A prominent European race designer, pointing out
the extreme lightness of an open 60, recently said in an interview
"Ideally, of course, one of these should race round the world,
tie up at the dock and fall to bits".
Seems we can now divorce life-span from strength in some modern
materials. Race boats seek material that is lighter but strong
enough, even if it fades fast.
This sort of thinking leads me to believe that imitation of race
boats for cruising is crazy and can only lead to ridiculous expense,
irresponsible environmental builds and boats that only look fast.
Comparing the modern situation with The heyday of Laurent Giles,
when boats like Dyarchy and Maid of Mallam performed well in both
roles, I believe the term "Cruiser -Racer " should be
deleted before more people lose their Superannuation funds to
the love of shiny Gelcoat and a claimed extra knot upwind.
The unnecessary expense doesnt stop with building our cruisers
from race materials that are unecessarly light anyway and impart
an uncomfortable motion. We now must sacfrifice safety for comfort;
and performance, so expensively won in the hull build, for the
weight and bulk of a 4 star plastic motel interior.
I advocate a return to doable boats, and will continue to design
them. Simple and beautiful homebuildable greyhounds in hard-chine
marine ply and modern coatings, with camping interiors and non-critical
rigs minus thusands of dollars in fittings.
You dont have to charter to pay for one of these, so out goes
a few berths and in comes narrow beam, out goes the wheel and
in with transom hung rudders with a tiller and wind vane, out
goes the thru hull fittings and in goes the composting toilet
(they dont smell anyway) and in comes the cockpit shower and out
goes plumbing, in comes a book of charts and lighthouses and a
hand held GPs and out goes 500metres of wiring. With less of everything
your boat can be slimmer and pick up the speed shes lost over
her second hand non-optimised rig. Out goes the companionway and
incomes a sealing hatch and dry interior. A varnished ply interior
is beautiful. When it rains would you rather be in a plastic box?
Even with wipeable surfaces.
I am not preaching anything new, and Im definitely not suggesting
carvel planking with miles of oakum.. I'm simply saying lets use
what we now know to create attainable boats, resurrect and update
(improved coatings, fixing and user feedback) the thinking that
produced the Tanenui 28, the Black Skimmer and MacNaughtons Siver
Gull series. I simply believe If cruisng thinking continues to
hang onto the coattails of unreal sponsored racing, it will fall
expensively on its arse.
Jeff Gilbert 2003.