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.

Seen from a certain angle it does look like a sleek modern sailboat, as long as you squint a bit and mentally erase that 70-hp Yamaha on the transom.

Nuva sailing

Seen from another angle, it also looks very muck like a brick.

Nuva rendition

Studying the press release, I see there are accommodations for two, presumably under that flush foredeck. I can find no images of the interior, but there is visual documentation of the marvelously fungible stern, which can be configured in five different ways, all of which involve eating and sunbathing. (And more eating and sunbathing.)

Nuva stern

The literature states the Nuva can reach speeds of 5 to 6 knots under sail, with a top speed of 14 knots under power.



Pretty zippy, no?

Students of the more exotic corners of the sailboat market (like myself) will no doubt recall that the core concept of the power-sailer was pioneered by the ungainly looking MacGregor 26. It was a boat that sailors (like myself) loved to make fun of, but it was also insanely successful. Many thousands have been sold. And though MacGregor has closed its doors, the 26 still lives on as the slightly modified Tattoo 26, which is now produced in Florida.

MacGregor 26

A MacGregor 26 under sail. In some of the advertising it was shown towing water-skiers

Tattoo 26

The Tattoo 26, which is produced by Laura MacGregor Sharp, daughter of Roger MacGregor, who founded MacGregor Yachts

Another player in this market, not surprisingly, was Hunter Marine (now Marlow-Hunter), which produced the 27-foot Hunter Edge for five years.

Hunter Edge

The Hunter Edge struts its stuff

I actually had a chance once to spend an afternoon on an Edge, and I must confess I had a great time. As Shakespeare might have put it, sailing on any sort of boat is just as sweet. I expect this is also true of the Nuva.

Nuva MS6 Specifications

LOA: 21’6”
LWL: 20’7”
Beam: 8’1”
Draft: 4’1” (keel down), 1’6” (keel up)
Displacement: 2,976 lbs.
Max. Sail Area: 335 sq.ft.
Power: 70hp
Price: TBA

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5 Responses
  1. Bilgemaster

    “Muck like a brick?” Is that what the kids are saying now? By the way, I adore my old Macgregor 26X power sailer. It’s just the ticket for the Potomac & Chesapeake.

  2. Graeme asmith

    You have missed several other powersailers that are perhaps less confronting to convention. I own an Imexus 28 with large Inboard Diesel engine and sterndrive leg. It has a conventional side profile with oval portlights and the drive leg is almost hidden between its twin rudders even when retracted above the water. At modest distance it is very yacht like. It also has conventional timber trim, seating and sleeping for 5/6 along with standing headroom at the galley and a seperate head/shower room. Trailerable, equipped for cruising, water ballastted along with conventional lead with a rope winched swing keel. I feel it is closer to being a jack of all trades whilst remaining solidly competent at all. I have equipped mine with tiller steering suplementing the wheel steering making it very normal trailer sailer in
    feel to sail. I feel it performs well in all weather conditions trailable yachts can generally handle whilst allowing a very quick retreat from unfavourable conditions be those brewing storms, fading daylight, becalmed or just modern time constraints.
    The power boat aspect also opens up rivermouth bar crossings, moving against tidal races and even the odd bit of entertaining the rug rats with some powerboat like towing/skiing activities. Even fully loaded mine achieves over 20 knots but gets close to 30knots emptied out. Not everyone’s cup of tea ai know but chosen with care by an experienced yachtie.

  3. Bernd

    Great, any other examples of power sailers, especially smaller examples like the McGregor 19 (even with rebuilt costs)? Or what hulls seem the ideal compromise for hybrids? Strangely, neither the Tatoo nor the Nuva MS6 are produced any longer!

  4. Jyrki Kankare

    Dear Graeme Asmith

    I own an Imexus 27 with an outboard motor. The main drawback she has when sailing is the steering with the wheel, as the only resistance one feels is the weight of the tilted motor. So, I am very interested to know how You engineered the tiller steering. If You happen to see this comment, would it be possible that You can send me any pictures of the construction to j.kre@gmail.com ?

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