Safety & Seamanship

Dinghy racing offers a concrete example of how crew ballast impacts stability.

Special Report: Dissecting the Art of Staying Upright

How are contemporary design trends impacting the fundamentals of stability?

When the King of Sweden ordered the newly launched warship Vasa to sea in 1628, he gave little thought to the stability implications of the bronze canons perched on two upper decks. Just 1,500 yards into her maiden voyage, the Vasa capsized and sank, relegating the fire power intended to be pointed at Poland to ignominiously sink in Stockholm Harbor. This was neither the first nor last case of poorly calculated vessel stability, and today’s sailors, boat designers, naval architects, and boat builders continue to debate just how much stability is enough.

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