Monday, March 18, 2019


The Swan 48 was the most interesting new design I saw at Dusseldorf. I had the opportunity to see the boat's plans and even had the pleasure to meet German Frers, a legend in his own time, the designer of this and almost all other Swans of the last two decades.

S&S and Frers previous Swan 48
This is the third Swan 48, the first was a beautiful S&S design (1971) that only out of the water shows how much outdated the hull design is. The second already a German Frers (1995) design, only shows its age on the bow and transom, a great design for its time, still modern in many ways, specially on the underwater body, that I find comparatively better than the cabin design.

The new Swan 48 is gorgeous, hull and overall design, an opinion that seems to be shared by many, with several boats already sold on the plans , before the building has even begun. I would say that this Swan is going to be one of the best sellers in Swan history, one of the few contemporary Swans that can be bought for less than a million euros.

The Swan 48 has a sailing program near to the one of the 65, that I saw at Dusseldorf, certainly with the same type of finish and decidedly aimed for fast cruising, short crew sailing with some ocasional racing. But racing is not the main drive of these boats. We can see that they have only four winches, no main sheet traveler and that all sail hardware is controlled on the steering wheels by push buttons controls, from the winches to the main sheet, all powered by electricity. 
S&S and Frers previous Swan 48

The Yacht has  a dinghy garage, a sail locker and an interesting layout that can be adapted to owner's specifications. For living aboard for considerable periods with all comforts and lots of space this boat is perfect for two couples with the added advantage of not needing a crew, not even if something goes wrong with all those electric aids and the boat has to be sailed manually. An experienced couple will not have any problem sailing it, kind of an ideal size for maximum comfort without being overwhelmed by size.

As a design and program this is a boat from the same family of the X line of X yachts, between the X 4-6 and the X6, but a more expensive boat with an even better interior, probably similar to the one of the 65 and that means flawless quality with impeccable good taste with just a very slight conservative flavor on the choice of materials and finish.

The only thing I don't like on the design is the single deep rudder that will raise problems and concerns on the med while med mooring. There are two things I would like to see creatively addressed in what regards design: the sprayhood and the bimini.

S&S and Frers previous Swan 48
I explain: on modern boats, and this one is no exception, there is a garage for the sprayhood but  almost always it concerns only the steel frame. It makes no sense, who is going to dismount the sprayhood before stowing away the frame, just to have a lot of work mounting it later? 

A garage with space for a fully mounted sprayhood is a must and one that Swan could provide. In what regards the bimini it is even worse. They are indispensable for the ones that sail on the Med or Caribbean, and that means the majority, but they come always as an afterthought and most of the times not well integrated on the yacht lines.

Many brands have their models designed with sprayhood garages (even if not big enough) but none proposes a bimini garage and why not? Simply because the boat is designed first and only as an afterthought  the bimini is designed, as if it was not an almost indispensable item on a cruising boat. 

It is time to change that and as it is happening now with the sprayhoods, a bimini garage will appear sooner or later. It is not difficult if it is previewed on the boat design since the beginning and who better to come up with such innovation than Swan?

Friday, March 8, 2019


Remember the Neo 350? I have posted about it 4 years ago: beautiful design by Ceccarelli, on the lines of the bigger 400, that had already proven to be an incredibly fast boat, specially with strong winds:

The first Neo 350 is on the water, the second almost finished and a third on the way, time to have a look at the boat and to see if it is as nice as the drawings. And yes, it is  a beautiful boat, slim, very elegant, looking bigger than a 35ft cruiser-racer.

Let me tell you that after having meet  Paolo Semearo, the technical director, there is no doubt in my mind that this boat is made by sail enthusiasts for sail enthusiasts. Yes, they want to make a living out of it but the funny thing is that talking to them you understand that the money is not the more important issue here but making beautiful fast boats.

They don't make boats for making money, they make boats because they love building and sailing fast boats and they even say that they know that it is impossible to make real money building this type of boats. They just survive, but doing what they like, with great quality, attention to the details and even adjusting each boat to the needs and demands of each sailor.

This attitude is hard to find today on the boat building business. Among small builders they are not unique in their passion about sailing boats and sailing,  but there are so few that they deserve to be mentioned and applauded.

 Of course, this means that the boat can be made with vinylester or epoxy resins with carbon reinforcements, it can have one rudder blade or two, that can have a tiller or two wheels, that it can have different types of keels and even small variations in ballast to make it more adapted to IRC or ORC racing and the interior can be slightly modified to suit owner's tastes.

Unidirectional E-Glass / pvc foam composite by vacuum infusion used on the two versions and on the more high tech they use hull carbon reinforcements, epoxy resin, carbon bulkheads and keel frames, steel/weldox blade with lead CNC machined bulb,  carbon rudder,carbon mast and boom, carbon bowsprit and carbon tiller.

The displacement on the two versions is the same and all the weight saved goes to the ballast that is bigger on the high-tech version. That will give it a not very different performance in light winds but with stronger winds the boat with more ballast will be quicker. With demanding conditions the boat should be a blast to sail and also very seaworthy.

The predicted displacement turned out to be a bit optimistic and the real displacement is 4400kg, the ballast is 1700kg on the ORC maximized version. The IRC maximized version can have more ballast. Even on the ORC version the B/D is already 39% and that and a beamy hull, with a big hull form stability, will make it a hugely powerful sailboat.

Paolo says that the only boat on the water is a more cruising oriented version with all cruising equipment, the low spec version and that the owner is an amateur racer that has made only local races, all light to medium wind races. Even so the boat proved to be faster on the water than a top X35.

The X35 is one of the two boats from the racing line of X yachts, faster than the XP line and due to its hull characteristics the X35 has its better performance in light to medium winds (much narrower boat) and on stronger conditions the Neo 350 should not only be faster but much faster, especially the higher specs version that is designed to be very near to the maximum rating allowed for ORC group C, with a CDL of 9.76.

Curiously in what regards displacement, ballast and draft the Neo 350 and the X35 are very similar (4400kg - 4300kg; 1700kg - 1700kg; 2.09m - 2.15m) but the LWL is bigger on the Neo (9.65m -   9.12m) and the beam is much bigger, all of it brought back on the Neo, more classical on the X yacht (3.65m - 3.27).

With similar displacement and ballasts, the Neo 350 much bigger hull form stability (due not only to a much bigger beam but also to the hull design, with all beam brought back) will give it a considerably bigger overall stability and that allows it to carry a bigger sail area for a given wind.

I would say that in light winds the X35 is probably faster but with medium and stronger winds the Neo 350 will not only be faster but much faster. For the ones that want to sail solo or in duo ( to compensate the weight of a crew seated on the side) the Neo 350 can have 350L of water ballast that can be passed from one side to another (two tanks).

I would say that option would not only make sense to sail offshore in duo as it will also be a very interesting way of increasing the water tankage for ocean crossings. The standard tankage is 150L water and 60L diesel.

It is yet early to know the real sailing potential of the Neo 350 but I would say that the hull looks beautifully designed, the numbers seem right and on the video it sails very well. We will soon know how it performs racing since the two first boats, the two existing boats will be doing the ORC World Championship in Croatia, in just about two months and I hope at least one of them will be on the Middle Sea Race.

 I have no doubts that they will be very fast in real time, it is more of a question to know if the boats will be competitive in compensated time. I also don't have doubts that the boat with a torpedo and a bit more ballast will be even faster in oceanic conditions. That's the stupid thing about handicap racing: they don't make the boat as fast and seaworthy as it can be but as competitive it can be for a given rating and most of the time that results on a slower boat.

My enthusiasm is a bit more moderate regarding the boat interior. Yes it has nice features as the furniture to be part of the boat, made in fiberglass and the open layout but I cannot say the same about that idea to close the cabinets with carbon "sail". If the boat is used for cruising and they are full of jars and bottles I foresee a lot of stuff spilled while going hard upwind.

Above the Ofcet 32, Below JPK 10.10
Also hard to open them without everything coming out. I suppose that at request and at a cost they can be closed with veneer or sliding transparent plastic material but it is a pity that they do not come standard on the more cruising oriented version.

The other thing I don't like is the poor functionality of the galley and not only due to the opening of the cabinets. On a small galley like that all space has to be functional and polyvalent.  As it is it will be ver difficult to prepare a decent meal there.

And it would not be difficult, heavy or expensive to make it better, the only things needed would be a removable veneer board over the stove, that would provide additional working space and instead of the single sink (that does not cover all available space) a double aluminium one, with a board closing one of the sinks, a board that would work as cutting place to prepare food.

Regarding storage for cruising and racing the boat is well thought of: for racing the table can be lowered and the cushions taken away providing a great place to have sails ready to deploy at the bow. For cruising the boat has a swim ladder and a good space aft, under the cockpit, for storage with an access that doesn't look very easy or practical, at least while sailing.

Of course, for cruising one of the aft cabins has to be turned into storage space and the boat will be suited only for a couple, or a couple with two small children. An interesting boat as a very fast cruiser-racer even if some details have to be reviewed in what regards cruising. Nothing big or difficult.

The prices are not high for the quality: the vinylester version will start at 170 000 euros and the epoxy one with carbon reinforcements at 190 000 euros.

Sunday, March 3, 2019


Fantastic looking new boat with a very curious story: the owner wanted a top cruiser-racer, one that allowed him to win races in real time and that was suited also for some cruising with the family. The boat he was interested in was the Swan 50 but the 3.5m draft made it unsuitable for racing and cruising on the Baltic, his cruising and racing ground.

He talked with Håkan Södergren, a Swedish NA known for designing narrow hulled fast boats, among them the (Swedestar 370 and 415) but without real experience in top sailboat racing design and asked him to design a kind of a Swan 50 but with a lifting keel and the result is the Shogun 50.
Above Shogun 50, Below Swan 50
In reality Södergren did not really make a kind of Swan 50 with a lifting keel, he let himself be carried away by his preference for narrow boats and designed a boat that in what regards the bow and length resembles the Swan 50 but a much more narrower boat with a more conventional transom.

Maybe the conditions on the Baltic, with short period small waves and with a lot of variable and weak to medium winds, justifies a boat more specified to light winds and upwind sailing but I believe that in a more broad range of circumstances the Swan 50 is a better option in what regards racing and hull design.

Comparing dimensions (m and kg) first Shogun then Swan: HL - 15.22, 15.24; LWL - 14.20, 14.00; Beam - 3.88, 4.20; Displacement - 7800, 8250; Ballast -3500, 3450; B/D 45%, 42%, Draft - 3.50/2.00, 3.50; SA/D - 34.9, 39.4; D/L - 76.2 - 83.7.

Above Shogun 50, Below Swan 50
We can see that the main difference is the beam that is considerably bigger on the Swan, that the ballast, draft and type of keel are very similar, having the Shogun  50kg ballast more and that in what regards displacement the Shogun is 450 kg lighter.

I don't believe that they will manage to build the boat with that weight, assuming that is not specifically for sailing only on the Baltic but also to race on Oceanic conditions and has the needed strength for that.

That is hard to believe that Rosättra shipyard, where quite traditional sailboats are built ( Linjett ), without a big experience building in carbon and having the considerable added weight of a lifting keel can build a considerably lighter yacht than the Swan that is built by Nautor, with a huge experience with carbon boats and designed by JK that has a big experience designing very light top racers.

Shogun 50
Sure, the smaller beam of the Shogun 50 will contribute to make it lighter but that will be compensated by the extra weight of the lifting keel. We will see when the boat is built if they can make ir to the specified weight.

I would say that it is to be expected a deviation between 200 and 500 kg and that will change considerably those ratios.Anyway we can see that already the swan has a bigger SA/D indicating a more powerful boat, meaning, that even considering that they can build to specs, the superior hull form stability of the Swan is not compensated by the bigger RM generated by the Shogun superior B/D. We can see also that the Shogun is a lighter boat with a smaller D/L.

Both boats have all beam brought back but I prefer the Swan transom design that is more innovative and will contribute to a superior hull form stability at bigger heel angles, close upwind with full power.
Swan 50

The superior finesse (lower CF) of the Shogun and smaller D/L will give it an advantage in lighter winds and maybe a slightly better performance upwind but I don't believe that advantage can be compensated by the Swan better performance in all other points of sail, specially on a beam reach and on a broad reach.

Anyway, I cannot wait to see the two boats competing on the water and I have no doubt that the Shogun 50 will be a very, very fast boat, as the Swan 50 is. You have only to look at the results on the last Middle Sea Race where in compensated it made only 6th in ORC but in real time was the first cruiser-racer to arrive, faster than a Swan 82 and faster than a Mylius 60 only beaten by race boats.

A final word about the interiors that are much a question of taste, assuming that the ones of the Shogun have the high quality of those of the Swan, that are not only bright but also refined with a bit of classic taste on the leather finish on many details, on the Shogun they seem to me almost military in design and color. Expensive certainly, but kind of dark and cold.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


It gave me a lot of boring work but finally the Index is updated. I will try to maintain it like that. I have noticed that many use it....and it was more than a  year outdated. Apologizes for that.

For the ones that are searching a particular boat the blog search engine works relatively well.

For the ones that want to follow my particular cruising seasons, that are on the blog under the name of Almas'log, the more recent years have passed to my facebook page. Lots of photos and information about the Eastern Med. You can look by years. Only on the present year there are more stuff on the facebook (it will be cleaned later). Past years are occupied almost exclusively with Almas's log.

Thursday, February 28, 2019


The GS 48 was not at Dusseldorf and that was a disappointment. The boat was nominated for boat of the year so it was expected at the show but they did not finish the one meant to be there on time and they opted to show again the GS 52 LC, from the cruising line.

Performance above, Race below
But the GS 48 is on the water, there are photos and movies, there is more knowledge about the boat including ballast, so I will try to sumarize my general impressions, regarding design and building characteristics of the two versions, that are in fact three since the boat can be built using vinylester resin/eglass, epoxy/eglass and epoxy/carbon, having as core on the sandwich, close cell PVC foam.

Below, Solaris 47
Only the two more sophisticated versions use infusion techniques, the basic one (vinylester resin) uses hand lamination and has the main bulkhead in composite, glassed to the hull. On  the two other versions the four main bulkheads are all in composite.

There is a huge difference in building quality and techniques that makes the weight difference between the carbon version and the performance version seem too small, considering that it has also a 40% lighter furniture, carbon spars and a considerably bigger draft. The weight difference is only 1000kg.

The more inexpensive version weights 11500kg while the Race version weights 10500kg. The weight of the carbon race version is on the heavy side for a boat that is designed with top racing in mind, the bigger Mylius 50 weights 9900kg, the older  Marten 49 weighs 9500kg.

Above Swan 50, below GS 48
With the low tech version (performance), it is the opposite and the GS 48 Performance is lighter than boats with a superior built, using epoxy infusion and also light furniture boats like the XP 50 (11900 kg) or the Solaris 47 (12600kg). Maybe that can be explained with a significant difference in ballast?

In fact the XP 50 has a 5140kg ballast (43%), the Solaris 47 has 4320kg (34%) and the Grand Soleil 48 performance 4519 kg (39%) and yes, on the XP50 that difference in weight can be partially explained due to a bigger ballast (even if the the XP 50 has  a better built than the GS (basic version) but not on the Solaris 47 that is not only slightly smaller as it has also a superior built (vacuum infusion).

Note that Grand Soleil continues to not provide the ballast of the GS48 in neither of their versions. The ballast I mentioned was obtained through an unofficial source and can be wrong. Regarding draft the standard one on the race version is 3.00 meter and on the performance version 2.60.

Above Sly 54, below Solaris 47
The draft can be also 2.80 on both versions but what is going to limit more the cruising potential on the Mediterranean is the huge spade rudder, that does not vary with the versions, and that should have a draft of about 2.40m. That should raise a lot of concerns while med mooring to a quay.

The GS 48 has a classical type of hull, a bit like the one of the XP 50 but with more beam  than the the XP, more beam than the Solaris 47 (4.50, 4.41, 4.36m) but much less than the Oceanis 48 or the Hanse 495 type of hull (4.74, 475m) , comparable in beam to the Jeanneau SO 479 (4.49) but with a hull with finer entries and a different transom.

And that transom is a bit odd. Marco Lostuzzi, the boat designer seems to like that shape a lot because more than 10 years ago he was already designing it on the Sly yachts and since then they don't seem to have changed much.
I confess that I didn't like those transoms 10 years ago and I like them even less now. Sure, they will provide a very good performance with light winds, they will make the hull stiffer at relatively low angles of heel but will not provide any extra hull form stability at higher heel angles, like on the ones used to go hard close hauled.

Just compare that transom to the ones of the Solaris 47, Swan 50 and you will see what I mean. Sure both boats, contrary to the GS have the max beam pulled aft but even on fast designs that don't have that characteristic (J99) we can see that the transom curve is much less abrupt than the one on the Sly or on the GS, giving hull form stability and support when the boat sails with high angles of heel.

On both GS 48 versions the running rigging is completely different: the race version uses a traditional set up with 6 winches plus two!! for working the back-stay. Seems complicated and expensive having two winches just for the back-stay instead of a hydraulic system. The performance version has only 4 winches, near the wheel.

The race version uses lateral travelers, like the ones we start to see in several boats,  to trim perfectly a jib or a small genoa. I have no real racing experience and I don't know how helpful they are in comparison to the 3D systems that are used on racing. They seem expensive but easy to work with...but they will add weight too.

On the performance version the 4 winches will be enough if one uses a self tacking jib (that is included) but with a genoa or a geenaker two more will be needed to work the sails with ease. For sure they can be mounted on the place where they are mounted on the race version, on the side, on a nice place to work with them. I believe that, with that addition, the running  rigging will work just fine.

There is a nice traveler for the genoa over the cabin  but it does not have a traveler for the mainsheet (boom). I confess that I don't understand why. Sure that it will only allow a bit better mainsail trim but is it not what  performance boats and performance sailing is about?

It is supposed that the ones that buy performance boats like to trim their sails as best as possible, it is part of the fun and the same can be said in what regards the six winch set-up, in what regards easy and fast trimming. That's an important factor that distinguishes performance boats from non performance boats: the ability to better, faster, and easier trim the sails.

This line of thought applies also to the the general concept of the two versions. One that buys a performance boat will want it light and powerful, at least if one has the means to pay for it and most owners use them only sporadically for racing and much more for cruising, so they will want a well built light boat but also one with a light but beautiful interior.

That happens on other carbon boats, for instance the Arcona 465 or the Mylius 50, but on the Grand Soleil 48, if  the interior is very nice (but heavier) on the low specs version, on the higher specs version the interior looks ugly and badly designed.

It can be very light and  it can look nice and be well designed. As an example of bad design look at those interrupted metal bars over shelves that are supposed to hold books in the salon or hold personal items and clothes in the cabin: it is obvious that they will not work for what they were designed for and are completely useless, them and the shelves.

Surely on the luxury market there are sailors that can and want to have a top performer with a very nice and good cruising interior and in that respect the Grand Soleil 48 fails to provide, they will have to look elsewhere and it is a pity because in what regards cruising if offers, contrary to other yachts, a good storage space, having a sail locker at the bow and a big locker aft under the cockpit.

Unfortunately it does not offer any cockpit locker under the seats since all the space is used on the aft cabins. Annoying since those lockers are very useful to store small items that are used frequently and reaching or finding something small on the big storage space under the cockpit will be complicated.

Obviously the boat price will be specially important, mainly on the low specs version and it seems they have made all the efforts to have a basic GS48 at the lowest possible cost. That version can be interesting as an alternative for the ones that are not specially interested in a performance boat but on a fast, no thrills, safe and elegant boat with a nice interior, kind of an upgrade in what regards building quality and stability over mass production boats, but regarding that it will only make sense if they can make it less expensive or at least with the same price of the 46LC (considering that it is bigger).

Unfortunately, like on the ballast, they don't disclose the prices. I mean if you ask them they will tell you, but I don't like this kind of secrecy policy that leads nowhere. Sailors should be provided with all the information regarding sailboats on the market. If the numbers are good their disclosure can only be favorable in what regards selling boats and shipyard reputation.

The Grand Soleil 48, even if not exciting or innovative, offers a kind of classical elegance that will not pass unnoticed and being more beamy than what it looks, if the ballast numbers are true, it will be a powerful boat and a fast one. Regarding its performance on the race course we will have to wait and see but I  don't believe it will be a match for boats like the Mylius 50, the Swan 50 or even the older Marten 49.

Friday, February 22, 2019

2019 CARIBBEAN 600

This edition was marked by the Mod 70 trimaran Argus capsize, just before the race. The start was delayed to recover the boat that, having in consideration the accident, had a good race performance, finishing 2nd overall.

Argo capsized viewed from Maserati
The Caribbean 600 becomes  bigger every year and on the 2019 edition 75 yachts participated. Unfortunately here a small yacht is a 50ft boat and not many with less than that make the race, with the exception of pure racing boats and in what regards those the 40 class racers are very popular here, and with a good reason.

Looking at the video from the beginning of the race, with the yachts pounding hard upwind, we could wonder why, but the fact is that those images are misleading, this is mostly a beam reach/broad reach race with some downwind sailing and only two small upwind legs.

Cover Cookson 50, above the winning class 40
The class 40 racers and derived cruisers, like the Pogo, that have a poor performance on the Mediterranean races and races with lots of upwind sailing, have a good performance here.

Regarding their performance it is funny that cruiser sailors tend to have about them a more positive overall image than what they deserve, while it is the opposite with racing sailors, specially med racers. I have heard many racers saying that they are slow boats.

Pogo 50 Maremosso
In fact they are excellent designs and very fast for what they are designed to do and are size by size almost unbeatable on a transat. On this race we can see that what they lose on the smaller upwind legs is much less than what they gain on the longer beam reach/broad reach legs. 

They are not great sailing with the wind dead downwind but they don't lose that much and since situations of weak winds are very rare here, they had an overall good performance.

Marten 49
The 40 class racers were the first 40ft boats to finish, among much bigger yachts and very close to two very fast carbon racers that made a great race, a Ker 46 and a Carkeek 47 and at only three hours from the fastest 50ft racer, the carbon canting keeler Cookson 50  Kuka 3.

And it was not only one 40 class racer that was fast but a trio, that came few minutes apart, leaving behind a Swan 80,  a Swan 66, a Volvo 60 and 2nd Cookson 50. 

Ker 46 Lady Mariposa
If the conditions suited the 40class racers, they suited also the two Pogos cruisers racing, a 12.50 and a 50. Of course, I am not talking about positions in handicap racing where they will always be too penalized. I am talking about positions in real time and about sailing fast.

The Pogo 50 arrived in the middle of the slower 40 class racers, ahead of a Santa Cruz 52, a Whitbread 60 and way ahead of a Farr 65 and a XP 55. It was the 2nd 50ft cruiser racer to arrive, not far from the all carbon Marten 49, a hugely more expensive sailboat and a very fast one too.

Pogo 12.50 Hermes
The Pogo 12.50 made even comparatively better, it was the first 40ft cruiser racer to arrive, very close to the Farr 65, ahead of the XP 55, the XP 44, a Swan 57 and a Solaris 44 leaving the 2nd 40ft cruiser racer, a well sailed J122 at considerable distance.

For the ones that like to understand how the performance of the sailboats varies with different types of hulls, according to different types of conditions and sail positions, I recommend to follow the race of the Pogo 12.50 Hermes and the J145 Katara on the race plotter, using predict wind data.

They fought all the race and it is very curious to see how the Pogo went away quickly on a beam reach and how the J145 closes while beating upwind. Fascinating stuff.

The J145 after having lost a lot of time on the long beam reach leg ended up recovering on the downwind and upwind smaller legs finishing very near but ahead of the Pogo. But it is good to remember that we are talking about a 40ft versus a 45ft. The other fast 40fter, a J122 made a great race and finished in compensated well ahead of the Pogo (20th and 27th)but in real time way back, needing more  4 hours and a half to finish the race.

Bieker 53
Without Cheyenne or Rambler, with ideal conditions, the multihulls had a great race and at the finish the distance from the two MOD 70 (Maserati won) to the first monohull, a Volvo Open 70, was huge.

Surprisingly the Volvo arrived with the 53ft Bieker catamaran very close behind. It seems that when it does not capsize (as on the last edition) the Bieker is a hell of a sailing machine leaving  at a great distance not only the bigger Gunboat 62 but also the foiling DNA F4 and the two older Multi 50 derived trimarans. Quite a performance.

Mod 70 Maserati
Also good the performance of the foiling Black Pepper code1  Black Soul (40ft carbon daysailer), that arrived just a little bit ahead of the Pogo 12.50 and very good the performance of a 37ft racer, a Reichel&Pugh design (Taz) that arrived after the Pogo and side by side with the XP 55.