Friday, October 10, 2014


Dehler 46
Probably the two hottest 46 performance cruisers on the market, with similar prices and a similar program..or maybe not so similar ;-).

Now that we have pictures of the two boats on the water it is easier to see the differences and I am not talking about the differences on the interior. Regarding that the quality is not very different, both offer good comfortable and nice cruising interiors  and I would say that choosing one over the other, in what concerns the interior, is a matter of personal taste more than anything else.

Azuree 46
I am talking about the hulls and the way the boats will sail, that's the differences we are going to look at here, and I think it is a substantial one. What at a first look looked like two similar boats ( both have very contemporary styling) are probably in fact two quite different boats, both fast, but with different strong points.

Looking at the dimensions we can see that the displacement of the Azuree and Dehler are similar, both announcing 10700kg. But there is a catch here: that is the weight of the Standard Azuree while  on the Dehler that is the "Competition" version weight. On the cruising version the boat weights more 500kg. That is not only a difference in weight but also a difference in building materials (if the offer in this boat is similar to the one on the rest of the line): the Dehler competition is built with similar materials as the Azuree standard while the Dehler "cruising" version, that in fact is  a cheaper version, is built with lesser quality materials (I am talking about the hull) less strong and therefore necessarily heavier.

On the version that has 10700kg, the Dehler has a draft of  2.75m while the Azuree has 2.60m. Both boats use modern and efficient torpedo keels. Both can have smaller drafts for cruising, if needed.

The LOA is very similar but the Azuree has a considerably bigger LWL: Dehler  LOA13.9m , LWL 12.40m; Azuree LOA 13.9m,  LWL 12.99m . Regarding Max beam surprisingly the Dehler has a bigger one with 4.31m while the Azuree has only 4.25m and I say surprisingly because while Dehler is known to have boats with a moderated beam, the previous boats from Azuree were more based on open solo racers and has proportionally a much bigger beam. Neither boat is beamy if we compare them with typical cruising 46fters, for example the Oceanis 45 has 4.49m but they are beamier than the typical 46ft cruiser racer, For instance the first 45 has 4.25m of beam while the XP 44 has 4.07.

That points to very powerful boats able to carry a lot of sail: to the big hull form stability they join the big RM creating by a considerable ballast on a big draft, ballast maximized by a modern torpedo keel. Surely they will have a very good performance downwind. Regarding that big sail area, the Azuree can carry 124.5m2 of sail upwind and 260m2 downwind while the Dehler can carry 117.8m2 upwind and 215.05m2 downwind, but this numbers regards the Dehler competition version, the cruising version has a smaller mast and carries less sail.

It seems to me that the Standard version of the Azuree will be an eventual match for the competition version of the Dehler. The Dehler cruising version (less expensive) will be slower.

But the bigger main difference has not to do with beam but with hull design and rigging layout:
Regarding rigging, while the Dehler 46 has a more traditional layout, with only two winches reachable from the steering-wheel on the Azuree 46 the 4 cockpit winches can be worked by a single sailor and at reach from the steering wheel.
Regarding Hull design, if both boats look very similar in a 2D superior view, with almost all the beam brought back, when we look 3D we will see that the posterior part of the hull, till the transom is very different: The Dehler offers a IRC type of transom like they are now designed by Mills or Ker, allowing big heeling angles upwind and maximizing the ballast RM and weight of the crew on the rail, while on the Azuree, even if the hull is narrower than on the Dehler, the option goes to a type of hull and transom more based on Ocean racers, like the VOR or even Open solo boats. That difference extends itself to the rudders: Two on the Azuree, a single deep one on the Dehler.

All things but together it looks like the Dehler is more based on a typical regatta boat while the Azuree seems more based on an Ocean racer with some characteristics of solo boats. Probably the Azuree would not be only a boat easier to sail with a short crew but also a more forgiving one, specially downwind were the boat would roll less and will be more easier to control. The Azuree is also designed to sail with less heel than the Dehler.

I would like very much to see the results of a sail test of both boats on the water at the same time. I would be very interested in the comparative performance upwind with waves and in knowing if the lesser beam of the Azuree can compensate the better design of the Dehler transom (to that purpose). I would like to see also how those two factors would play in what regards light wind sailing.

Two very fast boats anyway and two great cruising boats. Probably the Dehler will have a better performance as a typical cruiser racer, at least on handicap regattas (on the racing version) but if the race is an offshore Atlantic one or is a short crew race, I would bet on the Azuree.

For cruising seems to me that the Azuree has several advantages over the Dehler, unless the Dehler is cruised by more than a skeleton crew (a couple) and even so a less heeled boat is most of the time a more comfortable one to cruise. On the positive side for Dehler, probably it will have a more rewarding and nervous steering, one that will give more pleasure to a sportive skipper, but that has a reverse, the Azuree will be easier handled by the autopilot.

Take your pick, both are great sailing boats ;-)

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