So I had this discussion with a designer
at a boat show
a year ago. I had been out of sailing for 10 years and even in that time, boats had changed considerably. The old 40 footer for a couple was now a 55 or even a 60 footer. What had changed and why? Here's what they said:
1) tech and materials
2) Needs and wants
My 40 footer 20 years ago had a spinnaker
pole that needed 2 people to lift
. Today you can pick it up with one hand. The mainsail
on a 50 footer 20 years ago needed 4 strapping lads to lift
it on/off the boat
. Today the same sail is 50% the weight. The friction loaded luff rope
is now replaced with smooth running cards that glide up and down. The couple of small winches we had years ago are now replaced with more and bigger (and powered) winches that make line handling easier.
The mainsheet on a 43 footer I sailed had 3 blocks and needed strong arms to pull in - today it's a 2:1 on a powered winch
. Add in roller furling
headsails and self taking jibs, boom or in-mast furling
mains, bow and stern thrusters, take all the lines back to the cockpit
and add in powered winches and you've got a 55 footer boat
that's easier to handle than the 40 footer was.
Also what was an optional extra on a large boat years ago is now standard equipment
on a smaller boat. The systems are getting cheaper to build in so why no build them in.
2) Needs and wants
I spent 2 months living on a She 31(on the hook) in the late 70's. 2 lead acid batteries
and a small alternator
on the small engine
, 2 bladder water tanks
and not much else. Great fun but I wouldn't want it now.
Boat builders today are not producing boats with features they hope will sell but instead giving the customer what they are asking for. They want more room, they want the boat to feel more like an apartment and less like a cave. They want lots of hot water
, A/C and flat cabin
soles. They don't want to get soaked in the dingy on the way back from the pub at 1am so want a bigger dingy - all this leads to a bigger boat).
The average boat will spend 95% of it's time upright at anchor
so why have a small, cramped, "sea going" cockpit
. Instead make it bigger, open and more of a living space. Add in fridges so I don't have to get off my arse and go down below for a beer
, adjustable table heights so I can lounge in the sun and dream that I still have the bod of a 20 year old, and because it's a bigger boat I need to be able to seat all 8 people in the cockpit for lunch so it now needs 2 tables. Bigger cockpits = bigger boats.
They want to carry paddle boards, kayaks and all the other toys to make their cruising more enjoyable. More storage
= bigger boats.
Now I understand there are many people (lots on this forum and very vocal) that love old boats, old designs and I get it. That's your choice and that's fantastic.
However you are in the minority. The majority of new customers are looking for something non traditional and the marketing
stats will tell you that existing owners trading up are looking for everything the modern boat has. They want a "home from home" with all the comfort and features that it brings. They want to go sailing but don't want to live in a cave and make too many compromises when the alternative is that you don't have to compromise.