When I was a lot, lot younger, thinking myself to be a competitive dinghy sailor, I would spend hours polishing my bottom (Enterprise, National 12, International 14's and then Flying 15's). So sad I was that on one occasion I faired in with car bodge (filler) the metal hound bands on my wooden Enterprise mast! Did it do any good? Who knows but the feel good factor must have helped. When I started sail making, working at Musto & Hyde back in the early seventies, I was lucky enough to be offered the use of Keith Musto's Flying Dutchman to pursue my 'Olympic Dream'. This particular dinghy had the spinnaker pole stowage on the foredeck with twin troughs port and starboard. I remember at the Cork pre Olympic regatta at Kingston Lake Ontario being told by one of the class experts that once we 'sampled' the lake 'chop' we would have been far better off with the pole stowed amidships cos of all that extra weight forward, was it a psychological wind up?, who knows but we were certainly not the quickest upwind when it was lumpy! Now with me well past my sell by date I still do occasionally get the racing urge, Wed night racing at the RNYC and of course old habits die hard, keep weight out of the ends like stow the outboard amidships, likewise keep the crew out of the cockpit and get the foredeck guy off the bow pronto, smaller diameter lighter weight halyard, carbon battens.
On the Mystery we deliberately located the raft amidships (still easy to deploy), my second hand Avon likewise, we are using Cruising Dyneema halyards less weight, windage and lower stretch and as for weight and windage aloft definitely no radar up the mast and no reflector either big or small permanently attached to the mast or rigging. You may ask why not fit a round tubular type, in my humble opinion they are a waste of space!
On board Hindsight our first line of defence is a Echomax Active XS Dual Band RTE (radar target enhancer) at the tip of the mast, minimal windage and as for the weight only 573 grams When a radar pulse is received a switchable buzzer sounds and a coloured LED illuminates, green for X band, Yellow for S band.
On top of that we will carry on board, to hoist on the burgee halyard, an Echomax EM230I inflatable radar reflector. It gives an astonishing maximum response of 25.6m2, folds down neatly to the size of a book and weighs just 413 grams! Great for racers as it exceeds ISAF, ORC & RORC requirements and for 'retired racers' like me who want to cruise in comfort with less heeling, less pitching and at a higher speed due to a more efficient mainsail. You never know that 1% extra speed through the water, never mind the reduction in leeway, could get you through the tidal gate or even better to the bar in the marina before they call last orders!
A friend of mine who is a very talented naval architect made the following comment...
"These days in particular yacht owners are encouraged to carry radar equipment or at least reflectors (and a plethora of other equipment such as AIS). The reality is a 30ft yacht has the same degree of requirement to be see and be seen as a 60ft yacht. Arguably to be equally effective both yachts need to carry the same equipment of the same size at the same height above waterline. However on the smaller yacht this extra weight aloft is going to have a much greater effect on stability; in particular reducing the yachts AVS, the angle of roll at which the yacht can no longer oppose heeling forces and come back upright"