The pace of progress ...the editor's welcome to the latest issue of Yachting Monthly
Sailing is evolving. One of mankind’s oldest forms of transport, the boats we sail now have developed incrementally over centuries, and occasionally in great leaps. The foiling catamarans of last year’s America’s Cup were like spaceships compared to that regatta’s original vessels. Hydrofoils aren’t new, but only now have construction methods made them a viable reality. You might not aspire to slice upwind in a yacht on stilts, but it won’t be long until cruising yachts start using foils to improve performance and stability.
In the meantime, less dramatic progress continues apace. Multihulls have overtaken monohulls in popularity on charter holidays; if a boat’s real estate correlates to a lack of familial friction, then these cats must be havens of harmony. Furthermore, the sailing performance and manoeuvrability they now offer makes multihulls plausible cruising boats. YM spent a day on one to learn how to handle these voluminous craft (p36). With twin engines and two throttles, they can be driven like a tank yet spin with balletic grace in their own length.
Gadgets and gizmos are moving on too. From blocks with torlon bearings to electric winch handles, a plethora of innovations can make your sailing simpler (p52). As a YM former editor noted, if something is easy, you’ll do it more often.
All of this progress is welcome, particularly if it gets more people out on the water. Time will tell which advances are fashionable fads and which will leave a lasting legacy. Ultimately though, sailing isn’t a technological arms race, at least not for cruisers. Rather, it is an elemental engagement with wind and water (p48), connecting us to something bigger than ourselves – whatever craft we’re on.