No longer is it necessary to scrap all comforts in the name of speed

Cruising interiors now can be compatible with high performance

Racers

October 10, 1999|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

To race or cruise, that often is the question among Chesapeake Bay sailors -- and it is a hard one to answer, because real racing boats often are unsuited to cruising and real cruising boats are undeniable dogs on the race course.

And while there will be dozens of racing and cruising boats at the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Oct. 8-12, only a handful may be well suited to both the race course or the cruising grounds.

Two of them appear to be the new Beneteau First 47.7 and the Turner T45.

The First 47.7 is designed by Farr Yacht Design, Ltd. in Annapolis, and the Turner 45 is a Bill Tripp design built in Canada.

"The idea is that with the new technologies and hull shapes, it is possible to build a boat with a strong enough structure for passage-making and the performance to do it at a reasonable speed," said Scott Morrison of the Annapolis Sailyard, area dealer for the Turner 45. "With the Turner, the hull can take the weight of a cruising interior without losing performance."

Beneteau, one of the largest production companies in the world, also believes it has found the right combination of construction and design to mass produce a racing boat with creature comforts.

"The First 47.7 is going to be Beneteau's biggest hit at the show by far," said Garth Hichens of Annapolis Yacht Sales. "It is one of two new boats and the largest. The other is the 33.7, which is the smallest."

The racing version of the First 47.7, Hichens said, should be a "very competitive" IMS racer.

"It is a development of the First 40.7, which we introduced last year and since has had very good success as an IMS racer in Europe," Hichens said. "And having Bruce Farr as the designer is a plus because he is an Annapolis man -- never mind that he is the hottest designer in the world across the board."

The First 47.7 is built with a complete interior with a proper galley, nav station, dining table and a two- or three-cabin layout.

"Still it is very much medium displacement," said Hichens.

The First 47.7 is offered in three versions, racer, racer/cruiser or cruiser, all with the same basic equipment and amenities, but the race package includes a deep keel, rod rigging, hydraulic backstays and taller rig.

"The way it is sold is as a base boat," Hichens said. "But the buyer can choose from there, picking any of the three packages -- and the racing version is capable of winning races at any level."

The sailway cost of the base boat with standard electronics and mechanical systems is about $300,000, he said. Racers can expect to spend more -- maybe much more -- depending on choice of sails, specialized electronics and so on.

The Turner 45, Morrison said, will run about $475,000 and produce speed without sacrificing comfort and, because it is built in Canada, should be an excellent value.

"Right now, there is a decent break on the dollar," Morrison said. "And you can get a lot more fit and finish there for the U.S. dollar."

The Turner 45 is one of several boats at the show from Canada, he said, because builders are again taking advantage of a skilled work force left over from C&C, Hinterholler, Widby and other manufacturers who prospered there in the 1970s and early 1980s.

On deck, the Turner 45 is wisely laid out for sail handling and crew movement, and below the layout comfortably and luxuriously accommodates two cruising couples.

"Her PHRF rating should be about 15 or 20," Morrison said. "So it is a fast boat that is beautifully finished out."

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