Boats & Gear

MODERN SAILBOAT DESIGN: Ballast Stability

Punching clown

At the end of our last discussion on stability we mentioned the old mono v. multihull worst-case-scenario debate re sinking to the bottom (monohull) versus capsizing on the surface (multihull). This time we'll focus on that which drags the poor monohull to the bottom, which is, of course, its ballast. Ballast, ironically, is added to a boat to help it stay upright. As with form stability, the principle is obvious: an object is harder to up-end if a heavy weight is placed at the bottom of it. Witness the iconic inflatable punching clown. With the majority of its weight concentrated at floor level, the clown pops back upright every time you knock it down. This, of course, is exactly what you want your sailboat to do.

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MODERN SAILBOAT DESIGN: Form Stability

Open 60 under sail

Stability, fundamentally, is what prevents a boat from being turned over and capsized. Whether you are a cruiser or a racer, it is a desirable characteristic. A boat's shape, particularly its transverse hull form, has an enormous impact on how stable it is. This so-called "form stability" is one of the primary reasons you should be interested in the shape of a boat's hull.

The basic principle is self-evident: an object that is wide and flat is harder to overturn than one that is narrow and round. With this in mind, you can usually see at a glance what hull shapes have the greatest form stability. Wide hulls are inherently more stable than narrow ones; given two hulls of equal width, the one with less deadrise and a flatter bottom is more stable than one with more deadrise and a rounder bottom.

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SAILS & RIGGING: Junk Rigs For Cruisers

Junk rig under sail

I HAVE ALWAYS been very attracted to junk rigs, first, I suppose, because they seem so very strange and archaic. As one early Western proponent, a British cruiser named Brian Platt, who sailed from Hong Kong to California under junk rig in the late 1950s, once wrote: "Nobody could have designed the Chinese Sail, if only for fear of being laughed at. A device so elaborate and clumsy in conception, yet so simple and handy in operation could only have evolved through trial and error."

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PEARSON ALBERG 35: Real Cheap On Craigslist

Pearson Alberg 35

I HAVEN'T SEEN this boat in person, but from the photos on this Craigslist listing it looks to be in very good condition... and the asking price is just $11K! She's got recent Awlgrip on her topsides, a recently rebuilt freshwater-cooled Atomic-4 engine, a new water tank, a new prop, and a new stuffing box. Looks like an excellent deal for an offshore-capable boat.

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TAG 60: Deluxe Performance Cruising Catamaran

Tag 60 bow on

THIS IS ONE BOAT that really jumped out at me when I was cruising the docks at the Strictly Sail portion of the Miami International Boat Show after doing my bit judging the NMMA Innovation Awards. I first spotted it bow on (see photo up top) and immediately noticed its narrow hulls, high bridgedeck clearance, and super-long bowsprit--everything you want to see in a truly aggressive cruising cat. But it wasn't until I snuck up on the beast from behind that its most distinctive features became apparent.

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MIAMI BOAT SHOW: 2013 NMMA Innovation Awards

NMMA judges

I'M JUST BACK from SoBe, where I served this week as a volunteer on the NMMA Innovation Awards judging panel. My fellow judges and I, led by Der Panel Fuehrer Zuzana Prochazka, first spent two days dodging forklifts and golf carts as we ran around interrogating innocent flacks and techs who were trying to set up for the Miami International Boat Show. We then retired to our Situation Room (see photo up top) high above the floor of the Miami Beach Convention Center and cast tea leaves and chicken entrails to select the show's most innovative new products and boats.

I found it to be a gratifying experience. I got to hang out in Miami Beach in February, I got to hob-nob with fellow boating scribes, plus I got to peek into corners of the industry we sailors normally don't think about. Example: this year I learned that the late-breaking trend in the powerboat world is called "coving." Evidently, it's a revolutionary concept: instead of running around burning expensive fuel all day, you head straight to some scenic cove, drop anchor, and hang out for a while.

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DECONSTRUCTING SAILROCKET: Fastest Sailboat On Earth

Sailrocket unloaded

I WAS BUSY messing around with my own boat back in November, so failed to note the fantastic achievement of Paul Larsen, who finally, after 11 years of work, succeeded in smashing the world sailing speed record in Vestas Sailrocket 2. By now everyone knows the number: 65.45 knots. That was Sailrocket's average speed over a 500-meter course on Walvis Bay in Namibia on November 24 in 25 knots of wind. Almost 10 knots faster than the previous record (55.65 knots on a kiteboard), the biggest single leap forward in the history of speed sailing... and Larsen claims he is confident that Sailrocket, in her current configuration, can easily top 70 knots.

So how does this weird-looking vessel manage to go so fast? Everyone has seen pictures of it, but I don't think too many people understand much about how the boat actually works.

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