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Competition for the Common Sailor

Published on June 19th, 2018

by Daniel Swords
There is so much sailboat design emphasis on racing and speed, and while the speed increases are amazing, the increases in sailboat size and complexity and costs and the human misery and discomfort of the sailors is astonishing.

The sport is progressing to the point that there is no longer any relevance to the common sailor.

I for one will never have a need or desire for a 20-foot deep canting keel, or hydraulic foils, or an endless and expensive inventory of various headsails for almost any imaginable contingency of wind speed or direction.

How about a relevant sailing competition for the common sailor? I propose a 21st century Folkboat design competition with points awarded for these added and updated requirements:

• Boats must be designed for cradle to grave environmental sustainability, including end of life deconstruction, recycling and disposal;
• Boats must be designed for singlehanded sailing with minimal required sail inventory suitable or adjustable for use over a wide range of wind and sea conditions;
• Boats must have tabernacle masts easily lowered and raised singlehandedly for passage under drawbridges with evermore restrictive opening hours;
• Boats must have non-fuel burning auxiliary power;
• Boat designs must include fully integrated electrical charging systems;
• Boat designs must include a fully integrated self-steering system;
• Boat designs should incorporate live aboard functional ingenuity (including an actually usable shower) similar to modern day tiny homes and off-the-grid RV’s.

Rather than creating boats for fewer and fewer people, what I propose is a small, reasonably affordable live-aboard boat that can be easily sailed by a single person and that isn’t destined to become a future obsolete and abandoned hulk. There are so many opportunities for innovations and improvements if the only focus isn’t placed on speed.


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