Proper Course asks what is the Worst Sailing Innovation Ever?
No controversy about that, of course. The worst sailing innovation ever is the sail.
In those halcyon days before the sail, boating was simple and pleasurable. People paddled their own canoes using short bits of wood or rowed gently down the stream with longer bits of wood. Boats went in direct lines from A to B and windless days were joyful.
Then the Laziest Boater, Oh Best Beloved, worked out that he could get the wind to do the work. He took his best toga from his wife's washing line, hoisted it on a stick mounted in the bow of his dugout, pushed out from the bank and capsized. But that didn't deter him. He bailed out the boat, hoisted the cloth again and ran into the bank.
And ever since then, men have spent all their spare time fiddling with uphauls, downhauls, vangs, preventers, lugsails, squaresails, foresails, trysails, genoas, spinnakers, gennickers, monikers and all get out to squeeze that extra ounce of performance from the rig. Then they run into the bank and capsize. On windless days they sit motionless in the middle of the lake, cursing, and when the wind is up they tack endlessly from bank to bank, cursing. No wonder the sail is universally regarded as the worst innovation ever.
Pic by Alexander Beetle