Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Victoria B.C. Canada
Thanked 109 Times in 100 Posts
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Re: A blue water sailer that can go in light winds
True miti. But I still think most of the Hunter bashing is sailor-nerd hysteria. Why else would Beneteau adopt the much-maligned arch technology?
There is, without doubt, SOME basis of fact involved as you say. I just think that for the sailing most of us will ever do, the other 99% of fact involved shows that most any boat will handle the conditions she's sailed into by a competent sailor. It's WAY more about the sailor than it is about the gear.
Ideas that are used by one builder, if thought successful, are often copied by other builders. That is in many ways more marketing than build quality.
Hunter - and Catalina - are not designed and built to be offshore boats and I think neither Warren Luhrs or Frank Butler would overbuild a boat designed for coastal/weekend use with additional materials - it's not a cost effective plan - they are built well enough for their intended purpose.
Beneteau in my opinion is a better built boat. I think the European attitude is different for one thing. But as I work on many boats I get to see how they are put together, and I see the parts some owners never get to. My big complaint of Beneteau is access, not lack of strength. This is due to the liner and grid that seems to cover the entire interior. When you look at all the hidden corners of a Beneteau what you see is an incredible simplicity of construction tailored to a mass production level. The wood is well done but there are as few pieces as possible. There is never a rough edge of fiberglass or evidence of sloppy work in the most hard to get to corner. Both Hunter and to a lesser extent Catalina have some rough edges. The equipment layout on a Beneteau is well thought out and easy to access. I was on a 36' Hunter a few weeks ago and I can't say the same about it. Important items like pumps were hard to access and a nightmare to replace. I would definitely regard Beneteau as more refined.
Here is a link to an interesting interview with Jim Bohart of Hunter. It is well worth reading. HunterOwners.com - Hunter Q&A
He gets asked a lot of tough questions about items that are never mentioned in magazine reviews.
Living aboard in Victoria Harbour