Originally Posted by smackdaddy
Here's an honest question for the BWC...
Why is a high-end brand like Swan not even bothering with boats under 53' anymore? Same with Hylas
I guess the answer you want to hear is that they can't compete with Groupe Beneteau
That's partially true -- if someone can afford a Swan or a Contest, then that person can probably afford a bigger boat, and although we've debated "big vs small" I think few people would not gladly have a bigger boat if they could afford the boat, the berthing, the maintenance
, etc. -- at least after trying out a bigger boat. So people buying
boats under say 45' these days are 97% of them on a budget
, and so will mostly not stop at reducing the size, they will find a more economical maker as well.
But not entirely -- HR make a 31'-er, for example.
No doubt "production boats" (the term is a misnomer; all boats are "produced", Swans too) are a better value altogether. The only thing I dispute is that they are a better value because they benefit from a much higher degree of "engineering". Some posted that some makers put a couple of engineers, and an interior designer (lol!),
with the naval architect! Friends, that is not engineering.
A car, a much simpler device than a cruising sailboat, is engineered by whole buildings full of highly skilled and highly specialized engineers, in a process which costs millions. A few calculations done by a couple guys with Autocad and a FE analysis package is not "engineering" in that sense. All sailboats, "production" or not, are engineered the way a village basket weaver "engineers" a basket, compared to the way cars are engineered.
The difference is that with "production" boats, some effort is made at what is called in the building industry "value engineering", so that materials, components, and techniques are chosen with an eye on how to optimize costs, and somewhat higher volumes allow the makers to buy things better. But in many ways, "production" boats are just cheap -- often "optimization" is really nothing more than cutting corners. And there's nothing wrong with that -- how many people don't want to save money on this hideously expensive hobby? Rather few, I think.
Different makers are different, and even different boats are. But many of these cheap boats are really very good. I spent a few charters on Beneteaus, one Oceanis
421 (I think), and other similar ones. A well designed and damned good sailing boat (cheap also often means light, which is good), with well balanced helm
, pretty nice rig (much of the same stuff you find on Oysters, including the Lewmar
upwind sailing qualities, spartan but perfectly liveable accomodation. I sailed it in some tough weather
, including top end of a F8 on multiple days when the Meltemi was really blowing, and it was perfectly fine in that weather
. In fact it sailed so incomparably better than the better-built but slug-like so-called bluewater boat (my previous one) back home, that I started looking for something else to replace it (my present boat
). The Bene was a little creaky, and it had a hideous laminate sole (the French like that carp in their buildings, too), but who cares when the thing sails
like a demon -- I would be perfectly happy in such a boat, if I had not been lucky enough to be able to buy (for cash) the boat I have. Other products of Groupe Beneteau
are maybe not as good; the 50 (like the one which fell apart and sank) is supposed to be a dog.
Why do we always have these arguments? (Although I have to say this has been one of the more civilized ones). Why can't people just be happy liking the boats they like? People have different taste and values in this, just like in so many other things in life, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why that bothers some people.