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Sailing bucket list: 4 unforgettable adventures to experience before you die (17 May 2019, 8:30 am)

What would be your ultimate sailing dream? Sarah Norbury has inspiration for sailing bucket list adventures

Why wait until tomorrow to start planning your next sailing adventure? Photo: Tor Johnson

These days many high-achievers push themselves just as hard in their leisure time as they do in business – from taking part in punishing Alpine cycle events to triathlons and ultra marathons. So it’s no wonder that given a sabbatical, well-earned retirement, or major birthday, today’s work-hard, play-hard 40-, 50-, or 60-year-olds are seeking ever more exciting and challenging adventures.

Where once luxury holidays used to be aspirational, now it’s all about trips that offer unique experiences. Many companies offer amazing opportunities – everything from combining skiing and sailing in the Norwegian fjords, to kayaking in Patagonia from a luxury motoryacht.

There is a now a huge choice of places to go and things to do – we’ve picked out some of the most exciting options to whet your appetite.

  1. Sail across the Atlantic

Ask any sailor to name their dream and the answer is often the same: to sail across the Atlantic. It’s a rite of passage that conjures up images of surfing down rollers on an indigo sea, navigating by the stars, and days spent fishing over the stern.

More than 1,000 people cross the Atlantic every year from Gran Canaria to St Lucia as part of the ARC rally and around 200 of them do so by paying for an individual space on a boat. Many are boat owners themselves who have decided not to sail their own yacht across the pond, often due to lack of time.

As a paying passenger you can fly to Gran Canaria and leave almost straight away. The passage takes two or three weeks and most people add on a few days to enjoy the rum parties in St Lucia put on by organisers the World Cruising Club.

A berth in the ARC costs from £3,000 to more than £5,000. This could be your chance to sail anything from a former round-the-world racing yacht like a Global Challenge yacht through to a comfortable Swan, or a lighter performance racer. All have an experienced skipper and most a professional mate.


There are some truly spectacular options for sailing across the Atlantic. Photo: Another World Adventures

If cruising your way across the Atlantic doesn’t excite you then seek out a paying berth for the RORC Transatlantic Race leaving Lanzarote on 24 November this year to Grenada. Pro sailors race with and against amateur crews in a mixed fleet of pure racing designs and racer-cruisers.

Lucy Jones of Performance Yacht Charter says: “This year one of the boats we’re offering is a Marc Lombard 46, either as a bareboat, with a skipper or as individual berths. Last year we chartered her with a skipper to a Swedish group of seven friends in their 40s and 50s, at a point in their careers when they could take a bit more time off”.

You can enter almost any sailing race anywhere in the world by chartering either a whole boat or a single berth. If you dream of competing in the St Barth’s Bucket, the Sydney Hobart, the Newport Bermuda race or the Transpac, look on the event websites for charter options.

Racing an iconic classic sailing yacht in the Voiles de St Tropez regatta is less easy to achieve as an individual, but if you have a crew of friends and sufficient funds to charter a whole boat, even the most revered classics can be yours for a day, or a week.

Classic Charters have the J Class Shamrock V, with skipper, available for eight guests to race in the Med for €70,000 per week. The William Fife-designed Moonbeam IV could be your ride for €45,000 per week or, at the less pricy end of the scale, the 55ft Olin Stephens-designed Samarkand, taking six guests, costs €5,000 per week in low season or €3,000 a day for Mediterranean regatta racing.

The post Sailing bucket list: 4 unforgettable adventures to experience before you die appeared first on Yachting World.

European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best multihulls (17 May 2019, 8:24 am)

The resurgent market for sailing multihulls makes this an increasingly important category in the European Yacht of the Year

All photos: Bertel Kolthof

A real mix of multihulls made this a diverse, tricky category to judge. It can often be the case that we are drawn to the one that gives the optimum sailing experience, but here the consensus was to reward the best multihull design offering the best response to market demand.

Finalist: Astus 20.5

When Astus asked VPLP to redesign their 16.5 and 20.5, it immediately achieved better results in speed and stability. The renowned French design firm almost doubled the volume in the floats of the 20.5 and added wave-piercing bows – something I was grateful for given the spicy conditions when I tested it!


A minimalist, trailable centreboard trimaran – the modern design of the floats help the sporty Astus handle speed and waves with control. Price ex VAT: €21,583

With gusts in the mid 20s and a short, sharp swell running, the leeward float cut through the water and remained buoyant, without the tendency smaller tris have to bury the leeward bow. There is a sporty feel on the helm, communicating the abundance of power and acceleration but with good control.

It’s not a comfortable ride, but it’s certainly a fun one – and there’s space for a narrow twin berth with a chemical heads below.

Finalist: Aventura 34

With a dearth of entry-sized (and priced) cruising catamarans below 38ft these days, the Aventura 34 is a promising offering from a French brand that builds its modest-sized cruising cats in Tunisia. The overall design, the fine entry of the bows and the comparatively low freeboard is appealing, the latter certainly practical for boarding.


A promising, modest-sized cat, which is respectably finished for its price, with generous cockpit space and two or three cabins. Price ex VAT: €159,000

Unfortunately there is zero helm communication in light breeze, and a second winch in the helm area would aid tacking. But the design and modern style appeals and the quality is a step-up from the previous 33.

I like the single-level main living deck with connecting galley/cockpit and the hulls have generous-sized berths with large hull windows. The price is another pleasant surprise.

Winner: Fountaine Pajot Astréa 42

The Astréa responds to a market demanding as much volume and comfort as possible in a smartly designed and easy-to-manage package. The space is felt particularly in the cabins and aft cockpit area.

Sliding doors join the saloon and vast cockpit into one big living and entertaining area. Natural light pours in and the galley design is smart. However, the squared edges of the furniture and worktops is an example of style over practicality, and the navstation is tiny. The focus is arguably on visual quality over build quality.


The impressive interior could do with curved edges to aid practicality at sea

The performance upgrade on the boat we trialled includes a fully battened square-top main and a Spectra genoa which, together with prime sailing conditions, ensured an enjoyable sail. Upwind in 10-15 knots, there was little feeling on the helm, but the fun factor increased with the gennaker hoisted, making respectable speeds up to 9.5 knots with the waves.

I like the helm layout in particular: it allows space for two or three people behind the wheel and provides a very comfortable watch position, with the sailing systems all methodically laid out a metre or so further forward.

The Astréa offers plenty of layout options in three or four cabins, including a clever central shower solution shared between the two cabins in one hull. The amount of volume in the forward sections will ensure guests/charterers won’t feel cheated on space in any cabin.


An appealing design with modern styling, the Astréa has an inviting, open layout and serious volume in the accommodation

A yacht that’s all about the volume and comfort, the Astréa is a decidedly modern, good-looking cat that achieves the delicate balance of appealing to both private and charter owners.


LOA: 12.58m (41ft 4in)
Beam: 7.20m (23ft 8in)
Draught: 1.25m (4ft 1in)
Displacement: 11.5 tonnes
Price: 351,210 (ex VAT)
Design: Berret Racoupeau

The post European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best multihulls appeared first on Yachting World.

Sailing to high latitudes: Everything you need to know before you set sail (17 May 2019, 8:22 am)

What equipment, modifications and preparations are needed for sailing to high latitudes? Ice pilot Magnus Day explains

Heavy ice build-ups need regular removal to maintain boat stability

Specialist high latitude yachts invariably have metal hulls and are very solidly built with large fuel tanks and internal steering positions. But that doesn’t mean that a well-insulated, properly prepared, solid oceangoing yacht built of other materials can’t cruise some high latitude areas.

The key is that a yacht needs to be solid – solid hull, solid rig, solid systems and solid crew and, if of fibreglass construction, avoid high-risk areas. You’ll need to outfit and equip to commercial standards: a vast amount of yachting gear will not last in these conditions.

Any boat so lightly built that it deforms in a seaway should be avoided, so if your rigging goes slack or you find doors and drawers don’t fit when pounding to weather, forget it. Water will find its way in and make life below miserable, quite apart from the risk of a catastrophic ice or ground impact.

The hull and rig should be capable of taking a full speed grounding on solid rock and the stem strong enough to smash into that unseen berg. Glacial ice should be considered rock hard and even a small bergy bit could weigh tens of tons, probably more than your yacht. Unless you have absolute faith in your stem you should consider protecting it with a stainless or Kevlar sheath.


Anchored at Faraday, a British Antarctic Survey station in Antarctica

If nothing else, this will protect your gelcoat against abrasion if you do decide to get involved with the brash in front of a glacier. Three-bladed fixed propellers are much tougher in ice, but never engage reverse gear unless someone is watching astern for ice that might get sucked under the hull. Carry a spare propeller.

Preparing for high-latitude sailing

All systems must be in tip-top condition. That means a full service or overhaul of the engine and its associated systems. If your engine is at all reluctant to start, go back to first principles before you leave home.

Are the batteries in good condition and getting properly charged? What condition are the starter motor cables in? Do you have a spare starter motor on board? Is it easy to change fuel filters? Duplex fuel filters are a great idea here. Change your gearbox oil and carry spares and repair materials for everything. Make sure you know how to service and fix all the systems on your boat.


Deep stores, spares and shore gear are all essential

If there are items you consider too big or too expensive to carry, do some research before you leave homeport for suppliers that have stock and are used to dealing with international couriers. Make sure you have serial and part numbers and supplier details written down. Download manuals for everything.

Researching these details online once you get to remote locations may very well be impossible. Many a high-latitude expedition has wasted its time waiting in port for spares to arrive.

The polar high extends south in the northern hemisphere during the summer and long periods of calm are common. The same is true on the southern half of the Antarctic Peninsula. Consider the fuel range of your vessel and remember heating and generation demands as well.

Examine the distances between fuel stops along your proposed route and remember that remote northern communities may only have enough fuel for themselves.

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The same is true of the south but there is no fuel available in Antarctica, South Georgia or any sub-Antarctic island. Look at where a fuel bladder could be securely placed as low down as possible in your vessel and revert to jerrycans on deck only as a last resort. Have a naval architect investigate how this added weight will affect your stability curve.

If you must have cans on deck they should be of the very strongest design and they’ll need a bombproof cradle system to hold them in place in the worst conditions. And are your stanchions strong enough?

Generating and managing water

Drinking water can be made from glacial ice but not sea ice, and clean, fresh water can be hard to find in the Canadian and American Arctic. If you have a watermaker, check with the manufacturer what its performance is like in 2°C water. It can be as little as 20% of that in 20°C water. If you think that will be an issue, plumb a heat exchanger into the raw water side of the system.


Morning Haze is an aluminium-hulled Bestevaer 55ST built specifically for high latitudes cruising. Photo: Benedict Gross

The art of safe, enjoyable high latitudes cruising is a comfortable life on board so you can keep a fully vigilant watch on deck. At the very least, a good dodger will be needed and excellent clothing. All-in-one insulated waterproof suits from the likes of Mustang and Fladen are easy to get into and solidly warm. Breathability is not as important as being 100% waterproof. Semi-permeable membranes don’t work well in cold, damp conditions.

Don’t bother with any form of ‘winter’ sailing or mountaineering glove; buy rubber fisherman’s gloves with removable liners and several pairs of cheap fleece gloves to go inside. Most of them will be on the drying rack most of the time!

Neoprene welly boots and hats that cover your ears should complete your outerwear, along with plenty of layers of fleece and/or wool underneath – avoid cotton. Every crewmember should have an immersion suit and practice getting into it in a hurry. Clear goggles such as those workmen use to protect their eyes will help you see into windy blizzard conditions without hurting your eyes.


Warm underlayers need to be kept dry with 100% waterproof outers

Below decks it’s all about heat and moisture management. Keep doors open to allow air to circulate and open all the hatches on those warm sunny days. Drip pot diesel heaters are reliable and don’t use any electricity and as they’re designed to run non-stop on small and medium fishing vessels most come with hotplates and even ovens for cooking too. Consider a rack over and around the heater for drying wet gear but make sure it’s impossible for anything to fall on the hotplate – which is the best place to keep the kettle hot.

If you can’t find a space for a drip pot heater you’ll probably have to revert to a diesel fired forced air heater, often called a night heater or bus heater. They use considerable electricity and can be unreliable and are tricky to fix so carrying a spare is a good idea. They’re also a bit noisy so think about where to install it and the routeing of the hot air ducts so you lose as little locker space as possible.

Lead a duct to the bathroom and, if sufficient ventilation can be arranged, you’ve got an instant drying room. They crew will be much easier to encourage on to deck if they have nice, warm, dry foulies to get into.

Hatches and portlights are likely to run with condensation and can be insulated with closed cell foam pads, temporary acrylic double glazing and even bubble wrap can help here. Take care that any added insulation is instantly removable from any hatch that may be needed in an emergency.


A biodiesel stove provides warmth, comfort and reliability below decks. Photo: KM Yachtbuilders

Home comforts

Your crew’s consumption of hot food and especially hot drinks is likely to go through the roof as it gets colder and you’ll therefore use more propane/butane for cooking.

Think about shipping twice the gas you’d usually need for a cruise of the duration you’re considering. Where will the bottles live? You may not be able to get your gas bottles filled in faraway locations but if you carry a universal adapter kit you can use local bottles if you can find them.

The crew may also develop a taste for roast meals and the oven will warm up the cabin but the attendant condensation will need to be dealt with. Amazingly, every 13kg bottle of gas burned in your galley produces 20lt of water as steam!

Fully closing the companionway for long periods will make the boat seem colder due to moisture. A hatch over the kitchen will help with this.

For communication, VHF will work well for local weather in the north and Iridium for email and GRIB files in both hemispheres and ice reports where they are available. If you have a reliable shore contact they can download and compress ice reports for you and send them by email.

The performance of these systems is usually down to antenna placement and condition. Check your coaxial connections for both antennas and consider replacing if there is any sign of water ingress or if the cable or the antennas are not first class.


Home comforts are important for crew morale. This was taken during a birthday dinner aboard Skip Novak’s 54ft Pelagic

Iridium has just launched a new constellation of satellites which they claim will give high-speed connections worldwide, but this has yet to be proven. If you’re installing new equipment, though, it might be worth waiting to see how that pans out and what costs are like.

HF radio tends not to be very reliable the closer you are to the magnetic poles and while Inmarsat based systems will work in most of the frequently cruised southern destinations it’s unreliable above 70°N.

Keeping a lookout

Modern radar systems are a godsend and much better at picking up smaller bergs than they used to be but are still no replacement for an attentive watchkeeper with a good view and instant access to the helm and throttle. Make sure all your crew are familiar with the tuning and filtering controls of your radar. It is amazing what a well-tuned radar will pick up and how huge a berg can be entirely missed by a badly tuned set, especially in a seaway.


Ice floes threatening off the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island

In thick fog in the Drake Passage on the way back from the Antarctic Peninsula, we came within 50m of a sheer-sided berg the size of an IKEA store. The radar simply did not see it. I suspect the radar signal was reflected straight off into the distance until we were adjacent to it. Luckily the mark one eyeball was paying attention!

Forward-looking sounders are good for scoping out uncharted territory but have yet to prove their worth for spotting bergs. They just don’t look forward enough yet – but the technology is improving all the time. A good idea for shallow uncharted areas is launching the tender and sending the crew in with a handheld depth sounder so they can get back by radio with soundings.

Get yourself a pair of ice ‘tuks’ – long poles with a metal spike at one end – for pushing ice away from the boat or, more accurately, pushing the boat away from ice in most cases. These can be wooden poles or, if you want to be fancy, a pair of two-part windsurfing masts.

You’ll need two or three nice big anchors, and all-chain rode. The modern concave designs with the roll bars really do outperform older designs and some stow almost flat.

Also useful for awkward anchorages are several very long polypropylene shorelines, some heavy-duty lifting strops to wrap around rocks onshore and a bunch of large shackles to join it all together. The best way to store, deploy and recover these lines is from rope drums on deck but if that’s a step too far for you they can be stored in climber’s rope bags, laundry baskets or even sacks.


If you have the space on deck, drum reels are an effective way to stow and deploy polypropylene shore lines

As previously discussed you’ll need spares and repair materials for all your systems but what about the crew? Feed them well – any idea of operating a calorie deficit to lose weight is a recipe (pun intended!) for disaster. Working in the cold is fatiguing. Look out for each other.

Carry a full medical kit. Annex 1 of MCA UK MSN 1768 Cat A will point you in the right direction for medical stores and equipment. The kit for men and women is slightly different. Do you need gear for both? Invest in training for at least two crewmembers and subscribe to a doctor on call service from a provider like Medical Services Offshore, which can also provide equipment, drugs and training.

High latitudes sailing is very fashionable right now but to head north or south in a lightly built, ill-prepared vessel is to risk your boat, your crew and anyone who tries to help you. Take the time to review, plan, budget, organise and execute solid modifications to your boat and her equipment and you can safely enjoy the wonders of the polar regions.

high-latitude-sailing-magnus-dayAbout the author

Magnus Day has been working and travelling on boats from 40-185ft in the Arctic and Antarctic every year since 2005. He is best known for his long-term involvement with Skip Novak’s Pelagic Expeditions and now runs High Latitudes, a consulting company to yacht owners and their captains on vessel choice, modification and refit, permitting, crewing and logistics for both polar regions.

He also acts as ice pilot to sailing superyachts through EYOS and owns expedition yacht Baltazar, which is available for interesting projects worldwide.

The post Sailing to high latitudes: Everything you need to know before you set sail appeared first on Yachting World.

How hybrid sailing yachts finally became a feasible option (17 May 2019, 8:15 am)

They’ve been a long time coming, but marine hybrid propulsion systems are finally a working reality, as Sam Fortescue reports

The Bootswerft Heinrich-built 13m Yamila uses an Oceanvolt electric motor rather than a diesel engine. Photo: Peter Minder

Every sailor is familiar with the wet cough of the diesel engine, and the acrid smell of its exhaust. For some it’s the sign that an adventure is starting, for others it is the reassurance that all is well on board the boat. The traditional engine is perhaps your boat’s most important safety feature, but its days may be numbered.

The electric sailing revolution is coming – and though adoption in the marine sector is proving much slower than in the automotive world ashore, progress is being made.

The market is still relatively small. Clear market leader Torqeedo had sales of €25m last year, most of which was in ferries and compact outboards. It also offers a range of saildrive and pod drive motors for yachts displacing from 2 to 50 tonnes, or roughly 20-60ft LOA.

But sailors have been slow on the uptake, and for one good reason: if you’re planning to cross an ocean or take on tough conditions offshore, you rely on your engine to help you outrun danger or motor through the doldrums – sometimes for days at a time.


Oceanvolt AXC series is a modular shaft drive system (10kW to 40kW) that will fit in place of a tradition diesel engine

Even with the current crop of advanced lithium-ion batteries, the range of an electric system is measured in tens of miles, not hundreds. So a 35ft monohull with 10kWh of lithium battery (four units weighing 96kg in total) would have a range of just 24 nautical miles at 3.8 knots, or less than 16 nautical miles at full throttle.

Taking into account the incredible wastage of combustion engines, which dissipate more energy as heat and noise than they provide in propulsion, diesel is still ten times more energy dense than batteries.


Full-carbon luxury daysailer Yamila uses an Oceanvolt SD8 8kW electric saildrive system. Photo: Tobias Stoerkle

“When you look at bluewater cruisers, of course you will have a diesel,” says Torqeedo’s founder and CEO, Dr Christoph Ballin. “And it’s right that not many coastal sailors opt for pure electric.”

But that doesn’t mean that electric has no interest for cruising sailors – far from it. The more common route for ‘normal’ sailors will be to combine diesel and electric in a hybrid sailing system.

Under this model, the engine is replaced by an electric motor, hooked up to a bank of lithium batteries. This can be charged via hydrogeneration – when the speed under sail turns the propeller and puts charge back into the batteries – and solar or wind. But when extended periods under power are required a standalone DC generator, which can be installed anywhere on board, supplies the electricity.

This is the set-up recommended by Finland’s Oceanvolt, which has focused on the cruising sailing market with a range of shaft and sail drive motors from 3.7kW to 15kW (roughly 10hp to 45hp in diesel engine terms).

“In the case of the round-the-world cruiser, we recommend a hybrid system with a backup genset to support continuous drive when/if needed,” says Oceanvolt CEO Markus Mustelin. “A regenerating prop, which spins while sailing and recharges the batteries (sacrificing 0.2-0.4 of a knot, depending on the boat and conditions) makes it possible to be almost independent of the genset and use it only for backup.”

This system has the advantage that the generator is only needed on longer passages, so the boat still manoeuvres silently in and out of ports and anchorages.

And a well-designed, correctly sized generator is much more efficient at turning diesel into electricity than an engine not originally designed for the job. Some sailors opt for an in-line hybrid system, like those offered by Hybrid-Marine, which bolts onto the existing diesel.

These are easier to retrofit, with many of the same characteristics as the full hybrid system, but there’s the disadvantage of still having an engine boxed away somewhere near the middle of the boat.


Electro magnetism

Until now, most business has been done through retrofitting existing yachts. But an increasing number of yacht builders are looking to include electric propulsion as original equipment. The world’s third largest boatbuilder, Hanse Yachts, is perhaps the most advanced – offering its entry-level Hanse 315 with an electric rudder-drive option.

The system takes up less space than the standard diesel, is much quieter and vibration- and emissions-free. But Hanse admits take up has been disappointing.

The technology has found more interest among lake sailors. Innovative young German brand Bente has been fitting Torqeedo motors to its successful 24ft model, originally designed for Germany’s ‘Green Lakes’.

Closer to home, dinghy specialist RS Sailing has decided to fit a retractable electric drive to its new RS21 keelboat. Already christened the ‘invisible gennaker’, the system is based on Torqeedo’s Travel 1003 outboard motor.

Bigger race boats have also been attracted by the lure of low-weight propulsion. Just look at Malizia, an IMOCA 60 being prepared for the 2020 Vendée Globe with a lightweight Torqeedo system.

“Emissions-free round the world under race conditions, while simultaneously producing your own energy, is a thoroughly inspirational concept,” said Malizia skipper Boris Herrmann.

Electric has also been successful at the luxury end of the market, where lithium-ion batteries account for a smaller share of the boat’s overall cost. A 50ft Privilege 5 catamaran and a carbon fibre Gunboat 60 have both been retrofitted with Torqeedo kit, while Oceanvolt appears on a Swan 57 and an all-carbon Agile 42.


Overview of the Torqeedo Deep Blue propulsion system installed in the Gunboat Moonwave

The Gunboat Moonwave has two 25kW Deep Blue saildrives both capable of regenerating under sail. There is still a generator on board to extend battery range offshore, but “they no longer use the generator – it’s just for emergency,” says Torqeedo’s Ballin.

Spirit Yachts is also designing electric propulsion into its Spirit 111 flagship, due for launch this summer. With four big 40kW lithium batteries aboard and a 100kW motor, the yacht will be able to operate silently for hours, although it also has 100kW of diesel generator capacity.

“The real focus is not the propulsion,” explains Spirit director Nigel Stuart, “but that everything works in harmony, from galley equipment and hot water to heating, air conditioning, hydraulics etc.” The British yard is also building a 65-footer using Oceanvolt hybrid technology and a new 44-footer that is pure electric.

With racing on one hand and high-end cruisers on the other, there is something of a gap in the middle. By Torqeedo’s own admission, the cruising sailor hasn’t been a big focus of the electric revolution, but all that is about to change. “We started a bit late with sailing,” Ballin admits, “but in the next five to eight years it will be addressed big time.”


Fully integrated electric drive system will power the new 111ft Spirit Yachts flagship

What does that really mean? Well, in the first instance, it means system integration. If that doesn’t sound revolutionary, then imagine a set-up on board where solar panels, hydrogenerators, batteries, generators and motors all worked seamlessly together to keep the yacht supplied with ample power around the clock. “That’s what people are willing to pay for: plenty of energy with heating or air-con through the night,” says Ballin.

The future of hybrid sailing

In the near future, Torqeedo is planning a new range-extending DC generator specifically for hybrid sailing boats. Its existing unit is built by WhisperPower and provides 25kW, which is too much power for boats using the pod drive system.

The genset will be designed to operate at optimum revolutions, while clever DC to DC conversion decouples the battery voltage from the charging voltage, for much greater efficiency.

With boats, just as with cars, the breakthrough that will make all the difference is around battery capacity. Until range under electric power can match that of diesel, there will be many sceptics. And that isn’t likely to happen for a decade or more, according to Ballin.

“Theoretically, they’ve tested batteries in labs that are ten times more efficient than lithium,” he explains. “And if that comes through, then gasoline is done. But we are trying to combine long-term vision with short-term mindset.”

In the meantime, the prevalent technology is based on lithium-manganese-cobalt, and a process of steady development is making this 5-8% better each year. For example, BMW has just announced its next generation i3 battery, used by Torqeedo’s Deep Blue system, will be able to hold 40kWh of power – an increase of 33% for the same size, weight and nearly the same cost.


Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 FP Pod Drive is suitable for small yachts up to 4 tonnes – a folding prop can also be fitted

The other area of development is around the propeller. Most cruising systems use a folding or feathering prop designed for diesel engines. But Torqeedo’s own research shows that the consistently high torque of an electric motor is best utilised by props with variable pitch.

And yet it is Oceanvolt that has addressed this issue specifically for electric motors with its Servo Prop system, which it claims to be 30% more efficient ahead, 100% better astern and 300% more efficient in regeneration mode.

Oceanvolt says that this prop can pump around 500W into the batteries at just 5 knots – the average pace of a 30ft monohull. At 6 knots that rises to around 800W, and at a very manageable 7 knots for a larger ocean cruiser you get 1.2kW.

“A new technology can rarely compete in price with an established one in its initial growth phase,” says Mustelin. “However, we have passed this and today electric systems are offered at a quite competitive price. When you add to that the fact the electric system is almost service free, the total cost of ownership is turning in favour of electric.”

So, you may not hear them approach, but expect to see more and more electric-powered boats on the water as the revolution continues.

A question of torque

A key part of the viability of electric propulsion rests on the notion that a smaller motor can achieve the same work as a bigger diesel. There are two elements to this. First, a diesel engine is not an efficient converter of chemical energy into thrust, creating a lot of heat and noise in the process. Second, the torque characteristics of electric are much better than diesel.

Mustelin says that Oceanvolt’s 10kW motor “easily outperforms” a 30hp diesel. “Typically, maximum boat speed will be somewhat lower (0.5kt-1.0kt) than with a comparable diesel engine, but at the same time the boat will maintain the speed better in heavy seas and headwind due to higher torque. Manoeuvrability is much better in confined marina spaces.”

That’s because combustion engines only reach peak power (and maximum torque) over a small range of speeds. Torque is a measure of turning power – at the propeller in the case of a boat.

A diesel engine develops optimum torque between 1,800-2,000rpm, while electric motors deliver it from 0 to around 2,000rpm. This allows electric motors to use higher efficiency propellers that are slimmer and more steeply pitched.


Engine-driven: The ‘alternator on steroids’

It has taken years of development and over $10m of funding, but renowned boat systems expert Nigel Calder has helped design an alternator so powerful that it eliminates the need for a generator on board.

Mounted on the engine, on the second alternator position, the Integrel can produce five to ten times more power. Sitting behind the system is at least 10kWh of lead acid batteries (lithium is also an option), and Victron chargers and inverters.

“If you crank the engine it’ll charge the batteries; if you’re running with the engine in neutral, it’ll know it’s in standalone generator mode and switch to that algorithm,” explains Calder. “It will likely be cheaper than a generator installation, and eliminates the issue of the through-hulls, the cooling circuits, the long running hours, the maintenance.”

The system allows you to run all sorts of creature comforts on board that would normally require a generator: from hot water on-demand to coffee makers and freezers. “We honestly believe that this system is going to supplant generators on almost all boats that currently have, or would like to have, a generator,”
adds Calder.

With the engine in gear and at low revs, tests show how the Integrel can produce some 2kW of power without increasing fuel consumption or reducing speed – simply utilising the engine’s wasted capacity. This means it will work with the yacht’s existing engine – no need to overspec – and it has already been successfully installed on a new Southerly 480, a Malo 46 and a similar-sized Hallberg-Rassy.


Case study: Dufour 382 Alcyone

Built by Dufour in 2016, Alcyone was immediately retrofitted professionally with Oceanvolt’s SD15 saildrive motor, supplied by a 14kWh lithium battery bank. Owners Michael Melling and Diana Kolpak also specced an 8kWh DC generator for range extension. The fit out cost €30,600 for the motor and battery system, plus an additional €13,744 for the generator, and installation costs were around €8,000.

They charter the boat out near Vancouver, for exploring Desolation Sound and the surrounding area where silent, clean propulsion is a selling point. “Nothing spoils the joy of sailing – or a secluded anchorage – more than the noise and smell of diesel engines,” they explained. “Installing an Oceanvolt system in our new boat has freed us from that. It’s the way of the future.”

Charter manager Merion Martin said the conversion has also been popular with charter customers, adding: “The main advantage of the system is that it consistently uses around 40% less fuel than a standard diesel engine over the course of a week’s charter. But understanding the power management system takes a bit of getting used to, and the many components involved in the system can make troubleshooting a challenge.”

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Grand Soleil 52LC test: Italian beauty offers stimulating sailing (17 May 2019, 8:05 am)

The sport version of the 52LC draws on Grand Soleil’s performance heritage. Pip Hare sailed it in Lavagna

Photos: Fabio Taccola

The Grand Soleil 52 Long Cruise Sport (52LC) is wedged, stern-to, in between a grubby ketch and a motorboat. Its long decks are finished in graphite gelcoat, which absorbs the light, allowing no reflections, while black hatches and windows prevent a direct view inside. The deck is empty, with the mechanics of sailing hidden from view in the vast cockpit. This boat seems mismatched with its unglamorous surroundings… almost like a computer-generated artist’s impression.

Despite the futuristic first impressions of the test boat, the lines of the 52LC fly in the face of current cruising boat fashion – there’s not a chine to be seen. The bow is blunt but slim, topped off with a chunky carbon bowsprit and anchor roller.

The full beam of nearly 5m (16ft) is achieved at roughly half the waterline length and carried all the way aft on deck. The waterline gently nips in at the stern allowing the topsides to flare slightly in the aft end, creating curves on the transom. The overall look is understated, maybe a bit old school, but like a well-cut suit it oozes style.


We sailed the Grand Soleil 52LC in 5-11 knots of wind over flat seas off Lavagna

In 2015, after producing more than 4,000 performance yachts over four decades, Grand Soleil made a bold decision to launch its first cruising yacht. The 52LC follows on from that popular 46LC debut model, and is once again the result of an Italian design collaboration between Marco Lostuzzi for the hull lines and Nauta Yachts for the interior.

The Long Cruise range sits at the opposite end of the spectrum to Grand Soleil’s usual performance yachts. It offers a ‘low impact’ sailing experience, with the focus on lifestyle to attract customers who might not want such an energetic experience on the water. There’s even an option to convert the forward sail locker to separate crew quarters.

However, in what appears to be a step back towards the middle ground, Grand Soleil has now developed an uprated performance package for the Long Cruise range, so the 52LC is available in ‘Sport’ guise too. It was this 52LC Sport that we put through its paces amid the impressive backdrop of the Cinque Terre in Italy. The Sport package comprises a higher mast (sail area increased by 14m2), a mainsheet tacked down to a central point on the cockpit floor (hence no roll bar), rod rigging, a hydraulically adjustable backstay and larger winches.


Loose-luffed offwind sails help gain the best performance. For those with reduced crew, however, a furling Code 0 may be more practical

The package is a compromise for those who still hanker after traditional Grand Soleil performance, but maybe whose friends and family don’t feel the same. For most sailors, a performance 52-footer is going to be a handful that requires a number of crew to keep control. The 52LC Sport promises a taste of that performance, yet can be handled by minimal crew.

I was keen to see how the boat felt, if it really could be sailed by one or two crew, and whether there was still a Grand Soleil stallion champing at the bit under the new, calmer, exterior.

On the water

We left Lavagna, hoisted the asymmetric spinnaker and quickly the coast disappeared behind us as we easily pushed our boat speed to 9 knots in a wind speed of only 11 true. We were a crew of three for the test sail and during the hoist and drop of our unfettered spinnaker the third person was definitely appreciated; for a crew of two, offwind sails with snuffers or furlers would be more appropriate for a boat this size.


All sailing controls can be reached from the helm, but it’s a cramped winch layout

I pressed to higher angles testing for excessive loads on the rudder but, even at 110° to the true wind, there were no ill effects. Everything was smooth and under control as the full length of the 52LC cut through the flat water. In the light test winds, we struggled to keep the spinnaker full at wind angles lower than 135° true – we had to revert to white sails for sailing dead downwind.

In 9 knots of wind and very flat water the mainsail alone was able to push our 17 tonnes displacement along at a solid 4 knots. Considering the Sport package has extra sail area, I was left wondering how effective the standard size main would be in lighter winds.

Both the standard 52LC and Sport versions are offered with in-mast furling as standard. The test boat had membrane sails with full vertical battens in the main.

The Sport package uses a German mainsheet system tacked to a single point in the cockpit, led forward under the boom then back to jammers in front of each helm. This allows sheeting from the end of the boom, giving greater leech tension and bringing the boom closer to the centreline in comparison to the standard rollbar equivalent.


The test boat has both self-tacking and longitudinal jib tracks

A hydraulic backstay pump on the Sport version will help to flatten the mainsail and reduce forestay sag. There is no traveller, so off the breeze the kicker is needed to reduce twist. Owners opting for the Sport package’s greater mainsail control would undoubtedly need to invest in a high-quality main to reap the benefits offered by this extra ‘trimability’.

The 52LC comes with a self-tacking jib as standard, but the test boat had longitudinal tracks on the coachroof as well. These inboard sheeting positions gave us great sail shape upwind in flat water, but I’d question their efficacy in other conditions.

When sailing off the breeze it might be difficult to prevent the top of the jib from twisting open, as the tracks are relatively far inboard. The jib cars are not adjustable from the cockpit but instead set with pins – which to me fell short of the mark and negated the concept of the Sport package.

Article continues below…

Powered up on the breeze the sailing experience was pure Grand Soleil. The 52LC felt powerful and responsive and helming was fun even in 8 knots of true wind speed. Sitting on the side deck, steering with one hand and listening to the water rushing past the hull was a joyous experience with an interesting mix of sensations – the feedback you might expect on a smaller boat combined with the steady power of 17 tonnes.

Beauty over practicality?

Most aspects of controlling the 52LC under white sails were achievable by one person from behind the twin wheels. Lines are led under the deck and through the low cockpit coamings to two banks of jammers just in front of the helming positions. There are two winches on each side and spare rope is tidied into bins in the ends of the cockpit seats.

Access to under-deck rope runs is not via on-deck fairings but instead through a limited number of panels in the headlining below. These runs change direction a couple of times, so crew will need to triple-check their stopper knots, as re-leading this lot might be like trying to do a jigsaw through a letterbox. The test boat was set up with an electric primary winch on each side, so with the German mainsheet on the windward winch and jib to leeward, trim was effortless.


Helming from the side decks gives a great view of the jib both to windward and leeward

The mainsheet could be jammed off before a tack, leaving the winch free then picked up again on the new windward side once the tack was completed. With dual winch controls the helm can trim both sails from either wheel at the touch of a button. The winches, however, are not reversible so easing a heavily loaded sail may require an extra pair of hands.

The rope handling area seemed to be squeezed into too tight a space. While I understand the concept of keeping the cockpit clean and consolidating the sailing to one area, it still needs to be practically workable. The winches are very close together making it difficult for two people to load both at the same time. Also the short distance between rope organiser and winches requires lines to turn through tight angles, which doesn’t make rope handling easy.

These problems really came to light while hoisting the spinnaker. With the halyard and sheet on the same side, large handfuls of rope needed to be taken at the same time. Grand Soleil tells me it has already identified this problem and has made more space in this area for future builds.


Line stowage was an issue on our test boat

In my experience of rope bins, no matter how tidily running rigging is put away, if left in a confined space it ties itself in knots. The 52LC has exactly this problem – when I opened the lockers, a writhing mound of ropes tumbled out.

Helming from standing or seating on the side deck was fabulous on our flat Mediterranean day but would be totally exposed in any seaway. The downside of an uncluttered deck is the lack of wave breaks to shelter the helmsman, so the first wave to roll down the deck would give them a proper soaking.

Handling under engine was poetry, however. Despite the boat’s size and single rudder, I was still able to steer at speed in reverse through some hard angles with no need to cling on to the wheel. Bow and stern thrusters are optional. The test boat had the upgraded package of a 110hp shaft-driven engine and Flexifold prop, which provided a cruising speed of 9 knots in flat water.

With the minimalist approach dominating layout and the aft end given over to a tender garage, all sailing storage has been pushed into the bow. Even the gas locker is located forward.

Storage or crew cabin?

The sail locker is vast and nearly 3m deep. I descended the ladder to get a feel for how it may convert to a cabin and found there was a reasonable amount of room to lie down. But when fully loaded for cruising (which is when you may want your crew to live aboard) crew may end up fighting for space with sailing gear.


The interior focuses on space and light, with instruments and draining boards hidden behind locker doors

The tender garage is big enough to hold an inflated 2.7m tender. The transom drops down on hydraulic rams to create a bathing platform, which is accessed via a near vertical ladder. This steep drop may prove challenging for those with reduced mobility. Below decks the understated, stylish vibe continues. The layout is not remarkable but is ‘right’ – the emphasis is on space and light with a finish that is rich without being overly elaborate.

The test boat’s teak finish is to the same standard whether for the handrails or the inside of cupboard doors. Subtle, high quality details are everywhere, with brushed stainless steel, soft-close drawers, floor-level LED lighting and gas struts on every top-opening cupboard.

The living space is flooded by natural light from ample hatches and windows. The saloon is raised slightly, which helps create the space to house all the batteries and tankage beneath – nearly 600Ah of AGM house batteries and 600 litres of both fuel and water. There are various inspection hatches for servicing and access to tank valves as well as a glassfibre tray in the top of the keel that provides a very deep sump.


The raised saloon sole creates a natural separation between saloon and galley

Most of the saloon is taken up with the U-shaped sofa and dining table, set over to the port side. Two individual seats flank a meagre chart table on the starboard side under which there can be stored another two folding chairs for the full dining set. As on deck, the navigation and boat management systems are hidden from view. Even the instruments are hidden behind a locker door.

Stepping down into the galley, the area is well planned and boasts 3m of wraparound worktops, two fridges, countless lockers and space for a freezer.

The draining area for washing-up is cleverly hidden in a locker over the sink, once again keeping the working aspects of life on board out of sight.


The 52LC can accommodate six guests in three cabins, plus has the option of converting the ample sail locker into crew accommodation. All cabins have plenty of natural light and ventilation using thoughtfully placed hatches and windows, which do not compromise on privacy. The standard layout for the aft cabins is a spacious twin and a double which, even under the cockpit sole, allows enough headroom to sit up on the bunks.


The owner’s suite pictured is the offset berth option. A central island berth is the standard

The wet hanging locker in the aft shower room was the only real provision I found for sailing in anything other than glorious weather. This space could house a washer dryer if chosen. All heads have elegant porcelain countertop bowl sinks and black water tanks are now fitted as standard.

I was a little surprised that the shower screen in the aft heads is a pull-out fabric blind, rather than the solid Perspex door used forward. The blind genuinely looked like it was on the wrong boat.


A smart look
and finish to the heads and shower areas – here, as elsewhere, utilities are neatly hidden

The owner’s suite is plush and roomy with a huge private heads and shower compartment. The standard layout has an island double bed against the forward bulkhead with the heads to port against the saloon bulkhead. For those who choose the crew cabin option, Grand Soleil suggests swapping the position of bed and heads to avoid the lack of privacy caused by adjoining bulkheads.

Our verdict

The Sport version of the 52LC sets out to hide the messy realism of sailing, while at the same time providing an efficient and stimulating experience for those who want to engage.

The boat feels well-built and was fun to helm, and while it will undoubtedly make quick miles in the right conditions, I get the impression sailing will be a secondary consideration to prospective owners. With the sailing controls confined to one area and an option of crew accommodation, Grand Soleil seems to be segregating those on board between crew and passengers, with the passengers’ comfort being paramount.

On a glorious sunny day, in flat water and with the right breeze, sailing the 52LC will be a joy. But for the majority of time, this boat will be enjoyed for its space, its looks, the admiration of others and the offering of a life less ordinary.


grand-soleil-52lc-boat-test-sail-planLOA: 16.10m (52ft 10in)
LWL: 14.75m (48ft 5in)
Beam (Max): 4.85m (15ft 11in)
Draught: 2.6m (8ft 6in)
Displacement: 17,000kg (37,478lbs)
Ballast: 5,500kg (12,125lbs)
Sail area (100% foretriangle): 142.80m2 (1,537ft2)
Berths: 6-9
Engine: 56kW (75hp)
Water capacity: 600lt (132gal)
Fuel capacity: 600lt (132gal)
Price from (ex VAT): €617,000
Price as tested (ex sails): €745,350
Design: Marco Lostuzzi / Nauta Yachts
Builder: Cantiere del Pardo


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Tested: 5 of the best drones for filming your yacht (17 May 2019, 7:50 am)

If you want to take unique aerial stills or video footage of your boat or cruising grounds you no longer need a helicopter – a drone is now the smart, affordable choice. We teamed up with to test the latest models in detail

Photo: Rob Melotti

Drones have really advanced over the past few years, with anyone now able to try their hand at piloting a device. Mini-drones are a great first dip in the water, with plenty of fun to be had piloting. Larger quadcopters practically fly themselves now, with a raft of automated flight modes featuring on models.

Not only are drones fun to fly, many are equipped with fantastic cameras to capture stunning aerial views that would be impossible to achieve via any other device – just look at Volvo Ocean Race footage for proof of that.

However, you need to fly sensibly, so be sure to read the Drone Code, which provides all the information you need to fly safely – being courteous to those around you at anchorages is key!


DJI Mavic Pro

Price: £799
Key features:

  • Compact, foldable design
  • 4K video/12MP images
  • 40mph top speed
  • Front collision detection
  • 27-minute flight time

The DJI Mavic Pro is currently one of the best drones on the market. It is incredibly convenient to carry around thanks to a flexible design. Its arms and propellers fold down, making it barely the size of a water bottle.

That is all topped off with some advanced automated flight modes that let you capture some seriously stunning cinematic shots, plus fantastic quality 4K-video and 12-megapixel still images. Battery life of around 27 minutes is also very respectable.

If you want a combination of nimble flight and fantastic image quality then the DJI Mavic Pro is the best drone out there right now – although a more compact Mavic Air is now available too.

Rating: 5/5

Parrot-Bebop-2-Power-drone-testParrot Bebop 2 Power FPV

Price: £479
Key features:

  • Includes Remote Control and FPV Cockpit glasses
  • 30-minute battery life with two batteries included
  • 1080P video/14MP images

The Parrot Bebop 2 Power FPV is more of an update to the original Bebop 2 than a direct follow-up. The ‘Power’ in its name is demonstrative of the fact that its battery performance has improved, with an excellent 30 minutes of flight per battery.

Two batteries are included, giving an hour of flight in total. Parrot has been generous with other accessories for the price, too, with a remote control and FPV (first person view) Cockpit glasses, which really make for an immersive experience, giving you a view from above.

There are also automated shot modes, including ‘Follow’ object tracking, which provides a more hands-off experience when you want it.

Unfortunately, image quality isn’t as good as other drones – but the Bebop 2 Power is still a great value package overall.

Rating: 4/5

dji-spark-quadcopter-drone-testDJI Spark

Price: £349
Key features:

  • Palm take-off
  • Gesture controls and quick shots
  • 1080P video
  • 13-minute flight time

DJI is adept at making diminutive drones, as the DJI Mavic Pro can attest. The DJI Spark is technically the company’s smallest drone – but only when compared to the unfolded Mavic Pro.

Its small size and light weight means it can take flight from the palm of your hand, so there’s no need to find a suitable take-off point. It also has return-to-home functions that will bring it back at the end of a session.

To make controlling the device even easier, you can use gesture controls to trigger actions such as ‘dronies’ for taking a photo and there are plenty of other automated shots for capturing great footage with minimal effort.

The standard DJI Spark package doesn’t come with a remote control, so you’ll need to use your phone for piloting. There’s a ‘Fly More’ combo pack that includes a controller and other accessories, which is worth stretching to for the best experience.

Rating: 4/5

parrot-mambo-drone-testParrot Mambo

Price: £250
Key features:

  • Mini-drone
  • Grabber and launcher accessories
  • Bluetooth control from a smartphone
  • Nine-minute flight time

While there are plenty of cheap mini-drones on the market from no-name brands, you know you are getting a quality device from Parrot.

The Mambo is tiny and lightweight, making it great for indoor fun – but it will happily fly outdoors as long as it isn’t too windy. There are two accessories included: a grabber claw and a pellet firing cannon.

Flight is controlled via your smartphone, with the remote controller being an optional accessory.

Battery life of around nine minutes is reasonably short, but it takes only 30 minutes for a full charge of the device. There’s a 0.3 megapixel camera that points downwards – so this isn’t really a drone for great photography.

Rating: 4/5

Karma-315-go-pro-HERO5-drone-testGoPro Karma

Price: £499
Key features:

  • Includes Karma drone, GoPro camera and Karma Grip gimbal
  • 4K video/12MP still images
  • 20-minute flight time
  • 35mph top speed

GoPro’s first foray into drones wasn’t without its hiccups, but fortunately the company has ironed out the kinks. A number of updates have also improved the flight, including the addition of a greater number of automated flight modes.

The GoPro Karma is also now available with the newest GoPro Hero 6 Black action camera. The Hero 6 Black is the best action camera going, so this device is capable of capturing some fantastic video and still images.

There’s also the detachable Karma Grip gimbal for rock-steady footage that you can use separate from the drone. It’s taken a while, but GoPro has finally caught up to offer features seen on other similarly priced drones.

Rating: 3.5/5

Expert advice

We asked renowned marine photographer Richard Langdon for his top five drone-flying tips:

  • Practise, practise, practise until all the controls are second nature.
  • Never fly close to people.
  • Taking off from a moving boat, however slow, presents surprises. In GPS mode the drone will instantly want to hold position and could fly directly into someone’s head, a backstay or a VHF aerial.
  • Keep a good eye on battery level.
  • When returning your drone, especially if you don’t have visual contact with it, fly it forwards so that you can see what’s coming up through the camera.

Garmin Virb XE action cam tested

I bought the original GoPro HERO with a waterproof housing, yet never really found it user-friendly. As a comparative HD…


Our rating:  

Garmin Quatix watch

Apart from telling the time, one of the most useful functions on the ground-breaking Garmin Quatix watch is the tidal…


Our rating:  

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European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best luxury cruisers (17 May 2019, 7:43 am)

The luxury cruisers category threw up a surprise in the 2019 European Yacht of the Year, explains Toby Hodges

Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Before the sea trials began, I would have put money on a Hallberg-Rassy or the Wauquiez winning an award.

The fact that neither did is no criticism of those models, but merely gives a clue to the depth of quality in this category and the class of the Sunbeam. All three are winners in my book.

Finalist: Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

The Wauquiez is the definition of a modern pilot saloon cruiser that packs in so much for its size, while maintaining a high-quality finish throughout.

Perhaps the only slight negative mark is that the cockpit is a little exposed and the helm area compressed. In our full test of the Wauquiez PS42, we could find very little else to fault. The interior in particular is incredible.


A practical cruiser with volume for tanks and stowage yet still sails well. From the vacuum-infused lay-up to the fittings and gadgets, the 42PS oozes quality. Price ex VAT: €380,000

Finalist: Hallberg-Rassy 57

The 57 is arguably the best-looking Hallberg-Rassy to date. Seen afloat, its long Frers lines are bewitching. Look closer and you’ll notice how the Rassy hallmarks, such as fixed windscreen and blue stripes, meld with a modern, powerful hull shape that features a wide transom, straight stem and twin rudders. The resultant sailing qualities are superb, particularly for a centre cockpit design.

It’s the type of boat that you just want to keep sailing offshore. Having cleared the rocky islets off Orust and made it into open water, sailing at 8-8.5 knots upwind in a Force 4, I just wanted to carry on heading to Denmark (despite knowing a front was approaching).

Twin wheels help provide better views forward as well as access through the deep, long, protected cockpit. Down below is a spacious oak (or mahogany) interior on one level, with plenty of natural light – which is appreciated particularly in the saloon and sumptuous aft cabin.


The HR57 is all about easy, elegant push-button sailing at high average speeds – it’s proper luxury, both in the cockpit and down below. Price ex VAT: €1.45m (sail away)

Winner: Sunbeam 46.1

The Sunbeam is a promising if a little conservative-looking offshore cruiser with elegant lines and comparatively low freeboard. It’s the first time the Austrian company has used an arch and the result works both aesthetically and practically, keeping the mainsheet clear of the cockpit and helping to integrate a functional sprayhood. It leaves a well-protected cockpit below with deep benches and a generous fixed table.

The Sunbeam has a solid, stiff build, which results in a comfortable motion sailing upwind through short waves and proved lovely and quiet below decks. We only had a gentle breeze but, like all Sunbeams I’ve sailed, it doesn’t take much to get the 46 moving.


The excellent, protected cockpit sits forward of a generous aft deck

The interior arguably lacks some contemporary styling, but is superbly finished in a tidy layout and I like the optional oak finish with dark smoked oak soles. Perhaps the only compromise for those spending long periods aboard is a relatively compact galley. But the saloon is large and in general it’s hard fault the execution of anything Sunbeam has done.

The best Sunbeam I have seen to date and a brilliant all-round cruising yacht., the 46.1 sails well, offers its crew proper protection and has a top quality build and finish.


LOA: 14.75m (48ft 5in)
LWL: 13.26m (43ft 6in)
Beam (max): 4.45m (14ft 7in)
Draught: 2.2m (7ft 3in)
Displacement (lightship): 13,500kg (29,76lb)
Price (ex. VAT): €389,000
Design: J&J Design

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Dufour 56 Exclusive review: Smooth cruiser offers both style and substance (16 May 2019, 8:58 am)

Does Dufour’s revamped 560 live up to its ‘Exclusive’ badge? David Harding reports from a Solent sea trial on board the Dufour 56 Exclusive

Photos: David Harding

In some respects, Dufour yachts used to be a bit like the early Citroën cars: different, slightly quirky and created by people with firm beliefs and a clear passion for what they were doing.

In recent years they have arguably become more mainstream, though when you blend French pedigree with Italian design and styling you’re unlikely to end up with anything plain or boring.

Dufour’s new 56 Exclusive looks anything but plain or boring. It simply oozes French-Italian chic and, despite conforming to the template of the modern, high-volume production cruiser, it does so in its own way.


Contouring in the topsides above the hull ports is one of many subtle refinements on the new Dufour 56

I discovered this on a day of testing when we experienced everything from bright sunshine, 15 knots of breeze and flat water to torrential rain squalls, a hailstorm, winds nudging 30 knots and the sort of wind-over-tide chop that’s a speciality of Cowes Roads.

It wouldn’t be spoiling the story to say that the new Dufour took it all in its stride, as you would hope. After all, if a boat of this size made heavy weather of a brisk day in the Solent, something would be seriously amiss.

What it did was to demonstrate that Dufour has successfully tweaked and refined the Grand Large 560, first launched in 2014. The changes are mostly detailing and styling, following suggestions by owners and bringing the boat right up to date. In its new guise, the 56 and its 63ft sister now form the ‘Exclusive’ range at the top of Dufour’s line-up, which starts with the 310 and also includes the Drakkar 24 daysailer. A Grand Large 390 has just been announced too.

Old and new

Dufour has been one of the best-known names in production boatbuilding for half a century, since Michel Dufour’s Arpège Safari famously won the Half Ton Cup in 1967. More recently, however, the details have become a little hazy for many people – so what has been happening?

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The company was bought by Cantieri del Pardo (Grand Soleil) in 2001. Umberto Felci’s introduction as designer added further to the Italian influence, though production remained in La Rochelle even during the later and relatively brief ownership by Bavaria. Now back in Italian hands following a management buy-out in 2013, Dufour has since then continued to extend its size range upwards.

Building ever-bigger boats is what many production yards are doing because, as we saw in our test of the Hanse 548, owners are increasingly buying models of 50ft and above to do what earlier generations did with their 30-footers.

Like its competitors, the Dufour 56 is designed to make life easy and to appeal to those new to sailing: although those of us who spent our childhoods messing around in dinghies and small cruisers might take a while to get our heads around it, these 50-something-footers are increasingly being bought as first boats. To a large extent that’s because they’re becoming so easy to handle, often with self-tacking jibs and most of the sail-handling manageable from the cockpit with the help of electric winches.


The substantial table fulfils multiple functions in the cockpit

Not so very long ago, cruisers over 35ft (10.5m) or so were widely seen as offshore yachts. If you wanted to hop around the coast or across the Channel there were lots of smaller choices, including many that were broadly in the style of big dinghies, so the 35s and above would often have bullet-proof masthead rigs with in-line spreaders, sometimes a second mast to divide the sail area into easily managed portions, hulls that were deep and narrow, modest freeboard, relatively long keels, small portholes, heavyish displacement, and interiors with lots of bulkheads for rigidity and pillar handholds so you wouldn’t be thrown around too far in a seaway.

Now look at a boat such as the Dufour 56. It has a beamy, shallow-sectioned hull with broad aft sections and generous freeboard, a bolt-on iron fin keel, a fractional, swept-spreader rig with most of the area in the mainsail, a wide, open and relatively shallow cockpit and, by traditional standards, an extraordinarily light, roomy, wide open interior with an array of large ports and opening hatches.

And it’s on the light side even by the standards of modern cruisers, its 17.5 tonnes giving a displacement/waterline ratio of just 143 although the modest rig keeps the sail area/displacement ratio below 20.


The Dufour 56 boasts a comfortable helming position with a good view forward

Scaling up

The simple fact is that, like smaller designs, many boats of this size have become big dinghies. In some respects that’s no bad thing.

Beamy hulls mean spacious accommodation, high freeboard keeps the coachroof low and flat for generous sun-lounging space, and lightish displacement ensures respectable performance with a modest amount of sail provided the wetted area is kept under control.

While such boats might not be the first choice of every bluewater sailor, they’re increasingly being seen in the various ARCs and rallies and, when not sailing off into the sunset, they usually make much handier and more welcoming weekend cruisers and cottages for families and friends than do more traditional offshore cruising yachts.

Looking more closely at the Dufour 56, we see that it has a fine entry, a shallow forefoot, maximum beam carried almost to the transom, an L-keel giving a draught of 8ft 2in (2.5m), a respectably large rudder, and a chine running to the stern from about two-thirds of the way aft. It almost goes without saying that there’s a plumb bow and, at the other end, a hinge-down transom giving access to a garage for a tender.

Above deck, the rig is supported by just two sets of swept spreaders. Where it departs markedly from the norm is in the low gooseneck. Barely chest high for someone 6ft tall, it makes handling a conventional mainsail possible for many people with no need for mountaineering.

We were unable to experience this as our test boat had in-mast reefing. Both the main and the standard self-tacking jib were in Dacron and from the Elvstrom loft in France, the main being without battens since Z-Spars has always advised against them with its in-mast reefing.

To get the boat going at its best, you would want to replace the Dacron sails with laminates and/or opt for a conventional mainsail. A taller rig in carbon is an option too.


A wide, flat coachroof with lots of hatches and windows – just beware of smooth surfaces underfoot

Given the conditions on the day of our test, the reduced area of the in-mast main with its hollow leech made little difference upwind even if its shape was inevitably compromised.

With more than 20 knots across the deck much of the time, we were fully powered up to the extent that we wound in a few rolls during the course of the day and then some more while attempting to skirt around the edge of a particularly black rain squall. We wound in some jib too, which is never a way to see a self-tacker at its best.

Happy at the helm

Given the in-mast reefing, the Dufour 56 seemed to be up to the mark in terms of performance. The log on our test boat gave very different readings on each tack, averaging between 7.5 and 8 knots upwind depending on the wind speed and sea state.


Facnor’s FlatDeck furler keeps the jib’s tack close to the deck

Sailing was a pleasurable experience on the whole. There was no play in Lewmar’s linkage between the rudder and the twin wheels and the boat carried just a modest amount of weather helm.

A folding four-bladed prop ensured no vibration over the rudder, which gripped well when we provoked the boat by putting the helm down in a gust with the sheets pinned in: it hung on until the angle of heel was well beyond the comfortable.

There was a time a few years ago when keels on boats with beamy, flat-sectioned hulls often lacked both depth and weight.

As soon as these boats heeled more than a few degrees – as they would all too readily – the keel and the (necessarily- shallow) rudder lost much of their grip and control would become rather difficult.

It’s good to see that the depth of keels and rudders across the size range with many builders has become rather more realistic since then. A draught significantly less than the Dufour 56’s 8ft 3in (2.5m) might present some challenges, which is why the alternative keel is just 12in (30cm) shallower.

The only aspect of the Dufour 56’s performance that raised any questions was its tendency to slam now and again. The angle of heel made no appreciable difference, though the ride softened noticeably when the steep Solent chop became higher and longer.

Every boat has a length or shape of wave it doesn’t like. Forward sections as shallow as the Dufour 56’s on a modern yacht tend to be on the flat side, and this probably accounts for the occasional thud.

In other respects, all seemed well. It could be pinched mercilessly while still maintaining steerageway. When the foils eventually stalled and we put the bow down again, laminar flow would soon return and we would be off.

All told the Dufour 56 was pleasantly responsive, as good a performer as the sails would allow, and hard to upset in moderately testing conditions. It could be thrown around and didn’t complain.


Despite a rig geared very much towards short-handed cruising on this boat, the Dufour 56 proved to be a powerful performer to windward

As for the crew’s lot, tacking with the self-tacking jib was as simple as can be, the angle between tacks averaging around 80° or a little over. This would be improved with laminate sails and standing rigging (1×19 on this boat) that wasn’t still bedding in. With the sheets cracked, boat-speed increased through the 8s and 9s and would doubtless have reached double figures given a conventional mainsail.

Control stations

In addition to the greater depth and grip of modern-day keels and rudders, one factor helping control in breezy conditions is the German mainsheet system so the helmsman can reach the sheet. On the Dufour 56, the tails are led back to Lewmar 55s (ours were electric) each side by the wheel. These double for the genoa if you have one.

For a spinnaker or Code 0, an extra set of winches can be fitted on plinths just forward of the wheels. Everything else is led to a pair of Lewmar 50s on the coachroof. The starboard one is manual as standard. It handles the sheet for the self-tacking jib and feels rather under-powered. I would be tempted to upgrade to a larger size, though at least you can cross-winch to take advantage of the electric power to port that’s included with the ‘Premium’ package.


The deck-stepped rig has twin backstays and two sets of swept spreaders

Another challenge in the cockpit becomes evident in a breeze: crossing from side to side abaft the wheels. It’s a long way to slide downhill or claw your way uphill across a wide smooth sole.

Removable foot-braces and handholds on the inboard sides of the helm consoles would make life easier. Moving around further forward between deck and cockpit I again found myself searching for things to hold on to or brace against.

Between the helms and companionway is a substantial table with an optional fridge in its aft end and a useful stowage bin forward.

There’s also a small locker to port abaft the wheel to supplement the half-depth locker that extends right outboard beneath the starboard seat.

A hatch in the sole lets you drop warps and fenders down into the tender garage, while a liferaft would normally live under the step that takes you down to the bathing platform once you’ve lowered the transom. Across the stern, if you want it, is the full picnic/barbecue set – sink, cooker and so on.


Assessing a layout below decks when a boat is in its berth is one thing. When it’s pounding upwind in 25 knots of breeze it’s quite another. Thankfully the Dufour 56 provides a good range of vertical handholds in and around the companionway as well as other bits of joinery to hold on to or lean against as you move forward. It’s less of a dance floor than some.

First impressions are of a bright, airy, welcoming saloon. Ours was finished in light oak, moabi being standard and teak an alternative. The sole is raised, allowing space for tankage and batteries beneath, making it wider and reducing the otherwise-excessive headroom (which is still nearly 7ft).


The interior is stylish but also surprisingly practical. Here the finish is in light oak; moabi comes as standard

Layout-wise it’s twin double aft cabins, the port one having an en-suite heads and shower. Instead of a heads adjoining the starboard cabin, this owner opted for an extended bunk-cabin with a washing machine at its forward end. This led to a shorter saloon seat incorporating a lift-up/drop-down chart table rather than the usual fixed one.

Forward of the saloon and down a step is the galley, running across the Dufour 56’s full beam. This is a layout the yard has favoured for many years now and I’m assured it works well on a social level – it opens up the saloon and makes it easier for people working in the galley to socialise with the company in the saloon.

It also puts the galley close to the point of least motion in the middle of the boat. The inevitable trade-off is greater distance from the cockpit.

In the forecabin is a choice of island berth with heads and shower split either side aft, or a berth offset to port with the heads forward. Right in the bow is the usual choice of large locker (as we had, and reached through a hatch in the deck) or a crew’s/skipper’s cabin.


The owner’s cabin, with offset berth and heads is situated forward

Poking around in recesses and under the sole revealed extensive inner mouldings, with limber holes cut through the stiffening matrix to let any water drain into the bilge.

The hull has a PVC core, cut away around the seacocks so they pass only through the outer laminate. Detailing and lighting both look good, and access to the structure and vital systems is as good as the extensive mouldings allow.

Our verdict


Wine storage is built in beneath the sole

This new Dufour is undoubtedly a stylish boat, but not one where style has won at the expense of substance. The ergonomics and practicalities have been well thought out for the sort of use it’s most likely to see. It also sails nicely, offers a lot of boat for the money and is easy to handle under both sail and power.

Like other boats of this general nature, it’s tilted towards gentle cruising than serious offshore work. Traditionalists might be tempted to place the Dufour 56 in the ‘lifestyle boat’ category although, as discussed earlier, it will probably perform multiple roles and end up covering a fair few ocean miles.

With some upgrades to the rig and sail wardrobe I think it could be quite a potent performer in the right hands. Our test boat didn’t do full justice to the design in that respect, but in-mast reefing is always a compromise, as are Dacron sails on a boat of this size.

Whatever any traditionalists might think, the demands of today’s buyers are changing and the Dufour 56 is proof of that. It’s a boat I suspect buyers will find a pleasure to live with.


LOA: 16.30m (53ft 6in)
LWL: 15.17m (49ft 9in)
Beam (max): 5.04m (16ft 4in)
Draught: 2.50m(8ft 2in)
Displacement (lightship): 17,600kg (38,800lb)
Ballast: 4,900kg (10,802lb)
Sail area (100% foretriangle): 130.9m2 (1,409ft2)
Berths: 8-12
Engine: 110hp
Water: 680lt 150gal
Fuel: 500lt 110gal
Sail area/displacement ratio: 19.6
Displacement/LWL ratio: 143
Price from: £350,000 (ex. VAT)
Price as tested: £418,400 (ex. VAT)
Design: Umberto Felci


The post Dufour 56 Exclusive review: Smooth cruiser offers both style and substance appeared first on Yachting World.

Maiden refit: How Tracy Edwards’ sailing legend was brought back to life (15 May 2019, 7:47 am)

Maiden is the Farr-designed 58-footer which Tracy Edwards and her all-female crew sailed to 2nd overall in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race. The yacht recently had a full restoration before setting off on a round the world trip to raise funds and awareness for girls’ education under the banner of The Maiden Factor

Maiden has been restored to her former glory. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Few yachts, and fewer skippers, become truly famous – famous in the sense that the everyman on the street would recognise them by a single name. Maiden did though, as did Tracy.

The controversial all-female team, led by a petite dynamo of a skipper, gained a celebrity status that went beyond the sports pages of the British press. From her christening by HRH The Duchess of York to the team’s final, triumphant return back to the Solent in 1990 as double leg winners (the crew wearing swimsuits), Maiden attracted unprecedented column inches to become one the most famous yachts of the era.

But after the race, while Edwards’ remained in the spotlight, Maiden was sold on. Eventually, after 24 years under various ownerships, the aluminium-hulled yacht was found languishing in the Indian Ocean.


Large sections of hull had to be cut out and replaced due to metal corrosion

Maiden had been abandoned in Eden Island Marina, on Mahe, in the Seychelles and was corroding into oblivion. When Edwards heard of her plight, she launched a crowd-funding campaign to bring Maiden home, which unlocked a surprising depth of affection for the boat. Over £40,000 was raised as hundreds of individuals pledged just a few pounds towards her recovery.

It took nearly three years to secure the full funds to ship Maiden back – she was long past being sailable – with the substantial refit costs covered by the generosity of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, who had sponsored Maiden’s original Whitbread bid. She eventually made it back to Hamble in 2017, where she underwent a thorough refit, before setting sail on her three-year world tour in late 2018.

The refit brought Maiden full circle. The yacht had been designed by Bruce Farr and first raced the 1981-82 Whitbread as Disque D’Or III, before competing in the 1986-87 BOC single-handed challenge. Edwards shipped her back from Cape Town to Hamble the same year. When the crew motored her from Southampton up the Hamble River, she nearly sank.

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Her original refit, in preparation for the 1989 Whitbread, was done against the clock and on the cheap – her famous grey livery, for example, was never quite the right colour for her sponsors Royal Jordanian Airways because the team used a few pots of end of line paint they’d got free.

This time, the paint is the right shade of grey. However, the project has many echoes of the past. Howard Gibbons, who was the original project manager for Maiden, returned to manage the restoration and refit.


The original Maiden crew were reunited with the yacht last year

Amelia Ralphs, who is the crew engineer and was a key part of the refit team, recalls: “I think what’s fun about this project is that there are so many manufacturers and individuals that were around for the original who have invested in it this time around.”

Maiden‘s original specification

She points out a custom bow hatch, which Goiot created for the boat as an exact replica of the original. “We haven’t paid anything more for that hatch than we would have for a normal off-the-shelf one, but Goiot have invested in the legacy of what we’re trying to achieve here.”

The restoration aimed to balance between remaining authentic to Maiden’s original glory, and bringing her in line with modern coding requirements. Throughout her world tour, Maiden will take paying guests on both offshore legs and day sails, so she needs to meet modern safety and environmental requirements, be easy to handle, and be suitable for publicity and marketing activation activities, as well as transocean passages.


The original wheels were aluminium with pink leather, but the new ones are custom pink carbon from Carbonautica. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Above decks, the biggest changes have been to the rig, as the runners and vast overlapping headsails favoured by Whitbread racers are not practical for corporate sailing.

Instead Maiden has a new fractional rig with aft-swept spreaders, created by Marine Results and Seldén. Hamble designer Tony Castro has also been involved in much of the design work for the refit.

Otherwise Maiden is strikingly similar to her Whitbread layout on deck. The deep working pit area has barely changed. “It’s really unique because it’s just so old fashioned, but it’s really functional,” comments Ralphs. “The depth makes it really safe, you feel really secure in it.”

Detailed study

Many of the fittings are in the original positions. For reference, Ralphs found herself studying an incredibly detailed scale model a Maiden super-fan had made.

“It was in a museum and then it moved to my kitchen – I’ve been really worried about breaking it for months,” says Ralphs. “And that model is so accurate it was genuinely valuable because there are details on that model you can’t find in any picture.”


Engineer Amelia Ralphs has worked to ensure the crew can be self-sufficient in maintaining Maiden during the round the world trip. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The winch layout is almost identical – just two backstay runner winches have been removed, leaving 14 still on deck.

“We’ve got pedestals but moving back to the original set up we’ve got string pulls rather than buttons, it’s all above deck so there’s no risk of leaks down below,” says Ralphs.

They will sail offshore with nine crew, inshore with 12, including a permanent team of three. Ralphs says a dip-pole gybe requires eight pairs of hands. There are analogue instruments on deck, all chosen to be as close a match as possible.

“The compasses were the last two Plastimo black surrounded with black card compasses I could find in all of Europe – from two different countries – because that was the original colour scheme on the compasses.”


Instruments are a mix of retro-style analogue and latest B&G electronics. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The entire hull and deck went through a lengthy shot blasting process to strip 30 years of paint, filler and insulating foam back to bare metal. The deck itself had relatively little other work done to it, which has left some areas pooling with water as it’s no longer perfectly fair.

The hull, on the other hand, required major structural repairs. The elegant sloped transom was almost entirely rebuilt, and the keel had to be largely replaced. The skeg was found to be almost entirely rotted away, and was removed.

Up to standard

Interior structural work was needed to both repair corrosion and upgrade the yacht to meet modern safety requirements. Watertight bulkheads have been added abaft the sail locker and galley, as well as a proper forwards heads and fireproof engine and machinery bay.


The storage frame and bunk layout is very similar to her Whitbread days, although Maiden will sail with three fewer crew offshore. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Otherwise the interior changes have been minor, the bunk numbers reduced to double rather than triple stacks as Maiden will be sailing with nine, rather than 12-14 crew.

A pilot berth has been added next to the chart table, and the analogue instruments on deck are supported by full-spec electronics and comms systems from B&G, Inmarsat and Mastervolt, including four on-deck cameras.

One area would be the envy of many a round the world crew – what Ralphs calls ‘the library’, a convenient space just under the companionway with a single seat, wet locker, small cuddies for personal items and an aft heads.


The nav station is abaft a new watertight bulkhead and also incorporates a pilot berth for the first time. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

It’s a place to store sunglasses and grab bags, or regroup your thoughts before coming on or off watch, separated from the living quarters by a new watertight door.

Maiden may no longer be racing, but her round the world voyage – from the UK to India then on to Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, the Pacific North West, down to Uruguay, around Cape Horn, back up to the Caribbean, through the Panama canal in both directions, a transatlantic back to Britain, and then a final return to Jordan – will be an epic endeavour.


LOA: 17.71m (58ft 1in)
LWL: 15.24m (50ft 0in)
Beam: 5.02m (16ft 5in)
Draught: 3.20m (10ft 6in)
Displacement: 21,773kg (48,000lb)

The post Maiden refit: How Tracy Edwards’ sailing legend was brought back to life appeared first on Yachting World.

Borrow any boat: The yacht renting platforms shaking up the way we sail (14 May 2019, 8:14 am)

A thriving new marketplace for instant pay-to-play boating will shake-up how we go afloat. Toby Hodges explains the four different types of yachting renting platforms

For many young sailors renting makes much more sense than owning. Photo: ClicknBoat

Picture this: you’re on holiday and find yourself in a new area where, like most sailors, you are drawn to the water. Wouldn’t it be nice to get afloat for a few hours or a day or two, you ask your partner or family?

You click on an app on your phone, search for a yacht to sail, a RIB to play on or a motorboat to stay on overnight, and you’re handed the keys that same day. You may not yet know it, but these kind of instant, accessible yacht renting experiences are already available.

People increasingly seek easily accessible, hassle-free, pay-to-play experiences or memberships rather than own products. To an increasing number of younger sailors, the traditional route into ownership, running costs and marina fees seems archaic and completely nonsensical.


You can stay aboard Este, a 30ft Jeanneau in Portland Marina from £75 a night

A host of new companies has recently exploded onto the marine scene to help address this growing desire to rent, borrow, or share boats. These also appeal to those who own boats yet still seek something or somewhere different to try, or alternatively want to make some money back in rent while their yacht sits idle.

The more I looked into the yacht renting options available, the more I realised just how much I had already been missing over the last couple of years.

How it works

The plethora of start-ups in this sector are founded on the same notion: that boating is too expensive and has a reputation of serving only the wealthy. These accommodation/rental/sharing schemes are devised to help open up the availability and attractiveness of boating and offer potential income to existing boat owners.


A B&B with imagination! Why not stay aboard an historic barge?

The marine industry in general is increasingly under threat from a declining number of boat buyers. It is well documented that, while the baby boomer generation may still be buying, and buying increasingly larger yachts, such owners are not being replaced.

When it comes to boats, cars, houses or phones, the millennial generation (those born between 1981 and 2000) is less likely to buy anything. Instead they seek instant services, quick thrills and the ability to share their experiences easily – an economy that has exploded thanks to services such as Airbnb and Uber.

“There is a whole new generation who wouldn’t think of buying a boat, but they are using the sharing economy all the time and are hungry for new experiences,” explains Matt Ovenden, founder of Borrow a Boat, one of the rapidly growing peer-to-peer (P2P) yacht renting rental platforms. Experiences, he says, are the new ownership.

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These new marine-based rental sites use similar marketplace platforms to Airbnb, in that they list boats available in a variety of locations together with prices and filters to narrow your search.

The renter then contacts the boat owner through the site to arrange the terms and details and can soon be staying aboard or sailing a different boat in different waters every trip or holiday. They use booking processes that are quick, interactive and familiar to the digital generation.

It’s the boat owner’s responsibility to insure the craft for this purpose and to code it according to their country’s regulations. As with Airbnb, a contract is agreed directly between the boat owner and the renter, using the platform as the medium.


The warming interior of Onderneming, pictured above

And in a similar way to the search engines and websites we have become accustomed to relying on, such as Amazon, Tripadvisor and, ratings and reviews are also a key criterion to these yacht renting marketplaces.

Alex Katsomitros, from Click&Boat, one of the largest new P2P boating platforms, estimates this form of rental is up to 35% cheaper than traditional yacht charter. “P2P boating turns what used to be a mainstream, run-of-the-mill tourism service into a personalised experience with a whiff of adventure and originality,” he maintains.

Boataffair’s founder, Adrian Walker, describes the trend as an ‘experience economy’. “That’s what millennials are looking for. They are not necessarily even renting, but they want to share their experiences, to have a fantastic time with friends or family.” Their companies offer tangible appeal to the masses who consider boating to be too expensive, elitist or too difficult.


Click & Boat aims to bring boating to the masses

“The new generation of owners is very different,” Beneteau’s general manager Gianguido Girotti agrees. “They are used to buying everything online. So boat clubs, charter and fractional ownership are very important.” Groupe Beneteau, often seen as leading the way in the production yacht sector, recently purchased Band of Boats, a charter and community platform offering boats to suit all levels of budgets.

So what’s on offer? We’ve broken down this plethora of new marine marketplace companies into four sectors.

Accommodation only

Those who travel for work will likely seek reliable hotel chains where they know they’ll have a comfortable bed, a quiet room and a good night’s sleep. Come holiday time, however, they may instead yearn for escapism, something totally different from the reliable/monotonous norm – the ice hotel, the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, the gypsy caravan.

Yachts present another imaginative form of accommodation and, as the vast majority sit empty, the potential to sell dockside cabin space has appeal. Many of the new boat rental businesses also offer accommodation only, but there is only one dedicated marine site in the UK.

Beds on Board is the brainchild of brothers Jason and Tim Ludlow. The idea came to Jason while he was working at a sailing events management company and crewing on Sir Peter Ogden’s mini maxi Jethou in 2015. Following a race at Palma Vela, Ogden asked Jason what could be done with all the empty boats sitting in the marinas. ‘Beds’ was the obvious answer.


Boutique accommodation on a narrow boat in London

The Ludlows quickly saw the demand, especially with ‘non boaty people’. “There are no new customers without new experiences,” says Tim. It soon became obvious they needed to work closely with marina companies such as MDL in the UK, which Tim believes benefits the industry. “Who doesn’t want new customers and who doesn’t want a more vibrant marina? We’re helping boat owners to stay boat owners.”

Beds on Board now has 1,700-2,000 boats listed, of which around half are yachts, with around 80% in the UK. As well as a trend for ‘boat savvy clients’ the company typically sees families looking for celebratory occasions or mini breaks and couples looking for ‘affordable, unique experiences’.

“We pour people into the marine funnel,” says Tim Ludlow. “The question is what the industry can do to convert them.”

P2P rental

This recent sector of peer-to-peer rental – as opposed to the traditional types of bareboat charter – is already booming, so much so, it’s tricky to know which site to choose to start searching for your ideal rental break.

Each platform tends to allow renters to customise their sailing holiday/trip to their liking. “Peer-to-peer ultimately has the power to bring choice and availability to the market,” says Borrow a Boat’s founder Matt Ovenden.


Fancy chartering a classic Swan for some racing in the Caribbean? It’s never been easier

Ovenden has four young children and was looking for a boat he could afford a couple of years ago, but could not justify the expense of buying one. He recognised the problem of boats being under-utilised assets.

A serial entrepreneur, he was looking for a new innovation at the time. “The sharing economy is one of the biggest areas of growth but no one in the UK had brought it to the marine business,” he explains.

So instead of buying a boat he set up Borrow a Boat, as a direct marketplace for yacht renting. “We now have 17,000 boats [in over 60 countries] from RIBs to yachts and superyachts… and have also launched a section for dinghies and paddleboards.”

Two types of listings are now offered: instant booking or request to book. “You can wake up in the morning and find the nearest boat to you,” he continues. “The owner sets the rules and price [including being able to choose the minimum sailing qualifications needed]. They’re the seller and we’re the marketplace.”


Getting afloat for a few hours can be the best way to see many countries, including Turkey

Click&Boat, Europe’s largest peer-to-peer yacht renting site, was set-up five years ago by Paris-based entrepreneurs and has already managed over 60,000 rentals and €40m in earnings by boat owners. It says 40% of its global users are millennials.

“Among the million boats in France, very few are used for more than ten days a year… with the annual expenses representing, on average, 10% of the price of the boat every year,” says François Gabart, who invested in the company in January and has listed his own RM yacht on the site.

Competitor brand Getmyboat in the US describes itself as the‘ world’s largest rental and water experience marketplace.’ It lists 130,000 boats in 184 countries and caters for all craft and boating ventures. Established in San Francisco in 2013, it has already seen 100,000 downloads of its messaging app.

Borrow a Boat’s Matt Ovenden says typical clients are experienced charterers, millennial groups in their twenties (short notice, with skipper), families wanting to do something adventurous, and groups of people coming back to boating.

Boat swapping

A house exchange scheme often sounds tempting. A couple of months in a wood cabin in the South Island of New Zealand would be pretty appealing at any time. But it can be argued that houses tend to be very personal, get used a lot more than boats and come with more attachments and clutter – so a boat swap sounds ideal.


Visiting places you can only get to by boat, like this spot off Cotia, Brazil, is a key draw

Adrian and Natalya Walker founded Boataffair two years ago in Switzerland as a boutique platform for yacht renting experiences. While it started as a website for owners to list or rent boats, much like the platforms already mentioned it has grown to include boat swapping.

“Our boat swapping is really getting traction from across the globe because it gets boat owners afloat easily and helps them get more value out of their boats,” Walker tells me. He explains that coding and insuring a boat for charter can be a costly process, so the process of a straight swap of private boats via his company’s site is comparatively simple.

Boataffair also has appealing VIP experiences, which ranges from a one-hour trip to a two-week bespoke cruise. Walker says boat owners appreciate the chance to be able to show what they’re able to offer, from weddings aboard, to cave diving and exploring deserted beaches.

Fractional ownership

This is a more established avenue for boat owners looking for some financial returns, or for those looking to rent more consistently. Fractional ownership or membership schemes, which provide a certain amount of guaranteed sailing (and potential income), have existed for years now.

The largest is SailTime, a US-based fractional boat membership franchise founded in 2001. The model offers both membership and a taste of ownership ‘without the constraints’. So those looking to buy a boat can hand over the management to SailTime to help offset purchase and maintenance worries and costs.


You could own a yacht share, with a guaranteed income

Yachts are professionally managed at local bases and used by only six to eight competent members. Typically, an owner’s annual net income ranges from 4% to 6% of the boat’s base price. It’s a similar model used by most large bareboat charter companies, which manage boats to rent through buy to let programmes.

One of the largest charter companies, Dream Yacht Charter, recently launched Dream Fractional Ownership, calling it the world’s first five-year fractional sailing programme. The scheme enables four joint owners of a 45ft catamaran to enjoy five weeks of sailing time each on that boat, or the option to sail on a variety of yachts within the group’s worldwide fleet.

The owners each receive a guaranteed income of 5% of the selling price paid annually for five years, giving back the original buy-in share of 25%. At the end of the five-year programme, the owners can sell the yacht and split the profits.

Both Dream Yacht and Sunsail, meanwhile, have ‘sail by the cabin’ offers as a way to enjoy a sailing adventure without needing any experience or having to book the entire yacht.

Groupe Beneteau has partnered with SailTime in the US and also launched its own Boat Club in Les Sables d’Olonne, which focuses on boats under 30ft and involves a monthly membership fee to access a range of craft – both investments aimed “to show that boat sharing is part of our strategy,” says Beneteau’s general manager Gianguido Girotti. “We are undergoing a cultural change from a provider of products to a provider of services. It’s the biggest shift since leasing, which has already completely opened up the market.”

Other yacht renting sites

P2P Rental

Membership schemes

  • Flexisail – Solent and East Coast UK-based, founded in 2004, offering ‘ownership without buying’.
  • Pure Latitude – Annual membership with flexible bookings available in the Solent, Plymouth and Sardinia.
  • Fairview Sailing Boat Club – Solent-based partners with Dream Yacht Charter to give access to 1,000+ charter boats for a £495 monthly fee.

The post Borrow any boat: The yacht renting platforms shaking up the way we sail appeared first on Yachting World.

Wendy Tuck profile: The pioneering yachtswoman making her own luck (13 May 2019, 8:31 am)

Clipper skipper Wendy Tuck is the first woman to win a round-the-world race. Helen Fretter finds out how she got there

Tuck during a Clipper stop-off in Derry. Photo: Martin McKeown

Wendy Tuck did not set out with ambitions of breaking new ground for female sailing when she signed up for her second Clipper Round the World Race. She hadn’t even planned to do a whole circumnavigation, instead offering to do a couple of legs as a returning skipper to help out. But the opportunity came up, and Tuck knows how to make the best of chances in life.

‘Wendo’, as she is widely known, 52, grew up in New South Wales, Australia, but the yacht clubs of Sydney were not her world. Instead Tuck played soccer and, despite living in one of Sydney’s less affluent areas away from the coast, developed an inconvenient passion for surfing.

“My family had always had little fishing boats, so I’d always gone out on the ocean with Dad. But as a kid we surfed – we didn’t live close to the water so it used to take me two hours at least to get to the surf. I’d get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, walk an hour to the train station… all that sort of stuff. But I’ve always had a real love for the ocean.”


Tuck says her leadership style is ‘hands on’, either clearing weed from the rudders or at the helm. Photo: OnEdition

Sailing didn’t come onto her radar until she was in her twenties, married to an Englishman and living in Spain. Some acquaintances were selling a small twin-keeled yacht and, confident that sailing couldn’t be too much of a mystery to someone who’d grown up around fishing boats and surf breaks, Tuck decided to buy it.

“We bought this yacht with no idea how to sail,” she recalls. “When we took it out the first time we read the book and did what the book said to do, and went ‘Holy shit! We’re moving!’”

Tuck later divorced and returned to Australia, where she got chatting by chance to an older yachtsman about his wooden classic. The pair started sailing together for fun, and Tuck got a chance to develop her skills.

“We just did a few twilight races on this beautiful 30ft boat. And he taught me all the seamanship skills; we used to sail it on and off the mooring with just the two of us, and onto the pontoons just to see if we could do it! It would be blowing 40 knots in the harbour and we’d just go for a sail, because the boat loved that.”

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In her thirties, working in an unfulfilling job in a travel agent – “I was sort of not made to work in an office!” – Tuck began to wonder if sailing could offer some more interesting opportunities.

“I thought maybe I could make a career out of this, just teaching or skippering charter boats, and I wanted to get into racing. So when the travel company I was working for went bankrupt, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to go and get my first ticket.”

Ambitions to race

Tuck qualified as a sailing instructor and began working for a large Sydney charter operator. But the racing bug had struck, and Tuck wanted to do more – specifically the Sydney Hobart Race, which didn’t fit with the busy charter schedule. “Every year, I’d ask ‘Can I have the week off?’. No! So eventually I just quit being employed full time and worked freelance so I could do my first Hobart,” she recalls.

It was a risk and, although she was able to pursue more racing, competing on boats like Wild Thing and ultimately earning her place on the honours board as an 11-time Sydney Hobart veteran, it came without the security of a regular income.


Photo: OnEdition

“It’s tough, you’re never going to make a fortune, but I always got by. Then in winter for the last few years I started working on one of the [Sydney] ferries as well. So I was first mate, and I was thinking ‘Do I get my next ticket so I can actually drive it?’ Then I got a call up from Justin Taylor, at Clipper.”

Tuck had applied for a Clipper skipper role two races ago, and had nearly been offered a position but didn’t have the correct visa to work in the UK for the training period before the race. But the requirements changed for the 2015-16 Race and, with visa issues resolved, she skippered Da Nang Viet Nam in the race, finishing 7th.

Her first Clipper Race was tough. They were knocked down in the North Pacific. Tuck was in her bunk at the time and was knocked unconscious and suffered broken ribs.

Wendy-Tuck-Clipper-Round-the-world-race-skipper-headshot-credit-oneditionThe more enduring challenge for Tuck’s first race, and for so many skippers and participants in the Clipper race, was the challenge of managing 60 different people over the course of an 11-month race, each with varying experience levels but also with very diverse expectations, fears, and ambitions.

Completing a whole Clipper Round the World Race costs £49,500; individual legs range from £5,500 to £7,000.

By definition, the sailors who sign up for it are often driven and successful individuals with strong personalities.

Each yacht’s crew is made up of a mix of ages, gender and nationalities (Tuck says that on her first race she had a high number of Yorkshiremen on her boat: “The Aussie sense of humour is pretty similar, very blunt!”), with sailors evenly split across the fleet so each yacht has crew with different levels of sailing experience and aptitude, as well as the required numbers of medics and engineers.

Leading new crew

There are also a huge number of crew changes – just eight of Sanya’s crew completed the whole round the world course; the remaining 60 were all ‘leggers’, booked on for one or more individual stages. Getting an ever-changing balance of personalities to gel would be a big ask for any leader, let alone the sole skipper of a 70ft yacht leading a crew in a demanding and unfamiliar environment.

“The first time was a little bit tougher – we had really different personalities and not quite as much experience,” recalls Tuck. “This time I had a couple more people who could sail quite well, and everyone just gelled together. I don’t know if it was anything I did, but it was quite clear to me it was a tight knit team straight from the beginning.”


Tuck is the first woman to take the helm for two consecutive Clipper races. Photo: OnEdition

Tuck says one of the hardest aspects for the role was when crew looked to her for more emotional support than she could give. “Some people have the attitude that I’m supposed to be their entertainment manager and keep them happy the whole time. You can only make yourself happy, no one else is responsible for your happiness. I can’t help you. I can sail the boat well, but I’m not here to make you happy.”

Anyone expecting a motherly approach from Tuck was on the wrong boat: Wendo is quick to crack a smile but freely admits she’s not the most naturally compassionate person. “It’s a really horrible trait not to have but I know I don’t have it. If someone’s really injured and is really in a bad way, that’s different. But if it’s just ‘Oh I hurt my finger today,’ I’m just like ‘Man up a bit’.”

Having been persuaded to return for a second full Clipper Race, Tuck was allocated the Sanya Serenity Coast team, which got off to a strong start with a line honours finish on the gruelling opening stage from Liverpool to Uruguay. That set the tone of the race (they went on to pick up five 2nd places, and a clutch of bonus points at the various scoring gates), and the team kept a competitive attitude throughout, which clearly fitted with their skipper’s no-nonsense approach.

“There was nobody lame – there’s always someone who you might say doesn’t do anything, but there was only a couple of people that you’d want to push off the boat, which out of 60 people is not bad!” she admits honestly. They took a leg win into Tuck’s homeport of Sydney, which she rates as one of her favourite moments of the race, and was first Clipper yacht – and first female skipper – in the Sydney Hobart.


Sanya racing off Sydney’s Serenity Coast

The 2017-18 edition still brought its own challenges. Tuck says the South China Sea was by far the most draining stage of the race, slaloming fishing boats and nets as they sailed to Sanya in peak trawler season. She showed me a screenshot she’d taken from the day they met “a wall of Korean fishing boats coming down towards us”. She’s not exaggerating; it looks like a military formation with nowhere for a 70ft racing yacht to go.

As skipper she was also tasked with informing her crew of major incidents, including the death of Simon Speirs in the Southern Ocean, and the grounding of Greenings off Cape Town. After the Greenings incident Clipper added a paid first mate, an ‘additionally qualified person’ on each boat besides the amateur mates. For skippers like Tuck, this changed the dynamic aboard.

“It was tough at first trying to figure out how to bring them into play. Before [they joined] I’d always sleep when I could, knowing that once it was going to be rough I would be awake. So my sleeping patterns were all over the shop, like every other skipper’s – two hours here, 20 minutes there. But then to have someone else and one of us had to be on watch all the time, it was very hard to get into that.”

Although the additional mates were introduced for safety reasons, Tuck says that some had a big impact in how some boats performed. “You knew there was someone one deck 24/7 going ‘keep this boat going fast’. So I think it will make it a lot more competitive.”


Wendy Tuck and Nikki Hendersen make history durin the 2017-18 Clipper Round The World Race

Going into the final ocean stage, an eastbound Atlantic crossing from New York to Derry/Londonderry, then on to Liverpool, Tuck’s Sanya team was in the overall lead. But when Nikki Henderson, at 24 the youngest ever Clipper Race skipper, won the race to Derry/Londonderry the overall win was still up for grabs.

However, Tuck and the Sanya team had done enough, finishing ahead of Henderson’s Visit Seattle into Liverpool to take the overall win by just four points. Asked about the record achievement on the finish, Tuck said: “I didn’t start the race with that in mind at all. To find out that’s what has happened is extraordinary.”

Tuck was the first woman to sail back-to-back Clipper races, but there has been a female skipper in seven of the last eight Clipper Races, ever since Samantha Fuller skippered New York in the 2002 edition. A decade before that Vivien Cherry skippered an entry in the 1992 British Steel Challenge – the ‘pay to race’ sector has long been ahead of the professional racing world when it comes to gender equality, and Tuck says she always felt that she has been selected purely on merit for the unique skillset required by a Clipper skipper.

That’s not to say she never met opposition – after crew allocation both Tuck and Henderson had crew tell race organisers that they did not want to be with a female skipper, or such a young skipper.

Wendo has never seen herself as a trailblazer – from soccer to surfing to sailing, she has always naturally gravitated to male-dominated sports and considers it a ‘non-issue’. But she does hope that her and Henderson’s domination of the Clipper Race might help drive things forward for female sailors. “I hope so, absolutely. Just, anything’s possible isn’t it? I love saying that: anything’s possible.”


Tuck and her team celebrate in Liverpool. Credit: OnEdition

Whether she likes it or not, Wendo is an inspiration. She tells me about a friend’s daughter’s careers day. “She’s about 13 and was asked, ‘If you could be anyone for a day who would you want to be?’ And she said me. I can never get to the end of that story because I always get teary. “Hopefully she chose a day I was sailing and not in the pub,” she adds with an earthy laugh.

Her next big project will be a six-month stint as skipper of the newly refurbished Maiden, joining the yacht on her fund-raising world voyage from Fremantle to Tokyo.

She admits that joining a skilled crew, where she won’t be responsible for the minutiae of every decision, will be something of a relief after two Clipper Races. The restored maxi may not be competing, but the crew will be trying to get the most out of her on the way, “We won’t be racing but I tell you what, we will be going fast!” Tuck says.

The girls’ education message of the Maiden Factor project appeals as well. “I got brought up in a poor area – half my form at school were pregnant by 16, so I understand the importance of education and making women’s lives better.” Whatever she does after that, it’s a fair bet that Wendy Tuck won’t let any opportunities slide through her grasp.

The post Wendy Tuck profile: The pioneering yachtswoman making her own luck appeared first on Yachting World.