On the wind, with a reefed main and a double head rig, the boat loped along at 8.7 knots, and the motion induced by the short, steep chop of Chesapeake Bay was comfortable. Unlike a raceboat, in which speed trumps all other attributes, seakindliness is essential in a cruiser, and that derives to a large degree from the motion of the vessel in a seaway. The North Wind's moderate proportions and balanced ends eliminate pounding and allow those on deck and below to function effectively, even when the boat's beating to weather. The deep spade rudder afforded smooth steering and positive control even when the heel angle increased during 10-knot jumps in the apparent wind. The heavily built, well-supported rudderstock reassured me that although S&S, one of the last holdouts advocating skeg-hung rudders, has embraced freestanding rudders on cruising boats, they've done so with the hefty belt-and-suspenders scantlings for which they're famous.