the egotistical quest for an expensive thrill

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

  1. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    have a look at some of the issues covered in

    I too think safety for cruisers has been eroded by current fad.

    I think the Minis and similar boats should stick to round the bouys in coastal waters and be shepharded by capable rescue vessels as we do for the dinghy classes.
    I think it was the 99 Mini fleet that was decimated by a mild gale off Spain? I agree they are a farce and Manic is a good description for much of the increasingly dangerous racing behaviour.

    I also agree on the single handers in increasingly larger and faster vessels disregard for other vessels and themselves by flouting the law of the sea.

    Current style marketing has seen the death of heavy able cruisers, and few sailors now have experienced the comfort and safety of these vessels.
    Even small heavy displacement cruisers ( live-aboards under 30 feet ) have died which is suprising given their room, affordability and ocean going ability.
    When the Hays tried to source a small boat to sail aroud the horn (25 and a half foot yacht, told in "My old man and the sea") the Hays had to purchase the hull from Britain as there was nothing suitable in the US.

    249 (most of the following is directed to you)

    So maybe he got the coachroof bit wrong, but I don't think that was even mentioned.

    what about the "deep ballast, long keels, attached rudders, Vee shaped sections, non planing hull shapes and a fair amount of weight aloft"
    I am not aware of any research that has questioned this at all, it also agrees with all my observations over the years.

    You can't kill off a boby of research with one discredited factor then pull the racing skippers opinion from the bag by the ears as the only viable alternative view!

    Racing skippers like racing boats they want a hullform you can drive hard continuously for the duration of the race. After which they rebuild the boat often involving changing the rigging,mast, the sails, sometimes even the keel and repairing the cracks, delaminations and other damage in the hull. Cruising people don't want this.

    As I have said to you before, cruising families need a different type of vessel.

    So many times I have come across couples cruising in racing yachts that really need 8 crew or re-rigging with a cruising setup, they are often reluctant to raise the sails when the sea breeze gets going cause the boats too easy to lose control off when shorthanded.

    As for modern flat hulled fin keelers surfing sideways, this is correct and makes them dangerous to lie-ahull as they are inevitably rolled. Even older heavier boats under the IOR designs suffered this problem as they got fatter and lost lateral area..
  2. Seaworthiness


    Sir, I would agree wholeheartedly with previous comments. During my family's seven-year circumnavigation, in a customised Peterson 45ft ketch, Goondooloo, between 1980 and 1986, there were two occasions where we were foreed by the weather to lie a-hull until a storm abated once in the Gulf Stream between Rhode Islandand Bermuda, and once in the Med, south-east of Port Mahon.

    Both times our survival was due to Goondooloo's seaworthiness, as she was more than capable of looking after herself (and us!) when we could not do so due to the conditions.

    You can survive bad weather with sailing skills in an otherwise unsuitable vessel, but you have a much better chance of coming through in one piece if the yacht herself is capable of coping alone.

    Another depression we came through unscathed was the one of early June 1984, off Bermuda. The tall ship Marques within 200 miles of us was not so lucky, and 19 lives were lost when she went down, along with the 28ft sloop South African Escape and a Russian ship. Again, Goondooloo came through with flying colours.

  3. John Fagan

    John Fagan Guest


    I took the liberty of scanning the editors comment from March's cruising Helmsman that you might find topical.

    Editorial from "Cruising Helmsman" March 2004

    Even after 20 years as a journalist I still get saddened by some of the things I come across.

    The death of two women in 2003 on the yacht 'Rising Farrster' is a case in point. To he trapped in a boat that loses its keel, turns upside down and fills with water is horrible beyond contemplation. My heart goes out not only to Linda Yarr and Charlotte Lenas for what they must have suffered, but their families.

    The inquest raised a number of issues, not least of which is that some experts believe past design parameters set by authorities are totally inadequate and there are boats sailing around that don't even meet those that were current when they were built.

    I thought Coroner John Abernethy did a good job in analysing the 'Rising Farrster' capsize, but there is a related issue he did not address. It is one that regular readers would immediately recognise: boats designed primarily for speed are not ideal cruising boats.

    They are designed for minimum weight and maximum performance rather than handling heavy weather. This makes them harder to handle, inclined to slam more in a seaway, potentially less strong unless built with high-tech materials, and less stable.

    Many experts believe the Sydney-Hobart minimum stability requirement is at the bottom of the scale of acceptability for offihore sailing and the UK-suggested scale is a much more sensible one if you are looking at sailing seriously offshore outside the easy-rescue parameters of a race.

    Reflecting on this as I photographed the wreck of 'Rising Farrster' at Sydney Water Police's base, I couldn't help wondering why a sail-training company would go and buy a boat like this for training novices offshore.
    She was a yacht primarily designed for racing that had to have a lead shoe added to meet even the low stability requirements of the Sydney- Hobart. Sure, she was pretty and would have looked good in a brochure, but she had a lot of features expert practical writers would tell you not to look for in an offshore cruising yacht. Yet, here she was, sailing off the coast with an inexperienced crew.

    Sadly, I'd say we're all a little to blame for safety not featuring higher on the list of priorities.

    Caroline Strainig
    Cruising Helmsman
  4. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    This is why I wince when I see some of the cruising designs on the hard, there's a core of naval architects and engineers who are getting very concerned about some of the safety aspects of current production yachts both racers and cruisers. The legislators attitude is to leave it to the courts and insurers.

    Unfortuantely these deaths (due to poor design) are not the first, we have seen it happen several times before, nor sadly will they be the last, my heart goes out to those families who are missing their loved ones at this time.

    This is the sobering human face of the current debate.
  5. mistral
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    mistral Senior Member

    i've read and studied from Marchaj's book, i agree with him on most of the analisis...and few conclusions, he tends to present old boats invariably as better and modern ones as absolute crap, too easy; of course old boats were created by their environment, my main worrying is that we're losing "genetical differences" in boat design; boats all over the world tend to converge to a single form, wich is a bad copy of the one derived from racing boat; with IMS we keep on pretending to race in a cruise boat, or to cruise in a race boat; this is a total crap; racing boats have gone so far , pushing sailboat's performance to the edge, that they're now something radically diferent from cruising boat; we have to accept this fact; same thing happended in race cars and motorcycle 40 years ago; in 1960 you could depart from your home, reach the race lane with your own motorcycle and win a race, and then came back home, now it will be absurd, even in what they called "series-derived" bikes; shipyard's business tends to take advantage of this fact; i saw an IMS race about to end up in tragedy last year; a force 7-8 gale literally pushed up and throwed away a couple of IMS new-designed boat, knocking them down to 90°; crew were clearly unable to control their over canvassased boat, but at lest it was skipper's mistake to create danger; they hoisted spinnakers in bad conditions just to win the race, the problem was clear: all boats went downwind with main and jib, then the third one in ranking hoisted the kite...after five minutes all the leading boats had kite up; other skippers in same conditions kept on going downind with reefed mainsail and jib and ended the race without any problem;
    so where's the wrong: bad boat's behaviour or too agressive skipper's attitude, or both????? Marchaj's book maybe tends to underestimate this factor: boats are a "society's product", if market calls for aggressive speedy boat you'll design them, and shipyards will produce them and sell them; skippers are often young people educated to be agressive at work for 50 hours a week, why have they got to behave differently during the week-end??? We all live in a high competitive enivironment where every price is paid to succeed, including massive drug addiction, nervous breakdown, family crashing, and so on, we can't pretend this things disappear as we hoist up a white sail.
    I've seen 45 years old man fighting and shouting each other in a dinghy club race!!!
    Moitissier's time are definitively gone :-(

    1 person likes this.
  6. John Fagan

    John Fagan Guest

    Another article

    You should find this intersting, John Wilson recounts the story of a cruise to Iceland and the near loss of their boat. In extreme conditions, they tried a number of different heavy weather tactics in an IOR style cruiser-racer.

    Exerpt from 'Storm off Iceland ' 'Heavy Weather'

    In May 1979 a UFO34, 'Windrift of Clyde', on a voyage from Scotland to Iceland, encountered fairly severe weather - estimated at a sustained 60 knots plus for over 24 hours.

    We had a crew of six, of whom four - including myself - were Yachtmaster qualified. The skipper was a Yachtmaster examiner.

    we were concerned about closing the coast or crossing the Reyjanes shoals in heavy weather, so we decided to lie a-hull to await a reduction in the wind, which we were logging as Force 7-8.

    Lying a-hull was quite comfortable for around six hours, but eventually the seas built to a point where the hull was being surfed sideways in the crests, and the leeward gunwale was starting to dig in and 'trip'the boat over onto her side. We felt that if nothing was done being rolled would sooner or later be inevitable.

    We then ran off under bare poles, and for another few hours this seemed safe, although steering was hard work and the motion was very unpleasant.
    Then, however, the narrow bows dug in and we were inverted I believe we pitch-poled.

    The boat stabilised for a short while, remaining completely inverted, with one smashed coachroof window. One of my most enduring memories is of how springy the coachroof headlining was to stand on, and of the water from the broken window pouring in over my legs.

    When we rolled upright again the two crew who had been on deck were in the water alongside, on lifelines, one quite seriously injured.

    After retrieving them, we started the diesel and turned to head into the seas under power. A lot of throttle was needed just to get the bows into the wind, but for the short time the engine ran the boat coped well with the conditions. Although we came to a complete stop or even made sternway when hitting breaking crests, the strong prop-wash over the rudder helped to keep control.

    Unfortunately, the engine died. We then ran off again under bare poles, while we attempted to send a radio message, without success.

    The seas had become substantially steeper and there was a definite cross- swell, causing breaking crests to appear suddenly from an angle to the main run of the seas. Over the next two hours or so we were knocked down twice more, these being exaggerated broaches, starting with the forward side decks submerging, and ending up with the hull at about 120' from the vertical, with the crew on deck swimming alongside the hull, waiting to pull themselves back in along their lifelines as she righted. It was clear that running under bare poles was not a safe option.

    Although we had a large drum of heavy warp carried specifically to use as a drogue, we did not try to use this. I do not believe it would have helped.

    I set the storm jib, with the hope that more speed might help us surf away from the nastier breaking seas. A few seconds after reaching the cockpit after setting the storm jib I found myself swimming again, seeing the bottom of the keel in the air, I took the helm as we righted, beam-on to the seas, and the boat accelerated fast on a broad-reach on the 'downhill'side of a sea. Instinctively I put the helm down as the next crest arrived, to bring the bow into the sea.

    Although conditions remained unchanged for a further 24 hours, we avoided further knockdown. By broad-reaching fast on the backs of the seas, and luffing almost head-to-wind at each crest, we achieved what was probably a square drift sideways. By the end I was so tired and cold that I was hallucinating while helming, imagining 1 was steering through brick railway arches.

    As we finally made our way into harbour, we made horrendous, elementary pilotage errors, and were lucky not to lose the boat among the rocks.

    End Exerpt

    I would make the obseravation that a UFO 34 is an older IOR racer/cruiser with a fin keel a fair amount of beam with fairly narrow bows, having sailed them myself I would concur that to lie-ahull is not a good tactic with these boats and that their beam and hullform makes them uncomfortable in a sea. However they are mild mannered in comparison with the more modern designs we have been discussing here .

    Ask youself how the latest production cruiser-racers would have coped in this nightmare scenario?

    John Fagan
  7. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

  8. deepkeeler
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    deepkeeler Junior Member

    Thanks for your comments and support everyone, some very informed comment and intersting posts, thankyou

    Mistral, good point

    human nature has everything to do with it of course, but you can change that by educating people to the true dangers and pointing out the daft nature of much of todays yacht racing behaviour, and encourage people to buy more seaworthy designs.

    But where are the racing fraternity, apart from ID:CT249 there is deathly silence! It would be nice if some of them could actually agree that the racing trends are getting increasingly dangerous and that the danger is unnecessary unseamanly and foolhardy.

    I live in hope
  9. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    SeaDrive Senior Member

    I don't have much comment on the merits of various hull forms, but I do have trouble with this statement. There are plenty of other objective tests available, including testing with full size boats, America's Cup style. It's not simple or straight-forward to translate tank test data to the subjective experience of being at sea in a storm, or to use it to measure the fatiguing effect of a boat's motion.

    I also have touble with the "full keel" nomenclature and the shorthand of discussing whether a boat is long keel or fin keel. There have been plenty of boats with short, high aspect keels with attached rudders, e.g. 5.5 meter boats, and their steering difficulties were one reason for detaching the rudder and putting it farther aft. The important point, as I see it, is total keel area, and the lift developed at low speeds. (Very low speeds in the case of heaving to.)
  10. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    seaworthiness jury

    I'd like to ask the group posting here whether or not they consider canting keel boats including CBTF boats examples of the un-seaworthy racing boats mentioned above?
  11. Paul Merry

    Paul Merry Guest



    The more complex you make it the less reliable it is, we have seen enough failures of complex hydraulics to suggest it is a poor option. It is a complex issue however. One of the Opens is sitting in Hobart with keel gear failure, one of the Maxi's has just pulled out of the Hobart with hydraulic failure and is receiving assistance from the marine police vessel after a distress call. Canting keels may let you carry more sail and go faster, and right an excessively beamy boat but taken together it certainly diminishes seaworthines compared to say a fixed keel better inverted stabiility hull.

    We are also mentioning this here:

  12. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    Yeah, well there are 29 to 30 fixed keel boats already retired which could be proving deepkeels point or just saying this is a tough Sydney Hobart. Seems like most of the Vendee guys have canting keels and they're over half way with no keel problems that I'm aware off.
  13. R Kingel

    R Kingel Guest

    Tank wave testing weeds out the dangerous features that it highlights the tendancies of certain hulls to exhibit less than ideal behaviour in various wave patterns and magnitudes. We design navel vessels entirely on tank testing. I think you have not seen the facilities available to us these days.

    In the prior account of the UFO off Iceland, if the wave tank testing had been done the skipper would have known what tactics to adopt.

    I work with designs of small ships and commercial craft, I do however agree with most of the postings here in that the modern cruising designs are becoming dangerous vehicles for the market they target.

    The current Sydney to Hobart is proving Deepkeelers point very well and this is just a gale. If it were a severe storm I think we would see many vessels founder even with their large and experienced crews.

    As for the Manic single handers, perhaps they should be limited to certain areas, I shudder at the thought of one of the massive boats smashing into my small yacht at night. I suppose it will happen one day, and then suddenly we shall see some control, as Deepkeeler suggests the Harbour masters could deny them departure.

    I also think that Manic is a good description of the Mini Transat.

  14. mistral
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    mistral Senior Member

    i think canting keels are a false problem; i think that true racers have to be pushed to the edge of tecnology; you can modify box rules (ORMA, IMOCA, VOR 70) to make them safer but you can't ban an entire family of technological solutions, or you'll end up like AC boats, that is to say the most expensive hi-tech boat, with concepts of an updated j class!!!!
    We have to ban such expensive/risky solutions on cruise/racer or cruise boats to make them absolutely sturdy and idiot-proof even in worse conditions (if it was possible), but IMOCA60 are formula 1 driven by professional sailor, made to go faster even in survival mode; an average risky boat is a price that everyone of this sailor will somehow pay to achieve his goal; in this Vendee globe all-carbon keel was an option choosen by two boats (Bonduelle and Sill et Voila), other racers choose a most conservative steel blade keel; maybe in 2008 all keels will be carbon made, maybe carbon will result in an unesuful option ( i think so) and designers will came back to all steel blade; in this Vendee anyway rudders seems to be the big issue about seaworthiness, not keel; i expect to see some now solutions about rudders in the 2005 ocean races, trying to fix up problems pointed out in current race.


  15. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    canting keels/cruising

    Well said, Mistral. Solutions can be found to protect those needing it by using common sense and new technology without banning or severely restricting "on the edge" racing-its a subject worth serious consideration.
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