the egotistical quest for an expensive thrill

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by deepkeeler, Dec 26, 2004.

  1. deepkeeler
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    deepkeeler Junior Member

    As a long time sailor racer boat builder and a NZ search and rescue member I would like to start a debate here on an issue I feel very strongly about............The manic edge that much leading edge ocean racing has become.

    The boats are pathetic from a seaworthiness angle. Much of the gear has little margin of safety, dependance on high tech weather and rescue services is high, equipment hull and rig failure is high particularly for the open classes. Much ocean racing is becoming increasingly more dangerous, irresponsible and downright foolhardy and the search and rescue services wince at these egoists deep in the southern ocean in boats that do not belong there.

    Take the recent advent of the farcical Minis with their poor seaworthiness will continue to plague rescue services. If they can't be self reliant they shouldn't be there. The whole idea of ocean going 21 foot monohulls with atrociuos stability curves is worthy of an imbecile. What is happening to common sense???

    Whats next? the 18 foot skiff transatlantic ? The Mirror cross channel marathon? where and who draws the line ?

    Governements are going to increasingly encroach on yachties freedom simply because manic men keep pushing the edge.

    We will see increasing legislation to protect the manic racers from themselves it's just a matter of time and the number of deaths. French authorities ban ocean racing for the Minis with a few more disasters so too will the rest of Europe.

    Now lets consider the open 50,60,70's No lookout is kept, the law of the sea is flouted, short handed or even single handed vessels traveling at 30 knots with no lookout! The worlds navies should confiscate them on sight as a menace to others on the high seas. Port authorites are legally remiss allowing them to depart.

    The stability of these vessels is terrible, following the numerous disasters some regulation was introduced but it was written by the existing open boat owners ! They are supposed to be self righting but they are so stable inverted that the only way of righting is to transfer mass, this may be impossible or take several hours. Where is the seaworthiness? why has it been allowed or even encouraged to become such a farce.

    Yacht magazine editors love this behaviour though, some are full of rave reports of the manic racers and cover little else. The same mags review 'Modern' unseaworthy cruising design and they are assessed on their shore based racing circuit performance, and the number of berths, no mention of poor weather handling or live aboard comfort. Speed is everything, seems to be the current fad. No matter if it sails sideways at 9 knots in a gale when you try and lie ahull. This is exactly what modern skimming dish design do .

    So much current yacht design trends seem to eminate from Californian conditions where light fast cruiser racers dominate the scene, but there is a world of sane cruising boats out here and they do not have bulb keels on anorexic struts and they can take the ground, and have collisions and heave to or lie-ahull.
    Forget the daft idea of outrunning a 50 knot storm that I hear so often. If you cross oceans it will get you one day.If you are in a weak uncomfortable and unsafe yacht then you are in a nightmare.

    Marchaj proved scientifically and reported his findings prolifically and vociferously that the best hullform for offshore safety incorporates deep ballast, long keels, attached rudders, Vee shaped sections, non planing hull shapes and a fair amount of weight aloft.
    He also showed that as the displacement is decreased then so too must the beam so they become long light narrow and deep. This is the complete antithesis to the manic racing machines.

    The long slender form (as a poster in the discussion section has posted) may actually be faster than the current designs, and would certainly be more seaworthy.

    I would suggest that the numerous modern light plastic designers sitting on their plastic boat design software riding the light plastic wave of current trend would be aghast at the idea of sailing one of their designs to the Falkland Islands.

    Cheers to the British steel, sensible strong well crewed one designs where sailing skill (to windward) not manic egotistical behaviour wins the day.

    come on step back from the edge, learn agin the joy of competative sailing in safe seaworthy boats with the companionship of a crew.

    Embrace the comfort and safety of heavy displacement strong cruising designs. Go cruising in them. Lets get some sense back into ocean racing.

    I encourage all other like minded designers sailors architects and engineers to stand forth and be counted. Help me fend off the abuse and howls of the manic madmen..

    Happy new year
  2. B. Hamm
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    B. Hamm Junior Member

    Interesting post, and overall I tend to agree with you. I'm not though ready to promote only heavy displacement cruisers. That's a bit too limiting and not necessary either, in my opinion. Good seamanship is hard to argue against, can't believe that anyone would, it just depends on your definition of the term. I too believe that around the world racing alone is foolish and sets a very poor example for the non-sailors of this world.

    Will be interested to see what the response is to this thread.

    Bill H.
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Racing has ALWAYS been for folks that can afford to LOOSE!

    The shame is when "racing" trash is sold as a "cruiser" to innocents.

    Far more honest just to scrap the old race boats.

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  4. CT 249
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Hmmm, Fred, don't tell that to the owners of Sunstone, the 1965 racer S&S that has been top boat in the UK four times and has been a liveaboard home since about 1981....she was on her way to Alaska last I heard. Vicky and Tom (a former naval officer) wouldn't like to scrap their lovely RACEBOAT.

    Don't tell the owners of Accanito, the lightweight IOR fractional 2 tonner of 1979 that has been a cruiser around the Pacific for about 10 years....the owners love the boat, they don't want to scrap their RACEBOAT.

    Don't tell the owner of the 1973 vintage S&S 47 Love & War, who in his 80s singlehanded on 400+ mile deep sea passages, that his Admiral's Cup racer and Hobart winner should be scrapped....don't tell Warren Brown, who sails the old Tenacious (Fastnet and SORC winner) to Alaska and other places, that his old racer should be scrapped.....Maybe Warren and Kursey are just innocents, after all they've only been sailing internationally since about 1973, did the '79 Fastnet etc.....

    Don't tell Lou Abrahams, who has done more Sydney-Hobart as owner/skipper than anyone else (with a couple of wins) and cruises his Sydney 38 back across Bass Strait by himself.

    Racing has NOT always been about those who can afford to lose. Geoff Stagg (now CEO of Farr Int) was about 22 when he launched a Spencer 45 he built at home and went on to win NZ's top race (about 1000 miles) with. Australian/Kiwi Jon Sayer was about 21 when he built his own design 36 footer and won the Singlehanded TranTasman....he was just an apprentice boatbuilder who used an old car engine etc.

    Guys like Ron Holland and Bruce Farr started their yacht design careers with 24-27' cruiser/racers, because they or their owners couldn't afford expensive race machines. Farr had about 40 cheap cruiser-racers (727s, 1104s, Moonshine, Titus sisters) afloat before his first racing machine IIRC.

    Re "Marchaj proved scientifically and reported his findings prolifically and vociferously that the best hullform for offshore safety incorporates deep ballast, long keels, attached rudders, Vee shaped sections, non planing hull shapes and a fair amount of weight aloft."

    How "scientific" are Marchaj's numbers, when they are disputed by people such as Sydn Fischer (Fastnet winner, world championship winner, Admiral's Cup, Kenwood, Clipper Cup and multiple Hobart winner), Lou Abrahams and others who started in the long keel timber and steel era in the '60s, and still race today. They have both told me that their various IMS, IOR and IRC machines are NOT less seaworthy than their old long keelers.

    How "scientific" are Marchaj's numbers when his conclusions re coachroof volume in self-righting are rejected by Martin Renilson's tank testing at AMSA in about 1999?

    How much deep-sea sailing has Marchaj done? Some of his ideas re dinghy, sailboard and multi design in "Aero Hydrodynamics" are very strange IIRC....

    How vital is a long keel and attached rudder, when one looks at the boats chosen by Jon Sanders, Kay Cottee, Tony Mowbray et all - they all chose fin and skeg medium displacement CRUISER-RACERS and achieved 5 solo non-stop circumnavigations between them. I assume you two are much more experienced and credentialled than the owners of Sunstone, these singlehanders, Lou Abrahams, Syd Fisher, Peter Kurts, Geoff Stagg and many others?????

    He also showed that as the displacement is decreased then so too must the beam so they become long light narrow and deep. This is the complete antithesis to the manic racing machines.

    Re "No matter if it sails sideways at 9 knots in a gale when you try and lie ahull. This is exactly what modern skimming dish design do ." Reallly? Nine knots??? Sez who?
  5. Don't worry about them!!!!!! They would rather die cheating about the boat design, handling in a race, starting a race in failing sea conditions, etc. etc. Winning is more important to them, than life itself. They are so out of control, that in a race, if sea conditions mandated throwing some one over the side to win, they would do so, without hesitation. Winning is everything to them. They SUCK, as role models for young sailors to model after. Period.--- Richard Petersen
  6. SailDesign
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    Some of the satatements above make sense, some don't. But really, all I see above are a lot of green eyes peeking out from behind the Christmas tree at a time of year when happiness and love are supposed to be in the forefront.
    You want vituperation and mean-ness? Take it to the TP52 thread.... :)
  7. Go back to your thread.
  8. Thanks for telling me to go to the 52 thread. I now realize I am being sucked into a undertow of feelings. Not good. Lose my logical process, bad thing on water. Thanks, Richard Petersen :)
  9. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Good grief,

    This thread got nasty awfully fast.

    Some good points made by almost all. Why not just dissagree and let it go?

    I doubt that any legislation from governments in free societies can enforce "safety" in these racers. The only thing that really should concern outsiders like us is the effects of danger to other vessels and cost and/or resources of rescue operations. Other racing venues (car racing, etc) provide their own safety operations and at least try to safeguard the public.

    That said, countries like NZ do place some harsh controls on sailboats entering and leaving NZ water. Joe blow yes, big time racers, no.

    Too much other stuff going on to get too worked up about this.
  10. mistral
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    mistral Senior Member

    in winter 1879, 29 schooner were lost in Grand Banks, 249 persons lost their lifes, and they were fishing in a sturdy schooner, not racing in a planing monohull; this just an example, of course; they were doing a hard work in a risky environment; that's what modern racers do, not very different from "tea clippers" sailor during the 19th century; the constant theme is that in this kind of work the speed of the boat as always been a huge need, somehow traded for seaworthiness; would you call all this awesome sailor a bunch of fools ???? I don't think so.
    Even among the old syle boats you can count dismasted boats, wreckages and so on, Marchaj's opinion that a long keel high dislpacemente boat is the only way to reduce risk seems to me an old way of thinking; take a look at the vendee globe; they've been in very huge seas and winds 'til now; in spite of this none has been rescued; even the 2 major injured boat (broken keels!!!) have been able to recover themselves 'til the nearest harbour; take a look at Ellen Macarthur's boat, a "fragile" trimaran, she's been punched several times by 50-65kn winds and 15-20feet waves for 24 hours, without any significant consequence; i wouldn't dare to call her boat one an unseaworthy one. Of course you have to pay a price to push your monohull at 20 knots in southern ocean, i mean that you must have a phisical and mental strenght that will allow you to take your boat to the limit, that's the main problem for me dealing with actual ocean races; boat's have gone too far, and it's becomig always harder to keep them at their limit for long periods of time. I think that a complete statistical investigations concerning last years ocean races' accident would point out that most of failures have happened because of unproper skipper's decision due to overstressing sailing conditions. But this this a aspect of the race; everything is pushed to the limit, both boat and crews; if you don't like this aspect you wouldn't cross the ocean in a race, you'll do it for cruise, taking all the time that you need.
    The real danger is to produce such "abnormal" boat and purchase them to "normal" sailors; this is the real problem that will lead to disaster when particular conditions take place.
    Give me an ultralight over canvassed planing monohull, i'll enjoy very much in light conditions, i'll begin to worry a lot in average conditions, and i'll be in big troubles when wind and waves increase!!!

    fair wind
  11. In general, I agree. Thats why I own,--- a 240 mph street car --- a Mach 2.5 Russian fighter, flown as I please, where I please ,--- a 180 mph street motorcycle,--- a triple engined cigarette off shore racer, run wide open on any water I choose,---a diving submersible, to any depth I desire. Insurance, nothing, for the risk I expose everyone else to. Enforsed laws, HA!
  12. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    ocean performance

    Seems like "we" could come up with a way that the ocean could be shared by high performance boats and leadbellies without overburdening rescue services or putting any innocent parties in danger.Perhaps using technology better ,inproving safety equipment ect. Banning a particular type of sailing just doesn't seem realistic or appropriate.
    I'm not driven to race offshore in high performance boats but I respect the hellout of most of these guys who approach the adventure in a well prepared and professional manner.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2004
  13. deepkeeler
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    deepkeeler Junior Member

    Everyone please note that NZ has repealed the legislation that was holding up cruising boats that were deficient in their safety gear, several years ago. The legislation was a knee jerk reaction from parliament to yacht search and rescue?s ever increasing cost in NZ?s massive SAR area.

    The problem with the schooner loss examples is again poor hullform, just because a boat happens to be heavy displacement and have a full keeled design doesn?t mean its seaworthy either. Last century boat designs tended to be matched to the bay or region in which they worked, fishing schooners smacks etc were constrained by the port river mouth depth so many areas grew wide flat boats, these are not seaworthy as so many early losses contest. Marchaj has commented on this if you read his works. If you look at the Pilot boats of the same period for a comparisson you will find a completely different story.

    Please don?t try to discredit Marchaj and the many others involved at Southampton because you don?t like their findings. This is typical of the racing fraternity. A team of scientists with access to unlimited wave tank testing a good model production facility have shown conclusively that your srtong opinion is just that.
    Research is ongoing and current, there has been no detracting research to Marchaj?s findings. Only detracting opinions from racing folk who don?t like the implications ie that they are perfectly happy to trade speed for the ability of the boat to survive heavy weather. Other racers freely admit this trade-off.
    What on earth has Marcha?s sailing experience got to do with his work? He wasn?t a deep sea fisherman either yet his work has made the North sea fishing boats safer.
    I find the emotional prejudiced opinion rather childish. You are indulging in what is called Rationalisation, that is the twisting of arguments to suit your viewpoint.
    You cannot change scientific fact. I would ask where is your tank testing data and who did it to support the idea that current trend in designs are safe? You won?t find it.
    Other racing skippers opinions are just so much clutter, a racing skippers opinion on his boat is a subjective observation at best. Tank testing data is the only objective test. Enough tank testing has been done to show that the current racing boat forms are very poor indeed when it comes to general seaworthiness let alone survival conditions. They make abysmal and terrifying platforms in severe weather for any crew other than the hardened racers. No matter what opinion some winning racing yachtsman has.
    I would add that under the rating systems, winning yachtsmen are forced to adopt hull forms that are not ideal , not the fastest not the safest.

    I notice you are silent on the Minis, you consider these sensible safe and seaworthy? Yet they are just the logical application of the extreme hullform to a smaller boat, the problems become more manifest due to the sea /boat size ratio, but the Minis expose the farcical seaworthiness aspects of contemporary racing designs more clearly .

    The recent search and rescue data is full of records of modern light displacement form racing/ cruising forms that have foundered including more recently worrying cases of some of these type of boats disappearing at sea in severe weather, the current crops of production boats that are so popular have poor seakeeping and comfort qualities, the corporations that manufacture these poor cruising boats are simply chasing a current trend and the elusive dollar. to imitate contemporary racing boats and market them to the victims of a style-concious public as ideal cruising boats is corrupt.
    Many of these current crop of production boats can?t even make it into commercial offshore survey because they are so unsafe and yet they are sold to inexperienced families who want to world cruise.

    Having experienced heavy coastal weather in a modern production racer-cruiser I would say categorically that they are a poor hullform for the voyaging public.

    I think the issue comes back full circle to the racing driven media hype machine that makes these designs so popular, and those inglorious racing community members who will not stand up and admit the failings of the fast hull-forms they so desire.

    Honesty, objectivity and gentility please.
  14. In general: Little boats belong in the small waters, big boats belong in the big waters. Competetive people can not resist going against that fact. Tankers run aground in shallow, narrow waters. Racers sink in the big, bad sea.

  15. A serious possible fact? There are more "accidents" because there are more boats on the water--- all accidents are now electronicly tabulated. Old days a lot only made news in a 200 mile radius. Maybe we are now more tv aware of a fly farting in India. A certain % of boaters always stand out badly.
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