What sailing needs, and what the world needs from sailing

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Skyak, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    There is a story in friday's WSJ about David Crosby and his sailboat 'Mayan' that struck a cord with me.


    I suppose it's mostly because it's an example of sailing offering important life lessons to someone with incredible natural weaknesses. David had life long substance abuse problems and everyone in the world wanted to share their drugs with him. Though all of this, sailing required sobriety and responsibility while providing some of the beauty for his music -and it all started with an 11 year old kid allowed to captain his own little sailboat.

    I think there is something very important to giving adolescents some authority over some aspect of their lives and some real dangers the world has to offer. It takes them from being a child that is most important to adults when in danger, to being responsible for their own fate. And sailing offers a great answer to 'why do I have to learn this (math, science, history, geography, ecology...)' at a time when billions are being spent promoting STEM in a sterile zero-risk environment.

    Sailing on the other hand could sure use a bigger, younger market. I know we all come here to weigh in on the next big thing to revolutionize sailing, but the big picture is that the number of people able to understand and operate sail craft is declining while the cost and difficulty of owning sail craft is increasing.

    With this in mind, my next design is going to be dedicated to finding the next 11 year old 'natural sailor'. Maybe in the future some of you can help me put together some of the lessons for this new crop of customers.
  2. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Thanks for that-I love his music and the story of a young 11 year old sailing brings back memories of my brother and me exploring the area around Pensacola Beach. Great post!
  3. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    That strikes a chord with me too Skyak.

    I truly wish that we could get more kids involved in sailing. However, I fear that the world has passed us by. Today's kids have so many options and distractions that the prospect of splashing around in a rag boat does not hold much, if any, interest for them. They'd rather do the jet ski thing, or text message ever other kid in town, or play a computer game, or go to a violent movie then eat pizza and gradually become obese. I am not damning the modern kids, they have to do what their peers demand of them.

    But keep the faith there are still a few kids out there who will seize the opportunity to learn to sail. Those are the ones who will get their first lessons in vector analysis when they are sailing toward a mark in a cross current. They will delay reefing a little too long and get lessons about the wisdom of planning ahead. Lots more useful lessons to learn too. All we have to do is find those kids and encourage them.
  4. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    when my kids were younger it also struck me that you have no say so in anything you do as a child. where ever you go it is under an adult's supervision, and why I think when I learned to ride a two wheeler I spent so many hours on it. It was the first way to get around where I made all the decisions. Thinking about that I made both my daughters mini-kayaks when they were about 10 years old each, they both loved them and took to them very quickly. We went on many family paddles around smaller lakes and similar bodies of water.

    It is interesting that he expresses the same kind of desire to make his own decision. I too have thought it is a great activity for young kids. but it is too costly, and there is not much being done about it. This is one of my long term hopes for creating the $600 hardware store class of sailboats, we are planning our first contest for September, and will hopefully have a full season next year.
  5. SailingAustin
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    SailingAustin New Member

    Great post and so timely for my family. I read and enjoyed that piece by Crosby too.

    Don't get too dispirited, Messabout! Just yesterday I took my five-year-old and her best friend to their first Opti sailing class here in Austin, TX. The class was was bigger than I expected. There must have been 20 kids. And, there are 7 more sessions this summer alone! They go for four weeks.

    Watching those kids spin around, crossing tacks and bumping into each other was an absolute joy for me. I'm not sure who had more fun, me or the kids.

    By the way, this week we also bought a family sailboat after having none for about 5 years. I'm doing my part to convert everyone to a love of sail :).

    Cheers Steve
  6. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Good for you Steve and for the little ones too.

    I guess you know that you may be setting yourself up for shelling out some cash for an Opti in a year or two. :)
  7. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I think the sailing community has done a good job at providing performance sailboats. There are any number of good performing dinghies out there, some of which can be home built, that plane, at least under ideal conditions, and are quite weatherly.

    These take care of a major portion of the would be sailor market.

    I think what is missing are boats that are somewhat comfortable, easy to use, and useful for purposes other than sailing.

    Such boats would have more modest sail plans, less sailing draft (board down), but would move quite nicely in a good breeze and be reasonably weatherly.

    They should row or paddle well, so they would be useful when there is little or no wind, and should have rigs that are easy to set up and dismantle.

    Such a boat would be handy for youthful explorations and not likely to get in other people's way, if the self taught sailing lessons don't go so well.

    They should also be designed so they have adequate floatation for swampings and capsizes, and be easy to right and get back underway with no outside help.

    There should also be a reasonably dry place (assuming no capsizes or swampings) to store some gear, such as a personal flotation devices, a lunch, beverages, clothing, a flashlight, and maybe a few tools, so that these items are not constantly under foot, but are quickly accessible when needed.

    Having control of the rudder and control of the halyard reasonably close to one another would also be nice.

    This is the kind of boat I would have preferred when I started sailing over 40 years ago.

    What I got, I had to build myself. It was probably worst constructed sailboat that ever successfully sailed, all 174 pounds of it (when it wasn't full of water).

    It was nearly impossible for one person alone to paddle and was used only about a dozen times before it was left to rot away.

    It did teach four people how to sail.
  8. Corley
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    Corley epoxy coated

    I personally think the youth market is a bit overblown in terms of importance kids are inundated with sporting activities so it's no wonder they are distracted. My view is if you want to get more people sailing encourage people in their late twenties and thirties to take a look often people in that age group are more settled and have sufficient attention span to take on a sport or leisure activity like sailing. I'm not suggesting to abandon trying to get a chunk of the kids market but don't ignore older people either.

    I quite like the core sound series of boats and think they fit pretty well with what Sharpii2 is suggesting. Also boats like the Caledonian Yawl seem to fit pretty well with those requirements too but then you have to build it yourself. The Caledonian Yawl is pretty hard to row (it does have a good outboard well though) so more people seem to favor the Arctic Tern if you need to sail and row.

    I think a number of small sailing multihulls could provide a good entry level experience for beginners too like the Hobie Wave or Bravo.
  9. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    Sounds like the classic Mirror dinghy to me....

    Todays youth are much more style aware than maybe even their parents. So I'm not sure what a child would say if their first bike was one their dad had made from an old wheelbarrow...

    Look at the choice in sailing wear, you now HAVE to have the latest breathable clothing just to go for a walk. From wikipedia

    "On average, a female from ages 13-16 may own about 15 pair of shoes including trainers.

    An older lady 16-21, who perhaps has a job: 25-40 pairs

    A mature woman 25-50, anywhere from 40-60 pairs of shoes"

    I own more boats than shoes

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs

  10. powerabout
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    powerabout Senior Member

    skiffs with wind are the go for kids, look good and crash a lot
    And yes above, a kid can make a carbon fibre bike at home why would they sail a boat designed over a single sheet of ply, thats for thinking in the box
    I also notice at our club if you paint the hulls loud colours then the interest goes up
  11. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    The majority of kids may be heavily influenced by appearance and the cool factor, but in some places there's a very significant minority who reject manufactured mainstream cool.

    Decades ago, these were the computer nerds who created so much of the stuff that is now cool. Today some of them are doing things like getting old steel road bicycles and converting them to fixies, creating Hackerspaces and freeware movements and stuff like that. We did a "Tweed Ride" yesterday and most of those who attended were 20 somethings and quite a few had built their own retrobikes or sillybikes, all in steel.

    Sailing can't fight the marketing clout of surfware companies and gaming companies in fighting for mainstream cool, IMHO, but we can appeal to the significant minority who aren't into that.

    I'm not sure that skiffs attract kids any more than good conventional dinghies, personally. Coming from the home town of the modern Skiff, I see a lot of kids who don't like crashing and burning.... after all, while we say kids are adrenalin junkies we also complain that they are soft and over-parented. While some Skiff clubs are doing very well (most of them from clubs in which gambling and liquor sales subsidize the fleet, paying hundreds of dollars for tailenders just to finish a race), other skiff fleets have collapsed or disappeared.

    The simple numbers show that a decade after skiff types arrived in the UK, for example, the numbers of people sailing doublehanded skiff types actually dropped, and they still remain a small minority even in Australia outside of two cities.

    Simple, cheap craft could well be the way forward. Poly could be the future because changes in society are making homebuilding harder.
  12. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    the MSTAR proposal

    Lots of good input here. Let me tell you what I had in mind.

    My plan is to attack every reason people have for NOT sailing, first with design, then when I have product to offer, try to develop the resources to build sailing communities -businesses & organizations.

    The first design (there will be more) is 'the minimized standard adventure racer' (we can work on the name later, for now it's MSTAR). The objective is identical boats in large numbers that offer sailing fun with a MINIMUM of....

    -COST ... this boat is to be offered for less than $499 from the start. This is the target for a capable craft, not a project! And this price is to be sufficient to compensate the producer. Hidden in this price is minimal investment, and minimal break-even sales. Since cost is the hurdle that deters new sailors first, before they even get on the water, the first design will focus on it.

    -minimum of water -floats in 3", sails in 18"

    -minimal talent -operable by one novice. Two novices with 2 boats for a race!

    -minimum ground facilities -user should be able to carry the boat, from a car top, some distance and drop it in the minimum water. This design presumes there is storage space, a car for transport or water within carry distance. More expensive designs will be considered later for urbanites, apartment dwellers and air travel.

    -minimum setup time -able to put up the sail in less than 30 seconds and take it down in less -on the water, even capsized.

    -minimum weather (Wind) requirements -operating range of 0 to 25mph and 40 to 100 degrees F -the boat will come with a paddle and should be able to be paddled at 'plan speed' by a reasonably fit user for more than an hour straight.

    Plan Speed= sqrt(hull length (ft))mph example a 10footer has a plan speed of 3.16mph

    The idea behind this is that you can plan a trip far in advance and not have to alter it for weather.

    As for sailing performance expectations
    MINIMUM SAILING WIND will be defined as the amount of wind it takes (head on) to stop the average user from being able to paddle at plan speed for an hour straight. I'm thinking between 4 and 6mph.
    Sailing performance expectations
    upwind the craft should be capable of sailing 45 deg (tack trough 90) to the min sailing wind at 2/3 plan speed
    This would give a VMG about half plan speed.

    Additionally the design should be capable of reaching full plan speed and tack through 90 deg for SOME wind velocity over the minimum.

    At the high end the design should sail upwind in 20 to 25mph wind without threat to safety. ie if users are goofing off a mile out and a 25mph solid offshore wind kicks up, they should be able to safely sail back to shore. Weak paddlers might be blown out to sea in these conditions without the sail.

    Down wind the boat must be capable of sailing onto & riding, waves and it must be fun to do so at a lower wind speed than it would be paddling.

    I don't want to spec weight but the craft should be capable of carrying between 80 and 250lbs. 350 max would be nice.

    I understand that this is an unusually vague design brief, but that is intentional. The objective is to offer a craft that is appealing to as broad an audience as possible, water born adventures out of minimal resources. None of these requirements are set in stone, but each one missed cuts the customer base.

    My proposal for the MSTAR
    For a hull I figured I would use a kayak, not less than 8' not more than 12'. There are many already tooled being offered for under $200 retail. For the price there just isn't a better (easier driven, indestructible) hull. Around here I see 'Aruba 10' from RL corp. and 10 footers from Pelican in stores for under $200 sometimes with a paddle. It takes less than 6lbs thrust to drive these hulls at plan speed.

    For the Rudder I like moldings from current designs but I also found an old Hobbie molding that has the pivot and control line attachment points fitted. Steering would be by foot pedals to leave both hands free for paddling or sail control. I have a number of sail ideas, but to start I plan a simple large genoa. Instead of a fore-stay and mast aft the luff will be on an aluminum tube 0.5 to 0.75 OD, supported by an A frame that holds two lee-boards at the bottom. The idea here is that there are only 3 points of attachment, the points are all stiff with no additional bracing and variation in hull geometry is not a problem. When paddling the mast and boom gather the sail and the A frame lays forward on deck, lifting the lee-boards out of the water. To set sail the A frame rotates the boards down and the mast up. From paddle to sail in <10 seconds. My first try will be a 6ft equilateral triangle ~14 sqft.

    The down side is that the sail must gybe outside (over) rather than tack inside (under). Tacking would not be easy anyway because I need to have a boom for off the wind sail sheeting on the narrow boat. The boom is inflatable and provides the foil shape to the clear flat cut sail. If the wind blows the boat over, it will fall on the floating boom as well as a float at the top of the sail. From there you can release the hoist (the line that lifts the sail rig) and push the boat back upright. If I don't get the safety or performance I want I can add a mount on the A frame to hold the paddle crossways with floats strapped to the ends making a trimaran. For now I view this like training wheels. I hope it is not necessary, but I might use it if performance justifies it.

    I will try to follow up with a sketch later.

    I am going to try to slap a prototype of this sail onto my Prijon yukon. It's longer 14' and skinnier ~20" wlw than proposed but it's what I have with a rudder. If I can sail it, a beginner should be fine with a more stable 10 footer.

    Edit June 19
    I added the sketch as promised. The sketch is based on a crude attempt to trace online pictures of the 'aruba 10' from RL corp. As you can see it is crude, but it is proportional -more so than if I straight sketched.

    Proportionality is important because it points out clearance and ergonomic problems. Based on this first sketch I am generally pleased. I think it looks good. The problems I see have to do with the A frame -since it only rotates 45 degrees the leeboards don't extend/retract as much as I would like. The other difficulty is the angle caused by the beamy boat, which must be matched by the A frame, makes the leeboard design more difficult and might interfere with close haul sheeting. It could be that I just have my head fixated on using paddle halves to make the A frame, but for now the inflatable boom might be too big and I may need to make the leeboards longer and skinnier. By the way, the boards are intentionally forward for strong weather helm.

    Does this look like anything worth sailing?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  13. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Good luck on getting all that under $500.

    I'll post two drawings of mine.

    One is a set of amas and akkas which have keels, and come with a mast and sail. They just lash onto a canoe or kayak which has a rudder, turning it into a double outrigger.

    The other is a project I'm working on to be my next boat.
    It is a 3 by 12ft box scow designed to be built by a person of minimal skill (me) in a relatively short time.

    When not under sail, it will be propelled by a short sweep in combination with the rudder. Not as good as oars, but better than than a paddle.

    It has a storage box, which the skipper sits on top of, and has a decked over bow and stern. I have since eliminated the reverse sheer, as I feel it will add too much to construction time. Now it has 50% higher transoms and a dead flat deck. Going this way helped cut down plywood waste too.

    The rudder blade will have an elastic cord attached to the hull to pull it down, and a string on the tiller to pull it back up, so that operation can be done inside the boat, with no tricky contortions.

    The splash boards are designed for storing the boat upside down to prevent rot.

    Both of these designs should be relatively easy for low skilled 'craftsmen' to put together. Or for a more skilled one to produce in rapid order.

    Attached Files:

  14. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    the $500 price point is intended to surprise, and if I can get some buying urgency from the reasoning 'I better buy now because this guy is going to have to raise the price or go out of business' all the better.

    The killer is shipping. I can not afford to ship hulls to assemble, and then ship to customers. The plan would be to either co-locate with, or near, the hull maker, or run the manufacturing out of a van that tours regional sales points. My design does fit about any kayak, and is easy to install, but I still prefer to eliminate the variation of user assembly. My other concern with user assembly is it excludes the children of almost all single mothers.

    Take a look at the sketch I added to my post above. Beyond the disbelief, do you think there is a market for 5000+ of these a year?

    Regarding your design sketches;

    The trimaran on a kayak makes it a capable sailing vessel, but it simultaneously makes it a poor paddle craft and it can't convert on the water. The sailing performance might justify the price, but that price/performance point is occupied at the high end by Warren multi 'little wing' $7K and at the low (if you can call $4k low) by Hobbie islander. When I gave this direction consideration the best I could do was a proa rig in the $1000 range. I have ideas for add-on high performance sail rigs for kayaks but I will not be showing that until it's done.

    My impression of the 'coal car' is that it's only appeal is that it sails better than it looks, but that is not saying much because it looks awful. Nobody needs my help to do that design. It is too hard to push at anything below planing and it has deceptively poor stability. Honestly, I am surprised you would want one. At the very least do a butterfly to give some shape, or better yet do a proto MSTAR to the design above. By the way, I see you are just across the lake from me. Maybe someday we could bring some designs to Michican City (somewhere around the bottom of the lake) to see how they compare.

  15. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member


    I've looked at your drawing.

    The sail area seems inadequate for your design goals.

    I see maybe 12 to 15 sf of sail. That is not enough for anything but a good breeze of maybe ten to twelve mph.

    The leeway preventor seems too far aft as well.

    As for my 'Triyak' design, neither of the floats will touch the water when it is level. Only their keels will.

    This will definitely compromise paddling to some degree, but the paddling would be done mostly on dead calm days.

    Sail assisted paddling and/or paddle assisted sailing would be more the order of the day, typically.

    Every design is a compromise, and I thought getting rid of the troublesome dagger board in exchange for a bit more surface area, when paddling, was a worthy exchange.

    As for my other design, it has the shape it has for reasons other than simplicity. As it heels, the bow and stern sections, that aren't even in the water, when the boat is level, add a considerable amount of righting moment. Also, as the boat heels, a "V' section meets the water, with one ruler straight side to leeward and curved side to windward. It is conceiveble that this boat could sail to windward without its side mounted dagger board. Once I build the prototype, I will try it.

    Failing that, it should track quite well when hard pressed under sail, but maneuver quite readily when upright, as when changing tacks.

    As for your design, I'd consider extending the mast considerably, maybe as much as three to five feet. Then you would end up with more like 20 to 25sf of sail, and the Center of area (CA) would be further aft as well, making the boat more likely to round up, when over pressed, rather than charge down wind.
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