High Performance, High Style or Just Hyperbole?

A Letter to Professional Boatbuilder Magazine   by Peter Marsh

I am writing to you about the confusing use of the term “high performance” in your Dec/Jan 2013issue.  I enjoyed the excellent article by Russell Bowker, especially the way that he didn’t shy away from giving his opinion about the way so-called “super yachts” do (or don’t) sail. When he talks about “Performance Sailboat Design,” he gives graphs and illustrations so we definitely know what he is talking about–and the negative effects of those “hobbling rules of the 70s and 80s.”

While I enjoyed reading about Morris Yachts, I again found the term “high performance” repeated several times, but with no explanations  or illustrations to back it up. The author tells us that the M 29 is a “high-performance boat” based on a 1964 design with a bluff-bowed displacement hull and overhanging ends that occupy almost one third of its overall length.–a shape invented just to beat those “hobbling rules” of the 50s and 60s.

It only took a moment to do the math myself: the M 29  has a waterline length of about 20′, giving it a theoretical maximum speed of 6 knots. Compared to the traditional full-keel type, its “high-performance bulbed keel” will reduce the wetted surface area somewhat, giving it a slight edge in light airs. The M Series is indeed a  “classic hull with a fin keel” type, but if we compare it to a modern lightweight 29 footer with a 28′ waterline, there’s simply no contest!

This is typical of the hyperbole seen in the yachting press where terms like “high-performance” and “high-tech” are gratuitously attached to all kinds of products, but that doesn’t make them performers on the water……






About seamarsh

Still trying to find the answers to life's nautical questions.
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