I have posted already briefly about the Amel 55 but an interesting article posted on line by Yachtingworld Magazine is a pretext to talk more about this very particular long distance cruiser. If you want to know more they publish the sail test of the 55 on their May edition; meanwhile some excerpts of that article:
The cult of the Amel
These French bluewater cruisers are like no others on the market. Here's why:
Many people who buy a long-distance bluewater cruising yacht are retiring early, perhaps after selling a company. But for French engineer and wartime Resistance fighter Henri Amel it was the other way round.
M. Amel … known to his employees as 'le capitaine', started up the eponymous boatbuilding business when he was aged 50. He'd never run a business before.
In the decades until he died in 2005 (aged over 90 and involved until the last on a daily basis), the yard produced over 2,000 yachts that have cruised all over the world.
I have been having a look at their yard outside La Rochelle and at the history of the brand that gave us the Mango, the Santorin, the Maramu and the Super Maramu. To say that these yachts are distinctive would be an understatement.
There's nothing else that looks quite like an Amel.
Up to the launch of their new models, the 55 and 64, every Amel was largely designed by Henri Amel himself and sported features that were simultaneously slightly old-fashioned looking and cultishly enduring.
Amels were always well ahead of their time with features that the boss devised such as electric furling sails and the first bow thrusters to be fitted as standard on production yachts. 'Le capitaine' also insisted that ketches were easier for a cruising couple to handle and the philosophy never changed.
But the yachts were just as well known for their more obvious features such the maroon plastic rubbing strake, hard top, offset wheel and armchair helmsman's seat (now much imitated), solid stainless guardrails and - uniquely - their molded-in fake teak decks.
Amels were, and are, famous for being the ultimate standard production yacht. .. The company never encouraged nor offered many options. You got what they made. ..
The recipe was all-inclusive, from big items like electric furling and winches, watermaker, generator, washing machine and so on, right down to towels, bathrobes, spare filters, clothes hangers, a boat safe, deck brush and even a hairdryer.
That's changing now, as customers want more say over specification, but only up to a point. ..
One of the advantages of minimising variations, Amel argue (and I would tend to agree), is a higher degree of reliability. ….
I've seen Amels all over the place, in the most far-flung corners of the world, and have always found owners passionate about them. The older boats have an old-fashioned look, a sort of Seventies or Eighties vibe, with quirky but sensible ways of doing things, such as the special fittings on the main mast and the shrouds to allow twin headsails to be set up downwind.
The new model Amel 55, which my colleague Toby Hodges has tested for our next (May) issue is a style departure from the Santorins and Maramus and much more mainstream. But many of the hallmarks are there: the ketch rig, for example, the hard top and the transmission and propeller on the trailing edge of the keel.
And there is the helmsman's throne in the centre cockpit, the seaworthy pilot berth and athwartships galley, push-button sail controls - and, of course, the fake teak grain molded and painted into the decks.
Henri Amel was practically blind for a considerable period of its activity as a naval designer and builder, and that did not prevent that his strong personality to mark all his boats.
Another characteristic of this shipyard was the very long life of each model before being replaced and the few models, that were for many years just one, I mean on their line, and now are two.
That seems to be changing a bit now, but since 1965 till now the shipyard only produced 10 models, Euro 39, Kirk, Meltem, Sharki, Santorin, Maramu, Super Maramu, 53/54, 64 and 55.
Henri Amel was also big has a human being. He retired in 1974 and he distributed all the shipyard shares to his workers. He died in 2005.
Regarding Amels I join the conservative gang. I find that the new 64 and 55 escapes the spirit of Amel. Too much luxury in there and a boat that starts to lose what made him unique. The Amel were expensive because it is expensive to make a truly offshore voyage boat but they were never about luxury but about seaworthiness and practicability. Things seems to be changing
The model I like more is the 54 that seems to be the end of a continuity of shapes and lines that made this boat unique.
There is no info about engine. My guess it could be something like Mastervolt SailMaster 7.5 kW. It's required battery capacity for 6-8 hrs sailing 19.6 kWh and installed 4x Mastervolt MLI 24/160 Battery (each 4.3 kWh) = 17.2 kWh. To fully charge 2x MLI 24/160 cost about 65 cents > Electric Alerion Express 33, geek green
Also to me this first looked like a very good idea. A light, simple and service-free electric engine, ultra performant and light batteries, a rotating saildrive to help when docking...
But when I asked Structures about this they did'nt seem very fond of it themselves, at least not on a cruising boat. Very little autonomy, even with these expensive batteries that systematically degrade, just with time and whatever the use ...
Yes it makes sense what they say. A system like that makes only sense in two situations:
When it used only for day sailing (or from marina to marina when you can charge the batteries) or for racing where you only use the engine to take the boat out and in. For racing those batteries can also be used as home batteries and that consumption will be easily replaced by the use of a hydrogenerator.
If you want to have a system like that for really cruising you will have to have a powerful diesel generator....and goodbye advantages because the total weight will be far more than the one of a small engine not to mention price of the set-up.
Suspense till the end on the Vor70 leg to Auckland: The French of Groupama won the leg but on the limit. On the last days they where chocked to find out 1000kg of water on the bow.
They have arrived with a damaged bow with delamination and a boat making water. They suspect to have hit something hard and crashing on 27 ft waves made the rest. They have already the boat out of water and are working on it.
For second that big fight is still on but Puma made a spectacular recovery and is leading…just for some miles.
I guess that one of these babies can power those batteries and give the boat a big autonomy assuming a use of engine not superior of 2/3 hours day and that is compatible with a sailboat with very good performance on light winds.
In fact we are talking about a diesel electric system. The main problems would be price, weight, less power on the engine and the advantages would be less diesel consumption and lot's of energy for a watermaker, refrigerator and boat systems.
It will come the day that most propulsion systems on cruisers will be like that but for that we need better, lighter and less expensive batteries.
Look at this images of the battle for the Podium paces: Puma got 2th (the best result till know) but the spectacle was for the 3th place with Camper recovering over Telefonica.
Telefonica managed 3th but Camper finished just some meters behind. If the race was a mile longer they would have managed to overtake Telefonica. That was a pity, they would deserve the 3th place after the incredible come back on the last days.
I have noticed that the Sailnet pages are nicer now and that thanks to an add. Do you have noticed on the end of the page a nice logo with a beautiful sailboat? It seems that Sly is advertising on Sailnet and the add has not only a beautiful boat as also a nice graphic work. I have noticed also that they have an American dealer now. well, this post is just about a new Sly, the 38, a performance cruiser, nice and fast as all Sly.
The boat comes in the same design approach of other Italian and Adriatic boats like the Salona 38, the Grand Soleil 39 or the Solaris 37, a very nice hull, very light (5.5T) with a very modern keel, one that maximize ballast, and even with that keel the boat as a big B/D ratio (39%).
That means a very stiff and powerful boat. That power with that sleek hull and low weight it will make it a very fast boat, specially upwind and with bad weather. Downwind that low weight and big Spinnaker (110m2) will make it very easy to plan.
They don't show the interior but Sly has very modern interior with good cruising potential and they advertise for this one a separated shower cabin and a good standard tankage for this type of boat.
This one seems to be a very nice performance cruiser one that will do good on the cruising grounds and that will kick ass in the regatta field
Technical specs Sly 38
Length overall 11.50 m
Waterline length 10.25 m
Beam 3.70 m
Displacement 2.30 m
Draught 5.500 kg
Ballast 2.125 kg
Surface area of mainsail + jib 106% - 85 m2
Mainsail 49 m2
JIB 106% 36 m2
Spinnaker 110 m2
Engine 30 Hp
Diesel tank 120 Lt
Water tank 280 Lt
They say about the boat:
Sly 38 is conceived for peoples used to enjoy its passions for sailing and for regattas. Hull and deck are made from sandwich of Termanto with E-glass and carbon, it’s infused by Epoxy-Vinylester resin.
Sly38 has an important sail plan, a middle-low displacement as well as efficient fin and bulb shape. All these facts allows Sly38 to be really competitive both on IRC and ORC regulation.
This Marco Lostuzzi’s project perfectly complies with the today trend on hull shape ..
Interiors have two cabins and one head-compartment with a separate, very big shower box. Some modular furniture that can be easy dismounted they allows to quickly conform Sly 38 to the regattas needs of space and lightness.
Sly 38 has a large cockpit with open transom. The comfortable benches converge toward the companionway.
She has a narrow roof with long windows on the sides, that’s typical of every Sly.
Hull number 1 will be launched on June 2012.
Talking about the Volvo Ocean race predecessor, the Whitbread, there are some good things that were lost. The whitbread was an human adventure, with more amateurs than professionals, lots of boats, action and human drama.
Now all that you can still find on the Vendee Globe but not on the Volvo where all are very good professionals and many, specially on Telefonica and Groupama are used to circumnavigate in much more difficult conditions, I mean, solo or duo.
So let's have a look back to the whitbread and remember the times when this race was mostly an amateur adventure.
Regarding boat design, take a look at the boats, even the ones from the 90's and compare them with modern Volvos and see the huge advances in sailboat design, boat stability and speed.
That's true that the Volvos are fragile but that has nothing to do with design, just with getting a lighter boat to win. A revised rule in what regards weight could finish (and should) with that fragility.