Reverse Bow - Fad or Function

"When will this reverse bow fad be over?"


Yes, I've been asked that question in exactly those terms. The wave piercing bow - or reverse bow as I prefer to refer to it (the bow doesn't have to be raked back to be wave piercing), is a design solution to a particular problem.

It has a potential downside; it can throw more water back to the cockpit in fresh conditions, not something most cruising sailors are keen to put up with, but it does have a clear advantage in reducing pitching and minimizing windage for a given hull length.

And reducing pitching in itself can be effective in making for a drier, more comforttable ride.

To create a highly flared forward raked bow specifically for the purpose of deflecting water might be considered a rather unsophisticated approach to achieving a drier ride, at least if performance is a significant factor in your wish list.





That is not to say the reverse bow is imperative to performance. Let's not rule out that yacht bows will take on some completely different form as we seek new technologies in the quest for better performance and increased comfort on our sailing boats. 

The evolution of the bow shape is not simply a matter of fashion or whim. It is a logical and practical development in the evolution of sailing craft design.


The next development in bow design is unlikely to be a reversal to earlier technologies. It is more likely to be a means of further reducing the amount of spray, deflecting the spray or otherwise keeping the cockpit dry.

Reverting to an earlier form is not the way evolution works, either in nature or in human driven technology.

Kenau by Gerard Petersen

Evolution promotes experimentation with new solutions, to adopt them and to continue to evolve those solutions where they are successful. Where they are not successful the organism or technology that adopts them is far more likely to cease to exist than it is to revert to an earlier form where it will find itself behind the curve with competing organisms or technologies.

There is no evidence that sailing boats are about to cease to exist.



So how might design evolve to take care of the "wetness" factor induced by reverse bows?

The possibilities here are only limited by our imagination. The solution might incorporate deeply set spray chines or possibly even some form of supercritical hulls.  We could deploy an array of Dyson hand dryers encircling the cockpit, powered by wind pressure and instantly vaporizing the spray before it has the opportunity to douse the crew.

Supercritical hulls achieve dynamic lift from the water displaced vertically. They also throw spray down and away from the cockpit.

Like them or not, reverse bows are the state of the art in our technological quiver where performance is paramount. They can be beautiful and those that are will endure just as many of the classic sailing yachts of the past have endured for their beauty. 

The important thing is not whether the bow points forward or aft, the important thing is whether all of the design features work cohesively in style and in function. 

115m Megayacht concept from Oceanco.