SAILS 13 PUBLISHED APRIL 2012
Horses for courses
The cruiser racer market is one of the most exciting sectors of our sport right now.
Text by Kevin Green
Driven by competition and fuelled by technological advances, which in turn reduces manufacturing costs, your hard earned dollar buys a lot more boat nowadays in this sector. Also, the strong Aussie dollar means there’s never been a better time to import a yacht, especially where the Greenback’s concerned.
Money of course plays a large part in decision making and the cost of campaigning, if you get serious, is another component. Ranging in price from around the $250-$400k mark, our selection illustrates the variety of quality and performance available in the hottest sector of cruiser racers – the 36-42 foot category. But I’ve also thrown in a couple of noteworthy boats at either end of the spectrum with the Aquila RP45 a grand prix level boat and the exciting Archambault A27, perhaps a mini prix option.
Defining the modern cruiser racer – something that blokes leaning on yacht club bars with Bundy and Cokes are partial to doing – gets interesting, depending on who you talk to or which yacht dealer wants your business. After all, a heated up cruiser with carbon sails and folding propeller will only take you so far; it just depends on how far you want to go.
For fast passage making an efficient sailing boat, typically a slippery hull with enough keel to hold up a decent set of sails, does the business. But once you start playing with the cruiser racer trade-off things become complicated. “Every yacht racing to a rule in the modern era including IOR, CHS, IMS, IRC and ORCi is penalised for stability,” says Andrew Parkes from X-Yachts Australia. “The reason for this is because stability makes the boat faster but at the end of her racing life stability also makes the boat safer, faster for cruising and passage making, and more comfortable at sea”.
“How does she rate?” is a good question asked regularly by potential owners. In reply designers cite the characteristics of the relevant rating rules which leads to what’s called ‘typeform’ or common characteristics of best design. For instance the current IRC rule has been accused of favouring smaller cruiser racers in the 40 foot range with good TCCs. Simplified rigs with swept spreaders, short-footed headsails and generous spinnaker area work well under IRC as do stubby hulls with maximised waterline. But the plot thickens, as competing with this is the ORCi rule, another that is likely to affect designs but this is an open rule unlike the secretive IRC.
Hull shape is another interesting area, continually being refined with computer controlled fluid dynamics models nowadays. Managing beam and volume is a never ending struggle in the cruiser racer world because what works for the weekend family trip doesn’t necessarily work when going hard to windward or indeed running at an angle with large asymmetric flying. For instance too fine a forward section with too much beam aft can put a boat bow down so a wet boat is the last thing you want when in cruising mode. Hard chines and swept up stern sections are popular ways of minimising beam where it’s not wanted. Another option for getting the family boat hard to windward is to stiffen the hull while lightening it and increasing the bulb weight as Dehler Yachts has done on its new 41.
“The cruiser racer is designed from the keel up to be fast and nimble on the race course with well shaped foils, narrow entry at the waterline and a modern rig plan,” says Dehler importer Windcraft. The new model Dehler 41 illustrates this point pretty clearly with its focus on weight and stability – removable cockpit furniture and lead keel – ticking some important boxes.
Hull construction varies among these GRP built boats with some using the latest vacuum infusion methods which ensures consistent density and offer a superior strength to weight ratio.
Returning to the point of slippery hulls, minimised skin fittings and of course foils can play a major part which leads certain designers to incorporate twin rudders across some models. Originally a feature for single hand racers and big race boats, twin rudders are available on the new Archambault 27 while Elan’s performance range, such as the 350, has long favoured them. Designer Rob Humphreys is a strong proponent. His recent tank testing found twin rudders to have four times the force of a skeg rudder. “Much of the distinction comes from the fact that the twin rudders are operating in clean water whereas centreline rudders – of whatever denomination – are operating in a disturbed ‘second-hand’ flow coming off the keel,” said Humphreys. Hanse Yachts favour them on some of their cruising range and here the advantages include built-in redundancy but the downside of course can be going astern.
Rig design is yet another key area and a variable in the power-weight equation. Most of the boats in this selection offer optimised rigs ranging from lightweight alloy with rod rigging to full carbon spars and shrouds. Interestingly in recent design work Argentinean designer Juan Kouyoumdjian focused on stabilising a boat’s centre of effort resulting in last year’s Beneteau First 30 which has the mast directly above the keel. The result is very a balanced boat (and in cruising mode, one that can be steered with minimum amps from the autopilot).
Deck gear is the area that often unravels the hotted up-cruiser with pretensions to race hard. Race loads are typically much heavier especially combined with the latest and flattest carbon sails on heavier hulls. Take the owner I met last year who’d bought a very expensive cruising boat and then wanted to race it seriously. He was advised to fit the latest North Sails 3DLs and to manage them, non-stretch sheeting was run. Despite the high quality of this boat most of the deck fittings failed under the greater loads.
Apart from oversize winches, heavy backing plates and quality fittings, other good features on serious cruiser racers can include pop up cleats (as on the new Xp38), flush topside fittings such as hatches and plenty of length in car tracks, not to mention tweaking gear like barber haulers. Retractable bowsprits also give the flexibility of good angles to fly an asymmetric combined with the ease of handling in marinas.
If you want your family long weekend cruise to be more than a one-off event some real creature comforts are necessary. These might include a fully fitted bathroom with showerhead (and enough tankage), cabins with doors and a fully equipped galley. Small items can make a big difference like opening side hatches in the saloon, as on the First 40CR, and an engine with a big enough alternator to run an inverter for the kids’ portable DVD player. Bunks with thin cushioning will suffice for comatose off-watch crew but not your guest with a dodgy back so visco mattresses are good. Versatile interiors are useful as well such as on the brand new Dufour 36 Performance. Its forward cabin has twin doors and both rooms can be split into separate sleeping bunks which makes the Dufour 36 Performance one of the most versatile layouts in this selection.
We have presented these nine new cruiser racer selections alphabetically for your perusal. They all offer different attributes from a range of designers and yards. But all share the ability to race hard and fast when needed, and cruise leisurely in comfort on that weekend escape.
The Reichel Pugh designed Aquila RP45 is at the performance end of the cruiser racer spectrum.
The result of a collaboration between Reichel Pugh and Chinese Olympic builder Sino Eagle Yachts, the Aquila RP 45 looks to have lots of potential for serious racers and is very much at the performance end of the cruiser-racer spectrum.
Builder Sino Eagle Yachts did the pre-preg carbon work and the Olympic rowing shells are builders of the new Aquila power cats as well as Leopard and Sunsail 38 sailing catamarans. The vacuum bagged hull is made of e-glass/epoxy/foam core composite construction with carbon reinforcements for all chainplate connections, mast collar, keel head area, bottom, hull stiffeners, rudder bearing, and bowsprit bonding.
On deck she has a grand prix layout with a modern open transom, shallow cockpit floor and low windage geometry from the cabin. Eight Harken ST50s are used to control the lines, including two at the transom for the running backstays. Aloft is a Southern Spars carbon double spreader, single backstay and fixed forestay rig. The bowsprit makes the design modern but also optimized for racing and spinnaker handling (the RP45 has a provisional IRC rating of 1.253).
Below decks is minimalist with moulded recesses and bare bulkheads. There’s a double V-berth and double bunks on either stern quarter with bench seating in the saloon with starboardside dinette and table. Jean Raas from Sino Eagle has told us they are looking for an Australian dealer. They have a fully optioned boat for sale in Annapolis right now for US$499,000.Model: Aquila RP45
Design: Reichel Pugh
LOA: 13.3 m
Beam: 4.20 m
Draft: 3.10 m
Sail Area: Mainsail & genoa 120 m2, main / assymetric 265 m2
Water capacity: 88 litres
Fuel capacity: 88 litres
Displacement: 6350 kg
Price: US$499,000 ex-factory China
The Archambault A27 is a serious cruiser racer with versatility and a predicted favourable IRC rating.
The A27 is now in production and is described by the French builder as a ‘cross-over’, which we take to mean multipurpose. The A27 takes her place in the range between the Surprise and the A31. “We are evolving in a niche market, so we do not have many direct competitors, especially in this size of boats,” said MD Camille Dumalanède.
Built as a serious cruiser racer with strong emphasis on the go-faster aspect of the boat this 27 footer looks versatile and can expect a favourable IRC rating like her siblings. Given the pedigree and local success of its bigger siblings, including winning the Audi Championships here, this boat should excite.
Dumalanède told us that the aim of the new boat is provide sailors with fun, performance and comfort. Down below either a racer or cruiser layout is available. The latter includes a closed head, galley, saloon table and up to six berths. Keel options include fixed with lead bulb or swing and both single and twin rudders are available. For power either an outboard or inboard can be optioned.
The first hull debuted at the Paris Boat Show in December and looked to have a lot of sports boat attributes including flared top sides with an elongated cockpit, dominated by the large tiller. Hull and deck are vacuum infused polyester.
The alloy rig supports a furling genoa with masthead asymmetric running off the retractable alloy bowsprit. Harken deck gear, including four winches control the lines and the mainsheet track runs just behind the tiller.
LOA: 8.35 m
Beam: 2.98 m
Draft: 2.1 m swing or 1.75m fixed
Engine: Outboard or Yanmar 29Hp / 21Kw
Sail Area: Mainsail 24 m2, genoa 18.50 m2, asymmetric 71 m2
Displacement: 4800 Kg (10,582 lbs)
BENETEAU FIRST 40CR
The First 40CR boasts the higher stability of a lead bulbed keel and a tall regatta rig.
The Farr designed First 40 replaced one of the French company’s biggest sellers – the 1000 boat selling First 40.7 a few years ago and has gone on to distinguish itself in its own right. On the race track locally it’s been a regular on the podium at Rolex Sydney Hobarts. Favourably optimised for IRC (TCC: 1.090), a major selling point for serious racers, buyers usually opt for the higher stability and stiffness of the lead bulbed keel and the taller regatta rig. This includes rod rigging, symmetrical spinnaker gear and barber haulers. Further increasing stability and performance would include carbon spars. The good news is that much of this is now standard in this latest CR – Club Racer version. Further optimisation to this well established cruiser racer has included an upgraded monolithic GRP hull which shows a very clean underwater profile with narrow bulb keel, deep spade rudder and maximised waterline.
A single large wheel dominates the cockpit with mainsheet track near the binnacle while removable lockers gives a race crew more working space to operate the six Harken winches.
Below decks, a three cabin layout has the owner’s V-berth with ensuite head – which has a second door for crew use. The fully fitted saloon, by Nauta Design, seats a full race crew while the two burner stove/oven can cook for them as well. A competitive basic price is reached by minimising internal cruising gear so fridges and hot water are among the options.
Model: First 40CR
Design: Farr Design
LOA: 12.58 m
LWL: 10.67 m
Beam: 3.89 m
Draft: 2.45 m
Engine: 40 HP
Water capacity: 200 litres
Fuel capacity: 130 litres
Displacement: 7,900 kg
Price: $295,000 (CR with deep lead keel)
The Dehler 41 is built with IRC optimisation, with options of a lead keel and carbon rig.
These German built boats have a 50 year history and are well known for quality and performance. With the takeover by Hanse, the brand increases its impetus with the stylish looking Dehler 41. Along with the new Dehler 32 these boats score highly in aesthetics as well as quality.
John Cowpe from dealer Windcraft has supplied two of these boats to Australia so far this year along with a Dehler 32 ($188,000) and says customers can take two distinct paths. The performance cruising orientated path has a flush mounted furler, cockpit table, folding bathing platform, microwave, inverter and moderate draft. With IRC/ORCi racing in mind the second path would be a deep lead keel, carbon or alloy rig with movable bowsprit, open cockpit and forestay taken right to the stem. The 9/10 fractional rig comes with two swept back spreaders, no runners and non overlapping headsails of 106% with symmetrical spinnaker.
The hull layup is vinylester foam core and built using the infusion process. Attached can be a T-shaped racing keel or for cruising, the L-shaped keel with less draft.
Below decks accommodation can be either three or two double cabins with bathroom near the companionway. The lustrous wood fitout gives both a quality and classical look while key cruising needs are well met in the form of opening side hatches and visco mattresses. The saloon dinette wraps around a full sized table with keel stepped mast adjoining while a two burner stove/oven and plenty of locker space should ensure happy cooks in the galley.
Model: Dehler 41
Design: Judel / Vrolijk
LOA: 12.40 m
LWL: 11.50 m
Beam: 3.93 m
Draft: (std / racing): 2.15 m / 2.40 m
Engine: 40HP Yanmar
Sail Area: Mainsail 55.0 m2, genoa (105% furling) 37.0 m2, spinnaker: 149 m2
Water capacity: 295 litres
Fuel capacity: 110 litres
Displacement: 8195 kg
DUFOUR 36 PERFORMANCE
The Dufour 36 Performance on paper covers both sides of the cruiser racer equation at a competitive price.
The brand new Dufour 36 Performance looks to be an ultramodern design from this iconic French builder, filling the gap between the 34 and the 40. The Umberto Felici GRP hull comes with contemporary chine astern, steep topsides and a race-orientated cockpit with open transom. Versatility in the cockpit is good thanks to removable lockers and six winches while the twin wheels give both control to the racing steer with access to the drop down swim platform.
The interior features useful sized settees in the dinette which has a cruising style table behind the keel stepped mast. Moabi woodwork provides warmth and functionality. Accommodation looks good with a double forward and aft. Twin doors open into the forward cabin and both rooms can be split into separate sleeping bunks which makes the 36 one of most versatile layouts in this selection. In the portside galley a stove oven and plenty of work surfaces with fridge ensure good cruising credentials.
Hull construction is hand laminated GRP with PVC foam core while the deck is injection moulded with foam and Balsa core. A slippery underwater profile should ensure the 36 is quick to windward aided by deep bulbed keel and spade rudder.
Hull shape aft, as per convention, has plenty of volume with flatness for aiding running with gennaker or asymmetric kite. Outside shrouds with hull chainplates supports the alloy rig while up front the retractable prodder deploys for an asymmetric kite.
Model: Dufour 36 Performance
Design: Umberto Felci
Hull length: 10.99 m
Beam: 3.61 m
Draft: 2.20 m
Engine: Volvo 30hp Saildrive with 40HP option
Water capacity: 220 litres
Fuel capacity: 90 litres
Displacement: 6400 kg
The Elan 410 has a three cabin layout with option of ensuite forward and at stern.
The Elan 410 is another well established cruiser racer that’s proven itself well internationally and has some local runs on the board. English designer Rob Humphreys described his creation of the Elan 410 as having the very best in fast and comfortable cruising, with enough racing pedigree to quicken the pulse of any sailor looking for some excitement out on the start line. The fractional rig has three mast options; standard, club performance and carbon grand prix. The standard sailplan has a symmetrical spinnaker and a non-overlapping headsail which favours both ratings – and sail handling in cruising mode. A single large wheel is specified, as opposed to the contemporary twin wheels on a boat of this size. Six Harkens take care of the running rigging in the well protected cockpit.
Below decks the Slovenian company’s attention to detail is evident in a well fitted out interior. The dinette can double as day bunk while the galley with stove/oven will satisfy most cruising families. Storage space looks tops throughout the three cabin layout and the 40 HP engine will do more than simply get you out of the marina.
Down below crew are well looked after with a choice of three double cabins and even two heads if optioned. Below the waterline a clean hull form is stabilised strongly with the use of a lead keel bulb which also stiffens the boat upwind on the racetrack and allows plenty of sail to be held in stronger conditions.
Model: Elan 410
Design: Rob Humphreys
LOA: 12.27 m
LWL: 11.28 m
Beam: 3.91 m
Draft: 2.20 / 2.45 m
Engine: 40 hp
Sail Area: Mainsail 50.47 m2, genoa 41.28 m2, spinnaker 129.35 m2
Water capacity: 355 litres
Fuel capacity: 145 litres
Displacement: 8,300 kg
Price: $350,000 (includes Club Racing Pack)
The J/111 is a 36 footer with a high-as[ect rig, big racing-style cockpit an a finctional saloon.
The American built J-Boats continue their reputation for toughness and performance in the shape of the J/111, a 36 footer with a large one-design fleet, mostly based in the US but with representation in Europe as well; and more recently in Australia.
In its first year of production the “one-eleven” has sold 76 boats globally, according to Australian dealer Ray Entwistle from Yachtspot. His Sydney based J/111, Jake, has campaigned strongly (2nd overall in the Spring series Div 1 SOPS and OPS on IRC, behind Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest; 2nd again in the recent Sydney Newcastle race behind a Cookson 12).
Featuring a powerful new 56 foot Hall Spars carbon rig (that is six feet longer than the older J/105’s yet has a VCG two feet less) the rig also comes with a carbon bowsprit.
The high aspect rig has non-overlapping headsails as favoured by IRC and the E-glass/vinylester vacuum infused laminated hull has little overhang with plenty of stability and stiffness thanks to the light rig and deep keel.
The big cockpit is dominated by a 60 inch diameter stainless wheel, giving fine control for the skipper and the mainsheet track is just ahead of the solidly built binnacle. There are four deck winches in total.
The saloon clearly favours functionality over style however, the practical open plan layout has an L-shaped galley, forward facing navigation station, a wet locker and two full length settee berths with option for additional fold-up sea-berths. Two aft quarter berths are standard, as well as a private forward head and removable V-berth.
Design: Alan Johnstone / J Boats
LOA: 11.00 m
LWL: 9.97 m
Beam: 3.29 m
Draft: 2.19 m
Engine: 21 HP
Sail Area: 100% sail area (rig triangles) 61.6 663, mainsail & genoa 69.8m2, mainsail & asymmetric 167 m2, spinnaker (asymmetric) 130 m2
Displacement: 4,216 kg
Price: $320,000 (includes Hall Carbon mast)
The Salona 38 is heading to Australia with a taller mast, rod rigging and a high-performance Ker keel.
Croatian based AD Yachts are building some interesting boats and their design house, J&J has involved Englishman and America’s Cup designer Jason Ker in some recent builds including the 2011 launched Salona 38. Ker was brought in to design the performance keel with a lower centre of gravity and improve the ballast weight-ratio and other big names brought in include Dean Barker who tested the prototype off the Croatian coast.
On paper the Salona 38 looks to be a serious cruiser racer with a fully fitted interior and plenty of go-faster options. The Australian bound boat is coming with the performance pack of a taller mast with rod rigging and the Ker keel.
The GRP hull (with vacuum infusion an option) is strengthened with carbon fibre and a stainless steel internal frame integrates the mast step and shroud tie rods while high topsides give plenty of internal volume.
On deck the sheltered cockpit has a full set of six Harken winches and twin wheels while the mainsheet is right at hand for the steerer. Twin (adjustable) backstays further add to the clean transom and the sailplan relies on most power coming from the mainsail, aided by a small semi-overlapping jib – that can be roller furled.
Below decks a traditional wooden interior with either two or three cabin layout has one of the best fit outs in this selection thanks to double galley sinks, copious locker space and options for two heads.
Model: Salona 38
Design: J&J design
LOA: 11.50 m
LWL: 10.15 m
Beam: 3.62 m
Draft: 1.75 / 1.98 / 2,28 m
Engine: 21.3 kW (29.1 HP)
Sail Area: mainsail (full batten) 45,50 m2, genoa (furling) 42.90 m2
Water capacity: 180 litres
Fuel capacity: 100 litres
Displacement: (Empty): 6,300 kg Price: $254,118
The Xp-38 shows quality and strength for both serious racing and comfortable family cruising.
Launching its new range of performance boats (the Xp-44, now the Xp-38 and later this year the Xp-50) the Danish builder is focusing on what it does best: fast offshore yachts. For the premium price tag you acquire a genuine dual purpose yacht with quality and strength to enjoy serious racing while the composite interior is lavishly fitted out.
The cockpit features bench seats, twin wheels and six winches to give true cruiser-racer functionality yet with plenty of weather protection and even a swim platform.
On the race track a high ballast-to-weight ratio means a stiff hull while also giving plenty of stability for comfortable family cruising. The 38 footer has an IRC rating of 1.075 as standard (1.090 with carbon rig and deep keel).
The new breed of Xperformance yachts has replaced the old steel internal grid with reinforced carbon to better take the loads from keel and mast. The flared hull with chine is epoxy foam sandwich, cured with vacuum infusion.
The two cabin interior combines hardwood finishes with composite bulkheads with the keel stepped mast dominating the front section of the airy saloon. A full sized rear facing navigation is portside and incorporates a sliding navigation station and navigator’s seat.
Future orders include versions specified for racing under both IRC and ORC, for which the Xp 38 has been optimized, with options including a Southern Spars carbon mast, grand prix deck layout and deeper keel to add a further performance boost to this Danish performer.
Model: Xp 38
Design: X-Yachts Design Team
LOA: 11.58 m
LWL: 10.36 m
Beam: 3.70 m
Draft: 2.10 m (std), 2.40 m (deep)
Engine: Diesel 21.6 kW 29.0 HP
Sail Area: Mainsail 46.2 m2 (alloy), 48.0 m2 (carbon), genoa (106%) 39.5 m2, spinnakers 130 m2
Water capacity: 260 litres
Fuel capacity: 150 litres
Displacement: 6,410 kg