest I've ever heard of for Orma 60 multihulls."

    The VO70's are 10 feet too long to race against a poor little 60 footer. :)

    702 miles in 24 hrs is the target. 29+ knots average for 24 hours.

    The fastest VO70 to date could only manage 536 miles. A lowly 22 knot average.

    The "Stupor Maxi" managed a whopping 14.7 knots for 628 miles. At 98' that's dead slow. A fast boat would have been in Hobart so long there wouldn't be any beer left for the maxi. :D

    How can anyone look at those numbers and claim that canting keel boats are fast?

    Then consider that 702 miles was done sailing with no power assist.

    Even after the rules got changed in an effort to keep ocean racing mono-hulls alive, they prove themselves to be slow boats.

    To put this in real terms, if you can't qualify within 7% of the pole sitter's time in Formula 1, you don't get to race. You would be a hazard on the course.

    That scale makes 656 miles in 24 hours the minimum to qualify to race against a fast sailboat.

    Even using engines, the canters couldn't even start.
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    BOATMIK Deeply flawed human being

    Howdy Lorsail,

    I know the Bethwaite stuff very well indeed. Sliding deck ballast was probably first used in real yachts by Nat Herreshoffs "Shadow" (I thing it was) about 1880.

    It was also banned by the authorities as being bad for the sport.

    Don't get me wrong though - I think experimentation is great - but I think there is a responsibility to have discussions like these where different views can be expressed and we can get some feel as to whether there is either a need or if it will be good for the sport - great!!!

    I was making an argument on the basis of history. Trim tabs were banned in the early IOR days in the mid to late '60 because they thought the expense and complication would be bad for the sport. I am not sure what happened when the more VPP based rules came in.

    I haven't looked at a rating rule for some time and would suggest that it is open slather on keels now with canting, rotating and tabbed keels all being talked about, built and sailed.

    All good, but it really is a mistake of history.

    The question is why do it at all?

    The answer that is being given is that the speed makes the boats more fun to design, build and sail.

    But it doesn't quite make sense as an answer - as I was getting at in my longer post above. That taken logically the boats will end up being more and more like multihulls anyhow.

    And also if MORE speed is available from multis why they are not being looked at by the yachting establishment.

    They will go even faster - arguably with less of an investment.

    Less investment means more boats perhaps - but there are other forces at play that stop that from happening.

    The other interesting thing is that "everyone" is so excited about these innovations, but the innovations offered by multis were rejected by the ocean racing clubs 4 decades ago. An NOW they are suddenly in favour of innovation!?!?

    I reckon that it is all a bit bizarre.

    At the same time I was very excited to see the speed of the new boats - so I am not immune either.

    However I do wonder what would have happened if there had been a blow earlier in the race this year. Certainly the winner would have retired with a torn mainsail.

    But on the other side - I was hoping for some reasonably strong reaching and running breezes so the first boat could be in Hobart within 24 hours.

    I give up - I am just as mixed up as everyone else!!!!

    But long live the debate!

    Michael Storer

    My web page
  8. granite
    Joined: Oct 2005
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    granite Junior Member

    If what you want is speed then a multi hull is the way forward

    These canting keel boats are impressave, however if they could post the speeds that they have by human and sail power alone only then would they be fantastic

    If the sails and Keel are too big to be moved safely by human power then perhaps they should have built smaller boats!

    Do you realy need a 98 foot long boat for 20 people or whatever the crew is. and if speed is what you are after then why not go for a Multihull

    The specifics of all rules are arbitary it is the intent of the rules that is actually important.
  9. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    Speed is not just the purview of multihulls anymore and what is happening is exciting for a number of reasons but one of those is that these superfast monohulls will recover from a pitchpole or capsize where the multies won't. The idea of carrying just enough lead to make selfrighting possible yet have speeds approaching those of todays multies has got to be appealing to monohullers who have finally discovered speed.
  10. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    That is not going to happen with the Schock 40. The boat won't capsize with the ballast is attached, but one of the marketing claims is that in case of impact, the ballast strut breaks before the hull is holed. Now the boat will capsize and the ballast won't be there to right it. Just like a multi-hull ... but slower. :)

    Canting keel capsizes are not new, look at the record of Open 60's. At least one case where loosing the keel caused the capsize and another case where a capsized boat with keel intact could not right herself.

    To get back on topic, take away the power assist and the rule changes that allow the boats to sail faster and you are stuck with the fact that mono's are slow compared to multi's.

    Here's a nice quote:
    "Under a major rule change for the 2005 race there will be no upper speed limit, enabling boats unrestricted use of sail area, water ballast, canting or swinging keels and mast heights.

    In the past, an upper speed limit was imposed for safety reasons but with improvements in yacht design, race officials have dropped restrictions on the use of new technology.

    Under the new rules boats with canting keels will no longer be restricted in the degree of cant, allowing them to swing their keels to design limits from the vertical."


    First the IRC rule allows moving ballast and power assist, then the rules get changed further to allow the new boats to have a shot at the record. They still don't allow pure sailing boats that don't require rule changes to race.

    I guess the new boats don't want to be compared against fast boats. Multi's sail fast, the new boats cant. :)
  11. usa2
    Joined: Jan 2005
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    usa2 Senior Member

    "Funny - a whole stack of the boats in at least the last two years have run water ballast...."

    No they have not, unless they have cheated. Alfa Romeo (the 93 footer) had to fit a heavier bulb to make up for this, and Konica Minolta was disadvantaged by not being allowed to use her water ballast in her first S2H race against Skandia.
    read this: Under a major rule change for the 2005 race there was no upper speed limit, enabling boats unrestricted use of sail area, water ballast, canting or swinging keels and mast heights.
    So any water ballast post 1999 and pre 2005 was illegal.

    "So, what now you're saying that it's ok to be 'power-assisted' some of the time but not all the time...."

    No, I'm saying that water ballast systems could be implemented without the use of engines on large boats and not much off a loss of performance, whereas canting keels if they were manual on a large boat would most likely be slow and the things take 10 minutes to tack.
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    BOATMIK Deeply flawed human being

    At the top end of the scale there seems to be as much crash and burning amongst the monos as the multis.

    And most of it from multi breakups to monos losing keels it seems to be engineering based.

    Bits and boats seem to be breaking.

    But if you eliminate that then the multis seem to have as good a track record in the southern ocean as the monos - perhaps better. The multis do stick their noses in, they do get hit by gusts and waves - and despite this they shake themselves and recover and go on to break records. They do much, much better than just surviving.

    A monohull that depends on having electrical power to run the keel (particularly the minimally ballasted one being suggested here) and the sail winches is much less seaworthy than a multi. If they lose their engine electricity they lose everything.

    And remember we are not talking about boats for the mums and dads here.

    The appropriate metaphor is Formula 1 Grand Prix - Crash and burning is OK for both. Adds to the drama - lifts the profile :) (an aside ... I don't hear many screams of protest when the occasional Grand Prix driver hits a wall and comes off second best either! People seem to love that bit - are humans not strange in their double standards?)

    But my main point remains the same. These boats are being argued for on the basis of speed.

    But it is speed within a certain set of arbitrary constraints.

    If you remove those artificial restraints you end up with multihulls - which are faster and simpler and cheaper. Though cheaper may not be so relevant here - it is their very expense that is attractive to the owners.

    Anyone can make up a set of arbitrary criteria and then build the fastest possible boat within that set of criteria.

    If speed is the thing then the multi/mono divide should be forgotten entirely.

    Remember too that a not very extreme 40ft multi would trounce these 90 footers.

    All under musclepower.

    I think the risk of the current canting keel monos is that they will be accepted as the conventional way forward like other pups sold to us by the yachting establishment.

    I could bang on forever about overlapping genoas alone - dead slow - but EVERY yacht racing, cruising, or picnic-ing had to have overlapping genoas for over 50 years - and they were slow. How about IOR bumps.

    These boats are an accident of history in the same way.

    If we had all been rational we would have done away with the inefficiencies of overlapping headsails and their expense 50 years ago.
    Let me repeat that - 50 years ago - making boats faster, easier to sail and making boats less expensive.

    I think we need to be rational here too and not accept these new monos as being a particularly rational direction.

    Genoas seemed rational at the time too. Except for those who really were able to think outside that self imposed box.

    We have another box here.

    Remove the artificial constraints and you move gracefully toward a multihull form.

    They are simple and they work - it is safer than boats that can't be operating when their engine carks it. It represents the LOGICAL END POINT of the changes that are happening at the top end of the mono fleet

    Michael Storer
    my web page
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    BOATMIK Deeply flawed human being

    One place I would love to see canting keels is in the America's Cup.

    Everything is so well controlled and dull. Occasional sinking, sure but a lack of race by race drama.

    And the boats are SLOOOOOOOOOW

    I have been really impressed by the inshore racing amongst the Open 60s

    Fast and a sense of danger - great television.

    Yeah, bring canting keels into the America's Cup.

    Make it as exciting and watchable as Formula 1!

  14. Alan M.
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    Alan M. Senior Member

    The capsizing argument is so old, it's really time it was left to die in peace. Multi's can capsize and float, mono's can sink. There are arguments in favour of both, I guess, my preference would be staying afloat. What is beyond debate is that multi's are faster-much faster (In ocean races). Whats more, the rule makers have stifled the development of multihulls for decades, and they are STILL faster. The only reason monohulls are still used for racing is because of rules banning multihulls from races. AFAIK the rules for "The Race" did not ban monohulls from entering - it was the simple fact that no monohull would have gotten anywhere near the multis that prevented any from entering. AND those multis had NO power assistance. So now, in a desperate attempt to get close to multihull performance, the mono establishment are resorting to diesel power. Its all a little sad I think.

  15. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    Hybrids and other such

    I don't think you guys are looking at the right crystal ball. For discussions sake lets assume that both cats & tris , canting keel mono's and SDB(sliding deck ballast) hybrids(like Bethwaites & Langman's Maxi Skiffs) can be built structurally and mechanically sound. Then it is clear that the multihulls still will capsize/pitchpole while the canting keel boats will self right and the hybrids will self right from a pitchpole. Bethwaite(and /or Sean Langman) believe(s) that the combination of sliding deck ballast, wide racks, very light weight and foils would have the potential of allowing a 60' Maxi Skiff to whup a 60' Orma 60 multihull. And retaining much of the inherent safety of a keel boat while doing it. After looking at the potential of the concept on two small boats I think he/they may be right.
    At any rate, there will be exciting ,even startling, developments in the use of movable ballast on big boats regardless of how the ballast gets from one place to another.Though your purist hearts may bleed these new boats couldn't fail to excite the real sailor inside you.You just won't know what to call it( them)...
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