Best Boats 2016: Systems

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Systems

Gunboat G4, J/88e, Balance 451

Few are consistently willing to push the technology envelope and accept the (often considerable) risks that this entails. In the mass production marketplace, Groupe Beneteau stands out. In the high-end custom marketplace it is Gunboat, with this year’s G4 as a quintessential example. It’s not just the G4’s foiling capability, which has grabbed the headlines, but also its clever foot-operated hydraulic mainsheet trimmer, creative engineering in terms of foil control, Pontos four-speed winches and a retractable electric saildrive from Oceanvolt, an up-and-coming Finnish company. The Oceanvolt is also found on the all-electric J/88e from J/Boats.

The Achilles heel of electric propulsion in boats is the high levels of energy it takes to power at cruising speeds (as opposed to the relatively low levels necessary to maintain highway speeds in a car) since enormous and impractical battery banks are required for any kind of substantial range. However, the G4 and J/88e are both impervious to this in as much as the propulsion system is needed only to maneuver in and out of slips, after which the boats are sailed.

The batteries in both cases are lightweight lithium-ion. Although Oceanvolt saildrives have folding propellers, Oceanvolt has found a way to trick the propellers into staying open and freewheeling when so desired, with the electric motor now being driven as a generator to recharge the batteries. The J/88e also flies a SolarCloth main from UK Sailmakers, which includes a number of integrated solar panels to further top of its battery banks by generating electricity from the sun.

On another tack altogether, in previous years we have given the technology award to digital “distributed power” systems. These are still gaining almost no traction in the marketplace. However, at this year’s Annapolis show the Balance 451 had a well-executed conventional electrical system using distributed power principles. It does not have all the bells and whistles of a digital system, but achieves many of the same cable reduction and circuit simplification benefits without the risks inherent in a new technology. gunboat.com, jboats.com, balancecatamarans.com

Related

210115-AC36

Prada Cup: Brits Take First Two Races

Who saw that coming? After getting skunked in December, INEOS Team UK has swept the first two races in the Prada Cup elimination series of the 36th America’s Cup  Racing took place on racecourse “C,” sheltered between Auckland’s North Head and Bastion Point to take advantage of ...read more

ac-2048x

Hutchinson: 36th America’s Cup will be a Close On

On the eve of the Prada Cup challenger series, the official start of the 36th America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson says it’s anyone’s game. "As we've seen in the last week, everyone's gotten faster," said Hutchinson said at the event’s ...read more

Episode1_Thumbnail4_00000_00000_00000_00000

Sailing Docuseries Released Online

Endless Media's Reaching Reality is the story of three friends, a 24-foot sailboat and 1,200 miles. With candor and humor, this series proves that you don't need to be an expert or a millionaire to cast off on the journey of a lifetime. Produced by Emmy-award winner Barry ...read more

01-LEAD-nder-sail-3

Prepping for a Transatlantic

Growing up on the coast of northern England, I dreamed about crossing oceans on my own boat. Like most of us, though, education, a family and a career took precedence, and before I knew it, we had mortgages, young children and endless work obligations. We also became landlocked, ...read more

210111-Vendee

Vendée Update: Josche Forced to Abandon

A week ago, the canting keel on Isabelle Jocshe's IMOCA 60, MACSF, failed. She managed a jury rig with a replacement ram, which held the keel centerline and allowed her to keep sailing, but with a major hit to her speed potential. Jocshe had been in 8th at the time and remained ...read more

rudder

Vendee Update: Emergency Rudder Replacement

A devastated Hare talks about the breakage Pip Hare (Medallia) is back in the game after an emergency rudder repair deep in the Southern Ocean. “Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn't know I had that ...read more

Oracle-RBYACFEVD3_2870

PRADA Cup Pairings Announced

The schedule for the PRADA Cup has been revealed as a multitiered extravaganza featuring over a month of racing, stretching from January 15 through February 22. First, the three teams—American Magic, INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli—will face off in a 12-race, six-day ...read more

01-LEAD-Opener-ETNZ1_-106_silo

The 36th America's Cup

A Superbowl is a Superbowl, and a World Series is a World Series. Sure, the names of the players and the teams change from year-to-year, but otherwise, the game pretty much remains the same. Not so the America’s Cup. Still, in many ways a hot mess left over from the days of Queen ...read more