"I'm convinced that automated sail systems are a big part of sailing's future. When fully integrated with onboard nav systems and typical instruments, this will enable anybody to get all the benefits of sailing without ever touching a line." He describes a boat of the future in which all sailing functions-furling and unfurling, trimming, reefing-are powered by hydraulics and controlled by a central computer. "And it'll be faster," he predicts, "than virtually any crew would be able to sail the boat." Sailing could be as easy as plugging in your destination, then keeping an eye on things from the comfort of the cockpit, with the boat's systems taking care of everything else.
"This will keep older folks in sailing longer, expand the appeal of sailing to a broader base of current nonsailors, and grow our industry in the process," says Johnson, whose SP Cruiser, a sailing/motoring hybrid boat, was designed to do just that.