Sure there are incidents of rudders breaking off without whale assistance but that is more likely to be caused by Francois or Gerhart having a bad day in the production facility i.e. human error rather than fundamentally a bad or unsafe design.
If underwater doesn’t really matter, what about down below? We can all agree that up to mid 40 foot yachts, they are all much of a muchness, 2 aft cabins, a fore cabin and a bit in between filled with toilets, seats and a galley. With the exception notably, of the Beneteau Oceanis’s turn of the century range, which places the shower & head at the front of the boat, enabling the forward bed to be less triangular in shape, not much has changed. Strangely I always feel vaguely vulnerable using that forward head, but could just be me.
The obvious exception the above are centre cockpits yachts which completely change the ethos of down below accommodations, to err on the side of luxury, but have somehow never gained the popularity of conventional layouts. I believe it’s the same kind of issue that Catamarans suffer from, in that we all accept that it makes perfect sense, just not for me.
Deck layouts are again pretty similar, with only the later Jeanneau Sun Odysseys creating a kind of side passage along the outboard of the cockpit, which I believe is a method of using up some bean that the commodious aft cabins necessitate.
Finally the topic which comes up is handling in bad weather, but again I find myself being less and less swayed by that argument in our type of sailing.
When the weather is crap or against you, small boats are uncomfortable to varying degrees but rarely dangerous. I remember the old guys at our sailing club fondling a piece of seaweed which had been blown onto a fence and saying “It’s going to rain soon”. Now in Ireland that’s like predicting there will be a drunk person in a pub but sure enough one of those childhood dry summers, which we write songs about came to an end overnight. Nowadays of course, unless the web forecaster you use predicts every aspect of the weather 100% accurately ‘Karen of Bedminster’ will leave a rubbish review saying that these snake oil salesmen should be banished to the Arctic to experience the type of weather that destroyed her hair on Saturday last! Pretty much all forecasters have access to the same data from which they produce a best consensus and brand it differently; no Arctic just yet me thinks.
With today’s accurate forecasting, it’s pretty easy to avoid the truly dangerous weather sometimes encountered in coastal sailing. Using my own lived experience, together with a wealth of knowledge gained by others, what advice can I pass on to someone who is about to purchase a new boat or exchange an existing one?
It would seem that if there can be no definitive answer; that all yachts are a compromise and it is up to each owner to steer their course through the importance of each alternative.