Sunday, March 1, 2020


The market for true voyage boats, boats that are not only designed to live aboard most of the time, enjoying life in a sunny place, but to keep moving and to navigate, is a very small one and dominated by aluminium boats. I am not talking about huge yachts that require a crew and are designed to sail anywhere but about yachts with 50ft or less, boats designed to be sailed by a couple or even solo without the help of push button controls.

Curiously in what regards composite boats the only ones on the market thought for that are very fast ones, for the sailors that want to do it in a sportive way, boats like the RM 1370 or the JPK 45. All the other boats that can be used for that purpose, boats with a good stability and seaworthiness like Hallberg Rassy, X-yachts or Grand Soleil can do it but they were not designed specifically for the job, they will require modifications and will never be as well suited as a boat designed for that purpose.

The offers on the market are so rare on this area that the Pegasus 50 deserves to be better known. The boat is built by a small shipyard in Slovenia, one of the few countries where  it is possible to find a knowledgeable specialized work force at reasonable costs and that therefore is one of the most attractive in what regards new interesting sailboat projects.

Produced at controlled costs allowing a high level of customization the Pegasus 50 is a boat pointed to that very small market, a boat that is less expensive than the aluminium options, faster but that contrary to the more sportive RM and JPK or even Pogo options, is designed to offer all the sailing comfort, not only to the ones that like it but mostly to the ones that due to age have not  the same stamina or mobility, but that want to keep sailing to the horizon... and fast.

Just to understand better what we are talking about let's compare it with the new Hallberg Rassy 50, a much more expensive boat and another much cheaper, the Oceanis 51.1. The first data is from Pegasus the second from HR the last from the Oceanis: hull length 14.98m to 15.23 to 14.98, LWL 12.14 to 14.80 to 14.52, beam  4.83m to 5.0m to 4.80, displacement 12 300kg to 21 000 to 13 930, draft standard 2.30m to 2.35 to 2.36, B/D 39.7% to 35,7% to 24%, SA/D 25.8 to 20.2 to 19.3, D/L 121.3 to 180.1 to 126.8.

Regarding hulls all of them are beamy, the one of the Pegasus by Marko Pas, the HR by German Frers and the Oceanis by Racoupeau. Marko Pas, as designer, is not as experienced as the other two although he had several years experience as managing designer and  process engineering on the Shipman shipyard, that was a reference in what regards top yachts.

I prefer the hull design of the Oceanis or the Hallberg Rassy although there is nothing wrong with the design of the Pegasus, that is just more classic, even if some would say a bit outdated, but with solutions that have proved valid, like the unusual tandem keel that, if well designed, can on relatively small drafts, provide more lift and less drag than a more traditional solution, having the additional advantage of providing a better distribution of efforts by the hull.

On the design the two rudders seem to be less deep than the ones I see on boats with a similar beam, for instance the Oceanis 51.1 or the Hallberg Rassy 50, the bow design with a considerable rake diminishes unnecessarily the LWL, the transom design is not the best to  diminish roll and to make the work of an autopilot easier even if it will allow the RM maximization at high angles of heel. And the keel design could be made without a forward protruding torpedo that would risk to snag lines and nets. Difficult to understand why the protruding part is not the aft one.

It seems a lot but the importance is relative: those rudders look small but they may have been adequately designed and work well with high angles of heel, the bow rake  has an aesthetically bigger importance than a functional one and the type of transom is just a trade off, better upwind, with light winds and maximizing RM at big angles of heel, worse at making sailing easier, specially on autopilot, in diminishing roll and  in making the boat sail with less heel.

Anyway neither of these points  is remotely as important as the huge difference in B/D for the Oceanis or the difference in weight for the Hallberg Rassy. These are basically the differences responsible for three very different sailboats. Comparing to HR, the Pegasus is a  much lighter and powerful sailboat, with a bigger B/D, an almost similar form stability and with a considerably bigger SA/D. A much faster sailboat in all sailing conditions particularly with light winds.

The Pegasus safety stability and AVS (125ยบ) should be a bit better than the ones of the HR (already very good) but the overall stability of the HR is much bigger due to its much bigger displacement. However it seems to me that the one of the Pegasus is more than enough to sail offshore with a big safety margin, even with rough conditions where its superior power will come to its advantage.

We can see that the SA/D between the Pegasus and the Oceanis are not very different but that has to do mostly with the huge difference in ballast weight. In fact for about the same draft the Pegasus has 1486 kg more ballast being 1630 kg lighter and even if there are differences in hull design that is the bigger difference and the one responsible for making the Pegasus a much more powerful boat, with an incomparable better safety stability (and AVS), a better overall stability and an much more seaworthy boat.

And because the Pegasus SA/D is much bigger for a smaller D/L,  the Pegasus is much more powerful, a much faster sailboat in all conditions and even more on nasty conditions, specially upwind.

The Pegasus, notwithstanding its classic looks, has a great sail performance being also very seaworthy in what concerns stability.... but weighing, without the ballast, only 144kg more than the Oceanis and being so light for so many bigger efforts on the hull and boat structure, will it be strong enough?

I mean, considering both boats without ballast, the Pegasus weights about the same as the Oceanis and the Oceanis is known  for having a light build. For the Pegasus to be strong enough to sustain the much bigger efforts, for the same weight, its materials and building techniques have to be much better than on the Oceanis, even if the designer, with the experience of building Shipmans should know how to achieve that. Let's have a look at what they say about the boat materials and structure:

"Hull, deck, structural bulkheads and structural members of hull and deck are built in Vinil ester – Epoxy - Carbon and Vinil ester – Epoxy - Glass laminate with PVC core using vacuum infusion lamination process or vacuum consolidation.

"It seems that the use of carbon fiber is extensive not only on a cored hull with PVC core but also the structure and the bulkheads are made with cored structures with top resins. That makes a huge difference to the Oceanis and even to the Halberg Rassy.  However it should be said that the building of bigger Benneteaus, like the Oceanis 51.1, is better than the ones of their smaller boats, using balsa cored infused hulls and infused inner liners on structural contre-moule.

Marko Pas knows what he is doing and it seems that the boat is very well built even if I would recommend a visit to the shipyard to all that would be interested in buying this boat, that on the paper seems very good as it is very good the high degree of customization allowed on the interior.

The Pegasus offers a good standard tankage: diesel 450 L, water 520 L to 1000, 800 (HR), to 200, 400 (Oceanis) and a powerful engine : 75hp to 110 (HR) and 80hp (OC). It should be noted the bigger tankage on the HR.

But the much heavier HR needs a bigger engine that wastes more diesel and the Pegasus sails in conditions where the HR will have to motor, therefore using the engine less. Regarding the smaller tankage on the Pegasus it has certainly to do with speed: speed on sailboats has to do to do with light weight and the type of sailors that will use the Pegasus will certainly prefere a smaller water tank supplemented by the use of a water maker, to a bigger tankage, to keep the weight down.

That will imply a generator and in what regards space for that and other technical equipment as well as all kinds of storage, from sails on the bow to all other kind of stuff aft, this boat is great.

 That's one of the things that separates it from other boats that have the stability and the tankage to be excellent bluewater boats (like the HR 50), but have not an outside storage really suited for this type of long range cruising, storage that includes a dinghy garage that contrary to other 50fters that have it,  is not obtained at the cost of storage space.

Of course, there are no miracles and the space that is used for the dinghy garage and outside storage cannot be used as interior space making this boat, if we measure it for the size of the interior, much smaller than the HR 50 and I would say that to have similar sized cabins the Pegasus will offer 2 cabins both with heads versus 3 cabins on the HR but only two of them with heads.

The Pegasus offers  two advantages that are rare on this size of boats: a raised true captain chair (in front of a chart table) with an all around view and a very good communication  between the saloon and the cockpit, similar to the one that the Beneteau Vision series has.

It offers also a gimballed saloon table and seats. That seams a nice feature while sailing but I have no idea if that works well and how easy it will be to lock the system when the boat is not sailing and  unlock it when it is sailing. Doesn't seem easy to me.

 Because there are no cabins on the aft part of the boat (storage space) it is possible to have less height there and therefore lower the cockpit and diminish the difference of height between the cockpit level and the saloon level, being the two spaces only separated by three steeps.

But even if the proposed interior may suit a particular owner that likes to live on a relatively small space and with a limited comfort I would say that for the average user the layout could be better: as the saloon space includes the galley, the chart table and the main table the result is a small galley and no comfortable seating space (sofas) other than the seats around the table.

The saloon in what regards space looks more the one of a 42ft boat than the one of a 50ft yacht and to make things worse, seated on the saloon you will not have any outside view, except the clouds or the mountains because only the chart table seat is raised and all the others are down, having as view the galley and without any through the hull inserts (windows) that would allow an outside view.

Above Pegasus 50, below HR 50
I  also don't like the rest of the interior that uses a narrow corridor, a disagreeable space that with a different layout could be used for making the two cabins bigger. Like in the Saloon, in the cabins there is not any outside view and the ones that cruise and stay extensively at anchor know how on windy nights a view to the outside while one is in bed it is very useful to control the boat position, from time to time, to see if the anchor is not dragging, without having the need to get up and go to the saloon.

But because this is a high customizable  boat, depending on bulkheads type and location, it seems not difficult to me to have a much better interior, one including a bigger saloon with two sofas with a good outside view, opposite the main table and its seats, a much bigger galley, two bigger cabins, two heads and a bow sail locker, maintaining all the advantages of the previous interior.

I like the cockpit and sail rigging. The boat follows the modern tendency to have the mast pulled aft allowing for big frontal sails and  offering good conditions for a cutter rig (optional). The mainsheet comes to the top of a strong arch with a system similar to the one used by many sailboats with four blocks, two of them separated on the arch. It gives some control over the mainsail but here easiness clearly wins over performance.
That system allows a clean cockpit with the boat maneuver not interfering with the ones seated there and this because the winches are aft, at easy reach to the helmsman on a position that seems very practical  if the the boat is solo sailed, but not so much otherwise.

The Pegasus has a self tacking jib car plus two genoa cars  and that would make it perfect for a cutter set up except that the genoa cars are very small and are located not far from the jib car, in front of the boat cabin. If their more central position will allow a very good set up for sailing close to the wind it will not allow the use of a bigger genoa that will be limited anyway by the shrouds outside position.

That way the Pegasus cannot take full advantage of a cutter set up that works particularly well with a stay and a big genoa. As it is it probably makes more sense  a kind of solent rig with a code 0 (or a gennaker) on a removable furler on a bowsprit. It will have advantages in what regards speed but disadvantages in what regards a boat better prepared for all types of winds.

It will depend on the region and on the dominant winds but in my opinion a 140% genoa if supplemented by a jib (cutter rig) is the set up that covers with better efficiency and safety all wind conditions  specially if there is a bowsprit where a code zero or a gennaker can be set in lighter wind conditions.

The boat can have an optional small bowsprit that really looks bad on the boat design. I believe the reason it looks bad is because integrated bowsprits are associated with modern plumb or inverted bows and also because it is too small. On a boat with a considerable rake it looks odd. I would prefer they changed the bow design but as that is not possible I would say that on a traditional bow a carbon retractable bowsprit would look much better.

The cockpit seats look long enough and the space offered to the one at the wheel to move around and to seat is very good. Many yachts, even of this size tend to offer insufficient space there opting to put it all forward to the wheels.

One of the nicest feature is an integrated sprayhood that contrary to most does not look huge or displaced, perfectly integrating  the boat design. That spayhood can be a fixed one (option) having an extension that serves as shadow and provides a good surface of solar panels.

I would have preferred a yacht whose looks showed the excellent sail potential but that is a question of taste. As it is this boat with its classic "old" look will provide another kind of fun, the one of outperform and leave behind much more  sleek and apparently fast sailboats leaving their owners astonished.

The price of a boat like this has to be high although considering what is offered it is quite reasonable. A standard boat will cost 480 000 euros but it will be a non equipped boat and a misleading price, one comparable with the 700 000 that will cost an Hallberg Rassy 48 MK2,  on the same condition.

They offer two sailaway boats with everything needed included: one they call GT for 650 000 euros and an ideal boat with everything you can imagine, carbon spars, dinghy, dinghy engine, life-raft, full safety equipment, watermaker, generator, solar panels, radar, carbon furling boom, a complete set of sails including code 0, gennaker and two front sails on a cutter/solent rig plus transport and launch, all for 850 000 euros, prices without VAT.

Yes, a huge amount of money compared with the 480 000 euros a standard boat costs and that is why  most brands, even more expensive ones offer main market boats and not boats prepared to sail extensively offshore but even so much less than what an Hallberg Rassy 50 with much less equipment would cost, about one million standard plus taxes.

 Sure, main market boats like the Hallberg Rassy with a very good seaworthiness can be equipped for bluewater cruising, even if they will never be as suited as a boat designed specifically for that, but then their prices will sky rocket too. Yes, we that like boats and sailing should all win the lottery or be rich LOL.

The first Pegasus 50 will be finished in a month and it has already an owner being the 5th boat of a very experienced sailor, one that has circumnavigated already. The second one is already on the making and the ones that eventually are interested can contact the shipyard for a test sail on the Adriatic before the owner sails the boat to more distant shores.

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