Friday, October 12, 2018

2019 EUROPEAN YACHT OF THE YEAR: WHAT A MESS!

X4.6

I didn’t like the last edition of the European yacht of the year: on the performance cruiser category, that supposedly should evaluate between “yachts designed for fast and competitive sailing on the race course, but catering for all creature comforts required for enjoyable holiday sailing as well” the winner was the Swan 50 a boat that is only used on the race course and that has a very poor, even if luxurious, cruising interior.
Arcona 435
They have chosen on the Luxury cruiser category the Amel 50, a boat that in my opinion is not as good as the Halberg Rassy 44. The Amel 50 has average safety stability, remarkably lower than the one on the HR44 or other boats on that category that are seen as bluewater boats.



This year the winners are yet to be announced and I don’t like it already. On the Family cruiser category that is supposed to regard “typical cruising boats… a trend driven by the charter business… typical examples are often found to be in charter fleets…” one of the runners is the Halberg Rassy 340. For sure a great yacht but not one used in charter or a typical inexpensive boat, as they are supposed to be on this category. 
https://www.boat-duesseldorf.com/cgi-bin/md_boot/lib/pub/tt.cgi/Yacht_of_the_Year_2019.html?oid=59132&lang=2&ticket=g_u_e_s_t
Why the HR 340 this year on this category and the HR 44 on the Luxury yacht category last year? The HR 340, regarding other 34ft boats is not less expensive than the HR 44 regarding boats of that size.

And more, in that category that it is defined in one official place as referred above, on another official place it is defined quite differently, as: “the category Family-Cruiser comprises of yachts designed for sailing with friends and family on day trips or holidays but also for long-distance blue water cruising.” That covers about any type of cruising boat, from daysailers to bluewater boats. What a confusion!!!

https://www.europeanyachtoftheyear.com/family-cruiser
Mojito 8.88
Another yacht on the family category is the Mojito 10.88, a kind of Pogo with the particularity of having a small dinghy garage: a typical inexpensive boat used on the charter market? I don’t think so and this one is certainly a performance cruiser even if, like the Pogo, was not designed for racing.


This year on the performance cruiser category, “yachts designed for fast and competitive sailing on 
the race course, but catering for all creature comforts required for enjoyable holiday sailing as well” they nominated two cruiser racers, the Grand Soleil 48 performance and the Arcona 435, and the X 4.6 a boat that comes with a self taking jib, without a genoa traveler and with a running rig and winch set up only adapted to the use of the self taking jib.

This system besides not allowing a decent trimming on all points of sail, is limited to one size of sail. “Fast and competitive sailing on the race course” with a single frontal small sail that cannot be well trimmed. Seriously? As we all know X yachts have a cruiser-racer line and a good one allowing for racing and cruising, the XP line, not this line.

I regret to say that what was once an interesting competition and a great idea, with yachts evaluated by test sailors from some of the best European magazines, does not interest me anymore. It has become a nonsense competition where yachts are put on the different categories in a random way and where the categories are not clearly defined.

It is clear that having the yacht market an annual offer that allows choosing a European Yacht of the year, among all categories it has not an annual offer that allows the evaluation of yachts on well defined significant market categories.
It would make more sense to have a single annual yacht of the year every year and a European yacht contest regarding categories every three years, among all boats that had come to the market in that period.

That would give much more meaningful information and would allow clearly defined market segments and not this nonsense with four completely different types of yacht running on what I would call the main category, the one of the Family cruisers. Truly, according with their own definition of Family cruisers, only two of the 5 Yachts on contest belong to this category.

Monday, October 8, 2018

KUFNER 54: THE BEST DEAL?



Some boats are interesting for their design or sailing characteristics; this one is interesting mainly for its price, that is quite incredible, the lower by far, regarding this size and type of boat.

Why have you never heard about it? Well, this is a boat that exists since 2016 but with the exception of the last Genoa boat show, didn't go to boat shows neither pays publicity on sail magazines, so it is pretty much as if it did not exist in what regards public knowledge.

And you would ask: how they survive if they are not known? That's a good question and the answer is a curious one: like “More” this boat is built by a big charter company (Kufner) that fed up with the quality of the boats offered for the charter market, meaning all main market boats, decided to build his own boat.

Damir Kufner the owner of the charter company and the de designer of the boat says about it: ”Boost for this project was also the fact that European brands are getting more expensive, and their quality is declining, maintenance costs have risen, so it has become increasingly difficult to make profit in charter business. I simply had to do something about it. …
 I decided to start this project”.  "Despite the fact that the intention was not to create a light boat, as it is well known that the feeling of comfort is better on a heavy vessel, the boat is extremely fast due to her great hull shape and optimized helm sheet and keel. So, with a little luck, we produced a good-looking, comfortable, fast, and affordable sailboat.. "

Only the charter Kufner company has 8 Kufner 54 on its fleet and more companies in Greece and Croatia bought the Kufner 54 for their fleets even if having an unknown boat (for the clients) represents a disadvantage that seems to have been compensated by the price, that is 35% less than the one of an Oceanis 55 and includes much more equipment.

Some would say that a boat built for charter is not a good boat but they forget that charter use is not only an intensive use but one made by careless and many times ignorant sailors that  use and abuse the boat. That means that a charter boat suffers more than an owner’s boat not only in what regards hours of use but in what regards rude use and therefore it has to be a strong one.

For that reason toughness and good resistance to wear are some of the main characteristics that are appreciated on a charter boat. That and price.

The Kufner 54 seems to be handling well all those areas and it comes standard with many things that are options on other brands, some of them needed on a charter boat or on a boat used for extensive cruising: the boat comes standard with a generator, air condition, webasto heating, bimini, sprayhood, Sundeck tent, cockpit and sundeck cushions, led TV (80 cm), radio /CD/DVD, a good battery pack (4×180 Ah), a good tankage, a 110hp engine and even a teak deck, all for 279 000 euros.

And even if they don’t mention it the boat comes with 6 winches, a thing that not any of the main market boats have, and that allows a much better and practical sail control than what is possible with four, that is the normal offer on this segment. Plus I have heard that the boat sails well, if compared with other main market boats, although some tons heavier.

The boats are made in Croatia, the design is conservative but pleasant even if it does not offer anything new, with a tankage and stability not very different than the one offered by an Amel 50 at 1/3 of the price.

 If I was on the market for a main market 50 to 55ft boat I would have a better look at this one, I would charter one, I would visit the factory and if I was satisfied with the sailing, the building and finish(that looks acceptable) I certainly would consider it: the price is too good for not considering it as a valid option.


Friday, October 5, 2018

OCEANTEC 50: WHAT A LOOKER!


There is a small but growing market for really fast long range cruising boats based on solo racers, boats able to go fast with a duo crew, or even solo if one is a very good sailor with solo race experience.

Pogo and JPK, the two main builders of that type of boat, have a waiting list of about 2 years so it is natural that other builders appear on the market proposing similar products and that’s the case with Oceantec, a Slovenian shipyard with experience building racing boats, namely 40 class racers.

The Oceantec 50, designed by Humphreys, has a more modern design than the Pogo 50 (that has already some years) with an inverted bow e slightly less beam (5.09 to 5.16m) being the hulls very similar as well as the B/D and the displacement, about 9T.

That means that the Oceantec 50 has to have an interior not very different from the Pogo 50, a very light one, even if functional and comfortable. The interior layout is more interesting than the one of the Pogo allowing for a dinghy garage where a 2.40m dinghy can be stored inflated but the Pogo layout is designed around the space needed for a swing keel and if that option is taken on the Oceantec 50 this layout will not be possible.

And the point is that a boat with a draft of 3.25m (Oceantec 50) is far from being the best choice to cruise, not being able to get a place in many small ports and not being able to get a good protection in many anchorages. In that respect the Pogo is incomparably better offering a swing keel that goes from 1.5m to 3.5m.

Pogo 50
The Oceantec 50 will not be suited for handicap racing (bad handicap) and not very interesting for cruising due to excessive draft. Of course they can redesign the keel with a 2.5m draft but in that case the difference in needed ballast (to have the same RM) will be 1T (or more) making the boat substantially heavier than a Pogo and even so not comparable in what regards anchoring and port advantages (the Pogo has 1.5m draft).

It seems to me that they should redesign that interior making it suitable for a swing keel option or a lifting keel, much more adapted for the use intended for the boat and also change that interior to one that could be modified to accept one of the keel configurations mentioned above. Producing a boat with two completely different interiors, depending on the keel choice is expensive and does not make sense.

Another point to review is the tankage. They don’t mention water tankage capacity and that’s a bad sign, but if we take as reference the diesel tank (120 liter) it will be clearly insufficient for long range cruising. The Pogo 50, with a similar 55hp engine, has more than the double and it offers a water tankage of 560L.


Also, the winches positions, in what regards solo sailing, are suitable for two tillers not for the two wheel set-up that is showed on the drawings. Something wrong there, if two wheels are used then the winch setup should be changed.

The price seems good, depending on the quality of the interiors. At 630 000 euro (without VAT) it is just a bit more expensive than a Pogo 50 (10% more) being built the same way and with the same materials (Vinylester infused SAN foam core sandwich, Carbon and E-glass reinforcements) but we have to consider that the price of the Pogo includes already a swing keel (with all ballast on the keel) and that if such a keel is offered on the Oceantec the price would be higher, probably 20 000 euros more, at least.

Pogo 50
The Oceantec 50 comes with water ballast (2 tanks with 950 liters) not the Pogo but the truth is that all fast cruising boats I have seen coming on the market with water ballast, sooner or later, opt for not offering it anymore. The Cigale, one of the first, is a good example.

I guess that they only make sense while crossing oceans with a steady wind and only with at least medium to strong winds. Too much complication, with a significant loss of interior space for a slightly better performance. Without the water ballast system the price of the Oceantec 50 will certainly come down a bit.

 Below a Pogo 50, a similar type of boat, doing a very fast ARC having as crew the owner, the designer, the boat builder...and two class40 solo racers.



The Oceantec 50 is a gorgeous boat but needs some modifications to be a successful offer on the market that intends to captivate, the one of the very fast long range voyage boats with the hull based on solo racers.
https://www.racing-yachts.com/app/web/upload/pdfs/330.pdf
http://www.pogostructures.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/UK-POGO-50-BASIC-PRICE-2018.pdf

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

TWO WOMEN DOMINATED AN IMOCA RACE, THAT’S A FIRST!



For the more distracted, the IMOCA class are the boats that race the Vendee Globe, the top solo professional class in monohulls and briefly those boats will also be the top racing class in monohull crewed racing since the Volvo’s will be IMOCA on the next edition.



I  know it was some months back but I was sailing and that does not take the relevance of what happened on the Dhream cup 700 2018, a solo race open to the ones that will be making the Route du Rhum, amateurs and professionals. The race started at Trinité-sur-Mer, went around the Fastnet Rock (near the Irish coast) and came back to France, to Cherbourgh-en-Cotentin.

The 700 is a 736 nautical mile solo race and it is raced simultaneously with the Dhream cup 400 (428nm). On this one the minimum crew are two. Shame on the organization that lost the opportunity to make of the 400 a great amateur short crew event. I understand that the British channel is a difficult and dangerous place to sail solo, unless one is a professional, but why not make this an exclusively two crew race for amateurs?

Anyway the big news is that for the first time in solo racing history two women dominated and got the 1st and 2nd places on a IMOCA solo race beating all the men (10). That’s true that most of the best sailors and the best boats were not racing but they have beaten Yann Elies (3rd) and he is one of the best solo racers.



Congratulations to them, to the winner Sam Davies and to Isabelle Joshke, who arrived very close, 13 minutes after. The third, Yann Ellies lost almost one hour to Sam Davies.

The race had the beginning and the finish in very light conditions but went tough between the Fastnet and Land’s End. If you think that they were not fast think again, there were five multi 50 racing and they are normally faster than the IMOCA but on this occasion only two of them managed to be faster than Sam, the fastest of them arrived just less than half an hour before.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

THE FIRST REALLY FLYING IMOCA (OPEN 60)

What a beauty!!!

And I am really happy that the lucky skipper is Jérémie Beyou, a great sailor that in the last years never had a boat that would allow him to fight with the best. Now he has probably the fastest and more modern one.

A VPLP design, this is the first boat designed around the foils, I mean the foils were the central piece in all the design. The boat was designed starting by the foils and all the rest was designed to make them have the best performance. Absolutely incredible the IMOCA evolution in the last 10 years. And it is good to remember that the next Volvo (also IMOCA) will be flying boats too.

SILVERRUDDER 2018 - A VERY HARD SOLO RACE


This edition was very difficult and the majority of the over 100 boats racing did not complete the race. Lot of head winds and 40kn gusts, with strong tides against the wind made it almost impossible for the smaller boats, even if the waves were not big.



The Silverrudder is the biggest European coastal solo race reuniting some of the best amateurs from the North of Europe. It is raced in the Baltic around Funen Island in Denmark and it is innovative since it is not an handicap race but a race by boat sizes, a format that I would like to see expanded to more races. 



The classes are Keel boats: From 18.00 to 25.00 feet incl. From 25.01 to 30.00 feet incl. From 30.01 to 35.00 feet incl. From 35.01 to 40.00 feet incl. From 40.01 feet and upwards. Multihulls: From 18.00 to 28.00 feet incl. From 28.01 feet and upwards.

This is a good place to look at boat performances while being sailed solo and fast on coastal conditions, with upwind and downwind sailing. We can get some interesting facts:

The biggest boat was a fast Wasa 55 (24h42m02s) that seemed well suited to the conditions and solo sailing, narrow, light and not needing much sail. However it was slower than much smaller boats from the two categories below (medium and small). The fastest from the small boats, a Farr 280 was almost 2 hours faster.



We can see that the fastest boats by far (strong winds, small waves) were the Dragonfly Trimarans and again the smaller trimaran was faster (28 - 15h13m28s) than the bigger one, (35 – 17h02m44s) more cruising orientated.

We can see that theoretically faster bigger monohulls were handicapped by the superior difficulty to sail them solo and that only one was effectively faster (not by much) than much smaller boats, but easier to sail solo. The fastest monohull was a XP44 (19h09m59s) followed by a JPK10.80 (20h07m01s) a First 40 (20t35m18s) and by a small JPK 10.10.

We can also note that on average the bigger boats (only one bigger than 50 ft) were not faster than the two classes below, 35.01 to 40.00ft and 30.01 to 35.00ft.


Even more meaningful is that the abandon rate is much bigger in classes over 35ft (70%) than in between 30 and 35ft (54%).

This reinforces my opinion that smaller boats (over 30ft) in coastal conditions, sailed solo by an average sailor can be faster and safer than bigger boats solo sailed. The better the sailor the bigger the boat it can sail solo but as you can see here there was only a boat over 55ft, that was far from being the fastest among the big boats and that the average size on the unlimited class was about 43/44ft. And remember, most of the ones that are racing here are considerably better than the average sailor.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

BAVARIA IS BACK


Almost too good to be true: no layout, all jobs and all factories will be maintained. After a bankruptcy and difficult negotiations with several interested parties it was a Berlin investment group that made the deal (CMP). Bavaria is not only back but it is German again.

They went down after having managed to modernize most of its fleet but without time to produce, much less sell the boats. The new line of C boats (45, 50, 57 and 65) is among the most interesting offers on the market and probably they will be one of the best deals on next Dusseldorf boat show since they have to take an aggressive price policy to survive, at least till production returns to normal figures.

I saw the new C-line at last Dusseldorf boat show and I liked what I saw.
http://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2017/12/all-about-beautiful-new-bavaria-c45.html

Here a C45 detailed video test by the sailing magazine yacht: they are also positive about the boat.