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.
That’s Brian (I never did get a last name) on the left and Pete on the right. The boat has twin helms (with nice high granny bars) and twin rudders. Our test boat had faux-teak cork decking, which Brian told me is greatly appreciated by his dog
When test-sailing in light conditions it always helps to have light-air sails! Fortunately we had this nice laminated Code Zero-type sail to fly on the Allures. We were able to carry it as high as 45 degrees (AWA) and it kept us moving over 6 knots in 10-12 knots of apparent breeze
A boat, of course, must have eyes to see where it’s going. And it never hurts to have teeth too. The Allures also boasts a fixed bowsprit backed up by a high-modulus fiber bobstay (I wonder if the stay really necessary). The hull is aluminum, but the deck and transom are fiberglass
One of the most impressive things about the boat is how open the saloon is. On most of these pure centerboard boats (with the board descending directly from the bilges rather than from a shoal keel) the centerboard trunk dominates this area of the boat and limits layout options
Our test boat boasted a full battery of electric winches, which Brian, who usually sails alone, delighted in controlling with a wireless remote control he wore around his neck. One neat trick of his, seen here, is to drop the main halyard down this deck hatch into the head below. Another, which we did not get to witness, is hoisting a spinnaker from below through a forward deck hatch while winding up its halyard with the remote
The boat has oodles of storage space, particularly in the galley (often a weak point on European boats), and our test boat also boasted this optional systems/storage space in lieu of a starboard aft cabin. The shelves for stowing tools and spares are extremely secure and well thought out, plus there’s a great workbench (or spare berth) that isn’t evident in this photo due to all the stuff stashed on top of it
My next ride, approached via dinghy, was the new Seawind 1190 Sport catamaran, an Australian design now built in Vietnam.
The 1190 is an “evolution” (as they say) of the old Seawind 1160. The same molds are used, but the hulls are extended in the back to increase waterline length. Daggerboards and retractable rudders in cassettes take the place of fixed keels and rudders. Twin outboards that swing up into the boat while sailing are substituted for inboard engines with fixed saildrive legs. Plus construction is lighter with some carbon in the build and the rig is bigger
The bigger rig in action. That sexy laminated Doyle mainsail is standard. The screecher (an option), flying from a sprit, helped keep us moving in the ever-lightening conditions. The wind by now was in the 3-5 knot range but we still managed to keep the boat sailing at around 3.5 knots
One nice feature is that the daggerboards do not protrude above the deck. This necessarily limits their draft, but not too badly, as the boat draws 6’9” with the boards fully extended
Another big upgrade over the old 1160 is the standard lightweight fiber rigging from Colligo. The rig on our test boat featured lanyards and dead-eyes; I might opt for turnbuckles myself
My host Bob Gleason of the Multihull Source takes a turn at the wheel, or rather one of the wheels (there’s a twin on the other side). Controls are well laid out and easy to manage
These opening windows in the front of the cabinhouse keep the bridegdeck saloon nice and cool
The retractable aft bulkhead and doors are a clever feature the 1190 shares with its less sporty sister. When the weather’s nice you hoist the partition up out of the way and the saloon becomes part of the cockpit. When things get snotty you button it down and the saloon becomes a sheltered sanctuary
The interior, even down in the hulls, is very light and airy, as you can see here, looking down from the saloon into the galley in the starboard hull. You can see too how unobtrusive the daggerboard casings are
Was it possible for conditions to get any lighter??? Of course it was, and they did, and I was necessarily discouraged when I noticed as we reanchored the Seawind that my next ride was being towed in from the bay in a perfect void of wind.
The new Fareast 23R from China. A lively sportboat with a killer reversed bow, a removable ballast keel, a retractable bowsprit, and a very attractive price: just $35K
We had no instruments (and no engine) so I can’t tell you exactly how light it was, but you can get a good idea by checking out that very glassy-looking water there. Nor can I tell you how fast we were sailing (and yes, we were sailing!) in almost zero wind, but I can tell you we were faster than everything else in sight
We sailed upwind as far as we dared, then turned around, popped out the sprit and the A-sail and ghosted back toward town as the sun eased into the horizon
Unfortunately, we didn’t quite make it. The wind finally went to less than zero, with current running against us, and we had to scull and roll the boat the last few hundred yards back to its berth. The boat is light enough, less than 1,800 pounds, that this wasn’t too hard
You can find full reviews on all these boats in upcoming issues of SAIL Magazine.