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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are contemplating an upgrade and would appreciate observations from people who know about these boats and how they perform, as well as other attributes or any issues.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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Tell me it isn't so!. You own one of the great boats of all time.

That emotional outbreak aside, there is no doubt these boats are well built and beautifully finished. Everything that you touch feels really solid and upscale. There are a bunch of nice details that are far more polished than the racer-cruisers that I spend more time sailing. The whole angled interior thing looks like a good idea, but my sense is that it results in a lot of floor space but not as much storage. I like the head and galley being close to the cockpit.

I think that Jim Taylor did a nice job on the hull and keel design (deep keel version). But the sail handling ergonomics on these boats drove me nuts. The cabin top traveler and mid-boom sheeting is high friction and takes a huge amount of grinding to go from a reach to a beat and the mix of dodger, bridge deck, companionway ladder position meant that there was no good place to stand and grind that winch. The traveler is almost impossible to move under load (even after lube). The headsails are huge for a comparatively modern 40 footer, because of that the winches seemed massive for a 40 footer, but the gear ratios were a pain in the butt, either too steep in first gear to grind under the loads unless you were really beefy, or too much purchase in second gear so that you were grinding endlessly to get the sail all of the way in. I would think these boats would be a prime candidate for a 3-speed winch.

I have raced on a 402 in a NOOD and a different 402 in the Leukemia Cup. It gave me a chance to see how the boat did in lighter condition and in winds up to around 15 knots or so. Compared to sailing the J-36, this will have all of the excitement of kissing your sister. Its not that the 402 is slow. Actually I think that a J-36 would be owed some time. But it just feels like you are dragging a bucket. Some of that is the obscenely high weight of these boats for a boat that has the pretention of being a performance boat. The boats seem to point well. But they are a little tender and depowering is not in the cards. Backstay tension helps a little with the jib, but after that the only trick up your sleeve is dropping the traveler, but then you can't get it back up again easily. The boats don't do well in changing conditions and for a 'performance oriented design' was not all that capable of performing as winds approached 15 knots. (We had a sailing coach from North Sails onboard for the Leukemia Cup who seemed to know these boats pretty well. There was no magic tricks and we seemed pretty competitive with the other 402's, but not with the fleet.)

My take is this, if casual cruising is your goal, then these are well built comfortable cruisers even if they take some physicality to sail. If you care about performance, ease of handling, maybe competitively racing then maybe this is not the best choice.

But in fairness, all of my exposure was out on the race course which is not the same as a more prolonged and casual sailing experience.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Jeff. The mid-boom sheeting to a cabintop traveler is a compromise. We looked at J/120's and thought they were just big J/36's with nicer galleys and nav stations, and an extra door to the quarter berth. What to do?
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I get what you are going through. At various times I have considered buying a bigger boat. At one point, I considered a number of boats: J-120, J-130, J-44, Farr 395, Farr 1220, IMX 40, First 40.7, First 44.7, First 42s7, and a custom South African 42 footer.

In the end, I found myself concluding a collection of imperatives.
I concluded that for me none of these boats offered a significantly more useful interior. Obviously many of these boats were plusher and had more space, but the excess space just was not all that more useful to the way I use my boat.
I concluded that each of these boats were significantly faster than my boat, but again, it wasn't obvious that I would be able to use that extra speed.
But what really tipped the equation, was how much harder these boats would be to sail short handed, and the sheer cost to operate and maintain.
But of course the cost to benefit ratio is highly personal, and in the end only you know the why's and wherefores one way or another.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We looked at a Beneteau 40.7 too. Nice boat. Deep. Pretty down below, but absolutely no place to stow much of anything, anywhere. You'd have to throw your backpack of gear & clothes for an overnight race into one of the quarter cabins, and work out of that. We have more, and better, stowage on the J/36 for foul weather gear, clothes, food, dishes, gear and spares than a 4' longer boat. The handholds below also seemed weak and insufficient. J/109's have the same stowage problem, and less headroom than we do. You are right that the J/36 is a good boat, but we are finding it difficult to find crew eager to work symmetrical spinnakers, and would like to invite other couples to come cruising without us all being in one tent, as it were.
 

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We looked at a Beneteau 40.7 too. Nice boat. Deep. Pretty down below, but absolutely no place to stow much of anything, anywhere. You'd have to throw your backpack of gear & clothes for an overnight race into one of the quarter cabins, and work out of that. We have more, and better, stowage on the J/36 for foul weather gear, clothes, food, dishes, gear and spares than a 4' longer boat. The handholds below also seemed weak and insufficient. J/109's have the same stowage problem, and less headroom than we do. You are right that the J/36 is a good boat, but we are finding it difficult to find crew eager to work symmetrical spinnakers, and would like to invite other couples to come cruising without us all being in one tent, as it were.
I raced on a 40.7 a couple of times, it was a nice boat. I liked the removable cockpit lockers that offer more storage for cruising, but are easily removed and left on the dock to open the cockpit up for racing.

To be honest, if I was planning to race my own boat a lot I probably would have opted for a J120, but even that boat has a lot of cruising compromises.

I decided to get a quick cruising boat and spare it the wear and tear of serious racing, and race on other people's boats instead!

It is interesting that you can't find crew that want to sail a symmetric spinnaker. As an old foredeck man I find Asym displacement boats to be boring to sail!

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The usual crew also don't want to race with the spinnaker because the Wednesday night spinnaker fleet includes seven or eight feisty J/109's and three or four J/120's, among others. It can get cozy at the start. Despite this, over the past 20 years we have won the club championship trophy three times. Around here, the Jeanneau 39i P rates 138 in PHRF. It doesn't have enough sail area to be able to move in our light air. The Sabre 402 rates 75 and has a higher SA/DISP ratio than the Jeanneau, though not as high as the J/36. They're all different boats.
 

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The usual crew also don't want to race with the spinnaker because the Wednesday night spinnaker fleet includes seven or eight feisty J/109's and three or four J/120's, among others. It can get cozy at the start. Despite this, over the past 20 years we have won the club championship trophy three times. Around here, the Jeanneau 39i P rates 138 in PHRF. It doesn't have enough sail area to be able to move in our light air. The Sabre 402 rates 75 and has a higher SA/DISP ratio than the Jeanneau, though not as high as the J/36. They're all different boats.
Wow! 138? That doesn't seem right. Our local phrf handicapper told me my boat would rate around 90 and it is not a iP.

There was a casual club race last year and the boats in my class were a Sunfast 37, a Sun Odyssey 35 and a Sabre 42. It was light air and I disappeared on all of them. They all retired because they couldn't get going. I haven't had a chance to test my boat speed against those boats in breeze since I got rid of the fixed prop, but even with it I wasn't all that much slower than them with the fixed prop.

No doubt I wouldn't stand a chance against J109s and J120s. I would be curious to see how a Sabre keeps up. The Sabres are beautiful boats so even if you can't keep up with them you get style points!

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Yep. Jeanneau 39ip deep keel has base rating of 138 here on western Long Island Sound. Same as my Cal 33-2 shoal keel. The 39i shoal is rated 150.
 
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