Friday, January 21, 2022

THE NEW BOREAL 44.2, A GREAT ALUMINUM BLUEWATER CRUISER

More than 10 years ago Boreal stormed the aluminum sailboat market with a boat that would be a huge success and would launch a new brand that would occupy a significant place among voyage aluminum boat builders.

The boat had modern lines but looked unrefined in what regards looks and interior design, even so, the boat qualities make it a success probably because it was designed by a sailor, Jean-François Delvoye that had finished a 6-year circumnavigation with the family, on a boat that he had built himself. After the circumnavigation, he had very clear ideas about what the improvements should be to implement on a voyage boat to become the ideal boat to make the kind of cruising he had done, his perfect yacht.

His ideas were enriched by the ones of great sailors he met on his voyages, all with a taste for sailing in remote and isolated places (he spent two years sailing in Patagonia). Obviously, if he was a different type of sailor, not sailing with a big family (4 children), or without a taste for sailing in high-latitudes, cold and deserted places, the ideal yacht would be very different and I can assure you that there is not something like the "best yacht in the world", being the "best yacht" very different, for different sailors.

He wanted: "a ballasted boat with a centerboard going windward, without slamming into the waves and with a soft helm...an ergonomic cockpit with 2 sheltered outside seats...a real visibility for the helmsman while sailing and maneuvering...a real watertight door... an interior station with a huge chart table, allowing you to watch at 360° from inside while navigating...big storage capacities and important gas and water tanks....the possibility to store big stuff ...a roomy and welcoming cockpit...a well thought ventilation...a center boarder to beach and to go in so many places you cannot go into with a big draught."

And he had managed all this on the 44, even if things like real visibility for the helmsman or that  360º interior view from a station were relative, and the choice of a centerboard implied a considerable loss in sail performance, except downwind, but being this a voyage boat, trade winds would be by far the predominant, and that disadvantage less important.

For minimizing the speed disadvantage due to excessive weight, a centerboarder has to have a worse AVS and worse safety stability than a bluewater fin-keeled boat, with a considerable draft and a bulbed keel. Dutch centerboarders, which today are almost extinct, did not go that way and for offering a similar AVS and safety stability had around a 50%B/D.

That made them very slow boats, even downwind, if the wind was not strong, and unable to plan in stronger winds. That is not the case of the French centerboarders, especially the bigger ones (smaller metal boats are proportionally heavier) and the original Boreal 44 had a 36%B/D, which can be considered high if we compared to the one of the OVNI 450 (32%), especially if we consider that the ballast in the OVNI is inside the boat and the one of the Boreal was mostly on a kind of short keel, from midships to the back of the hull.

Note that to be approved as Class A the boat has to have a minimum AVS but that minimum decreases with the boat size (with mass) and on a boat with 10 430kg like the Boreal 44, that minimum is only 100º, even if that is considered by most as unsuitable for a bluewater boat. 

Note that I am not saying that the Boreal 44 has only a 100º AVS, quite the contrary, due to the buoyancy of the partially closed dodger, with a waterproof door, the AVS is higher than the one of the OVNI 450, but the safety stability would be close, or very similar, and very far from the one of a bluewater boat with a keel, like a Hallberg Rassy or an X-yacht.

The cabin and dodger buoyancy will not affect positively the stability curve except in angles very near 90º (or over), and that means that when the boat is knocked down, it will not affect the force that the RM is making for righting the boat. The part of the stability curve that is used for righting a boat from high heel angles is what I call safety stability, and if the AVS Boreal is good (due to cabin and dodger buoyancy), that is not the case with the safety stability (due to the low B/D).

Note also that this type of centerboarders can lift the board up and still remain with the same stability, and in bad weather with the centerboard up, they will not trip on the keel when the boat is hit laterally by a breaking wave. That allows them to dissipate the wave energy sliding laterally, while a traditional sailboat, with a large and deep immersed keel, would have the bigger part of the wave energy transformed in a rotating movement. 

This is an advantage centerboards have over other sailboats, especially the ones with keels with a large area, but does not diminish the problem when the boat is knocked down, and that can happen just by a huge wind gust or a big breaking wave, leaving it exposed for a relatively long time, on the side, almost without remaining stability, at the mercy of the next wave. 

That is why it makes sense for these type of boats to be big, 44ft or bigger, sizes that give them big overall stability (hull form stability and displacement) that makes more difficult, or even improbable, a capsize on of very rare sea and weather conditions.  That is also why the SA/D of this type of boat is normally smaller than the one that can sustain a knockdown without any significant problem (being able to right itself up immediately) and the smaller SA/D also diminishes the knockdown risk.

The experience shows that capsizes with this type of sailboats are rare, especially with this size or bigger, and even if I consider it necessary to know about its limitations (to sail it accordingly) the Boreal 44 is a seaworthy boat, with a big hull form stability and big overall stability.

Note the small keel where the ballast is located

The new one will have a bigger hull form stability due to a bigger beam (4.39 to 4.30m) but a considerably smaller B/D 28.7% to 36.4%. The ballast is the same on both boats but while the older model light displacement was 10 430kg, the new one displaces 13 250kg, a huge difference for such a  small difference in length (13.80 to 13.87).

Because both displacements are in lightship condition, the difference in weight can only partially be attributed to a bigger beam and higher freeboards, but it has to be due also to a more heavily built boat, and that can be good on this type of boat, but not the absence of the correspondent increase in ballast, to have the same B/D.

Of course, everything is a trade-off and the 1027kg extra ballast (probably more because it would have to be located inside the hull) that the new boat would need to have the same B/D as the older model, would make the boat even heavier and slower, considering that it is already 2820kg heavier than the previous model.

With this B/D and considering that the ballast is in a small keel outside the hull, in what regards safety stability this boat should not be far from the OVNI 450, which displaces 11 550kg, while the previous model would have considerable bigger safety stability and AVS. However, the overall stability will be bigger on the Boreal 44.2 due to the bigger displacement.

Boreal 44. The 44.2 will have a similar layout
And that's the only thing I don't like on the new version (much bigger displacement and smaller B/D), even if the overall stability is bigger this is going to be a slower sailboat, even with slightly bigger sails. The older version had the same sail area in the main and genoa (45 and 55m2) and only the staysail (this boat has a cutter rig) passed from 22 to 26m2. Displacing more 2820kg and with practically the same sail area and more beam, this boat is going to be considerably slower than the original Boreal 44.

Boreal 44. The 44.2 interiors will be similar

All the rest seems much nicer, from the hull design to the overall design. The boat does not seem any more amateur-designed, it seems well designed and modern, especially in regards to the outside.

Regarding the inside, the apparently larger window surfaces are only cosmetic and don't translate in interior significantly bigger "windows" neither by a more luminous interior (having as reference the 47.2).

If compared to the interior of the last models of other brands of voyage aluminum sailboats, the ones from Boreal seem of good quality and practical, but show clearly that they are not designed by a top interior designer and lack style, beauty, and design quality. I hope that the improvements in design refinement, that the new boat clearly shows on the outside, is going to be followed by an equivalent upgrade in interior design quality.

The 47.2 interior that is given as a reference for the 44.2 

Another thing that deserves to be pointed out is that the centerboard on the Boreal 44.2 is smaller than on the Allures 45.9, OVNI 450, or Garcia 45 (2.48 draft to 2.90m in all of them) and this will contribute to worse upwind performance, that is not a really good one in all of them (if compared with a bluewater fin keel yacht): in the light wind due to the extra ballast. And in strong winds due to less power, there is not a similar and proportional increase in RM when the boat heels to bigger heel sailing angles (higher CG).

Boreal 44
Aluminum sailboats are generally more expensive than most fiberglass boats and the huge increase in aluminum price did not help. This boat costs at the shipyard (France), standard with two sails, without electronics, without taxes 538 525€ that is slightly less than what costs an Xc-45 and also slightly less than a Saare 46, but a bit more than the also Aluminum Allures 45.9.

A correct price, taking into account the quality of the building and the high resistance of the hull (that has a bow that can break ice) and that is reflected in a long waiting list. If you order one now, it will be delivered only in 2025.

Monday, January 17, 2022

OVNI 370, A STRONG SMALL SAILBOAT FOR EXTENSIVE CRUISING

For extensive cruising, but like most of the nautical press seems to consider, not really a bluewater boat for long ocean voyages. Sure, in any boat you can make extensive ocean voyages, even in the most unsuited for them, but not taking the same risks or with the same comfort.

Regarding comfort, it would be perfect, but long ocean passages imply less control over the weather one will get, and even if they are still trying to certificate this boat as a Class A boat (and they will end up managing that) the stability in what regards AVS (and the implied safety stability) is going to be close to what is demanded as a minimum.

The comparatively higher STIX number (due to size, displacement, and small sails)  would indicate a  seaworthy boat for the size, but the RM at 90º will be small (for the displacement), and if knocked down this boat will take a considerable time to rise, especially if there is water in the sails, and will be exposed, with little remaining stability, to the next wave, that can invert it. Once inverted this very beamy boat with a relatively small AVS will need many minutes before a right-sized wave can upright it.

To be fair the problem could be bigger if the OVNI had not a big cabin with a considerable height that will add a lot of buoyancy to that area and will make the boat easier to return to the upright position. The bigger problem will be at high angles of heel, 80 or 90º, where the righting arm will be small and the boat will take time to recover from a knock-down, making it not difficult to capsize if hit by another wave.

As a class A sailboat, you have to consider it as one that passes the mandatory requirements by a narrow margin and I had already made an article saying, and explaining, why the assumption that a Class A boat is a bluewater boat is misleading. There are Class A boats that pass the certification by a very narrow margin and others by a huge margin and the seaworthiness can be very different even if both are Class A.

Just to make this clear let me tell you that some mini racers have been certified as  Class A boats and even if a mini-racer is very seaworthy for a 22ft boat, nobody would say that it is a bluewater boat. That is why I wrote an article saying that the RCD needs a new Class, one with higher stability specifications, to end up with these confusions and allow the consumer to identify and separate (in what regards stability) a bluewater boat, from the ones that look like bluewater boats.

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2019/05/please-rcd-certification-for-bluewater.html

But this does not mean that the OVNI 370 is not a very interesting coastal cruiser with offshore ability, a very strong boat with options that can make it very suited for extensive cruising and anyway most sailboats cruise in the med, Baltic, Caribbean or Bahamas, without never crossing Oceans, and many sailors never sail with more than F7 or F8 while doing coastal cruising, and that is possible due to the relative precision of weather forecasts.

This type of sailboats, centerboarders with practically all the ballast inside the hull can, in bad weather, raise their centerboards, and that will allow them not to trip on the keel while the boat is hit laterally by a wave, and therefore can dissipate the wave energy sliding laterally, while a traditional sailboat with a large and deep immersed keel would have the bigger part of the wave energy transformed in a rotating movement and this is an advantage over other type of boats, but does not diminish the problem if the boat is knocked down, and that can happen with just a huge gust of wind.

Even if tripping over the keel is less a problem for modern sportive boats with a narrow foil and a torpedo keel, the performance of a centerboarder, particularly a beamy one, in what regards dissipating wave energy this way is unmatched, except by a cat, and that is also why cats raise the daggerboards in very nasty weather.

The bigger beam gives cats bigger stability, even if the ballast on the bottom of a centerboard contributes to leveling the field. Anyway, a 36ft cat, if it can manage a Class A certification, does that also narrowly, and it has to be a relatively heavy one.

For those that dispense a good sailing performance, especially upwind and with light wind, the OVNI 370 makes a lot of sense, with a lifting centerboard (that dispenses any hydraulics, an easy and low maintenance system) that allows for beaching the boat, access to practically everywhere and to take shelter anchoring very near the coast.

The interior is nice and very bright allowing for a true deck saloon with a view, a rare thing these days. The very big beam (3.99m) the large freeboard and the considerable height of the cabin make possible a huge interior that is maximized by the bow and stern shape. To see how good the interior is go here and click on Virtual Visit, one of the best I have seen: https://www.alubat.com/la-gamme/ovni-370/

Of course, all this is translated in a lesser sail performance, the lateral increased height of the boat gives it bigger windage, the extra beam, the shape of the transom and the large forward sections increase drag, diminish performance in light wind and upwind and the bigger ballast inside the boat makes the boat heavier, and diminishes the overall sailing performance.

So, a lot of compromises regarding sailing, but as positive points, I may add that today all boats designed by reputable cabinets are well designed and even if miracles should not be expected the sail performance is not bad and the very deep centerboard (3.08 meters) contributes for minimizing the less good upwind performance.

In what regards cruising, besides the nice and big interior and the very resistant hull, this boat, has a two-cabin layout, offering a very interesting solution, with one head aft and a completely separate big shower cabin near the forward cabin. The cabins are big as well as the galley and it offers also an unexpectedly big storage space for personal items and cruising-related stuff. They have done a superb job with that extra space.

Even if it is not a boat I would be interested in having for cruising (due to the less good sailing performance), this is a very interesting sailboat that will serve perfectly the needs of many cruisers, offering fewer worries in what regards damage in pontoons with bad weather, or regarding hitting submerged debris, offering an incredible amount of nice space, great views to the outside, surprising tankage (300L water, 300L diesel) and an integrated arch for solar panels or for suspending a small dinghy.

But there is a catch here: you would think you will have a bigger advantage with the 370 in what regards marina prices, paying a lot for a berth, for traveler lift or hard standing, than on other sailboats with a similar interior.... but you would be misled because the 370 is not a 37ft boat but a much bigger one and will pay as much as most cruising 40ft in the market that have a hull length of 11.99m.

On their site, they gave the OVNI 360 the same dimension for LOA and HL (11.95m), and that is impossible because the 370 has a fixed integrated bowsprit, so obviously one of them is wrong. The OVNI 400 has a very similar bowsprit, and we can know the length of that bowsprit by the difference between LOA and HL (62cm).


https://www.alubat.com/la-gamme/ovni-370/

For finding out if it is the LOA or the HL that is wrong we can compare the difference in LWL between the 400 and the 370, and we will see that it is only a 14cm difference. Because the designs are very similar, that means that the HL difference between the two boats will not be very different than the LWL difference (14cm), so, because the 400 HL is 12.28, 11.95m has to refer to the 370 HL. while the 370 LOA should be about 12.50m (if we consider about the same bowsprit length on the two boats).

The OVNI 370 and the 400
The OVNI 400 is a 40.3ft boat and the 370 is not a 37ft boat, but a 39.2ft boat, two cruisers with a close length. Confused? Well, I am a bit because apparently, commercially it makes no sense indicating that a boat is smaller than what it really is (37 to 39ft), and if it surely can explain why a 37ft boat can have that incredible interior space, it does nor explain why they chose this, as a commercial strategy.

Maybe the reason has to do with the 40fter being a very different sailboat, having  a much better overall stability, while this 39fter, with considerably less stability, but cheaper to build, with a not very different interior space, offers a more attractive solution for coastal cruising, due to the difference in price.

If they would not find a way to differentiate positively the 40ter from the 39fter,  the 40fter would be hard to sell but they didn't want to make clear the difference in stability, so they opted to call the 39fter 370, as if it was a 37fter.

That seems fine to me, but not fine the fact that they did not make all this clear. Let's look at the two boats' stabilities and I will show you why even if the boats have not a very different length the 400 has much more stability than the 39fter (370) and it is therefore much more suited for bluewater cruising.

The difference in displacement between the OVNI 370 and the OVNI 400 is 1800kg and because stability (RM) is obtained by multiplying mass versus GZ (righting arm) we can understand that only that difference in displacement corresponds to 19% more overall stability, for only a 3% increase in length, but in reality, that difference is much bigger because the 400 righting arm is bigger than the one of the 370.

It is bigger because the 400 is beamier (4.35m to 3.99m) because the 400 B/D is bigger (34.8% to 34.7%) but most of all because the ballast weight that is on that very deep centerboard is on the 370 only 260kg on the 400  5 times more (1300kg). All that will contribute to lowering the CG increasing the arm. Without having both stability curves I cannot say exactly how much more stability the 400 has over the 370, but for a 3% increase in length we will have probably an overall difference in stability over 25%, having the 400 a better safety stability and better AVS.

The small difference in size corresponds to a big difference in what regards seaworthiness and overall stability, probably the one that corresponds to the difference between a 37ft boat and a 40ft boat and if we take that into consideration, calling 370 to a 39ft boat makes some kind of sense.

But if you really want to do extensive ocean voyaging, make an effort and buy the 400 instead, that is much better for a bluewater use, or if you can buy the 450, that makes a lot more sense as a true bluewater boat.

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2018/11/ovni-400-modern-aluminium-voyage-boat.html

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2019/11/new-40ft-voyage-aluminium-boats-ovni.html

Regarding price, aluminum boats are more expensive than mass-produced bonded sailboats and 272 000 € (at the factory, without VAT) does not seem excessive, and the fact that this boat does not need, like the 400, a hydraulic system to raise the keel contributes to that. 

A nice quality strong yacht at a fair price, for the ones that want a coastal cruising boat with great features in what regards cruising amenities and with extra security in what regards the possibility of damage due to floating debris and possibility of damage in pontoons or quays, under heavy whether.

 

For the ones that want to buy an aluminum boat, it may be useful to know that they should make it as soon as possible because prices have raised in an incredible way (+83%) and when they finish their stock that will impact strongly on boat prices.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

J 45, OUTSTANDING ON THE FIRST TEST

In this difficult covid time, boat tests become less frequent, but curiously in Europe boat sales experienced a boom and boat prices are on the rise. This has not only to do with a bigger demand but also with the difficulty in finding parts and the general rise in the cost of raw materials (wood, resin, fibers). This had as consequence the increase in time needed for the delivery of a new boat that, in some cases, passed from one to two years.

And since tests became rare, a J45 test is big news, especially when it is made by Michael Good one of the more experienced test sailors in the world, and published by the biggest world's sail magazine, Yacht.de. It seems Michael was really impressed by the yacht, saying that it "can set standards in what regards fast cruising" and referring to the excellent work in the interior design by Isabelle Racoupeau, which, he says, provides a very pleasant and comfortable high-quality luminous interior.

Regarding sailing, he is not only impressed as he talks about being " fully convinced" and that the yacht provides the "best sailing properties", with a great cockpit, that is comfortable for cruising or for racing. The full test is not yet on the press but I rarely heard such a laudatory introduction.

You can download it here when it is available:

https://www.yacht.de/yachten_jollen/neue_boote/j-45-die-ersten-fotos-vom-yacht-test

In what concerns sailing, the "fully convinced" assumes another dimension, given the unusual transom and hull shape of the J45 for a modern cruiser-racer, that many would say is outdated. The recent incredible performance of a J99 on the Sydney Hobart (see the previous article) and the J112E title of World ORC champion in 2021 and 2018, as well as the IRC champion in 2018, show that this type of hull is far from being outdated, in what regards performance and we are not talking about handicap performance because in all these cases the J/boats performed also admirably in elapsed time.

The excellent sailing performance was something that I already predicted and expected, but it is always good to see previsions becoming reality. You can learn more about the J 45 in two other posts:

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2020/12/j-45e-new-performance-cruiser-by-jboats.html

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2021/10/j45-in-detail.html 

Since sail performance seems to be stellar, liking or not the boat shape and finding it beautiful or not is, as always, a question of personal taste, but what seems not to make much sense is to justify that taste by judging the hull shape as outdated. 

Well, certainly with a classic taste, but in the face of performance, outdated it is not, because what determines if a hull shape is outdated is the performance and clearly this yacht has a top performance, as the J99 or the J112e, that share more or less similarly designed transoms.

Note that the transom design, as part of the hull, can be maximized for different points of sail or different wind conditions. Clearly, this one is maximized for light wind sailing and upwind sailing but the hull is surprisingly beamy (you would not say that looking at the boat) and that, with the help of a very considerable ballast (42%B/D), will provide a lot of power for beam reaching, especially considering than the drag will be less than in other types of hulls.

Beamy for a performance boat, but we have seen recently that a beamy boat can be very fast and successful even in races with equal upwind and downwind distances. The also new Grand Soleil 44 has won the last ORC World Championship and it is even slightly beamier than the J 45 (4.27 to 4.25).

If we compare the J45 4.25m beam with the ones of the new very successful tendency for very beamy cruisers, like the Hanse 460  (4.79m beam and 200 boats in order or already sold), we would have to consider the J45 as having a moderate beam. Only if we compare it with performance cruisers will it be among the beamier ones, if we don't consider boats like Pogo, that are maximized for trade wind sailing. The Pogo 44 (42ft) has already a 4.50m beam.

If we compare the J 45 hull with the one of the GS44 we will see that the main difference between them is not the max beam or the design of the forward hull sections but the hull sections from midships to the transom and the transom design, that condition those sections.

I am very curious to see how these two boats compare in real-time while racing in different conditions and points of sail, as well as seeing as they compare with the slightly small new Italia 12.98, which has opted for a much narrower hull (3.95m) with a transom design not far from the one of the GS.

I would have preferred the J45 to have a slightly different transom, one that would offer more hull form stability at very high angles of heel, without increasing drag at smaller angles, something in between the GS44 transom and the J 45, but there are among performance cruisers many yachts whose transoms look apparently more modern, when in reality compromise performance much more in favor of style and interior space.

Regarding cruising, I have no doubt that this will be one of the fastest performance cruisers around, and not only does the interior look very good and cozy but the yacht looks distinctively different, with a classical overall look, that will deceive many about its top performance.

I do really like a lot this boat and the only thing I would change in what regards looks would be the deck finish, using grey kiwigrip. I believe it would be the right finish for this boat. 

Probably they would have no problem in applying that and it is a pity they don't offer it as an option because the boat looks would improve even more. All the rest, from the quality of sail hardware, to the overall quality and design, seems perfect, if you don't mind having a classic look on your boat, that has the advantage of not becoming old-fashioned.

The price is not excessive because this boat offers as standard many pieces of equipment that are optional on other performance cruisers like mainsail traveler, Jib/genoa traveler, spinnaker fittings, carbon bowsprit, 6 winches, 6 retractable cleats, and most of all interior structural bulkheads made of infused sandwich composite, as well as some minor details, like curtains and even so costs almost 19 000 euros less than an X4.6 that curiously is a 44ft (13.50m) boat while the J45 is a 46ft boat (13.85m).

It may not be excessive but at 458 360 euros (without VAT at the factory), it is a high price, that shows what happens when you choose not to compromise, offering a sailboat as it should be, as the designer has imagined it. The designer is Alan Johnstone, from the original family that created J/boats, and the one that is responsible for the design of the last J/boats.



Tuesday, January 4, 2022

JULES HALL AND JAN SCOLTEN, THE TRUE HEROES OF THE SYDNEY HOBART

Never heard of them? Well, the organization has contributed to it, not recognizing the importance of their sportive achievement. They said about them: 

"At 03:01:42am this morning, the two Sydney sailors crossed the finish line in Hobart, the second two-hander to do so, behind Rob Gough and John Saul’s Sidewinder.....Both looked happy with their lot in life. As well they might, as Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth is primed to win the race's first ever two-handed trophy, awarded to the winner on IRC. They have also won ORCi overall, ... will also win PHS overall. NOT BAD FOR TWO LASER SAILORS...., although Scholten is well-respected in yachting circles, both offshore and inshore."

As we can understand by the movie below, the not well respected Jules Hall was the boat navigator and we all know that it is impossible to sail the little J99 at that pace, for several days, in rough conditions without two top sailors. Besides, the duo had recently won two major  2 handed races of the Australian calendar, finishing one of them not only ahead in IRC, but also in elapsed time (Line Honors).

   

The J99, arrived at Hobart on the tail of a S&S 47, which it fought in real-time along the race, a boat with a full crew, racing most of the time with perfect conditions for that type of hull (upwind with strong weather). We know that the S&S 47 Love & War was extremely well sailed, having made 3rd overall, and would probably have won the race if the wind had not faltered for them, on the last part of the race.

So we had a J99 sailing most of the time upwind (far from its strongest point of sail), sailed by a duo, as fast as a very well sailed fully crewed S&S 47, on a terribly hard and difficult race? WOW!!! .... and it is very hard to understand why that passed largely unnoticed ..... maybe because they were only "Laser Sailors"? LOL

Do you think I am exaggerating? Well, on the 2 handed division all the attention was given to the boat that made Line Honors, Sidewinder, a powerful and big 40class racer, that finished 4th among the two-handed, in PHS, and did not even have the trouble to race in IRC or ORCI, where its results would have been worse, while the J99 Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth, won the three 2 handed classifications, in IRC, ORCI, and PHS, and this one with 2 hours and 25 minutes advantage over Sidewinder.

But that is not what impresses me more, what is really incredible is that if, as everywhere, the 2 handed handicap results counted for the ORCI and IRC general classifications, these two guys and his little J99, would have won the Sydney-Hobart in ORCI, leaving Celestial (the TP52 that won it) 3 hours behind!!! In IRC they would have been 4th, but everybody knows that the handicap in ORCI is more precise and more related to the real boat performance than the handicap in IRC.

I am truly impressed with the outstanding performance of  Jules Hall and Jan Scolten, which is absurdly good, and calling them "Laser Sailors" or implying that Jules Hall is not "well-respected in yachting circles" after winning several offshore races, seems preposterous and ridiculous.

And that it is a measure of how elitist is the Sydney-Hobart race, where the focus is mostly on millionaire maxi yachts and "Line Honors, and where they are not interested in re-focusing the race protagonism from the millionaires and maxi yachts to a very small affordable yacht sailed by a duo, even if in this case the performance of Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth and Jules Hall and Jan Scolten was, by far, the more impressive in all race. Black Jack, the Maxi yacht celebrated as the winner of the Sydney Hobart was left in ORCI compensated time 10 hours and a half behind.

I hope things change in the future, not only in what regards sportiveness (taking into account what happened with Ichi Ban and Celestial) but also in what regards all sailboats to be allowed to race (I am talking about multihulls not being allowed) and in what regards the two-handed handicap results to count to the main results, like it happens everywhere else. It is very rare for a two-handed boat to win a main race event, but it had already happened, namely in the 2013 Fastnet, with a small boat raced by father and son.

Friday, December 31, 2021

SOLARIS 40, ON THE WATER

I confess to being a bit surprised by how good the boat looks on the water. It is a beamy boat with a considerable freeboard and the way it was disguised is truly amazing. I guess it has to do with the size of the portholes that are huge and also with that big chine.

Solaris 40 makes a lot of sense as a performance cruiser, maximizing interior space without making the boat ugly, maximizing downwind and beam reaching performance as well as the ability to sail fast with an auto-pilot with a limited heel, providing a more comfortable ride.

Of, course these maximizations make it also less suitable as a cruiser-racer, especially if upwind and weak wind sailing is involved. You cannot have everything, but for the majority that will buy this boat, this is by far the best compromise. 

Sure, the boat can sail upwind, it will have a better performance than mass-production cruisers (due to a bigger B/D and more RM), but going upwind with waves and medium winds will not be its strongest point, and you will have to open up for not slamming, due to the wide bow sections and will be slowed down by a big wave drag.

The increased drag is not only due to those wide bow sections but also due to the max beam, which at 4.10m is big for a fast performance cruiser, with a good overall sailing ability. But many that will sail this boat rarely will sail in difficult conditions, neither with big waves and much more will sail downwind than upwind. Anyway, the Solaris 40 has as an option a very powerful 60hp engine that will be used by many to sail upwind when the conditions are not perfect.

No wonder that in the first test on a Swiss lake, where there are no waves, the yacht performed brilliantly, impressing strongly the sail testers of Yacht.de magazine, that found it very good, in what concerns sailing performance, interior quality and storage.

Regarding performance Michalis, from FastSailing, where they have already a Solaris 40 doing charter, confirms the Yacht.de impression, saying that the clients have been impressed with the performance, that I would say, regards mostly to beam reaching with medium winds, where 9 knots seem not too difficult to reach.

Due to Covid limitations, I have not yet seen this Solaris, but I am quite sure we can trust the opinion of Yacht.de about interior quality and, it would be strange to be otherwise, because the other Solaris, even the 37 (out of production now) have a very good quality interior and finish. You can read the full Yacht.de test here: https://www.yacht.de/heft/test-solaris-40-teaser

You can also learn more about this yacht's design, dimensions, hull shape and how it compares with other fast sailboats looking here:

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2020/10/solaris-40-much-awaited-yacht.html

Talking about quality, it is not only in the interior that you can find it, the hull and deck are built using vacuum infusion, a sandwich composite with airex foam core, using vinylester resin, main and aft bulkheads in composite resined to the hull and deck, a structure laminated to the hull and a keel in cast iron, with a lead torpedo, to maximize the lowering of the CG.

I find the interior layout very well designed and the style looks very nice and comfortable. For a 40ft boat, it is one of the best cruising interiors I have seen, in everything, from the side and storage of galley to the size of the heads, one of them offering a bath cabin (on the two cabin version).

If someone will only cruise occasionally and does not use a gennaker or a code 0, the three-cabin version may have enough outside storage space for that type of use, but for more extensive cruising and for storing a gennaker and a code 0, not to mention storm sails and other cruising equipment, the two cabin version it is much more suited because any way you will be using one of the aft cabins for storage, without the added benefit of a separated bath cabin.
Maybe the only thing that does not make much sense is the standard draft of 2.40m, which is a lot for a 40ft boat that is not a cruiser-racer. They offer also a 2.00m optional draft, that will bring the boat displacement well over 10T. I would say that it would make much more sense for a standard draft 2.20m with a 2.50 and a 1.90/2.00  draft options.

Talking about market competition, this is a very clever design and competition is hard to find, because we cannot find any fast boat of this size with such a nicer interior.
I would say that in what regards sailing characteristics the closer will be the Grand Soleil 42LC (319 000€), which has a not very different displacement and a not very different hull, but it has not the sportive Solaris looks and will be slightly slower, especially in what regards downwind and beam reaching.

In the X-yacht range, we will have the X 4-0  (307900€) that is in fact a smaller boat (38ft) with a much smaller interior and the X4-3 (358500 €), that is bigger (42ft), faster upwind, faster with light wind and as fast or faster downwind and beam reaching, with a comparable interior (plus a sail locker), but considerably more expensive.

You will have also the new Arcona 415 (but with the old hull), a boat too classical for many, faster upwind, with weak wind, and probably slower beam reaching and downwind, but with a smaller interior and probably more expensive. You can also consider boats like the Salona 41, or the Elan E5, lighter, more sportive, but with a smaller interior, with a less quality finish, and I would say, also an overall inferior built quality, at a lower price.

Bottom point, the Solaris 40 has not really a direct competition at this point and, even if I don't like the direction the performance cruiser design is going, I have to say that commercially it makes sense, because it is this type of boat most sailors want, even the ones that look for performance boats, and in what regards designing a boat that will remain fast in many conditions, with the best and bigger cruising interior of any 40ft performance cruiser, at a price lower than 300 000 euros (without VAT), this yacht has no competition in what regards price for quality, interior space and performance.