SURVEY: Shaping the future of the sport

Published on October 26th, 2014

Technology marches on: this is not just an axiom to modern life, but a fundamental principle embraced by most of us who race sailboats. Modern design trends have produced boats that are faster, more exciting and safer than ever before, where 40-footers are now exceeding the speeds of 50-footers built only a decade ago. Accordingly there is a growing interest in building and racing this new generation of high-performance offshore-capable designs.

But as in most arenas of technology, the cutting edge is not always widely accessible: not only are the costs higher for the boats themselves, but also for campaigning them at a competitive level where all of their potential can be realized on the race course. Fair racing with these boats can also be difficult because the existing handicap systems cannot always rate them fairly against other more typical mainstream designs that populate most regattas.

As part of the Sailing Yacht Research Foundation’s mission to support the science of sailing, we would like to know more about us with some valuable feedback on how to characterize competitive big boat racing. Your answers will help shape the future of the sport for all concerned.

We would like to hear not only from designers but also from the racers themselves: what are our desires and expectations in relation to modern high performance design, and where are the boundaries of our notions on performance, affordability, seaworthiness, and fair racing?

Should 40-foot offshore-capable boats be comfortable to race offshore? If so, what does this mean? Does everyone want boats that plane in only 14 knots of wind? Or is this too expensive to achieve given current technologies? And if so, what about cost controls: is this desirable, and if so, what should be controlled without stifling the spirit of innovation in design?

We invite all interested parties to take this survey – owners, sailors, designers, builders, sailmakers, race organizers to name a few – who have an interest in supporting the growth and development of competitive high-performance sailing and want to express their views.

The survey is provided in two versions: a General survey to solicit your views on the role of high performance boats in the sport, and a more specific Technical version to gauge more specifics on how high performance boats are defined.

Results will be gathered, collated and reported in due course, and should be of interest to all who participate.

Find the survey at

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