Boat Review October 1, 1999 Issue

C&C Express 110

The first new C&C since the acquisition of the C&C name by Tartan, the 110 is available with a surprising number of keel and rigging choices. She’s fast and fun to sail, but as a cruiser her stowage comes up short.

The Fairport Marine Company of Fairport Harbor, Ohio was organized by a group of investors to rescue Tartan Yachts when it suffered the financial vagaries of the boatbuilding industry during the early 1990s. Tartan was reorganized under the direction of general manager and chief designer Tim Jackett. It is one of the last few production builders to construct built-up wooden interiors rather than use fiberglass pans.

The company has doubled its plant size in the last three years, increased the number of employees from 38 to 130, and is building 90-100 boats per year. Russ Byrnes, who was plant manager of Tartan during the 1980s, returned to reassume that position and two full-time employees have been hired in customer service. The company now has 21 dealers located in most major sailing areas.

Following a fire that ruined the company’s molds and several boats under construction, C&C, the long-time Canadian builder, fell on hard financial times in the early 1990s. Its assets were purchased by a group of Hong Kong investors intent on building sailboats and powerboats, but that venture failed.

Jackett describes the 1997 acquisition of C&C’s name and assets as an opportunity to take advantage of C&C’s reputation for building performance-oriented boats. The company purchased the engineering library and equipment necessary to provide customer service for a loyal following of owners, some of whom may be in the market for new boats.

Part of C&C’s inventory included the hull and deck mold for a 52-foot cruiser that may be offered as a semi-custom boat and companion to the Tartan 46-footer. A 32-footer, the C&C 99, and the 40-foot C&C 121, both designed by Jackett, round out the current line.

Design
Introduced in 1998, the C&C 110 replaced the 34R, a misnamed 36-footer that was sold as a performance cruiser capable of J/35 speed.

“But it didn’t have the speed,” Jackett said.

The new 110 is 36' 4" with a 31' 6" waterline.

“Our objective was to come up with a totally new design because the old boat was 10 years old, and we didn’t think the market would be excited about an old boat.”

After inspecting blueprints and a fleet of used C&C’s, he started from scratch to create a design similar to her predecessors.

The boat features the same flat sheer line and deck camber that defined C&C products. The hull has a finer entry than its predecessors, and the run aft is flatter. The moderate deadrise produces a stiffer form that is less prone to heeling. Freeboard is slightly greater in response to a perceived need for large interior volume.

Underwater, the keels are high-lift, low-drag sections with a bulb tip to lower the center of gravity and increase stability. They were “optimized” at NASA’s Lewis Space Center. Three keels, with drafts ranging from 4' 10" to 7' 3", are available.

Thirty-five Express 110’s have been built to date.

Construction
“In order to improve performance, we had to control weight more than we do with Tartan Yachts,” Jackett said.

To that end, the lamination schedule includes the use of vinylester resin throughout and vacuum-bagging. Vinylester is most noted for its blister-resistant properties, but Jackett said it also is 10% lighter than conventional polyester resins.

The company has been using vinylester since the 1986 Tartans were introduced, and claims its boats have been blister-free since.

“Part of the reason is the quality of the gelcoat we use, and part is timing. We spray gelcoat in the morning so we can apply the skin coat within eight hours, which creates a better physical and chemical bond.”

Light, bi-directional E-glass and Kevlar are employed in the lay-up. Kevlar strips run the length of the boat on the centerline, and athwartships from gunwale to gunwale to add reinforcement for the chainplate areas.

The entire hull and deck is cored with Core-Cell structural linear foam that meets ABS requirements and is Lloyds approved.

“We use that product in lieu of end-grain balsa because it is lighter, though not as stiff, and has better impact resistance,” Jackett said. It’s the “bends but doesn’t break” theory.

To offset the difference in impact resistance, 5/8" CoreCell is used in areas that would otherwise be constructed of 7/16" balsa.

Unlike the Tartans, the C&C 110 has a fiberglass interior pan. It is bonded to the hull with Core-Bond adhesive that is supposed to eliminate voids that could fill with water.

Bulkheads are bonded to the hull with Plexis 320 adhesive rather than fiberglass tabs because, Jackett said, “glass will pull off the hull under 1,200-1,500 pounds of pressure, but the adhesive withstands loads of 1,700-2,000 pounds.”

“The hull-deck joint follows the same design we’ve used for 25 years,” Jackett said.

The deck overlays a flange on the hull between which is sandwiched an aluminum bar, all of which are bonded with 3M 5200 and fastened with 1/4" stainless steel fasteners on 9" centers. Because the fasteners are tapped into predrilled holes in the aluminum there’s no need for locking nuts, and they are removable.

Cabinetry belowdecks is constructed of cored fiberglass panels covered with varnished cherry. Compared to the Tartan 3500, Jackett said that he’s reduced cabinet weight by 40-50 pounds. From an aesthetic standpoint, you can’t tell the difference.

Access to wiring runs, which are color coded and located in PVC conduit running along the hull, is excellent. Cutouts in the PVC where wires are led to fixtures make repairs easier.

The same holds true for plumbing fixtures, hoses and through-hulls, all of which are easily accessible below floorboards and in cabinets.

Deck Plan
Though the boat has been designed for the cruising sailor, its deck layout incorporates features typically found on race boats. Also, halyard and mainsail control lines are led aft underneath fiberglass covers. We like this setup for two reasons: it eases sail handling and removes toe-stubbing clutter.

The triple-spreader mast is made by Offshore Spars with an Awlgrip finish. Navtec rod rigging is standard equipment. Inside the boom, also constructed by Offshore, is a 4:1 outhaul and reef line. The boom is internally stiffened for a vang lug.

One of the most interesting differences between the 110 and its competitors is the choice of spinnaker setups. One may fly a conventional spinnaker from the masthead, though the spinnaker pole is 16' long and will be penalized 3-6 seconds when racing under PHRF. The payoff should be increased downwind performance at low sailing angles.

As an alternative, the boat may be ordered with a carbon fiber sprit that retracts into a tube that extends from the bow to inside the forward stateroom; it’s the same setup popularized on some of the J-Boats. We think this is an excellent option because it allows couples to fly large sails downwind without the hassle or stress associated with a conventional pole, topping lift and fore and after guys. The additional sail area will greatly improve downwind speed, and dousing an asymmetrical can be as simple as furling a 150% genoa.

The downside of sprits is that to get the extra speed you must sail higher jibe angles, thus covering more distance.

Jackett said that about 50% of the boats are equipped with sprits.

We also like the fact that the drum of the Furlex 200S furler is recessed below deck level, out of the way when anchoring or picking up a mooring buoy. And, because the bow pulpit is 24" forward of the headstay, working the foredeck is quite manageable.

To keep the decks clear of unnecessary lines and clutter, PVC tubes are glassed against the inside of the hull, in which run the lines for controlling the furler (which exits near the helmsman’s left foot), and for the sprit.

The self-draining anchor locker is large enough for a 35-lb. anchor and adequate rode. One owner, however, discovered a leak between the locker and hull, which resulted in water draining into the bilge. The area was reglassed by his dealer, but that’s an area we’d examine closely.

All of the deck gear, including hatches, winches, rope clutches, blocks, stanchions and stanchion bases are made by Lewmar. Ventilation and light are provided by five, smoke gray acrylic Ocean and Coastline series hatches. The hatch over the forepeak measures 24" x 24", a second at the mast measures 16" x 18", a third over the saloon is 12" x 17", and 10" x 10" hatches are over both galley and head.

Primary winches are Ocean Series Lewmar 42 self-tailers. Secondaries are 40STs, and 30STs are on the coachroof for halyards, mainsail controls, and vang. Two pairs of rope clutches are mounted on each side of the cabintop.

The mainsheet arrangement presents potential owners with three options. The standard traveler is mounted atop the coachroof and the mainsheet is led forward to the base of the mast, then back to a sheet stopper.

Alternatively, a 48" traveler can be mounted on the bridgedeck aft of the companionway. This will give better boom control when coupled with an optional vang. The downside is a sheet located directly in front of the companionway.

For single-handed sailors, the traveler can also be located immediately forward of the pedestal steerer. When coupled with rope clutches on the coaming directly in front of the primary winches, a solo or shorthanded sailor will have all sail controls within reaching distance of the helm. One owner told PS that the arrangement works well.

Except for a pair of short stainless steel handrails running from forward of the companionway to the mast, the deck is remarkably free of clutter. The 20" sidedecks and 24" double lifelines make movement about the boat easy and safe.

The cockpit handles six passengers comfortably. Seats are 60" long and 19" deep. The 15" seatbacks are contoured. Knee support is 14" from the cockpit sole and a footbrace has been molded into the sole to provide support while beating—a nice touch.

The standard wheel is a 48" Edson, which will suit most buyers; our test boat had an optional 55" wheel that we appreciated when seated on the rail watching telltales on the genoa.

Under the direction of Rob Ball (who used to work as a designer for C&C), Edson has designed a pedestal, instrument pod and rack and pinion steering system for the 110.

The primary shortcoming of the cockpit is a lack of stowage, because of the location of the engine and stateroom below the cockpit.

Lazarettes in the stern are 45" deep and run the width of the boat, but they are so narrow that access is difficult. Inside are the batteries, hot water tank, inverter, refrigeration unit and 16-gal. holding tank; maintenance chores in this area will be most easily performed by a person of Lilliputian stature.

One owner fashioned a group of mesh bags that he attached to the hull inside the lazarette and organized several plastic containers for storage of fenders, cleaning gear and a small liferaft. Solving the stowage problem is possible, but challenging.

Jackett’s approach to the design of a swim platform is one of the most innovative we’ve seen on a sailboat, a concept we’d guess has it origins in European power boats.

The swim platform is inset flush to the stern in a watertight cavity that is almost unnoticeable. By switching on a HatchMaster electric motor, the 24" x 36" platform swings out and down, anchored by stainless steel wires connected to the hull. A three-section stainless steel ladder attached to the aft end of the platform then telescopes downward to allow easy access from the water. It’s a mechanical and cosmetic masterstroke.

Interior
The accommodations plan is conventional, but we like the combinations of wood, smooth gelcoat and chrome accents. Headroom is 72".

The galley is to starboard at the foot of the companionway, opposite the head and nav station. A dining table is located in the center of the saloon with hinged 42" x 18" leaves that, when elevated, provide seating for four adults on the 25"-wide settees.

The port settee is 81" long, the starboard 68". If outfitted with lee cloths, they can double as sea berths. Outboard of the settees are small storage areas, but most of the space below them is occupied by an aluminum 70-gal. water tank and 26-gal. fuel tank. A second water tank is located beneath the V- berth in the bow.

Tanks are secured to the hull with 1" wide aluminum straps secured in solid wood beds.

The nav station is located to port at the aft end of the settee and displays another of Jackett’s innovations; a double-railed stainless steel backrest hinged to the cabinet swings inboard to provide the navigator with a backrest when seated on the settee. The chart table is 33" x 19" deep, and has cabinetry large enough for a full range of instruments.

The galley is fully equipped but small. The double stainless steel sinks are only 12" x 10" and the ice box is really only useful for weekenders. There is some stowage in three cabinets outboard of the Force 10 two-burner stove and oven.

By comparison, the head is uncharacteristically large for a 36-footer. The main compartment is 45" x 28", and is equipped with a 12" stainless steel sink, Jabsco toilet, a small counter space and two storage compartments.

The 22" x 44" shower stall is located behind clear Plexiglas panels and is equipped with a seat and modern Scandvik fixtures.

The V-berth measures 80" on the centerline, is 76" wide and has 26" of space at the foot. Stowage below the berth is in wire baskets. The stateroom has a hanging locker and a closet with three shelves.

The aft cabin is in the starboard quarter and has an athwartships double berth measuring 80" x 60". It is ventilated by two portlights. A hanging locker and small counter round out the accommodations. Considering its size, location below the cockpit, and intrusion by the aft end of the engine box, it is a “minimum” double berth.

As with the cockpit, the major shortcoming is the lack of stowage space for cruising. And for racers, a full inventory of sails will spill over into living areas such as the shower and aft cabin.

Performance
Jackett’s polar predictions indicate that the boat’s best upwind performance will be 7.25 knots in 20 knots of wind sailing 36°-38° off true wind. Downwind performance is best at 20 knots of wind sailing at 135° off true wind, when she’ll hit more than 10 knots. Polars, of course, tend to be optimistic.

Following the launch of hull #1 in San Francisco, Jackett reported speeds of 6.7 to 7 knots in 8 to 12-knot winds. When the breeze increased to 16 knots, boat speed reached 7.8 knots.

We tested the boat on Lake Michigan on a breezy day in very lumpy conditions created by a northwesterly that blew through the previous evening. Unfortunately, after sailing for an hour in 14 knots of true wind with a 135% genoa it became obvious that the boat’s instruments required calibration because speeds never exceeded 5.5 knots.

If you’re not used to helming a lightweight, sporty boat with a narrow keel, the 110 might take some getting used to before you can consistently steer a straight line. Nevertheless, the boat tacked smoothly and quickly and accelerated quickly. In what could have been uncomfortable conditions, we were impressed with her buoyancy in a close, 2'-4’ chop, and its ability to knife through waves without hobbyhorsing. She’s also dry.

Under power, the 28-hp. Volvo Penta MD2030 powered the boat at 6.5 knots at 2,800 rpm.

Owner John Dodge, who sails his boat on Lake Michigan, told us he’s a performance sailor who previously raced a Hobie and S.2.

“I sail shorthanded, primarily, and wanted a clutter-free cockpit for days when the grandchildren are aboard,” he said regarding his choice of the singlehander’s sheeting configuration. “The conduit system, with lines led to the winches, is very efficient.”

“The boat sails 6.5-7 knots in less than 20 knots of wind. In 25 knots we sail under the genoa at 8 knots on a broad reach. She heels to 15-20°, then stops,” he said.

Rich Bergman, a veteran racer in San Francisco, purchased the sprit model as a multi-purpose family boat.

“I like this boat because it’s dry, doesn’t heel dramatically, and has better creature comforts than a J/105, though I don’t think it points as high as the J-Boat,” he said. Still working to maximize performance, he’s recorded several mid-fleet finishes in a local PHRF fleet.

“On a typical weekend, I’ll race the boat, then be joined by my wife and daughters for a cruise and dinner aboard.”

Warranty
Fairport Marine’s warranty provides coverage of the boat and all parts manufactured by Fairport for 12 months from delivery; additional coverage for chainplates, mast step and floor timbers is extended to 10 years.

Below-the-water gelcoat surfaces are warranted to be free from osmotic blistering for 10 years from the date of delivery, to the original purchaser.

Based on our recent review of the industry’s practices (PS July 1, 1999), C&C’s warranty is as good (or bad) as its major competitors.

Conclusions
Jackett and Company have designed and built a boat that should have wide appeal. She meets the requirements of a casual cruiser and dedicated racer. Its projected PHRF rating of 72 will be subject to revision if the 110 fares too well on the race course.

We especially like the optional sprit arrangement, which allows both full and shorthanded crews to fly asymmetrical spinnakers, thereby sailing to her potential.

Creature comforts are well thought out, though short on stowage both in the cockpit and below.

Base price of the boat is $137,500, to which cruisers should add approximately $7,000 for refrigeration, inverter, microwave, entertainment center and other amenities. Racers will add approximately $11,000 for spinnaker gear, adjustable genoa tracks, rigid vang and a hydraulic backstay adjuster.

Stock boats are equipped with a Dacron full-batten mainsail and 135% genoa, which will be adequate for cruisers but racers should add the cost of high performance sails.

Contact- C&C Yachts, Fairport Marine Co., 1920 Fairport Nursery Rd., Fairport Harbor, Ohio; 440/354-3111.

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