Canadian Yachting Magazine was invited to be one of the first publications to test sail the Blue Jacket 40, the first in a new series of performance cruising sailboats designed by Tim Jackett in collaboration with Bob Johnson, CEO and Chief Designer at Island Packet Yachts. On a stunning April afternoon, we sailed down the Manatee River out into Tampa Bay in a 12-14 knot breeze with a full main and a Quantum “screacher” maintaining 6.5 to 7 knots in what might be called a fairly close tack.
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,