1989 United States Sailboat Show

Originally published in October 1989

What’s New In Sailboats

by Tom Dove

At the 1989 United States Sailboat Show sailors will see an evolution and refinement among traditional monohull craft and a blossoming of designs in multihulls.

The Dennis Connor/Michael Fay America’s Cup aberration last year may have generated more hard feelings than sportsmanship but it proved to be a decisive victory for multihull sailboats in the mind of the American public. Anybody who watched the catamaran Stars & Stripes as it walked away from the state-of-the art monohull New Zealand, a vessel twice its size and cost, had to conclude that multihulls are simply far faster on all points of sail.

The ProSail series that toured the country and was shown on the ESPN sports network this year reinforced the image of multihulls. The big ProSail 40s and smaller Hobie 21s used in those races were truly impressive, often outrunning the fast powerboats chasing them.

Speed sells sailboats. That seems funny to nonsailors who think ten knots is slow, but we who spend a lot of time on the water under clouds of cloth know that it is tremendous fun to clip along without engine noise and expense. The faster the boat moves, the greater the adrenalin rush we get.

At sailboat speeds, a difference of a few knots is significant. The cruising sailor who can make ten knots will reach the destination in half the time of the skipper who only makes five. A ten-knot boat can get out of the way of bad weather before it becomes a problem.

A 15-knot sailboat can match the effective speed of most power cruisers. While planing powerboats may reach 20 knots in calm water (and few cruise faster, regardless of what their builders and skippers want to believe), any wave action forces them to slow down and come off the plane. In non-planing mode, a powerboat is no faster than an equivalùent monohull sailboat and rolling makes the motor vessel much less comfortable.

This makes a strong argument for fast cruising catamarans and trimarans. A good cruising cat or tri can exceed 15 knots in a decent breeze and will power easily with an outboard auxiliary when the wind drops.

A multihull has less heel than a monohull, so it appeals to people who are disturbed by living on an angle. The big deck space of a cat or a tri is usable most of the time because it stays fairly level.

Multihull boats are lighter than comparable monohulls so you might expect their cost to be lower. However, many catamarans and trimarans are built with materials more exotic than plain fiberglass, and exotic materials are expensive.

Two small, fast multihulls are the Slatts 22 proa and the Supercat 19X catamaran. The proa’s ancestors are the sailing canoes of the Pacific islands and the design features a main hull with an outrigger or ama.

A bit bigger, the 26-foot Firefly has accomodations for a small family øcombined with trailerability in a 1500 pound hull. The 28-foot Intercat 1500 is bulkier and not built primarily for speed, but its accomodations are spacious.

Chesapeake sailors will see the similarity between designer Dick Newick’s 26-foot Argonauta and local racer Bill Homewood’s famous Third Turtle. Newick trimarans offer swift passages.

The Condor 30 is sure to attract attention. Little sister to the race-winning Condor 40, this sleek trimaran is built in Annapolis.

From the other side of the Big Pond, the British Flica 30 is a comfortable cruising catamaran, while the French are represented in this size range by the Maldives 32, Fidji 39 and Casamance 45 performance cruising catamarans from Fountaine Pajot.

The British-made Prout Event 34 and the French Jeantot Privilege 48 are two more imported catamarans worth seeing.

The Canadians are here, too. The PDQ 34 is a safety-oriented cruising catamaran designed for the singlehander.

Many sailors still prefer the accomodations, handling and äseakeeping qualities of monohulls and they will not be disappointed at the 1989 U.S. Sailboat Show. Each year, the level of construction and finish seems to take a nudge upwards and the vessels for sale at the 1989 show are a long way from the sailboats of the 1970s.

Everybody likes to take a look at the biggest and most luxurious yachts at the show. This year, that may be the Finya 75, which has about everything the skipper with lots of money might want to buy.

Many other fine cruising yachts are available in the over-50-foot category. The Classic 59 is a Herreshoff design that we had the pleasure of testing for Sail Magazine this year, along with the delightful 49-foot sister of the new Taswell 56. I can enthusiastically recommend them both.

The beautifully made Baltic 64 and the shoal draft Little Harbor 58 are impressive, as are the Norseman 535 and C&C 51. Jeanneau’s standard of high quality is evident in the new Sun Odyssey 51.

Most of us will not buy yachts over 50 feet. In a more realistic range, check out the fine performance cruisers at the show.

The Thomas 35 by Tartan has received high marks from magazine testers for its speed, handling and seaworthiness. The C&C 34R can be fitted out for either cruising or racing. The Jeanneau Sundance 36 is built for comfort and speed afloat.

Those who like to go fast will want to see the J/44, the Frers Competition 45 and the 40-foot X-119. Baltic is represented in this area with the Baltic 40.

The Navy 44 from Tillotson-Pearson will be an excellent offshore racer, based on our test sail on the Naval Academy’s boat this summer.

Family cruisers include the Contest 35 from Holland, the Etap 38i, Beneteau Oceanis 390 and Gib’Sea 422 from France and the CS 36 from Canada.

Hunter Marine will show the new Hunter 42CC and Legend 35.5 this year while Hunter’s major competitor, Catalina Yachts, introduces the Catalina 28 and Capri 26.

Tartan Marine continues its tradition of fast, well-made boats with the new Tartan 412.

If you are tired of standing outside in the weather, look at the new Cabo Rico 38 which sports a pilothouse, as do the Nordic 45 and the Three Seas 40. The Slocum 43 is another substantial ocean-voyaging vessel.

The Caliber 45 is a classy addition to that builder’s line of solid cruising boats and the Hallberg Rassy 45 will impress you with its well-executed Scandanavian construction.

Many feel that the ultimate sailing experience is the feeling of exhilaration you get from a good small boat. In that category, see the Jeanneau Sun-Way 21, the lovely little Quickstep Scout and Quickstep 19, and the Melonseed Skiff.

The Johnstone JY-15 should be a fine performer while the Olly B offers either a cat or sloop rig for daysailing or learning.

Somewhere in the United States Sailboat Show is your ideal boat. There are also banks to finance it and suppliers to equip it with everything you might want or need. Put on your deck shoes and have fun.

You say you’re looking for a really traditional boat to take your friends sailing on? Do we have a deal for you…