new boats

  • 2014 ANNAPOLIS BOAT SHOW: Jimmy's New Boat

    Garcia 45

    Not surprisingly, one of the big draws at this year's U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis has been the new Garcia Exploration 45, developed by French builder Garcia Yachts in cooperation with bluewater sailing guru, author, and ARC founder Jimmy Cornell. I'm a big fan of Garcia, which has been building boats for 40 years now, both because they build in aluminum and because they do it exceedingly well. In the last several years most of their boats have been large stratoshperic custom jobs, well beyond the reach of mere mortals with less than a couple of million to spend, so it's heartening to see them again building something a bit more accessible.

  • 2014 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Garcia Exploration 45, Seascape 27

    Garcia 45 sailing

    Day two of this year's test-sailing program looked to be a bit snotty weather-wise, with the forecast early on showing wind gusting to 30 knots, rain, and a good chance of thunderstorms. Great conditions, in other words, for trying out the new Garcia Exploration 45. As things turned out, the weather was actually a bit more moderate than that, but we still enjoyed sporty conditions out on Chesapeake Bay during our first test sail, with the wind blowing about 20 knots true.

  • 2015 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW: Surviving Day One

    Harken intro

    Which started out with a bang yesterday, as we journos were lured to Harken’s booth, where Harken’s Davide Burrini (up top) introduced the new Assisted Sail Trim system Harken has developed in cooperation with Jeanneau. This is the Holy Grail of an automatic sailing system we’ve been hearing builders talk about for going on ten years now. Now it’s happening! The boats will sail themselves! All we have to do is press buttons.

  • 2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Jeanneau 64 and Gran Soleil 43

    Jeanneau 64 cockpit

    My first outing on day two of this year’s test-sailing binge after the Annapolis show found me on the new Jeanneau 64, which is effectively a mini-superyacht built on a mass-production basis. That photo you see up top shows a portion of the group I sailed with enjoying the big lounging cockpit while noshing on donuts and coffee proffered by Jeanneau’s Paul Fenn (he’s the one gesticulating closest to the companionway). Both those cockpit tables can be set at variable heights, or can be lowered all the way to form plush cockpit berths.

  • 2015 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: More Euro Invaders and Some Cool American Boats As Well

    Euphoria

    Walking the docks at Newport last week I couldn’t help noticing that the seemingly never-ending invasion of Euro boats into the American market continues apace. Two new brands in evidence this year were Euphoria and Azuree, both of which are creatures of Sirena Marine, a Turkish builder that previously did contract work for others (most notably building powerboats for Azimut) and a few years ago struck out on its own. Yes, I know most of Turkey is not in Europe, but still, the Euphoria 54 (see photo up top), designed by German Frers, reads as a sleek luxury performance cruiser in the best Euro style.

  • 2016 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW: Odds and Ends and Just Plain Odd

    X5 catamaran

    I knew this would be an amusing show when I quickly deduced that this unlikely looking vessel, the new Exquisite X5 catamaran from South Africa, would likely prove one of the more interesting vessels on site. Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking. I have sometimes complained, in a condescending tone, of how many modern powerboats are designed to look like running shoes, and here we have a sailboat that clearly falls into that same category. But really, I swear, this is a very cool boat.

  • 2016 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Allures 39.9, Seawind 1190 Sport, Fareast 23R

    Allures cockpit

    I had a full dance card my first day testing boats last week after the show closed down, and as often happens on Chesapeake Bay, even in the fall, the forecast was for increasingly light conditions through the day and on into the next. Fortunately, the boats I was sailing also got increasingly lighter as the day wore on, starting with the Allures 39.9, a nice aluminum centerboard cruiser from France. I enjoyed an excellent sail in 9-12 knots of breeze with these prospective buyers (seen here enjoying the comfy cockpit with high-backed coamings) as well as Pete McGonagle from Swiftsure Yachts (they represent Allures in the U.S.) and one Brian, the boat’s owner.

  • 2016 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Xquisite X5, Solaris 50

    X5 stern

    Day two of my test-sailing regimen on Chesapeake Bay earlier this month involved just two boats, both a good deal larger (50-footers) than the three I sailed on day one. The wind forecast, lamentably, was for even lighter conditions overall than the day before. This worried me a bit, particularly with respect to my first ride, the impressive X5 cruising catamaran on which I bloviated at some length in my post on the Annapolis show. We approached her via water taxi in the morning as she lay at anchor off the Naval Academy (see image up top), and I noted with dismay the mostly unruffled water on which she floated.

  • 2016 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: The Resurrection of Gunboat and Other Developments

    Xavier Desmarest

    I can say without doubt the most interesting conversation I had while cruising the docks at Newport on Thursday was with this man, Xavier Desmarest, one of the principals of Grand Large Yachting, seen here closing his eyes and tapping his toes and wishing perhaps he were back in Kansas, or France, as the case may be. Grand Large, you’ll recall, is the French firm that recently purchased the bankrupted remains of Gunboat at auction. And to give you an idea of what a quirky guy Xavier can be: immediately after I snapped this shot he popped open his eyes and asked if he should take his clothes off. Which started a whole riff between us on whether there might be a market for a photo calendar filled with month-by-month shots of naked boatbuilders, kind of like the old Pirelli calendar, only weirder.

  • 2104 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Bavaria Cruiser 46, Xc 35, Beneteau Oceanis 35

    Bavaria 46 stern

    Just back from test-sailing boats après-show this past week at Annapolis. Five boats in two days in fairly strong conditions, with the wind blowing 20 knots at time. Once I even saw gusts to over 30. This is ideal! Normally we get light wind, which makes it harder to get a good sense of how boats behave. My first boat on day one was the Bavaria Cruiser 46, which really is just a new updated version of the Bavaria Cruiser 45. The hull and underwater appendages are the same, but the deck and interior have been modified. As you can see in that photo up top, she has a very wide butt and an enormous fold-down transom.

  • BOREAL 44/47: A Bulletproof Aluminum Centerboard Cruiser for High and Low Latitudes

    Boreal sailing

    It says something of the nature of these boats that my initial correspondence with Jean-François Eeman (see photo up top), managing director of Boréal Yachts, regarding a visit to their yard, was interrupted for a month while he and his family took off on a cruise to Antarctica. On a Boréal, of course. Indeed, Eeman’s boat was the first Boréal 44 ever built, the ultimate product of a chance encounter on a dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, between Eeman and another Jean-François, surname Delvoye, a designer and builder with many bluewater miles under his belt who had long been nursing an idea for an ideal cruising vessel.

    The basic concept here is not at all unusual. Aluminum bluewater centerboard boats, though not often found in North America, have long been a staple of the French cruising scene. Major French builders Garcia and Alubat have focused primarily on boats like this for decades, and several smaller builders have followed in their wake. Boréal, barely ten years old, is the rising star on the scene, thanks to a focus on build quality that rivals that of the early Garcias and also to some unique design features that take the concept to a new level.

  • BOREAL 47: New Lunacy Afloat and Lying (Also Flying) en France

    New Lunacy under sail

    In fact I have been in Treguier here in France for a week now, grappling with the project of getting to know the new Lunacy while simultaneously studying printer’s proofs for the new book. The book now has been irretrievably committed to the press, and just yesterday Jean-Francois Eeman of Boreal Yachts joined me for a maiden sail on Lunacy. We had a broad range of wind to work in, from 8 to 25 knots apparent at various angles, and exercised all the sails, including the spinnaker, which has, as you can see, quite the modest color scheme.

  • FOLDING RIB DINGHY: The Best of Both Worlds in an Inflatable Tender?

    FRIB 265

    We have discussed dinghies before, in a global sense, and I’ve also made it known that I personally prefer roll-up inflatables, primarily because they are easy to stow. But I’m always on the look-out for a better tender, so I spent a little time checking out these new F-RIB boats that were on display in Annapolis in the fall. They struck me as well built, neatly engineered, with impressive specs and pricing. The smallest boat in the range is 9 feet (see image up top), which is the size I always go for, and it weighs just 79 pounds and sells for $2,995.

  • NEEL 65: A Whole Lotta Trimaran Going On

    Neel 65 forward

    We all knew this day was coming. With the recent launch and test-sailing of the new Neel 65 the concept of "cruising trimaran" has officially metastasized into the upper stratosphere. I was impressed with its smaller sibling, the Neel 45, when I got a chance to sail one in France a few years ago, and I'm wondering if this new beast has achieved what must be considered the Holy Grail in multihull design: over-the-top accommodation space combined with decent sailing performance.

  • NEW LUNACY TRANSAT: Phase Four to Newport; Phase Five to Portsmouth; All Done Now!

    Self in new shorts

    It’s over… at long last! My seventh transat done and dusted. This has been true for nearly a week now and still I’m waking up in a bed in a house every morning in a confused wobbly-footed fuzzy-headed daze feeling like I just stepped ashore.

    I must be getting old or something.

  • NEW LUNACY TRANSAT: Phase Three, Big Jump to Bermuda

    Lunacy sailing

    This was a hard one this. For one thing it was a bigger jump than I had sketched out in my head. For some reason I had fixated on 2000 as the rough mileage between Porto Santo and Bermuda (see last blog post), but in fact it is 2,400 and change, even via a great circle route, as the chartplotter dourly informed me once I plugged in the distant waypoint. In all, due both to contrary winds and aggravating technical problems (more on that coming up), it took us 23 days and about nine hours to transit the gap, which via the meandering route we followed involved moving much more than just 2,400 miles.

  • NEW LUNACY TRANSAT: Phases One and Two Complete

    Shiny boat

    Talk about shiny new. (It’s a camera defect, actually, that makes the boat sparkle so.) This is us on Lunacy crossing the Bay of Biscay, en route from Treguier, France, to La Coruña, Spain, late last month. (I would have posted something about this earlier, but finding a reliable Wifi signal in La Coruña proved challenging.) This passage, a distance of 400-plus miles, took three days. Highlights included the comfortable deep broad reach you see here (a wing-on-wing-on-wing configuration, as I call it, with the staysail splayed out opposite the poled-out jib), some vivid phosphorescent water filled with spiraling dolphins one very magical night, and one very sporty night with wind howling straight on to our beam at 27-33 knots true for hours on end. The boat, flying a double-reefed main and the staysail, was much more comfortable doing this than we were.

  • POWER-SAILERS: When Is a Sailboat Not a Sailboat?

    Nuva under power

    It’s hard to believe, but there just might be enough of these atrocities now that they qualify as a boat type unto themselves. They’re not really motor-sailers, which have displacement hulls and are rather slow under power. Instead I’ve come to refer to them as power-sailers: powerboats with big outboard engines and planing hulls that can also be sailed. The latest entry into this weird niche market is the new Nuva MS6 out of Barcelona, Spain. It’s got a carbon-fiber rig, a modern square-top mainsail, a retractable bulb keel, and a plumb bow, all of which makes it very much “of the moment” as a sailboat. Or you can leave the rig off altogether and just use it as a trendy-looking runabout.

  • TRUE CONFESSIONS: The New Lunacy

    New Lunacy bones

    I have been shy about mentioning this to people, for various reasons, but now it’s time to come clean. You’ll have noticed I am trying to sell Lunacy, my faithful Tanton 39 cutter of the last 10 years, and some have asked what comes next. The answer, of course, is another aluminum boat. Two of the many things owning Lunacy has taught me is once you’ve had an aluminum boat, or a boat with a transom skirt, there’s no turning back. So, yes, the new Lunacy has both those things, though that photo up there won’t tell you much about the skirt.

  • TWEAKING NEW LUNACY: Mainsheet Modification

    Lunacy under sail

    Now that I’ve got the new boat on the Left Side of the Pond I’m starting to think seriously about how I’d like to change it. Of course, I’ve been thinking about making changes all along, even before I accepted delivery, but I do believe you should first spend some time sailing a boat the way its builder and designer intended before you start mucking with things. Presumably they had their reasons for doing what they did, and you should strive to understand those before making alterations.

    My first modification pertains to the mainsheet, the run of which can be easily followed in this fantastic photo taken by Clint Davis, from a boat called Corsair, when we crossed paths between Bermuda and Newport last month. Many thanks to Clint for sharing this (and a few other pix)! It is always great thing when you can score off-the-boat images of your own boat under sail.

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