Ever tried battling a 44 gun lineship / armed merchantman in a bermuda sloop with 24lb carronades in the new Build Mod release? That and the assault / transport frigate is one of the best low-cost and reasonably effective 'pirate' ships available, that can carry greater than standard size armaments for their class.
Sailing those 'assault ships' with small numbers of big guns is absolutely epic, and there's no room for error. One broadside and your pathetic sloop literally disintegrates (if you're not moving quick enough to evade the shots). You need momentum in both speed and rotation for defensive maneuvers, that means in a ranged battle you plan to zig in, fire and zag out of enemy cannon range like English warships did against the far larger war galleons of Spain back in the 16th century.
Hint: All the way into the Second World War and until the advent of guided missiles, hit probability goes way down if the target is turning, as the attacker's firing solution is made ineffective. POTC gunnery AI works on the same principle. Your AI gunner 'predicts' target motion and fires on a certain azimuth to intercept it with gunfire.
Took about an hour of carefully staying in the behemoth's blind spots, and deliberately sailing perpendicular to the wind to maximise heeling so I can fire aimed shots up into the rigging. And the lineship isn't helpless either with the new sailing model. She has momentum in speed and momentum so great (big ship = high inertia remember) that you can't do the "sail upwind and AI gets stuck" routine. I pretty much forced the enemy ship into a huge continuous turn and I used superior agility to 'cut' that turning circle to deliver short ranged broadsides. Pointing your guns at the enemy at all times doesn't work as you're sharing the same turning circle as the target and a 20 gun broadside vs my 4 guns isn't a very bright idea.
And the new sail hitpoints make disabling enemy ships more of a planned affair with skilled cannoneers and officers, not point, shoot and magically the enemy stops.
I had a hell of a time capturing the big ship and sailing her back in port against the wind (not easy at all with a earlier period square rig), trading in the ship for a brand new snow brig. I found it to be very maneuverable but rather difficult to sail upwind... exactly like in history.
Oh, and if you want heroic 'WW2 destroyer' type tales, sail a lugger (preferably the heavy type) in defense of a poor merchant ship trying to run from a squadron of 4 enemy brigs. Be creative and enjoy the tactical gameplay. Precision drills work better than desperate housewifery
Build 14 Beta: Inertia-based sailing model makes for intense close quarter action: