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Old 09-08-2005, 12:47   #1
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Most Important Advancement to Sailing?

The appended stories suggested an interesting topic.
What do you think has been the most important technological advancement, promoting sailing?

The Twenty Most Influential Businessmen Of All Time
From Forbes Magazine ~ Edited By Michael Noer
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/07/...rtner=netscape
#1: Henry Ford
#2: John D. Rockefeller
#3: Andrew Carnegie
#4: Sam Walton
#5: Thomas J. Watson Jr.

Last spring, Forbes.com readers were polled for their choice. Nearly 10,000 people responded. We then polled ten senior editors at Forbes.com and asked them to rank the top 20 of the candidates. The readers' and editors' votes were then averaged for the final ranking.

Which tool has had the biggest impact on human civilization?
From a Forbes magazine poll:
Rifle (21%), Knife (13 %), Pencil (8%), & Abacus, Compass, Condom & Watch tied at 4Th place. (5%).
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Old 09-08-2005, 14:43   #2
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Ok, the ability to sail upwind. We have only been doing it for about 150-175 years.
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Old 09-08-2005, 15:59   #3
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For all sailors, synthetic sails, synthetic lines, the Danforth-type anchor.

For cruisers, reliable inboard power, stainless steel standing rigging, and lightweight multi-speed winches.

I was going to think of some advancement in design, electric wiring, aluminum spars, and fiberglass hulls and decks, but the advancement has been pretty gradual, and the traditionalist in me says that a cruise on an old Coastwise Cruiser with oil lamps could be just as enjoyable as on a modern boat with electric everything and nary a stick of wood anywhere. But the dacron sails and other stuff above really makes day-to-day sailing much easier and safer.
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Old 09-08-2005, 22:24   #4
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Sail Cloth technology.

The modern sloop would be worthless were it not for the ability to make sails as large and shaped like we do now. Old sails inflicted serious penalties in the design of ships.

It makes upwind performance possible I think more than anything else.

Materials in general were the critical part they lacked in the olden days. Even canvas was pretty awful stuff compared to modern canvas.

There may be one more advance that would rank as high - bottled beer!
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Old 09-08-2005, 23:13   #5
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long term financing with little money down - the ability to own more than you can actually pay for at that moment - must be some technology in there somewhere. capt lar
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Old 10-08-2005, 09:29   #6
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Capt. Lar might have been talking “tongue in cheek”, but he’s hit on a good point. Prior to the rise of an affluent “middle class”, there really wasn’t any “cruising community”.

Although sailing as a means of transportation predates history, “sport sailing” (or yachting) seems to have originated in the 17th century in Holland. From there it was introduced into England (c.1660) by Charles II, and eventually spread to the American colonies. The earliest yachting activities revolved around racing. Recreational Cruising only began to acquire widespread popularity after WW II.

So we might add the “Industrial Revolution” and the rise of “Unionism” that generated vast wealth, and began the process of it’s more widespread distribution.
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Old 10-08-2005, 17:55   #7
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Old 11-08-2005, 15:59   #8
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Wire rope was an important inovations. The equivilent strength of rope for standing rigging weighed much more and required nearly constant repair.
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Old 11-08-2005, 20:45   #9
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Hey Gord, that "generated vast wealth" part and the "widespread distribution" . So how come I seem to stand in the spots that miss the "distribution".
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Old 11-08-2005, 23:02   #10
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Old 13-08-2005, 01:08   #11
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Reliable, accurate timepieces. Thank you Mr. Harrison!
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Old 13-08-2005, 15:31   #12
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If we were talking cruising rather than sailing, I would say that GPS technology has been a pretty big change, making otherwise dangerous trips a lot safer. Of course, one can argue that reliance on these can still get us into a fair bit of trouble. (I have a story to share there, and will post soon)

However, I would argue for the modern manufacturing techniques and materials. Mass produced fibreglass monohulls and multihulls, with stainless steel and aluminum fittings and rigging and synthetic sails have allowed many more people to enter the sport or lifestyle at less cost, and with considerably less concern for maintenance, reliability, and longevity. People can purchase a boat and use it year after year, continuously or irregularly, without having to haul and replace 10% of the lumber in the hull every few years. Boat maintenance is still a very big thing, but imagine replacing the lumber, fighting worms, restitching the sails, and tarring the rigging every few months. It would be unlikely that there would be so many of us at it. It has also allowed much more "one-design" racing, which has been quite responsible for pushing the popularity of sailing.

It would be hard to choose between which of the modern materials was most important, but I think glass and resins to be first.
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Old 13-08-2005, 16:44   #13
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Quote:
The earliest yachting activities revolved around racing.
I think you are looking at yachting insufficiently far back in history.
The earliest yachting was the aristocracy wishing to go to Europe from UK on the grand tour abt 1800, and wanting to travel when they wished, rather than at the mercy of mercantile trips. The racing would have come later, when sufficient yachts were available, and boasting of passage times would lead to boat against boat competition, probably with a rather large sum of money riding on the result.
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Old 13-08-2005, 18:01   #14
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Nod to austi012

The quest for an accurate timepiece to determne longitude was huge. Before that achievement, going offshore was very risky business.

I agree: the advent of synthetic materials and advanced metallurgy for use in sails, hulls, and rigging has greatly popularized the sport. It certainly has brought it down to my modest reach.

I'm relieved no one has mentioned roller furling, which could only rate as a convenience.
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Old 13-08-2005, 18:50   #15
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The understanding of foil shapes has made the sails, and the keel and rudder much better.
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