Outbound 46 Review—Part 1, Hull Form

Kindness of Outbound Yachts. Click to enlarge.

When I set out to write this review of the Outbound 46, one of my first steps was to contact Phil Lambert, her creator, for some photos of the hull out of the water. Surprisingly, he had hell to find any and, in fact, had to go take some. Thanks, Phil.

The point being, that no one asks him about the most important part of any boat, the part under the water. So let's fix that silliness, because I know Attainable Adventure Cruising readers are way too smart to be so wowed by a slick interior that they forget the important stuff.

A Standout Boat...If You Know What To Look For

Over the years I have made crystal clear that I'm very picky about hull forms for offshore voyaging. And, further, I have made no secret of my disdain for many modern designs.

Please tell me they're kidding with this design for an offshore cruising boat.

But the sad fact is that, regardless of the basics of good design or how much I rant and rave, these unhealthy trends seem to be here to stay. Some days it seems like the whole market is shopping for a condominium with a balcony, rather than a boat. That's certainly what it felt like at the US Sailboat Show last fall.

That is, except for the unpretentious boat lurking between the high-rise condo-marans and the big-assed marina queens. The boat perhaps most noticeable for the lack of a lineup of eager people waiting to be wowed by yet another interior designed to maim the maximum number of crew from nasty falls if she was ever taken offshore.

As you will have guessed, that boat was the Outbound 46, and after just one glance I was smitten, a process helped along by knowing that she is from the board of Carl Schumacher, one of the all-time great sailboat designers, who would have become far more well-known if he had not died so young.

Now, with an introduction like that, you are probably thinking that the Outbound 46 is some heavy full-keel boat that will get you there, but not quickly. You would be dead wrong. When Carl drew the boat he was at the top of the offshore racing game. And those of you who know me know I love fast boats.

The Outbound 46 is a slippery boat that will pull a horizon job on most cruisers, and even give racers a run for their money, particularly when the breeze is up and the going gets nasty.

Why? Not only is she fast but she is easily driven and, most important of all, easy on her crew. So, long after crews on other boats will have cried uncle from the motion, the pounding, and/or the difficulty steering, the Outbound 46 will still be moving along well.

And that's more important than anything else. One of the most neglected attributes of good offshore cruising boats is the ability to keep going through thick and thin.

Fast passages are not made by the fastest boats, but rather by the boats that can go fast the most, because they don't beat up their crew. And that goes double for boats crewed by a couple, and triple for those of us who are not as young and strong as we used to be.

And fast passages are simply safer—less time for bad shit to happen. The other benefit of fast passages is the chance to win the well-known FIB trophy—First In Bar.

Finally, as Bill Lee is want to say, fast is fun. Or, to put it another way, if we are going to buy a sailboat, why the heck wouldn't we buy one that sails well? And if she can sail well and not beat up the crew while doing it, like the Outbound 46, that's the ultimate, at least for cruising.

So how do I know all this about the boat, particularly given that I have never sailed one? Did I just read Phil's marketing stuff, or owner testimonials, and take it as fact?

Morgan's Cloud,our benchmark boat. Note that the bow overhang is elongated by the lens and camera angle.

Nope, I know this because I have sailed a boat with the same attributes well over 100,000 miles—I have a benchmark. And, further, I have spent years studying the attributes that make good boats work. Let's take a look:

Subscribe
Notify of
67 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Phil Lambert

Credit where credit is due. I should point out that the original 44 was drawn by a good friend in the marine insurance business, Craig Chamberlain. I took his drawings to the yard to make the deal then sweated over what to do on the flight home. I needed a more experienced designer and engineer. Craig decided there was less risk in insurance, especially with 3 babies to feed, so he bowed out of a partnership, but we set it up so he could work with Carl as the lines came together. A lot of people contributed to the boats success over the years.

Marc Dacey

I appreciate these “deep dives” into boat design…in case I win that lottery all AAC members are counting on…because they unify under one banner desirable characteristics so rarely found in existing designs and we can all learn from that.

Rob Gill

Hi all,
Lovely looking boat and nicely set-up – congratulations to Phil and his team.
Anyone know the STIX value, can’t seem to find it on-line?
Thanks, Rob

Daniel McCarty

“Capsize ratio of 17.22 is well below the 2 where we are supposed to get nervous.” Should this be the Capsize Screening Formula, and the value would be 1.6 or 1.7, depending on the displacement used?

Jordan Burdey

I think the way you phrase: “Capsize ratio of 17.22 is well below the 2 where we are supposed to get nervous” is confusing. You’re linking to something that states “Capsize Ratio” yet the numbers do not align. To a reader, linking to the calculator then stating a completely different number than what the calculator outputs is VERY confusing.

That being said you state the Capsize ratio of 17.22, which is the number of the sail area to displacement, so I do believe you are stating a wrong number?

Ernest E Vogelsinger

Honestly I have no special knowledge about capsize ratios, but to me 17.22 is way higher than 2. Possibly are these different measurements?

Jordan Burdey

Ahhh those dang decimals! Thank you so much for this! I totally didn’t even realize that it was the same number as the one I pointed out with a different decimal!

Steven Schapera

Loved reading this – I learn so much! My Shearwater 45, designed by Dudley Dix in the late 90’s, has many similarities with this design. Overwhelmingly, the definition of “good design” depends on intended purpose: blue water cruiser or mobile home….or somewhere in between. One design feature I really like here is the full utilisation of bilge space for tankage. Lowering COG and opening up all that under-seating saloon storage space is – like most brilliant ideas – so simple yet so hard to execute with excellence. I’d love to see this in my next boat….might have to talk with Dudley!

Lee Corwin

I had one built for me in 2013. I’m a fat, old man with bad knees. My wife isn’t a sailor. We commute Newport to Windwards and back. Have had multiple 200+nm days. Count on 8-12 days. Two key things. Fast is fun but flat is fast. Makes for a lovely seaboat. May go an entire season in the windwards without seeing a full genny and main but still smoke everyone else. Up north the sails go out at ~10kts and the engine off. 99.5% of the time she’s run by me alone. People forget it’s always too much or not enough. Have 5 berths aft of the mast. 4 are singles so never hot bunk on passage if you have crew. With lee clothes and a bundleboard no struggle to stay put and sleep. With two staterooms and two heads having a another couple for company is no issue. The workroom/garage is a total joy. Something that should be on any liveaboard boat.

Reed Erskine

Thanks for commenting on the curious case of the “plumb bow”. Considering the unpredictable vicissitudes of anchoring, I’ve always been baffled at the apparent disadvantages of not having an overhang to allow clearance for the anchor in launching or retrieval. Then too there’s the occasional circumstance of the boat over-running the chain rode. A plumb bow would seem to exacerbate chain abrasion of the hull gel coat. A nice bow overhang also improves observational visibility of what’s under the boat, whether it be dolphins or sea floor. There’s the practical issue of increasing incremental buoyancy as the bow buries itself in chop or swell. It never occurred to me, until reading this article, that the plumb bow is an accommodation to racing rules rather than a logical design feature.

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
I always thought the plumb bow, at least in the J boat (Johnstone) tradition, had to do with getting the longest waterline length within a certain hull length resulting in optimal speed for that size boat. I can see how a “box” rule, as much as I understand it which is not a great deal, might result in the plumb bows for the same reason. Is that the history of Johnstone’s design?
My best, Dick

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Thanks, as always, for the considered response where I learn. Dick

Reed Erskine

Not sure I comprehend the plumb bow as a “JBoat” tradition. The Johnstone designs never had plumb bows until a few of the most recent models like the J88, J97, J99 and J112. Before these all JBoat hulls were iterations of the classic J24, that came on the scene in the mid-1970’s. The hull form of my j42 is quite similar to the subject of this article, the Outbound 46.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Reed,
Interesting. I have not been in US waters for pushing 2 decades now, but I have always thought of Johnstone J boats as having plumb or plumb-y bows as one of their trademarks: like the J88, but I also see now see pics of more conventional bows. Overseas, I always felt a pleasant rush of recognition when I saw in the distance the familiar and easily identified profile of a J Boat in the distance.
My best, Dick

William Murdoch

My wife and I have noted that plumb bow cruising boats often have stainless steel sheet metal cladding on their bows to protect their hulls from rubbing chain and swinging anchors, or perhaps the cladding is to hide the damage previously made. We have also noted that many plumb bow boats have anchor rollers extending far beyond the end of the bow deck to keep the chain away from the hull. That last modification seems rather weak and begs the question, why not just extend the deck and angle the bow up to the end of the anchor holder to support it properly?

Bill

P D Squire

Yep, often thought the same thing. Same with those short prods carrying the tack of Code Zero and Assy gennakers a few feet fwd of a plumb bow.

Rob Gill

The trend for a plumb bow and fabricated bowsprit/prod incorporating both the anchor roller and A-sail attachment, is certainly noticeable in trade shows and yachting press. The Beneteau 46.1 John references above having a typical example. Given these bow sprits will almost certainly be included in any marina length calculation, it seems an unlikely driver?
So I wonder if the trend is driven more by: the desire for a strong but well projected attachment for an A-sail (a plumb bow provides a much better angle for the support strut under than a cut-away bow)? Then maximising water-line length and therefore cruising speed under engine and light airs sailing speed? Cost – a clipper bow with a long overhang that is strongly built, would be more expensive to manufacture? Lastly weight up front – a plumb bow and sprit will keep weight out of the bow vs an extended traditional clipper bow?
BTW, the modern sprit with a good strut design would largely negate the issue of bow anchor strike or chain rubbing as much as it does on a traditional clipper bow (we have both a clipper bow and scrapes and chips to prove it – little badges of honour really).
Br. Rob

Matt

It’s easy enough to design a stiff structure for the stay attachment, regardless of bow shape. If anything, the plumb bow should be *more* expensive to manufacture, as access to the stem area is so much tighter inside the hull mould.

Plumb bows are good for one thing, and one thing only: Maximizing waterline length for a given limit on overall length. Because of that, they became popular for raceboats designed to rules that penalize or limit overall length. Then, because of the raceboats, they became popular for non-racing boats that were supposed to look “sporty” or “modern”.

Without the LOA constraint, moderate overhangs tend to yield a better-behaved boat overall, if you keep the displacement, waterline length, beam, and draught the same.

Eric Klem

Hi Matt (and others),

Never having tried to run the simulation of a boat hitting a wave, it strikes me that bows with less overhang could also be benefiting from having a small amount of buoyancy acting earlier in the wave interaction.  My thinking is that our goal is to have the least pitch possible while also keeping the decks relatively dry.  It would seem that one of the keys to this is to start the pitch acceleration early but at lower magnitude than if we were to go to the extreme of having tons of volume and lifting surfaces just below the deck line so it all had to act at once at the end resulting in high accelerations.  Of course, this is just a single element of a system of design parameters that have to work together but it strikes me as a potentially important one when dynamics are considered.

When I look at a boat like many of Dashew’s, to me it is this volume distribution throughout the hull that the design does so well at.  Watching his boat in decent waves (I passed Wind Horse as she was headed upwind in pretty impressive chop) and having watched the videos available of the other boats, the boats appears to me to be keeping the accelerations low but high enough.  Also critical is that the boats don’t get out of phase which is something I have experienced in more than a few boats, typically ones that would be said to have the highest reserve buoyancy but whose implementation resulted in pitching out of phase and tons of green water on deck.

Is there anything to this?

Eric

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Yes I agree on most of what you say.  But I still wonder whether a small but useful component of all of this is starting the correction earlier than an overhang boat could start interacting with the wave.  I end up doing and looking at dynamic models pretty regularly for work and one of the most important factors is always to start corrections early as you can correct at much lower rates of change.  Of course here we need to watch correcting too much on small waves for comfort and speed reasons but the correction I am talking about should be small enough not to matter for those conditions.  You still need the correction to get stronger as the bow buries further.  My thinking is related to the dynamics and not simply a static view of buoyancy.

To some degree this is a wave shape question.  My hypothesis is that a boat with overhangs starts its interaction with the wave later (going into waves) giving it less time to get the bow up, therefore the higher acceleration needed to get to the same result.  Higher acceleration robs energy and is more likely to result in out of phase pitching which is really bad.  A boat that interacted earlier would need less flare and reserve buoyancy for the same pitch result if the hypothesis holds.  Anecdotally, the good boats that I have sailed on with plumb or near plumb bows have been no more likely to bury the bow than the good ones with overhangs despite less flare as you point out.  I have been on poor ones of both type although by far the worst were a few classic overhang boats with so much flare they would just slap the wave, pitch way up and stop dead.

We are definitely on the same page about the amount of buoyancy in the bow of a Nordhavn, not my idea of how a boat should move through the water.  It could be that the effect that I am talking about is small enough to not really matter but I would think that it would be intentionally a small amount of buoyancy as the lever arm is quite large.  When design elements are balanced, it may be that moving anchor chain aft and lightening the rig are bigger factors, that is what I don’t know as this is not my field.

Eric

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Yes, that is what I had in mind. Of course, I don’t have a proper answer to the wave shape question.

The Luders is certainly a pretty boat.

Eric

Mark Ellis

Verus Amore? Can they be serious? I notice it has safety gear. What do they need that for stuck in a marina? Or perhaps that’s just for show too. Anyway, love the article, and as always your take on contemporary boat ‘design’. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the 46’s spade rudder. And will the hung prop be mentioned in Part 2? I always feel they are a bit exposed. But to what extent would the alternatives affect the hull form?

Stephen Kaut

Great articles and reader input. Really looking forward to the rest! Thanks. SK in the UK.

Charles Starke MD

Hi John
We inspected an Outbound 44 in 2013 in Wilson Cove, Norwalk, Ct, on a very quiet day. This is a protected and very calm harbor. Both of us found the Outbound to be very light, uncomfortable and squirrelly at the mooring, and elected to buy a heavier boat, a Trintella 47. We were very unhappy with the feel of the boat at the mooring. Displacement of our boat, Dawnpiper, is around 40,000 lbs, and we are happy with the choice.
Best wishes,
Charles & Heather
Charles L Starke MD FACP
s/v Dawnpiper

Jeff Sowell

I crewed on one from Norfolk to Antigua a few years back and can appreciate the “squirrely” comment. I found the boat difficult to balance and wrote in my daily log that I thought the autopilot was working overtime. That said, this is relative to my own boat which has a longer keel and a rudder on a skeg. Balancing is straightforward and we can leave the wheel unattended for periods of time without worry (not like we would with AP or Monitor of course). Disclaimer: I don’t have much experience with newer designs like a Bene or similiar. Other than this, which again, may very well be a “me” thing, it’s a pretty perfect boat.

Bill Attwood

Hi John
I find plumb bows on modern yachts unattractive. A bit like the put-down – nothing naffer than a plastic gaffer. But I question the seaworthiness criticism. Almost all working boats around the UK: Scilly Island and Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters, all the way up the coast to fishing vessels working out of Scotland, had plumb bows. These vessels went to sea in all weathers in some of the worlds most challenging waters. I grant that a plumb bow isn’t the only difference between these classic working vessels and the modern monstrosities, so maybe a plumb bow as part of the complete classic package gets your nod of approval? ?
Yours aye
Bill

Eric Klem

Hi John,

We have started to see a few of these Outbounds around New England and I have been favorably impressed by examining them at anchor and sailing near them (they can easily pull away from our 36’er).  To me, it is a solid design that includes good moderation all around.  The boat should be sea kindly and it is reasonably quick but hasn’t made too many sacrifices to get that speed.

Eric

Michael Feiertag

regarding the observations that OB46 can sail downwind under reefed main only and that OB46 is squirrely at anchor, I wonder if both of those characteristics are due to the rig being somewhat more forward compared to some of the boats with which many people have cruising experience, such as IOR era sloops and true cutters. with the mast stepped more forward, the reefed main pushes less and pulls more; anchored, there is more windage forward to promote hunting about the anchor.

Charles Starke MD

Dear John
From our memory, the Outbound was squirrelly on a mooring. We were very uncomfortable.
For comparison, we slept fairly well at a mooring on our Trintella 47, in Rockland Harbor, Maine, with a southeast wind, in which our mooring ball blew away and a ramp at the dock penetrated right through a floating dock.
Best wishes,
Charles
Charles L Starke MD FACP
s/v Dawnpiper

Charles Starke MD

Hi John
I hesitated to say online, but both Heather and I got nauseous and seasick on a mooring in a calm harbor on the Outbound. We couldn’t wait to get off. Harry Morgan from S&S, showed us the boat in Norwalk Harbor, Ct, on a calm day, in 2013, soon after our Trintella 45 was dropped by the yard and declared a total loss. Heather has ben sailing since age 4, and we’ve both been in sixty foot seas, without seasickness, going to Antarctica.

Best wishes,
Charles & Heather
Charles L Starke MD FACP
s/v Dawnpiper

John Scaramuzzo

I’m really enjoying your article and think it is a refreshing perspective. I had the great fortune to own a Beneteau 361 sailboat when the kids were young enough that they didn’t question the need to go sailing :). We sailed Newport, RI, Cape and the islands for 10 years. It kept us safe and we had fun, so I appreciate that, but I knew the design was off. It had a 12.5′ beam on just 31′ of waterline and a capsize ratio of >2 ?. The tankage was small and focused at the bow and stern, so I had to think about how to use the tanks to keep balance. The bilge was flat an inaccessible due to an inexpensive one-piece structural fiberglass stiffener. There was no way to access the hull underneath it and water sloshed and mildewed the entire bilge. Most importantly, I never felt safe in rough conditions. The flat bottom, very light displacement, and in my view undersized hardware did not give me confidence. Ughhh! So when I set out to buy a boat recently, I could not bring myself to buy another big fancy floating condo. When you actually study hull form and boat design, it really is quite frustrating to see where things have gone. I ending up buying a Hallberg-Rassy 48 MK II. I love this boat design as it makes so much of the tried and true design criteria you are writing about. Alas, even HR has moved to plumb bows, flatter bottoms, and extremely wide sterns with twin rudders :/ I’m happy with my purchase and worried about the future of sailing vessels.
John.

Hans Karreman

Hi John

Interesting read.
We have a Sweden Yachts 50, curious as to your take on her.

Cheers
Hans

Mark Nash

Hi John,

Definitely concur with your analysis of a safe, fast and manageable boat. But then again I would…I own a Kelly Peterson 44.

Doug Peterson was a genius, not formally trained, (neither was Schumacher) but he “saw” shapes that interacted with the fluid environment, and, was a contemporary of an equally inspired Schumacher, the parallels are extraordinary.

Both had fathers in the aerospace industry in the hotbed of that industry in Southern California in the ’70’s.Both had to borrow money from family to build their successful designs (Doug from his grandmother, Carl from his mother). As a complete aside, I came from that same environment, my father was a world renowned aircraft designer, who when I mentioned I had bought a Peterson designed boat, he said “I used to know a Carlton Peterson in California, was in the business”. Turns out it was Doug’s father.

So both designers took, in an organic way, much of aerospace thinking and applied it to yachts (Both had the voluminous design folio’s of the NACA directories) with evident effect. (Doug with Americas Cup winning designs, and Carl with quarter toners).

And both drew the lines of some of the greatest cruising boats that will get you there, safely, quickly and in comfort.

A final anecdote.

We were next to a new Beneteau Sense 46 in Marseilles, with a young crew in matching Musto polo shirts (monogrammed of course with the yachts name), and i did notice a bit of an “attitude” with the owner about an “old” KP44 moored next door. OK, nice guy, had a few chat’s with which we understood we were both heading for Malta the next day.

They left after morning coffees, we about an hour later. Good southerlies, made good VMG down to Sardinia over the next couple of days, then the Sirocco kicked in..NNW at about 25-40knots, as we got closer to Malta maybe SSW at 35-45 but with gusts much stronger.

Maybe what most of us would call “challenging” conditions, but the norm for blue water sailing. But this is what the KP44 loves, two reefs on the main and what we call the 747 slot on the cutter rig, keep her flat and she goes like a freight train.

Made Malta after 5 days and a bit, squared away everything, relaxed The next day doing the usual dock walk saw our Marseilles neighbours just arriving, in a very sorry state, and the looks on the crews faces said it all. Helped them tie up, quick conversations led to a litany of failures. Furler locked, blew out the genoa, one block of rope clutches literally torn out of the coachroof, meaning halyards were snap shackled to where ever they could find a hard point, “and there is a a strange rubbing noise around the fwd head” which due to legal constraints i will not describe what happened.

John I can only thank you for your blog and forum to allow the in-experienced and experienced to share the most important thing about sailing….we never do this alone.

It is our combined experience that gives us as a community the ability to continue in a safe manner, look forward to all your new information.

Mark

Scott Halpern

I’ve really enjoyed my four years on Océane (2016 Outbound 46 #61). Every sailing vessel is a trade off between that ‘floating condo’ and a light semi-planning racer. This boat makes all the right trade offs and is well thought out passage maker. Her light air performance, pointing ability, perfect balance when healed and speed are impressive. I’ve only pounded once and that was poor planning on my part (opposing current and wind). Fast and dry is fun. As an engineer I can vouch for her mechanical integrity. The Keel and rudder mount Design are something to see. The Solent rig, hard dodger, ‘machine room’ and tankage are big pluses. Not sure what to make about the comment made by someone who said, “she was ‘squirrelly’ at the mooring”. Any wind or current makes this boat want to go!

Jordan Burdey

Hi John,

I love the review series you are doing of the Outbound 46. I have always been a fan of the lines of the Outbound and the layout. For me personally I always felt that they utilized spaces in a good way(bilge keel storage for example). Since I am going through a refit on my boat, I look towards Outbound to see how they have done something to help guide me on my refit.

That being said, you talk about how the rocker, forward/aft of keel is nearly identical which will help with rooting. Since the Outbound 46 does not have a skeg hung rudder, I am curious to hear what you have to say about designs with skeg hung rudders.

For example, my boat(https://imgur.com/a/KPe0O5j) seems to have a similar fore/aft rocker shape, however, the skeg throws off the entire design as it creates what appears to be a “flat” spot in the stern leading to the rudder. How does a design similar to my vessel affect the performance of a boat – especially when offshore? Will we see more rooting? Is weight carrying capacity affected in the stern?

Thanks!

John Cobb

Could you or any of your readers comment on the hull form of the Shannon 39?

It appears to have a somewhat pinched stern similar to the one you pictured in the above article that is captioned as being “White-knuckled” when steering downwind. The Shannon does have a different keel configuration though.

This YachtWorld listing has some good pics of its hull form

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1994/shannon-39-3664503/

John Cobb

Perfect. Thank you.

George L

Quote:
“As I have written before, for a designer with proper qualifications and experience, designing a good offshore boat is not magic, or even that difficult. The proper characteristics and ratios have been known for decades. For example, we have known how pointy a boat should be at the ends (prismatic coefficient) for a given use since the middle of the last century. Today, a few key presses in design software will calculate that number instantly.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the last true breakthrough in offshore boat design (outside of bleeding-edge race boats) occurred in 1971 when Bill Lapworth turned the offshore racing world upside-down with his fin keel, spade rudder Cal 40. I digress.”

So you dismiss 50 years worth of research in CFD, VPP, tank tests with a little qualifier (“outside of the bleeding-edge race boats”). Sorry John, just as a master pilot does not make a master aeronautical engineer, a master skipper does not make a master naval engineer. There are people who do that for a living, also for cruising boats and there are a number of firms world-wide, who do that extremely well – helped by the latest technical advances courtesy of our racing brethren. Second guessing them on the basis of “proper characteristics and ratios … known for decades” is just that, second guessing.

With all respect due your experience, John, as I have seen going through the commissioning process and experiencing the results with a boat by the same design firm it _is_ magic. Replace “known” with “assume to have known” in your quote and you are spot-on. And nothing worth having in life, whether it is a book, a text in a blog or a ship is the result of “just a few key presses”. To the contrary, it is long and intense work by an experienced team.

Just compare recent cars with those of 50 years ago. Those were tractors in comparison. Are there drawbacks? Yes of course – all the complexities are potential failure points and not being able to fix much could be a real problem. Nevertheless, over the useful life span (some 300000 km) there isn’t much to fix. I have now driven many thousand miles without costly repairs on the previous two and my nearly new car appears to be just as reliable, and much more comfortable, powerful and safer to boot.

Whatever the qualities of Schumacher’s designs and that of the boat in question, they precede the last quarter century of progress in CFD, tank testing and VPP. Here are just two examples of what has been done since:

https://www.owenclarkedesign.com//Sailing-Yacht-and-Motor-Yacht-Naval-Architecture-1

https://nordkyndesign.com/nordkyn/design-overview/
Incidentally they come to somewhat different conclusions, but the latter example is about 15 years old.

Folks need to spend their money on what makes them happy, and if the owner of a similar boat is thrilled with it, good for him. If I had the change to spend on such a boat, however, I wouldn’t want to have a design that is ancient in comparison to what is possible now, that didn’t have the benefit of the incredible progress that has been made in those 25 years. The fact that many production boats are optimized for boat shows and the charter market shouldn’t distract from that.

Last, but not least, flat bow = slamming is an oversimplification. I just spent 600 miles on a flat but well-designed boat going into arctic waters much of it against wind and swell – the slamming was very benign, actually less than we experienced crewing on a 40-year old Swan. Neither did I get seasick the way I used to on the latter.

George L

Hi John,

Fair enough.

I think there are three issues here:

1) Horses for courses …

There are plenty of designs and features that are simply flawed for one reason or another. In a blue-water context, wide open spaces, huge beds w/o lee-cloths, galleys w/o means for bracing oneself, berths in the fore peak, designs subject to flooding etc. will simply not work.The many designs made to appeal for showroom and charter, are, arguably just fine for their intended use. I am sure, the wide-sterned boat you showed would be great for parties with deliveries under engine to the next marina in-between. Such designs will just never be proper cruising boats, and I agree with you on that point.

2) New vs. old engineering

The other issue is that given the advances in naval architecture, CFD, etc. performance, whether optimized for cruising or for racing becomes a much more granular question than a few key indicators such as prismatic coefficient could deliver. When I talk to old-school designers, it is in a language that focuses on those indicators. When I talk to modern ones, that language is no longer relevant because it has been superseded by something much more refined. There are likely to be strong correlations from old to new, but for the modern designers the indicators are an outcome, which they will consider “interesting” but not a goal, and if they are violated by a competent designer then for very good, science-supported reasons.

Furthermore, the optimization is for the intended passages. An example: “I can give you light air performance or great performance in all but light air – what is your cruising style” – the implication being that a lot of cruiser motor to avoid excessive beating or when becalmed and the design might as well take that into account.

All I am suggesting is that reducing a boat to the indicators of the olden days will result in an oversimplification with much less satisfying results than what is possible with the modern advances.

3) Blinded by being in love with retro

Folks should spend their resources on what makes them happy. If they derive pleasure from driving antiques in 50-year memorial races pretending to compete with a virtual RKJ or Moitissier – good for them. If they succeed, I doff my hat to them; it’s just no my idea of sailing fun.

If they are happy with an essentially retro design, however good the designer, good for them. They just shouldn’t pretend that their boat is inherently better, only because it is old, “proven”, “everyone knows that” or they are better or more worthy because they brave a tough environment with artificially limited kit.

Having owned one landmark house too many, its just not my cup of tea. What I want is the state-of-the-art optimized for _my_ requirements, which happen to be fast, safe and comfortable high-latitude sailing and cruising. However much I enjoyed the old Swan, I wouldn’t want to own it and I wouldn’t want to take it there. Today, there are much better ships possible and feasible for that purpose and we shouldn’t lose sight over that.