Sailing Performance

I guess it makes sense to start by talking about sailing performance. Because this is why “I” Sail. One of the best descriptions that I have recd on the topic comes from “The Proper Yacht" by Arthur Beiser

I believe that the majority of cruising boats today carry rigs that are too small for both performance and convenience. No sailboat should need half a gale or some absurd expedients as oversized genoas and spinnakers in order to really go, yet that is precisely the case far too often. Most weather in most parts of the world contains a good percentage of light winds, and it is simply a crime to design and build a sailboat unable to move well under such conditions. It is not just the that one of the keener joys of sailing is to ghost along in a zephyr; on a long trip, proficiency in light airs usually means days saved.

The shrunken rigs typical of cruising boats have their origins in a number of misconceptions. One is that argument that a large rig is more fragile than a small one and also puts too much stress on the hull. This was certainly true in the past but modern material permits a rig of any size to have any safety margin desired without compromising performance (except in racing, which is not our concern here). And the hull of a properly built modern cruising boat is well able to take all the loads imposed by whatever rig is chosen. An extension of the same train of thought rejects large sails because once upon a time they were heavy and hard to control. Again today's technology comes to the rescue, with soft, lightweight synthetic cloth, strong but supple synthetic line, and powerful multi-speed winches that can incorporate electric drives if desired. Roller furling for jibs, and even for mains, is available to provide further help. So a generous rig need not be any harder to manage than a skimpy one. In fact, experience show that a sizable rig actually makes coping with the sails easier. The point is that with area to spare, one can arrange matters in a seamanlike manner - a well-divided rig, headsails with only moderate overlaps (or none at all), no spinnakers - without worrying about maximum efficiency.

When a person interested in a cruising boat of certain sizes sees a racing boat of that size go by with her army of gorillas all working their tails off, it is natural for him to think, "My God, the rig is too big," and to seek a smaller rig for himself. This reaction does not survive close scrutiny. The basic sail area of a racing boat is heavily taxed by the measurement rule. Accordingly such a boat is obliged to have a rig not larger that absolutely necessary and to rely upon exploiting it to the utmost. Two flukes of the racing rule provide the means the racing boat uses to augment here basic sail area; that part of a jib aft of the mainmast is not counted in the sail area unless it exceeds a generous limit, and spinnakers are also "free" up to a point. Over lapping genoas and huge spinnakers are labor-intensive expedients, which is no handicap since racing boats are the better for plenty of live ballast anyway. There is no reason for a cruising sailor to let the vagaries of a measurement rule govern his life on the water. With sails large enough in area to provide the push required and sensible enough in design to be servants and not masters, a proper cruiser should be able to sail circles around any racing boats with a crew of the same strength. One wants speed and convenience in a cruiser, pleasure for the few instead of work for the many, and an ample rig is necessary to achieve this goal.

Another argument against enough area for light conditions is that, if the wind picks up sail with have to be shortened. Absolutely correct - but it is not compulsory to carry the largest sails if prudence dictates otherwise on a particular day. Most cruising is done in regions where winds of no more than about 15 knots predominate, and it seems silly to have a boat just right from the Roaring Forties anywhere else.
And a little latter in his discussion:

Since the wetted surface of a boat is rarely stated and is tedious to establish from a lines plan (itself seldom published), the sail area-displacement ratio is the more practical one for comparing different designs. This ratio for the designs in Part Two of this book is platted in the first graph on page 44, and the sail areas themselves against in the second. The average ratio is 16.0, which is greater that the figure of 15.5 often quoted as optimum for cruising yachts and that I consider unduly small.
Much of the current racing rules are the reasons why I find it so difficult to find another boat. My ideal boat would have a sail area to displacement ratio of between 18 and 20 with a non-overlapping working jib and have a large mainsail area compared to its jib area. This allows me easy sail control from behind the mast by reefing, traveler control and luffing the main through gusts. It would also allow, but not require, me to hank on a huge 150% plus drifter in really light conditions, say down to 3 to 5 knots. This is not a boat that I have found available very often.