1) What are your thoughts on the merits of roller-furling mains, especially the leisure furl boom systems which allow a better cut main with full battens?
2) Center-cockpit boats–Is the benefit of a better aft cabin and a small afterdeck worth the wetter, more motion at the helm that results from being higher up and more forward?
Hi Scott: Re: roller-furling mains–the inside-the-mast systems are very heavy, add much windage from the very big spar sections, and require battenless, hollow-leech sails which are slow and draggy. However, they are easier to use than the in-boom systems.
The in-boom systems get rid of most of the negatives of in the mast, but are very tricky to use in heavier conditions. The boom must be at a very precise horizontal angle and no further outboard than a close reach.
Both systems are costly.
I realize I am in the minority here, but they don't make much sense to me, unless the design of the boat has an oversized mainsail, with the boom way high in the air, making it hard to furl and cover (which is a dumb way to design a boat in the first place, but that's another story).
Re: center cockpits, there are many tradeoffs here. Steering is more difficult to do well because of the distance and direction change issues. You are going to be wetter closer to the spray coming off the bow. There is more motion because you are substantially higher than in an aft cockpit. And, the interior is broken up by the foot well.
On the other hand, with a mid engine room this is directly below the foot well, the space issue is mitigated (although it is noisier). You get an interior with as natural break in the middle to isolate guests and owners from each other. And, if you are using a Jordan Series Drogue in heavy weather, the companionway is not as vulnerable.
In general, I do not care for center cockpits. However, if properly done, they can be nice on boats over 45 feet (14m) or so. Regards–Steve