Sydney 36 CR, A Loaded Weapon

The Sydney 36 CR is a proven winner with much more to offer. From our July/August 2007 issue.

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The Sydney 36CR has the performance attributes of the successful Sydney 36, which when combined with basic cruising amenities, makes for and excellent dual-purpose racer.Andrew Burton

As the IRC Rule spreads its influence far beyond European racecourses it's encouraging production boat builders to embrace the basic cruising amenities that allow a fast twilight-series racer to be used for more than simply bashing around the buoys. The Sydney 36CR is a perfect example of having the best of both worlds. Its genesis was as a late-'90s vintage masthead-rigged IMS racer with an interior best fit for sails alone, but what we see today in the redesigned 36-footer from the Australian builder Sydney Yachts is a fast, user-friendly design aimed straight at the serious club racer crowd.Fundamental to the boat's "re-launch" is an overall simplification, starting with a change from a masthead to fractional rig with a non-overlapping headsail. The boat comes standard with an aluminum rig with discontinuous Dyform shrouds. Four swept spreaders eliminate the need for running backstays, and this of course, greatly simplifies handling.Because the headsail is non-overlapping, the chainplates can be molded in at the deck edge, which spreads the rig loads directly to the hull structure.The cockpit seats are 6-feet long, and while comfortable for sitting, they also allow for fluid crewwork in the cockpit. A 60-inch wheel-molded of epoxy and E-glass-is mounted in a wheel well almost 6 feet forward of the open transom, and during our test sail I found I could comfortably stand or sit far enough outboard to have a clear view of waves and the jib telltales. The non-skid in the cockpit was good, and the binnacle and wedges on the cockpit sole provided secure footing.The double-ended mainsheet is led outboard along the house aft to Harken 44.2 winches that are within the helmsman's reach, facilitating shorthanded sailing. Harken 44.2s are used for the primaries as well. Halyards and reefing lines run aft through organizers, two pairs of Spinlock clutches, and then to a pair of Harken 40.2 winches either side of the companionway. The traveler and its controls are just forward of the wheel; the backstay controls are aft. There are Harken jib tracks, and while our test boat did not have a barber-hauler system, I could see adding one; it would be an easy way to improve the jib's sheeting angles, if necessary.One surprising difference from other similar-sized sprit boats is that the sprit is fixed. The builder feels it's difficult to make the seals on retractable sprits watertight, allowing water to seep into the forward cabin. The sprit on the 36CR, however, can be easily detached by removing a single pin in the anchor locker. Cruising sailors who may want to save on dock bills or fly the main and jib only will appreciate this feature.An interior worthy of a cruiseBelowdecks, with 6'2" of headroom, accommodations are what you'd expect of a performance-oriented racer/cruiser. The bulkheads and ceiling are finished in white gel coat, and the sole is Flexiteek, a low-maintenance PVC laminate that looks like teak and should take the abuse of a racing crew without showing much wear. Stainless-steel grab rails, necessary for safely moving about down below in a seaway, run overhead port and starboard the length of the saloon. The molded fiberglass companionway steps are insulated, and when removed, there's good access to a 30-horsepower, aft-facing Yanmar diesel connected to a Saildrive unit. To starboard of the companionway is a stand-up nav station over a large 12-volt refrigerator. Opposite is the galley with a small sink and a two-burner propane stove and oven.The boat is not short on berths. Identical double quarter berths, either side of the companionway steps, will make comfortable sea berths, and each has an opening port above for ventilation. With the addition of lee cloths, the two settees would make good sea berths as well. The double V-berth is comfortable, and the round foredeck hatch above it is big enough to get the kite through easily-speaking of kites going in and out of the hatch; don't forget to put the cushions elsewhere while racing.As a nod to luxury on the raceboat there is head and shower, to port and aft of the V-berth, and there's hot and cold running water (there's a 26-gallon tank). Opposite the head is a large hanging locker.The build quality of the Sydney 36CR, and its overall fit and finish, are excellent throughout and everywhere I looked I found smooth edges. There's nothing overly high-tech about the construction. Sydney uses balsa core for the hull, deck, and main bulkhead. The layup is done by hand using multiaxial fiberglass matt and vinylester and polyester resins. Isophthalic gelcoat inhibits the formation of blisters from osmosis. A structural, molded fiberglass grid makes up the stringers and the engine bed. The lead keel fin, with T-bulb, makes up 43 percent of the boat's displacement (11,240 lbs.), which is one reason why the boat has traditionally done well at the upper wind ranges. The rudder is glass and foam over a stainless steel web and rudderstock.Lively in the light stuffIn the early stages of our test sail in Miami the boat handled a sloppy chop well, powering through it with barely any hesitation, despite the light winds. As the sea breeze built to 12 knots or so, the boat came alive. There were no other boats nearby to line up against, but it felt quick enough to have me scanning the horizon for a sparring partner.The high-aspect, balanced spade rudder made steering precise, and with a flick of the wrist I was able to put the bow wherever I wanted it to go avoiding or at least mitigating the effect of the waves. This doesn't mean the boat was twitchy and demanded constant attention-far from it. At one point I was able to leave the helm, walk forward to make a halyard adjustment, and return to find the boat holding course perfectly.Cracked off and jib-reaching, the boat accelerated quickly. Turning away from the breeze a bit more we launched the kite from a turtle on the foredeck. The fixed sprit will be a benefit to racing crews who may be otherwise occupied at mark roundings; they'll have two less sets of strings to be pulled, simplifying spinnaker hoists and douses at a time when the cockpit's chaotic anyway.With four aboard we were down at least two from a race crew and were glad we didn't have to worry about extending and retracting the sprit. The tack was pulled out, and with two on the halyard, one on the sheet, and the helmsman on the main, we had the kite drawing in quick time. Jibing was equally easy with one person on the main, one on the sheets and one to tractor the new sheet aft. Though not overly weight-sensitive, in light air I'd bet a full crew could make gains by roll-jibing the boat. When it came time to douse, we unrolled the jib and dropped the chute through the hatch as we hardened up. Easy.Later, I got off the boat to take pictures while the dealer and his crew put this good-looking import through its paces. With the breeze at 10 to 12 knots, it sped past me on a close reach, standing upright under the 1,335-square foot masthead asymmetric spinnaker.This boat is small enough to need only a half-dozen crew for racing around the cans. Its IRC rating of 1.058 and PHRF rating of 55 puts it close to the X-35 OD and the SR 33.The Sydney 36 CR is delivered with an impressive list of standard equipment, including complete deck hardware, a full set of Dynex, Spectra, and polyester sheets and halyards; the keel and rudder are race-faired and two coats of antifouling are applied below the waterline. SpecsLOA 36'1" LWL 31'4" Beam 11'4" Draft 7'7"SA (u/d): 683 sq. ft. /1,802 sq. ft.Displacement 11,240 lbs. SA/D 21.8Designers Murray, Burns & DovellPrice $255,000 (FOB, Calif.)Sydney Imports Inc.www.sydneyyachts.com877-358-7245