Performance, Aesthetics and Comfort

I imagine that to some I am a purist. A snob who likes a certain type of boat and has little love or respect for the rest. And perhaps some of that type of criticism is fitting. But as I think about the process of design and compromise I am constantly reminded that all trade offs are a choice. It is not that I, per say, dislike the modern type of sailboat. It is that I am saddened by the fact that performance and aesthetics so often aren't valued as much as comfort in the compromise that is sailboat design.

This is especially true, in my mind, in boats under, say, 30 ft. Three comfort choices that are often "require" are:
  1. A self draining cockpit
  2. Standing headroom in the cockpit
  3. Standing headroom in the cabin
In my opinion, the self draining cockpit is the hidden thief of beauty in many small sailboats. The self draining cockpit needs to be a certain height above the waterline. Add to that an appropriate foot well and then seat backs. This can quickly increase the free board to a height that starts to be difficult to appreciate.

Now this "need" for a self draining cockpit is added to the "need" for standing headroom in the cockpit. And of course this accomplished by raising the boom. Which either scandalizes the sail area or moves it up. Neither is a particularly beneficial for performance or aesthetics.

But the icing on the cake is the "demand" for standing headroom below. This is either accomplished by a high cabin top or increasing the free board further. If our imagined boat started with beautiful hull lines can we even see them anymore?

It seemed in the old days you started out with a set of requirements and the boat was built to suite. Comfort was often a result of size, the larger the boat the more comfortable and spacious she became.

It was interesting touring the Herreshoff museum. The boats there seemed to have a sense of proportion that felt somewhat similar from small to large. They only had creature comforts if they had room for them. They only got what they got.