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Old 05-01-2002
Dan Dickison Dan Dickison is offline
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The Right Mix

I am looking to purchase a sailboat and am looking for a simple pros and cons comparison of boat value by manufacturer as is sometimes found on the net for cars. My interests are 50 percent cruising, 40 percent daysailing, and 10 percent racing, although when racing I want to win. Can you direct me in any way?

Dan Dickison responds:
Thanks for your question. It appears that you're asking for a performance-oriented vessel that has enough comfort and amenities to cruise, but which aren't so complex that they'll make daysailing a chore. You may not be aware of it, but you're actually asking for the kind of craft that the boatbuilding industry has been emphasizing for about 10 years. Because of that, there are a large number of boats that fit the bill and almost all of them I would be happy to recommend. You don't specify size, so I'll confine my comments to boats in the mid-range, from 30 to roughly 45 feet LOA.

Closer to the upper end of the price spectrum, there are boats like the Sabre 362 or the 402. They're both designed by Jim Taylor, a designer known for his emphasis on performance within a cruising realm. If you don't load these boats down too much with amenities like air conditioning, etc., and you gift them with a good sail inventory, you'll find that they're as capable of satisfying you on the racecourse as they are on the cruising circuit.

Also at this end of the spectrum, J/Boats offers comfort and performance for sailors who favor asymmetrical spinnakers. Their more recent models include the J/109, but you might also want to consider the now venerable J/120 or the smaller J/105 (no standing headroom on this one). And for a larger, non asymmetrical option, you could consider the J/46 or the J/42.

Also on the more expensive side you might also want to have a look at the boats from the Hinckley Company, Morris Yachts, Hylas Yachts or Nautor Swan. Each company builds beautiful, reliable cruisers that can perform well on the racecourse if fitted out properly in the sail department, and the Swans are particularly known for their prowess around the buoys.

I'd also advise you to have a look at the Aerodyne 38 and 42. Both have open interiors that are suitable for short or extended cruises, but it's the performance that really distinguishes these boats, and if set up properly, they're both easily daysailed.

At the other end of the price spectrum are boats from Catalina (the 34, 36, and 380 all have a decided cruising bent), Hunter (more comfort than performance in most models), Beneteau (the new 36.7 and the speedy 40.7), and Jeanneau (SunFast 37). Somewhere in between the two price groups you'd find the 110 from C&C, which would make another reasonable option given your requirements.

Now all the boats I just ran through are new or newer production models, built in the US, except for the Aerodynes, the Swans, and the J/109 (built in South Africa and France, respectively). Among other foreign-built boats, you might want to consider some of the products from X-Yachts (like the 382 or the IMX 40), Dehler (the 39), and Sweden Yachts (the 41).

You might not be in the market for a new boat or a production built boat, and if so, there are a number of used and custom-built boats out there that could satisfy your requirements. Remember, the most recent Newport to Bermuda Race was won by a 1965 Rhodes 41. The boat has a comfortable interior, though a relatively small cockpit by today's standards, but obviously it can perform against the big boys. (I suspect she'd be a little less competitive around the buoys than she was over a 630-mile offshore course.) And don't forget the older yet still reliable thoroughbreds like the Cal 40 or the Morgan 46.

I realize that racing isn't the most important aspect to you, but I'd advise you to make your ultimate decision with the knowledge that better performance is also a good cruising characteristic because it can enhance comfort en route and help ensure your safety by getting you to your destination faster. Here's wishing you the best of luck with your search.