“What A Drag.....Failed Series Drogue Test” By Zack Smith
2008, Sail Magazine/Article Response


 In the May 2008 edition of "What
a Drag," Kimball Livingston
strong claims concerning the utilization of extensive Coast Guard testing in the Series Drogue Report, however these performance declarations on drogues and parachute anchors warrant further investigation.

Donald Jordan, who authored the
Series Drogue Report in 1987, did not compare his drogue design with drag
devices commercially available to sailboat cruisers during the 1980’s. Performance characteristics of Jordon's drogue design were compared with an obsolete, traditional cone-style drogue manufactured with out-dated materials not commonly used by competing manufacturers at the time, such as Dan Shewmon or Para-Tech engineering. Without a proper product comparison, with up-to-date equipment, the degree of error is too high for the proposed measured statistics to be valid for cone and parachute-
type drogue models as listed in the report.

Modern instructions on proper parachute anchor deployment were unheeded in Jordan’s tests, particularly those concerning weight management. Weight placement on the parachute or rode is essential to remove slack to prevent a boat from falling beam to the seas. Jordon's report does draw reference to the importance of weight for the success of his series drogues, however its inclusion is not specific to Jordan's designs; weight incorporation is common practice and has been employed in the majority of drogues and parachute sea anchors for the past several decades. This is something not clearly emphasized in the report.

It is important to note that these oversights do not negate the entirety of the Jordon report. Observations in every report help lay the foundation for our field's base information and facilitate the need to conduct further research. Obtaining a broad spectrum of up-to-date technical knowledge is key to successful product advancement and insightful development reports.

As an offshore sailor, I recommend choosing a product that you are more likely to deploy—drogue or parachute. Apart from personal preference, it is best to compare ease of use, component strength, and reliability between leading products. If the product breaks, needs to be cut loose, or requires a lengthy setup, it is not going to be of much use, especially in a life-threatening situation.

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