From France, a Coup de Coeur

At the Paris Boat Show, I fell in love with the elegant, racy daysailer Code 0.

Sailing World

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To see more photos of Code 0, click here.Courtesy Black Pepper

I love gazing at big, expensive yachts as much as the next guy. But, often, the best surprises come in smaller packages. Such was the case at this year's Paris Boat Show, which I attended a few weeks back. Squeezed discreetly between the mega stands of the big-name boatbuilders was Code 0, a 32-foot daysailer that drew a sizable crowd.

The boat show is now a memory, but Code 0 continues to attract attention here in France. Built by the French firm Black Pepper, the boat was the subject of a feature in the French publication Voiles et Voiliers, which dubbed it a "coup de coeur," or, to say it less elegantly in English, an instant favorite. Code 0 is built for speed; carbon-fiber construction keeps the weight to 4,299 pounds. Designers Romaric Neyhousser and Yves Parlier added plenty of wood, stainless steel, and bronze styling to give the boat a neoclassical feel.

Code 0's wide, mahogany deck and roof make me wax nostalgic, reminding me of a different age in sailing. When I race, I want the fastest boat, of course, but Code 0's design reminds me the raceboats can look elegant, too. When I see the boat, I think of the black-and-white photos of my granparents posing in front of racing sloops at a yacht club near Los Angeles in the 1930s. (The photos may have been taken at the Newport Harbor YC, but I'm not positive.)

Code 0 is not all about looks. According to the designers, the boat rates well under IRC and should put up a fight in regattas. To demonstrate their boat's racing potential, Black Pepper plans to enter Code 0 in the Bol d'Or, the Imperiales Regattas, and Les Voiles de Saint Tropez.

Black Pepper manufactures Code 0 at the Chantier Naval de Larros in Saint Tropez, the same outfit that build Safran, which Marc Guillemot sailed to victory in the 2010 IMOCA World Championship. Code 0 owes its speed and stability to it's wide and tight hull, say the manufacturers. Its sail and helm designs allow it to maintain speed in light wind, they say. Other design elements include a retractable boom; there's no running backstay. The sailplan includs a 105-square-foot mainsail, a 246-square-foot spinnaker, and a 59-square-foot jib. The motor is a standard 14 CV Nannidiesel.

Code 0 is technically a daysailer, but, at the end of the day, it's still a 32-foot boat. I could spend weeks on it. Black Pepper says the boat's well suited to overnight trips. To that end, it is possible to fit Code 0 with a 10-gallon plumbing system, including a sink, small shower, toilet, and kitchen setup with portable stove.

Now for the bad news: Code 0 is listed for an expensive €180,000 ($247,000) in France before taxes. It's currently available for delivery in Europe, and Black Pepper is planning a U.S. debut. Stay tuned.