I'm a big fan of sailboat tillers; and I have a question:~
"Just who told the marketing men that we all want to steer our boats with wheels?"
Admittedly, centre cockpit designs have to be wheel steered owing to the distance between the helming position and the rudder. And so do large heavy displacement designs where the tiller would need to be inconveniently long. But...
For most designs under 45 feet (14m) or so a sailboat tiller often makes more sense, and is much more fun to use.
Nothing beats sitting out on the coaming with a tiller extension helming the boat like a large dinghy. Well for a while anyway - gone are the days when I'd do this for hour after hour.
When we built Alacazam, a boat which responds enthusiastically to this kind of involvement, we positioned the primary and secondary winches a bum-width apart for this very purpose. Strangely, over the years, they've got closer together.
Comparison of Sailboat Tillers and Wheels
Having confessed my preference, perhaps I should explain myself...
Well, in an aft-cockpit boat, a tiller:~
through its direct attachment to the rudder, rewards the helmsman with ultimate feel and feedback;
by virtue of its mechanical simplicity ensures reliability and robustness;
lets the helmsman, steering with the tiller between his legs, trim the jib, mainsheet and if he's really brave the spinnaker without disturbing the offwatch crew;