“. . . In a a paper published this month, the two economists found that the technology of British sailing ships raced ahead during this time. Changes in hull design such as copper plating (reducing drag from fouling weed and barnacles), efficient sails, and iron joints and bolts that replaced wooden ones steadily improved sailing speeds, and sea worthiness.
Between 1750 and 1830, the speed of British ships rose by about 50%. Interestingly, the sailing performance of ships from countries where industrialization was less advanced such as the Netherlands and Spain lagged significantly behind. Dutch vessels were sailing to the East Indies almost as slowly in 1790 as in 1600, the authors state. Most gains for the British ships were at high winds blowing at least 25 knots (28.7 mph), an advance that gave the new ships swift sturdiness in treacherous waters in the Atlantic and rounding Africa’s blustery Cape of Good Hope on the way to lucrative trading grounds.”