with small wheels, in my experience, is suitable only if you don't particularly like sailing. It will work fine for motoring, or on autopilot
The problem is that it's very difficult to design a hydraulic system to provide drive-back even in the best circumstances, mainly because of friction in the cylinder seals
Driveback is when moving the rudder
causes the wheel
to turn ... but the first thing to load up is the pressure in the cylinder, which energises the seals
, causing them to expand against the cylinder walls.
Small wheels mean you need a low* gear
ratio, which just amplifies the problem; you will have no indication through the wheel of how well the sails
are trimmed, or how much helm
to apply to make a course correction.
ON EDIT * ie lots of turns, hard-over port to h-o stbd
a situation where out of six crew on such a boat in a particular instance of difficult conditions, broad-reaching, only one person could steer within thirty degrees of course.
This was because the low-geared hydraulic steering
(combined with a long keel
and a traditional, ie smallish rudder) meant that steering
felt like a dialogue via an ouija board.
Unfortunately the situation was also navigationally difficult, and that person was the navigator. And making a landfall (as opposed to being blown past the destination
island, in conditions where beating back to windward was unfeasible) meant scraping past an offshore
, unmarked, submerged rocky pinnacle. Requiring holding course as ordered.
Satnav was giving dodgy positions, and the next land to leeward was Antarctica...