New Boats ’08: New Designs Deliver Speed and Comfort

With the latest dual-purpose designs perfectly blending racing and cruising attributes, there's guaranteed to be a boat in this year's fleet for you. "Tech Review" from our October 2007 issue

September 25, 2007


Grand Soleil

Look across the docks at your next major regatta or boatshow and it’ll be abundantly clear that the line that once distinguishing slick raceboat from clunky cruiser has all but vanished. The reality is most designs with the best cruising intentions can be pulled into casual racing duty. And the corollary, of course, is that any raceboat with even modest accommodations is now perfectly suitable for the type of cruising many of us will realistically ever accomplish-at most a long weekend.As we examined our lineup of new production boat models being introduced, we realized what we now have before us are neither cruiser/racers or racer/cruisers, but rather true “crossovers.” These are boats that blend the best elements of each intention: the performance and efficiency of a raceboat with the accommodations of a weekender. The year 2008, dear reader, is without a doubt the year the crossover has come of age.There are many forces that are driving this happy convergence, especially the popularity of the IRC and IRM rules in Europe, and IRC’s acceptance in the United States. Under IRC, designers say they can now draw stiff, fast boats with healthy amounts of sail area. And while IRC has at its heart a “secret” formula, we’ve seen enough successful designs in the last year alone to believe that the IRC typeform does result in good performance boats with strong resale values. Materials and technology used in boat construction are another important part of the equation: with the use of epoxy, vacuum bagging, and cored materials, production builders are turning out lighter, stronger, and more durable boats. Carbon-fiber rigs, once a performance enhancement reserved for top-end programs and custom raceboats, are becoming commonplace. The weight savings that a carbon rig offers over an aluminum rig allows for more weight to be built into the interior. This means more amenities and a better righting moment. Sailhandling systems, too, are faster, more efficient, and more reliable, which ultimately makes the racing easier, and less reliant on massive crews.The cross section of new boats available at the fall and winter boatshows confirms that there are more crossovers being introduced this year than any other type of boat. One new twist, however, is the arrival of many race-oriented designs from builders that have previously kept the raceboat market at arm’s length. Which simply goes to show, that today’s sailboat is more versatile than ever.A Good ExampleIn many ways, X Yacht’s latest, the X-41 One Design, typifies the best developments of our crossover raceboat. Its carbon-fiber mast with twin swept spreaders, T-shaped keel and bulb arrangement, open transom, and a huge, carbon-fiber steering wheel, all nod to its performance attributes. Greg Manning, of East Greenwich, R.I., who recently won Block Island Race Week with his X-41, straight out of the box, says the boat is much different than the 40-foot IMS-based one-design he’d been racing. “This is a much easier boat to sail,” he says, “and it’s very easy to build speed and get to targets quickly.”His crew appreciates the non-overlapping headsails and the ergonomic design of the cockpit, which makes jibing the X-41’s masthead asymmetric spinnaker a cinch. Speed Rings at the base of the two Harken winches mounted on the cabin top certainly help as well.The headsail inhauler system is hidden under the sliding hatch garage. Twin control lines for cunningham, outhaul, and vang lead aft from the mast to the, deep, offshore-ready companionway. Winches mounted on either side of the companionway operate halyards and asymmetric spinnaker sheets, three-speed winches flanking the cockpit seats handle the headsails and the symmetric spinnaker sheets, and two-speed winches handle the mainsail sheets, which are rigged grand-prix style, running under the deck. Belowdecks, several features combine to make the X-41 raceboat utilitarian and comfortable. Storage lockers, located above the port and starboard settees, as well as the saloon table, are removable, and the stainless steel tubing that supports the table, which stays put once the table’s gone, makes a great divider for sails stowed in the center cabin. Large, symmetric aft cabins can be fitted with pipe berths above the standard berths, which puts the off watch in a good place, weight-distribution wise. And as with all the X Yachts, the heart of the boat is a galvanized steel frame, which ties the rig and keel loads together and allows for a single-point hoist. www.x-yachts.comThe Club Swan 42, the result of a design contest created by the New York YC as part of a search for a good club racer/one-design for its members, is built by Nautor’s Swan. Designed by German Frers, the 42 weighs a svelte 15,983 pounds, sports a carbon rig and-a first for Swan-a carbon bowsprit. Non-overlapping headsails and sprit-flown asymmetric spinnakers make the boat easy to get around a racecourse, another important characteristic of crossover designs. Unlike many of the designs from Europe, the CS 42 fleet, at least on the U.S. East Coast, will enjoy one-design racing, as 26 have been delivered in the United States, and 15 more are on order. www.nautorsswan.comDehler has been building boats in Germany for 40 years, and has acquired a reputation for well-made, semi-custom “regatta cruisers.” One of the most striking features of the Dehler line is a construction technique uncommon in the industry; the lamination of the deck to the hull, essentially creating a monocoque structure, which Dehler says assures the greatest possible strength. Three new boats have been, or are about to be introduced by Dehler: a 34 (introduced in September), a 44 (now sailing), and a 60. As with previous Dehler models, these new designs, by the firm Simonis & Voogd, are semi-custom, with several different options available for buyers. The Dehler 44, which was named European Yacht of the Year in 2006, is available in two different versions: 44 and 44SQ, with a hybrid Regatta version incorporating features of both. Both are laid up in the same tooling but use different construction methods. The 44 uses vinylester resin, hand laid with end-grain balsa. The 44SQ uses a sandwich of Corecell closed-cell foam in the hull and deck, and vacuum-bagged, post-cured epoxy resins. www.dehler.comThe Dufour Performance 40 is an upgrade of the popular Dufour 40, which was introduced in Europe in 2004. Basically, it’s an exact copy of a QUUM, a custom Dufour 40 put together by Dufour, which won many regattas in Europe and was the overall IMS champion in 2006. It comes with the optional performance package, which includes a taller, tapered rig, halyards, a deep (6’11”) lead keel, adjustable genoa cars, folding prop, spinnaker, and spinnaker pole. www.dufour-yachts.comÉlan Yachts, based in the Slovenian Alps, enlisted Humphreys Yacht Design to draft its latest performance boat, the Elan 450. Rob Humphreys has an extensive raceboat portfolio, and his experience in the Open 60 and other competitive designs is obvious when you see the 450’s twin rudders, open transom, retractable bowsprit, and swept-spreader rig. Computer-controlled fiberglass-cutting machines and Élan’s signature Vacuum Assisted Infusion Lamination deliver a boat that’s light and unique among our crossovers. www.elan-marine.comGrand Soleil, which builds its boats at the Cantiere del Pardo yard in Italy, is well-known in Europe for riding the leading edge of whatever racing rule is holding sway at the time. Its factory teams dominated IMS with production-built boats, and we’re starting to see Grand Soleil and its long-time collaborators, the Botin and Carkeek design office, do the same with IRC. While their latest boat, the Grand Soleil 40, appears to be more traditional than other new crossover designs (because of its symmetric spinnaker), it’s almost a guarantee that this boat will bring home silver. Described as medium-displacement, the Grand Soleil 40 weighs 16,000 pounds, and carries 1,090-square feet of sail area upwind. www.grandsoleil.netHanse, a German boatbuilder, has been wildly successful on the European racing circuit lately and is beginning to catch the attention of North American sailors. One of Hanse’s latest designs, the Hanse 430e, sports twin wheels, a swept-spreader rig, a bow-tacked asymmetric spinnaker, and a sleek look that smacks of a racer, but the interior is far from minimalist. Hanse and its designer Simonis & Voogd have applied similar theories to two other new designs that fall under the crossover aegis, the 470e and the 540e. www.hanseyachts.comThe J/122 is a J Boat with a distinctly European flavor. Designed in collaboration with J Europe, and built at J Europe’s Les Sables d’Olonne plant, the J/122 has been tweaked for the American market. The carbon rig, clean deck layout, and the removable transom box are all features from the popular J/109, and work as well on this 40-footer. The J/122 has already garnered impressive wins, including a first in class at the New York YC’s Annual Regatta last June, a second in class in the 2007 Marblehead Halifax Race, and a first in IRC 4 at Block Island Race Week. www.jboats.comIn 2000, Morris Yachts delivered a 45-footer to an owner interested in doing well in both PHRF and IMS events. Designer Chuck Paine drew the boat with a low-profile, raised pilothouse, and a long waterline, and Morris built it with E-glass and Kevlar in the hull, and a carbon-fiber mast. The Morris 45 sailed well and performed to the owner’s expectations, but it was a one-off design, and as a result, relatively unknown. In 2006, Morris decided to take a new look at the design. They had Jim Taylor design a new keel, and completely revamped the deck layout, the interior, and the rig/sail package. The result is a “fast cruiser” meant for an owner on Long Island Sound who also races in doublehanded events. The first boat of the series has a keel draft of 7 feet and a high-aspect rudder. The chainplates for the mast have been swept aft and moved outboard next to the sheer, which also allows for a 105-percent headsail. Even series-built Morris Yachts are semi-custom, so future 45s may vary in amenities, underwater appendages, and rig. www.morrisyachts.comDon’t tell the head of Oyster yachts, Richard Matthews, that his babies are strictly luxury yachts. He’s sailed his latest Oystercatcher, an Oyster 62, in many Caribbean regattas, offshore rallies, and other events. By hiring designers like Rob Humphreys, Matthews makes sure that his offshore-ready yachts are no strangers to racecourses worldwide. The latest offerings from Oyster, the 525 and 655, carry on that tradition by using carbon and Kevlar to make the hulls lighter and stronger, and carrying generous amounts of sail area on easily driven hulls. www.oystermarine.comDesignworks USA is an industrial design company owned by the German automobile company BMW, and its main focus is premium products. Its design credits include John Deere tractors, trucks, and high-technology items like mobile phones and computers, so why not yachts? With input from Van Oossanen and Associates, a Dutch marine architecture firm, Designworks has created the Zeydon 60, a luxury “sportscruiser.” Extensive tank tests with a 1/8-size model at the Southampton Institute and computer models have shown the design works, and two models are now being built at the newly created Zeydon factory in Belgium. Sleek lines, a fast underbody, and an easily managed, but powerful sailplan should make this otherworldly design not only turn heads, but give an owner some quality podium time as well. www.zeydon.comOther New Designs for 2008We talked about daysailers in the September issue of SW, but it’s worth taking another look at this subset of crossover designs. The Sabre Spirit has a traditional look, with classic overhangs bow and stern, and a narrow beam. But a Hall Spars carbon-fiber swept-spreader mast carries a non-overlapping self-tacking jib and a fully battened main with a generous amount of roach. As befits a daysailer, the cockpit is long, comfortable, and great for racing or lounging. Belowdecks, the Spirit isn’t as minimal as some daysailers. Standard equipment includes two settees, a V-berth, head, a drop-leaf table, a fully functional galley, and a nav station. www.sabreyachts.comThe Alerion Express 33 is more of the same, a classic look combined with a modern underbody, and is built by Pearson Composites. Both the hull and deck are infusion molded using the SCRIMP system. All running lines are trimmed from the helm-a 36-inch wheel is within easy reach of the helmsman’s perch on the cockpit coaming-and an electric winch provides the muscle where needed. The full-battened mainsail has lots of roach and is unimpeded by a backstay. Lazy jacks and single-line reefing make mainsail handling a cinch and the patented, self-tacking Hoyt jib boom does the same for the headsail.]( the other end of the daysailer spectrum is Maxi Dolphin’s CrossCurrent 33, which is built in Italy and looks like it. The huge, open-transom cockpit is graced with a teak deck, a Hall Spars carbon-fiber mast, and the first commercially available Hall carbon/Nomex Honeycomb EZV boom. All that technology sits on a hull that looks as gorgeous riding on a mooring as it does in full flight. The E-glass and epoxy hull is cored with PVC foam, which helps keep the CC33’s weight down to 4,600 pounds, 1,600 pounds of which is in the carbon-fiber encapsulated, T-bulb keel. The sail plan is designed for performance and ease of handling, with a roller-furled 105-percent headsail, a 990-square-foot asymmetric spinnaker on a retractable bowsprit, and a 355-square-foot main with no running backstays. www.crosscurrentmarine.comMultihulls are an important part of our sport, and the Dragonfly 35 epitomizes what we feel a larger multihull should be. The 35-footer, which is built in Denmark by Quorning Boats, features folding amas, and carries a large sailplan on a rotating carbon mast. Two rig sizes are available, with the “Ultimate” version carrying a taller mast and a larger amount of sail area than the “Touring” version. An integral carbon bowsprit, which retracts into the bow, helps keep the screecher out and away from the rest of the sail plan. An epoxy/carbon rudder blade is standard equipment. The rudder and centerboard are both automatic kick-up designs. www.dragonfly.dkPerformance Sailcraft Europe’s recent purchase of Vanguard Sailboats will result in a few boats heretofore only available in Europe being now available in the United States. First and foremost is the Laser SB3, a 20-foot sportboat introduced in Europe five years ago. SW Editor Dave Reed raced at this year’s Skandia Cowes Week aboard an SB3, and came back singing its praises.Two other designs from PSE are also headed this way-the Bahia and the Vago. The Bahia, a 15-foot centerboard design with a small headsail and a single-line hoist-and-drop asymmetric spinnaker, is designed for a crew of three. The Vago, a 13-foot, two-person (or one person out on a trapeze), planing dinghy, is designed by Jo Richards, who is known for innovative small-boat designs.www.teamvanguard.comThe Pointer 14 will look familiar to anyone who’s ever sailed a lateen-rigged board boat such as the Sunfish or Sailfish. Weighing in at 120 pounds, the Pointer 14 is made of hand-laid fiberglass with aluminum backing plates for all hardware. The designers say its flat, wide aft section will help the boat plane quickly, and that the beam (4’5”) provides good stability.


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