Well, I think most of the people that play age of sail games are interested in more than just combat. It would be nice a new engine with realistic combat (like the damage), and nice graphics and physics to go with it, but the "economy, crafting, pirate game" are the backdrop for the combat. I think that if you strip away the fantasy aspect of PotC, and make it more realistic and complex (like a tactical overview for comanding your squadron), it would be awesome.
I don't think I would spend much time playing a pure "tactical engagements" kind of naval game, without a trading system, maybe like the present in the X3 series - a game with ships, but not seagoing ones
Also, I think lots of people like the abovementioned aspect because of the game progression - getting money for better equipments and ships, hiring more skilled people (RPG aspects), maybe capturing forts and cities... These aspects target a larger audiente than, lets say, a "distant guns/jutland" kind of game based on age of sail.
Anyway, do you have a recomendation of an Age of Sail combat game? I remember playing one long time ago...