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The displacement to length ratio as well as the ballast ratio are important parameters to consider when comparing boats. While most people are familiar with the displacement ratio, which can be considered as a way to measure the heaviness of a boat, the ballast ratio is a bit more of a mistery to most. What it actually does is basically measure the stiffness, or resistance of a boat towards heeling.
It shows how well a boat can perform when upwind. It is mostly relevant to sail boats and it should be taken into consideration in conjunction with the ballast’s draught, the shape and the composition of the boat. It is not to be confused as a measure of stability, because for example, a catamaran is very stable but it has no ballast. If this is still confusing, follow the article to have a clearer image of what the ballast and learn how to measure it properly.
The ballast ratio is a percentage that comes as a result of the weight of the boat that is ballast. This means that a light boat has a high impact with a payload. Usually boats are inclined to have more and more volume on. As a result their beam is increased as well as their form stability. This means that it is no longer the responsibility of the ballast to maintain stiffness.
Most boats have a ballast ratio of over 30%. A low ballast ratio however does not mean that the boat in itself is not stable. The form and the addition of beams can increase form stability. So the ballast ratio does not in any way an indicator of performance. The ballast ratio is particularly important for short handed sail boats.
All in all, the ballast ratio is one of the parameters to keep into consideration when you are looking for a sail boat. But make sure to keep into account the displacement ratio as well as other parameters in order to make an informed decision. Keeping an eye only on the ballast ratio can be confusing as the shape and the type of a boat can make a difference and mean a completely different overall performance of the boat.
Feb 10, 2023
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