the egotistical quest for an expensive thrill

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

  1. SeaDrive
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    SeaDrive Senior Member


    Your "wait for the evidence" view is correct, of course, but it is pretty clear that something is seriously wrong with the environment that created the big boats in the Sidney-Hobart Race. The conditions, while severe, are not out of line with expectation, and there is a high rate of attrition among big, new boats. That Skandia should be abandoned (though she will probably be recoverd) is a terrible thing, and must the cumulative result of mistakes by a bunch of people - owners, designers, builders, rule makers, etc.

    Sea Drive
  2. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    The history of the Sydney Hobart race,as I understand it, is that the race is tough on EVERY boat. Currently, the race is being led by a canting keel boat (knock on wood) while a great racing boat-Ragamuffin -has been dismasted. Over 40 boats have withdrawn with broken goosenecks, rudders etc. Still that leaves 50+ boats (out of 117) still racing-mostly smaller boats with the two 100 footers retired. Maybe they're two big? The results-and the problems that occured- should be carefully compiled and studied-that would help everybody.
    I definitely think there is a place for Manic and not so manic ocean racing as long as some changes are made to insure the safety of the innocent and perhaps prevent taxpayer supported rescue services from being undully burdened when rescue of the guilty becomes important.
    Singlehanded sailing with radar that warns of other boats within a certain perimeter(already being used) and an alert system to advise cruising boats and others of the proximity of a fast boat or boats is all doable.The suggestion of race sponsored power boats(or boat) might have some value and might be able to be paid for by taking pictures of race boats in desolate areas-hell,some big company could sponsor such a boat or boats.
    Lets not become so over protective that we curtail the daring of the few gutsy people like Ellen McArthur and the Vendee globe guys-there are solutions in which the innocent can be protected and the guilty can still capture our imagination.
  3. Paul Merry

    Paul Merry Guest


    Its not that tough, just a sobering reminder of what gets dished up north and south of the gentle weather belt all year round.

    Having sailed the route several times myself non-stop some times with apalling weather in the straight and at other what we call a milk run. I can attest that a seaworthy heavier hullform is infinitely more welcome than a light modern trend sailboat in those waters.

    I think it highlights above all else what poor hullforms many of the smaller cruiser-racers are.

    If the manic racers were a small watch keeping team it would be different but solo........ I have to agree with Deepkeeler that the British steel challenge was a better event than the hanfull of richly sponsered egotists. They do look good I have to admit, perhaps they should be limited to day sailing and have to heave-to while they sleep :)

  4. mistral
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    mistral Senior Member

    i've just looked at sydney hobart official site; may be it's just an impression, but it seems to me that most of the victims occurred among the maxi and the most hi-tech boats; there still a lot of "small" boat, i mean 34-40 footer, in the race, a lot cruiser/racer (bavaria, sydney, beneteau); it would be intersting to have a detailed statisctrical report about this issue. Maybe series design are getting sturdier and better than we think??

  5. Guest Hobart

    Guest Hobart Guest

    Some are in and have maybe been lucky, some are out through choice (sensible) some are out cause they broke things.

    Of those continuing in the smaller boats I have been talking to several of them today and conditions are reported as being uncomfortable and miserable, my son on one boat said he was scared tired and sick, ...that worries me. He and I have often debated the issues current here in this thread.

    The weather wasn't the sort of survival conditions mentioned in the UFO post by Fagan. Wave reports indicate a predictable wave pattern for the helmsman, all the boats should have been fine in those offshore conditions, just too many uncontrolled gybes and uncomfortable boats built for speed, not safety.

    I very much doubt that they could heave to safely in heavy weather for long. Same goes for so many modern production cruisers as Deepkeeler said riding the light plastic marketing wave.

    As others have pointed out;
    It stinks when people try and claim that its an ideal cruising form to have a light displacement beamy hull with little lateral immersed area, an exposed spade rudder sharp bows and a questionable stability curve. It even makes a poor racing platform in heavy weather with an experienced and hardy crew.

    Some of the marketing put out by the production plastic boat builders is just so much misleading advertising.

    For example I just open a magazine and I see

    "Contemporary design for Safe effortless fast cruising"

    I would love to see the designers, the marketing team and corporate management in one of their "Safe comfortable effortless" hulls in a severe depression in the Tasman sea.

    Perhaps it could be a new line in reality TV, but vomit, terror and a screen imitating a rotary clothes dryer probably make poor viewing. Be a good team building exercise eh!

    Just a Guest (I wont embarass my son)
  6. mistral
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    mistral Senior Member

    thank you guess, a direct report of what's happening is always useful to understand what we're really talking about; the most dramatic consequence of "modern" cruiser/racer is not lack of mechanical strenght of the boat in itself, but "induced lack of ability" of the crew; i mean that being for 48 hours or more in a a boat wich roll and dump violently on each wave will soon lead crew (even expert crew) to a miserable state; this may (and will) lead to wrong decisions and hazardous manoveuring; in a paradox they all seem boats made for experienced tough crews and thy're sold as "relaxing, fast exiciting cruiser" for a newcomer sailor; planing at 18 knots in a monohul is for sure exciting , but definitively not relaxing!!!
    most of the dsigner's attention is focused on keel and rudder design to improve upwind peformance, forgetting that a slamming boat will both have poor performance and poor care of her crew

  7. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    SeaDrive Senior Member

    This quote from the skipper of Skandia bothers me:

    “We were going so well,” Wharington said. “We were sailing conservatively on port tack heading inshore where there would be calmer water conditions when we landed off a large rogue wave. At the time we were sailing under No 4 jib and two reefs in the main…very comfortable with the situation.”

    Rogue wave? The wave that does the damage is always called a rogue wave. Of course it probably is bigger or steeper or from a different direction or breaking or SOMETHING different from the waves the preceeded it, but that doesn't make it a rogue wave. A boat may encounter 10,000 waves in a day, and one is going to be that one-in-ten-thousand ballbuster.

    The reason this is important is that blaming the 'rogue' wave implies that you were beaten by a freak of nature for which you could not plan. But its not a freak, it a probability.

    My guess is that the rigidity of the carbon fiber hulls transmits shocks to the gear at a higher level that assumed by the designers.
  8. If we --- boaters, contest SPONSORS, owners of boat companies, all their staff, INSURANCE COMPANIES, could sift thru all of the statements on this thread. I come up with the fact that we have improved to the top of performance hill. Now that same drive is carrying us down the back side. Boats are no longer just slower on the course. They are DELIBERTLY made to be dangerous on the dumb ,stupid, arrogant chance that some how it MIGHT win. Richard
  9. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Wow, what a vicious thread.

    I certainly don't defend some racing designs. I prefer skinnier boats with longer fin keels, personally, and I have little doubt that they are more seaworthy than some of the exreme machines. But the generalisations and hate shown by the "build 'em heavy" brigade here is frightening.

    Re Deepkeeler's comment "CT 249. 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."

    OK, so what you're saying is that I have to simply follow Marchaj, and in doing so ignore people like Andy Claughton's Southhampton study (1984) which found that "no form or ballasting combination consistently resisted capsize in the 5.5m high wave...this suggests that alterations in form which improve capsize resistance may be rendered inneffective by a relatively small increase in breaking wave height". You're telling me I should ignore the conversations I've had with designers, who tell me how hard it is to measure the effects of sea and rig in steady-state situations (see Prof Peter Jackson's series of lectures to Aust. engineers), much less work out what's happening in the chaos of a breaking wave. You're telling me that a test tank is MORE reliable than the open sea, when experience with many years of extremely expensive testing for racing boat design has proven that tanks can't even reliably work out which hull is fastest in smooth water, much less which hull is more seaworthy when getting thrown around the ocean....

    Re "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."

    Some of the most experienced racers here do NOT say they are trading off speed for survivability.

    And what of those I mentioned, like Kay Cottee and Jon Saunders, who are not racing fanatics but chose moderate displcement fin keelers for their non-stop round the world trips - journeys which did NOT involve racing?

    Let me know miore than a 4 or 5 time circumnavigtor like Saunders, don't you.....

    Re "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."

    Oh, and you, of course, are standing back as a totally dispassionate wise man. Rubbish. As far as maturity goes, surely you have plumbed the depths when you start off by insulting many people, and then continue by insulting others specifically. And then, after abusing me personally merely because after something like 10,000 miles of deep-ocean sailing I choose to hold differeing views, you have the hide to chide others for not posting here ! The arrogance is frightening!

    Re "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."

    Tank tests are merely a simulation. Ask reputable designers. They do NOT believe that they can account for rough water reliably. Look at curent IMS designs. They were created from tank tests of the Delft series - yet even in the simple field of flat-water speed, the tank tests have been proved to be very innacurate. That's a fact that almost any IMS designer will agree with, and that any look at the shape of top IMS inshore racers will confirm.

    How many designers have told you that tank tests are accurate for rough water? Farr doesn't believe it. Olin Stephens doesn't believe it. MBD don't. B & C don't.

    Re "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."

    What evidence do you have for that? Look at IMS - one of the most succesful boats in the UK was a 1965 Finnisterre-style S&S. Look at IRC; boats as old as a 1909 Fife win national titles. There is an enormous variation in succesful racing boats under some rules.

    Yes, the typical modern IMS boat is not an ideal shape in any way. You know why? Because the TANK TESTS CANNOT PREDICT PROPERLY, even in flat water - so the VPP for IMS is wrong, and designers have to create strange shapes.

    Re "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 ."

    No, I do not consider the minis very smart. I think they have gone too far. That's why I didn;t defend them.

    Just because an idea is taken too far doesn;t mean it's wrong. The slender, heavy ideal went too far inthe 1800s with the "plank on edge", too.

    Re "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"

    Yeah? Which ones? At what frequency, considering the greater number of boats sailing offshore these days? Is that frequency of loss greater than it used to be? You'r the one who wants "science", yet you dish up this unsubstantiated stuff. Task, tsk, really...must do better, son!

    And the cases of old boats vanishing or sinking include Slocum, the first Colin Archer to cruise the Pacific (Erling Tambs' Teddy; Tambs also lost a crewman from Sandjefiord, his second Colin Archer IIRC); Winston Churchill (greatest loss of life in the '98 Hobart came from a traditional boat); the cases in Adlard Coles' "Heavy Weather Sailing" and many more.

    Re "the current crops of production boats that are so popular have poor seakeeping and comfort qualities"

    You're just repeating your claim. Yes, many production boats are horrible and unseaworthy. That doesn't mean all of them are.

    The same has always happened. Ever seen a US Ericson of the mid '70s? Look a bit like an S&S, fall apart like tissue paper.

    Re "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."

    Oh, well, if you've coastal sailed you must be an expert....But hang on, suddenly you are using experience to back yourself up; yet you have previously said that only tank tests prove your point! Work it out, please...

    Re "Honesty, objectivity and gentility please."

    This is one of the most breathtaking;y savage, egotistical posts I've seen for ages. You start by referring to "the egotistical quest for an expensive thrill"; you call people "inglorious racing community members "... refer to "the manic edge"...."pathetic boats"..."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."...."worthy of an imbecile"...."manic men"..."Port authorites are legally remiss allowing them to depart."...."manic egotistical behaviour wins the day."..."manic madmen.."

    Then, after that string of vicious abuse of others who are often much more experienced than you (I bet), you ask for "gentility"!

    You ask for debate, then you call some of of us with many thousands of miles experience in deep-sea sailing "childish" and say we are twisting evidence. You really are not a very nice sort of person on THIS evidence; anyone who disagrees with you is insulted and abused and patronised. And yet you call for a debate?

    You start off from a deeply-entrenched position, commencing a "debate" by calling people mad; then you pretend to be objective.

    I agree that there are things that are wrong in the state of ocean racing; certainbly not everything, but some things. But my god, Mighetto is more reasonable than you are.
  10. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Re Paul Merry's comment; 'Its not that tough, just a sobering reminder of what gets dished up north and south of the gentle weather belt all year round."

    So are you out there this year, writing to us by satellite phone? How do you know how tough it is, at the moment?

    Re "Having sailed the route several times myself non-stop some times with apalling weather in the straight and at other what we call a milk run I can attest that a seaworthy heavier hullform is infinitely more welcome than a light modern trend sailboat in those waters."

    So how do we balance your "seveeral times" on the route, with the fact that many have done the route 30-50 times or more hold different views?

    Oh, we could follow Deepkeeler's vicous and defamatory route of abuse.....but the fact is that many of these sailors have seen the ocean much more than anyone here, probably - yet they choose to sail the lighter boats they prefer.

    Why? 'Cause they like them. Under iRC, a boat like Love & War (1973 S&S 47) has a very good chance; but sailors who have owned similar boats and have enormous experience, now sail modern types.

    Having done the race and route several times myself, on boats designed from 1968 to 1995, I know I wouldn't necessarily choose to go on the older boat for comfort or safety. That boat was a long, slender 43 footer - its sistership rolled in the '98 race as did one in '70. Yet the sistership also completed a solo round the world non-stop trip since then. The moral is obvious, and the Volvo race crews said the same thing - the Hobart can break boats that can take a round the world trip.

    "I think it highlights above all else what poor hullforms many of the smaller cruiser-racers are."

    OK, I suppose it depends on what you're talking about as small or a cruiser-racer. Over half of the boats in the smallest class are still racing.

    The long-keelers and the classics (older heavy boats from Peterson, Joubert, S&S and Cole etc, mainly early '70s) and the Swans currently have a retirement rate of 10 finishers, 8 retirements....about the same as the rest of the fleet. The long keeled traditional boats in the race currently have a 100% retirement rate. They include Koommooloo, cold-moulded 1968 vintage; Delta Win, a steel cruiser by Boden; and Salterboats Natumi in the cruising division.

    To anyone who wants to use bad Sydney-Hobarts to prove that old displacement boats are sooo much safer than modern boats - have you looked at the fact that old boats killed more people in the '98 Hobart than new ones, and that at least two traditional style boats sank?
  11. SailDesign
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    CT249, don't confuse them with facts - their minds seem to be made up already. :)
  12. I think SeaDrive has come closest to the new problems we now face in ALL types of leisure sports, that have all become RULED by NYMPHO WINNERS and manufacturers. Every type of machine is now being loaded with as much carbon fibre as fast as possible. Just like fighter aircraft, F-22, are. There is a implied and expected difference between the 2 applications. F-22 pilots expect to be wounded or killed in the use of the plane. CIVILIAN boaters should not expect the same risks. Carbon fibre and composites are great. They are a great way to reduce lap times in a race. They DO NOT IN GENERAL like shock forces applied to them at at any angle other than the design angle. ROGUE waves have been measured at the south capes way in excess of anything a manufactuer would even design for. Only a submarine can navigate them in storms. Class Designed Racing Craft, are the ony way to protect crew and boat in offshore racing. We have to limit the dangers of competion. If you can not do that, it is willfull manslaughter, while hiding behind the word---RACING.
  13. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    big brothers father

    Richard, that is so completely absurd!Surely, you're not suggesting curtailing all ocean racing because some poorly prepared sailors might get in trouble doing something they are not qualified to do!?
    You simply can't dismiss the designers, crews and experienced racing programs with that simplistic approach-it makes no sense....
  14. DGreenwood
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    DGreenwood Senior Member

    Well said CT. I was getting a bit of a boil on with that thread myself. My experience with sailors has been (generalizing here) they are boneheads! It is their determination that, both makes them suitable to be sailors, and gives them the tendency to hold an opinion despite the evidence.
    My own experiences lead me to the belief that safety is found in vessel agility and in vessel integrity.
    I find it odd that when this sort of discussion ( and I have witnessed this behaviour many times) comes up, two things happen.

    1) Racers and their designers are always blamed for the losses at sea.

    2)No one ever talks about the real killers like:
    a) Electrical fires An event that will drive you out of a boat in minutes with nothing but the clothes you are wearing. I can't tell you how disturbing it is for me to see people taking families out on some of the deathtraps I have worked on.
    b) Gasoline, Propane, alcohol and solvent fires that kill people by the hundreds every year.
    c) Carbon Monoxide deaths
    d) Drownings
    e) Electrocution ( again poorly wired boats)
    f) Just plain poor judgment and inexperience as a seaman.
    The list goes on and on.
    And at the bottom of my list of complaints are the bold and the too bold in the racing world.

    People with experience on many types and sizes of boats seem to agree that speed and agility is an important factor in safety.Not the ONLY one but very important. Some one has to be the innovator. There has to be those out there on the bleeding edge and they will die sometimes. We need those people willing to take risks to discover the possibilities.

    A much more dangerous culture is found in a society that has lead many ordinary Joes to feel the confidence to take to the sea in his "seaworthy" yacht with little experience and a head full romantic ideas about how his heavy boat will make him a sailor.

    Roll this around for a few moments....Name 20 boats that you consider good safe (production or custom) cruising boats that you could honestly say you could send off nonstop around the world single handed and expect them all to come back within six months (twice the record). No doubt some would make it but the attrition rate would very high. Take a close look at what the Vendee' guys do and you will see their safety is found in their speed and ability to ride some weather systems and avoid others. Could there be something to learn there?

    Finally I have to say I am not surprised at all by the response to innovation it has always been the way of humans.
    200 years ago, had you shown the US Navy brass a VHF radio, you would have been burned as a witch.

    "And that's all I got to say about that"

  15. DGreenwood
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    DGreenwood Senior Member

    Just as another exercise...go to and watch some of the videos of the boats and skippers. Notice the speed. The wakes look like that of a power yacht...they are moving. Now watch the occupants and their movements. Note the stability even in rough seas. Experienced sailors look at that and know that under those conditions that is comfort and safety. Now I'll grant you a boat like that is not for the inexperienced, but there are many fantastic new cruising designs that are born out of ideas from these boats.

    Hmmm...Thinking back now I remember not long ago when people were saying that no serious designer would ever design a real boat on a computer. A passing fancy, they said.
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