The Beneteau Oceanis 55 was unveiled at the Paris Boat Show in December 2012. We had the pleasure of sailing the Oceanis 55 immediately following the North American debut at Strictly Sail – the Miami Boat Show in February. Conceived by Berret Racoupeau Yacht Design with its interior by Nauta Design, this is an elegant vessel, with modern clean lines. It is bright, spacious and comfortable. At 55 feet LOA , 1431 square feet of main and jib and 36800 lbs of displacement this is a lot of boat; a lot of boat that was designed to be sailed comfortably by cruisers.
Quality, beauty and performance are the criteria Jeanneau focuses on in the innovation and design of new boats. The 2013 Sun Odyssey 469 is the latest example of Philippe Briand / Jeanneau achievement of those criteria. The 469 comes from the pedigree of the 509, and shares many of the elements of that successful design. The 469 has moderate freeboard, a vertical bow, beam carried aft, a soft chine aft of the beam, and a drop transom. Long lines and a low rise in the coach roof give the 469 an elegant and sleek appearance. Flush hatches and recessed handrails maintain these clean lines.
The Hanse 415 is like lots of new production cruising boats in the 40-foot range. It has generous beam carried well aft, a big, comfortable cockpit, dual helms, a walk-through stern, and plumb bows. And like many new cruising boats available today, it’s designed to be both fast and easy to sail—a “performance cruiser”. But as I found out during my test drive off Newport, Rhode Island, last Fall, not all 40-foot “performance cruisers” are created equal. One of the reasons I came to feel the 415 stands out in the crowded field of 40-foot performance cruisers is purely in the eye of the beholder.
Jeanneau’s newest deck saloon design takes “bright and airy” accommodations to a whole new level. The new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 41DS is billed as a quick performer with bright, airy, uber-comfortable accommodations. I took a brand-new example for a test sail off Annapolis, Maryland last fall to see how it lived up to its advanced billing. As I’ve seen over the years, the term “deck saloon” can mean different things to different manufacturers.
Hunter’s Evolution Continues. The Hunter 40 is the first product of newly-formed Marlow-Hunter Marine. The evolution of Hunter Marine as a business and on the design front continued with the launch of the new Hunter 40 at last fall’s US Sailboat Show in Annapolis. Clearly, the rallying cry “Life Begins at 40” to celebrate Hunter’s 40th anniversary in 2013 has traction throughout the Hunter organization under new owner David Marlow.
This Polish-built performance cruiser is an honest boat that’s comfortable, easy to sail and an impressive performer. The sky was overcast, the breeze was steady at 10 knots, and the gunmetal-grey seas were flat during my test sail of the Delphia 47. But after countless boat tests I’ve conducted in similar conditions off Toronto, or Annapolis, Maryland, or Newport, Rhode Island, this one was different: we were sailing on the Baltic Sea, off the Polish city of Gdansk. Poland may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of sailboat-building traditions, and Delphia Yachts may not be a household name in North America, but as I learned during a fact-finding/boat-testing trip in Poland,
I always have takeaways when I do a review, a word picture if you like that can, in my mind, summarize a boat and a builder; in this case, it would be rugged, strong and light. Multipurpose might also be a word as the 45CS we sailed on that windy and cold day performed so well that one could easily imagine this boat racing or cruising. Contest sought out Georg Nissen, the experienced German yacht designer, to design the 45CS. Together they have created a wonderful boat – huge down below and performance on the water. The hull shape is true to its designer’s concept; it is easy to steer and easy to manoeuvre.
Right from the dock, bucking the current, I felt at home in this boat. Great visibility and solid, wonderfully light steering beat the expectations I had. Setting sail with the 135 overlapping genoa, the boats solid upwind tracking (it was easy to find the grove) was evidenced by speeds approaching 7 knots on relative flat sea conditions. In the puffs, the boat was stiff and responded well to the odd sail tweak ajustment. The Elvstrom sails that come standard on this boat are perfect; they fit the spar well and are some of the best sails I have seen in production boats anywhere.
I had a feeling that the Marc Lombard-designed Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379 would be fun to sail even before I took one out in 20-25 knots of breeze. That’s because I’d sailed the first of the similarly re-designed Sun Odysseys—the 409—last year, and it wasn’t hard to imagine the folks at Jeannueau serving up all the performance and comfort of the 409 in a slightly smaller, 37-foot package. But nothing I’d experienced on the 409 could have prepared me for the sheer joy of sailing the 379 in a stiff wind. And my positive sailing experience was even more remarkable because the model we tested was equipped with the shoal draft wing keel that only draws 4' 11".
Hanse Yachts sure have come a long way since they first appeared in North America in the late '90s. Back then, I thought the boats were small and unremarkable except for the fact that they were built in the former East Germany. But I soon learned that Hanse’s founder and chief visionary Michael Schmidt had big plans. Since then, Hanse Yachts has indeed evolved into one of the highest volume builders in the world. And as I found out during a test sail of the Judel/Vrolijk-designed Hanse 495 on a spectacular late fall day in New England, there are plenty of reasons why Hanse Yachts continue to propagate.