April 28 2016
A measure of comfort added without subtracting racing exitment.
By Carol Nickle and Bryan Gooderham
The Luna 24/SL brochure emphasizes “cruising comfort for four” but it’s some high- performance cruising! The 24/SL is more conventional version of the high-tech Luna 24 that has been a convincing and North American Quarter-Ton Championships in the past few years. Although it has a pleasant and comfy interior for 24 footer, the 24/SL will still provide plenty of racing excitement.
“SL” stands for “street legal,” indicating that the design of the 24/SL incorporates creature comforts not found in the all-out Luna 24 racer. The 24 was designed in 1981 by E.G van de Stadt & Partners from Holland for Gilles Kaars- Sijpestijen of Luna Yachts. Kaars- Sijpeseijn, who successfully raced half-ton yachts in Europe, deliberately chose a high-technology racing design featuring an aluminum space frame, open transom and stripped-out interior. The 24 has a very tall three- quarter fractional rig, giving plenty of sail area. Its hull shape is a typical modern IOR with a fine bow, eight-foot, three-inch beam, very flat bilges and high-aspect-ratio fin keel and spade rudder. Overall displacement is modest at 2,800 pounds, but stability is ensured by a ballast ratio of over 50 per cent in the 4 ½ foot, six inch- draft lead keel.
The 24/SL achieves a great deal more liveability than the 24 with relatively few concessions to the basic design. The hull shape is essentially identical, with the trailing edge of the transom trimmed just five inches to accommodate an outboard motor more easily decreasing sailing area to 288 square feet. The transom has been closed in and the deck and cabintop have been modified to provide a more comfortable cockpit and greater interior volume. Overall displacement has been held constant with the ballast ratio decreased a little to compensate for the extra weight in hull, deck and interior. Although the 24 has a sensational racing record (1st and 2nd at both the Canadian and North American Quarter-ton Championships), Kaars-Sijpesteijn found that only a dozen or so were sold because the Canadian boating public wanted a more all-round boat for general family use as well as high-performance competition. In contrast, a fleet of about 100 of the 24 has developed in South Africa, produced by another builder. Hence, the SL version was created to broaden market appeal in Canada.
We had looked forward to a really spirited ride for our sail review of the 24/SL, but as luck would have it, it was scheduled during a spell of hot, hazy summer weather with little more than a zephyr of wind all week. Nonetheless we enjoyed a light-air sail and were impressed with the handling and responsiveness of the boat. The tiller has a positive, comfortable feel and the boat is nicely sensitive to the helm. With a fairly broad beam relative to its waterline beam, it’s also quite sensitive to weight distribution of the crew. Even in the light wind, we thought it accelerated well as the breeze freshened a little. We checked up on heavy-air performance with John Ogden, owner of a Luna 24 he has sailed for the past couple of seasons. He was enthusiastic, telling us that his boat is very stable and “handles like a sports car,” even in a blow. The cockpit of the 24/SL has comfortable seats and unobstructed roominess since the main traveler bridge has been moved forward from mid-cockpit on the 24 to just aft of the companionway in the latest 24/SL. The deck surface curves up to the cockpit coaming, providing a convenient perch for helmsman and crew when the boat is heeled. Mainsheet and traveler are well-arranged, and a coarse and fine tuning mainsheet system is part of standard equipment. Deck hardware is of a uniformly high standard, with halyards and other lines led aft through a good stopper setup to halyard winches mounted on the cabintop just forward of the cockpit.
The bow pulpit and stanchion bases on the aft quarters are sturdy and well fastened through the deck. Deck surfaces, seats and the cockpit floor feature great molded-in non-skid lots of texture to provide grip, but not so rough as to harm clothes or exposed skin. The nonskid even extends to the outboard motor bracket, which supplies a foothold on the reverse-sloping transom for lifting or starting the motor. The engine and fuel tank can be stored in a large locker under the cockpit floor. Alternatively, an inboard engine could be located there, but Luna doesn’t recommend it since it would add a lot of weight and expense on a relatively small boat.
The interior of the SL is attractive in a simple, functional style. There are roomy, six-foot, six-inch quarterberths to port and starboard that double as settees. The galley space lies forward with a sink to port and small stove and counter to starboard. The cooler is stored underneath the companionway step. A reasonably sized V berth fills the forepeak, with the head located underneath the open end of the V. Luna has avoided the expense and complications of plumbing by using a portable water container, a dishpan-style sink and a self-contained head unit. The interior of the cabin is finished in an off-white textured gelcoat, practical and easy to clean. The surprisingly large windows let in plenty of light and a first-rate forehatch establishes a good ventilation flow. Despite its somewhat limited interior volume, the 24/SL has lots and lots of storage space-lockers under all bunks and settees, a generous shelf with deep fiddles along each side of the cabin behind the settee, and large compartments on each side aft of the quarter berths.
On the day of our sail review we also had a tour of the Luna Yachts plant in Oakville and saw several boats being built. Construction is all hand-laid-up fiberglass with balsa core for the deck and a material trademarked “Coremat” used in the hull. It is a lightweight textile material that has obvious advantages in its flexibility around curves and corners. All major components for the interior are bonded with epoxy to subframes of aluminum tubing. The aluminum space frame method is one used in a number of larger racing boats to achieve both strength and lightness. In the Luna 24 and 24/SL, we saw this technique used for the first time on a boat of this size. We can endorse Luna’s claim that the “end result is light, strong and built to last.”
We expect the Luna 24 or 24 /SL to appeal to boat buyers with a reasonable amount of racing experience who can appreciate its outstanding performance, quality construction and equipment. John Ogden fits this description, having owned a number of competitive boats in the quarter-ton range. He was looking for a high-tech boat that would be really fast, but also well-built and wellserviced. He says, “The Luna 24 exceeded my expectations. It’s a worldclass boat.” So it was a bit of a surprise to talk to George Schroeder and find that the 24/SL he bought early in 1983 is the first sailboat he’s owned and that he had virtually no sailing experience when he first acquired it! Nevertheless, he actively cruises and races it and has become an enthusiastic sailor. With some help from more experienced crew members he finds he can beat everything but the Luna 24s in quarterton competition. He also finds it extremely comfortable for day cruising and short overnight trips, and claims to have slept up to seven on it-all of which shows that even though this is a high-performance boat, it needn’t intimidate the novice sailor.
At $24,950 for the 24/SL sailaway package (which includes main and working jib) this yacht is not inexpensive. However, for the competitive sailor who appreciates quality construction and demands a boat that can win, but who also wants to take family or friends for a pleasant and comfortable cruise, the Luna 24/SL should prove very hard to beat.
Carol Nickle is an independent financial consultant. Bryan Gooderham is the owner of Bryan Gooderham Yacht Services and a member of the crew of the sorc and Admiral’s Cup Racer Amazing Grace.
Photo Captions: The 24/SL’s divided galley locates the sink to port and small stove with counter space to starboard. The Sloped deck surface provides a convenient perch for helmsman and crew when the boat is heeled. In newer 24/SL models, the main traveler bridge has been moved forward to just aft of the companionway, making the cockpit roomier. Deck hardware is of uniformly high standard, with halyards and other lines led aft through a good stopper setup to halyard winches mounted on the cabintop. The interior is attractive in a simple, functional style. The head is located underneath the open end of the v berth. The aluminum space frame is used in larger racing boats to achieve both strength and lightness.
Originally Published in Canadian Yachting’s October 1984 issue.
Critical Sail Measurements:
Sail Area…………..288 ft2
IOR………… Approx. 18.3