While we wouldn't consider the Tartan Ten to be one of the better-built racers, she doesn't have to be. Since she is primarily intended to race against her sisters, consistency between boats is perhaps more important than superior (and hence, more expensive) construction. The major construction criterion she must meet is to be sufficiently seaworthy to endure an occasional short offshore race. She meets this criterion, although, like too many production boats, she barely makes it.
As with all of Lyle Hess designs, the Balboa 26 statistics reveal the underpinnings of a seaworthy coastal cruiser. The Balboa's 3,600-pound displacement includes 1,200 pounds of ballast, by no means a lead mine, but the B26's 8-foot beam was carried well aft, and its reasonably full sections contributed form stability and helped make the little sloop a seakindly performer. With 293 square feet of working sail area, the B26 is close in potential performance to the Excalibur 26, Cal 25, and Columbia 26, all vaunted designs of the same era.
With a clear understanding of coastal weather conditions, inshore estuaries, and the cruiser-club racer mindset of potential buyers, Bill Shaw designed boats that met the needs of local sailors. The Pearson 32 was no exception: The 32-footer’s shoal draft stats also come with an efficient foil shape and external lead ballast, providing enough lift and lateral plane to enhance sailing ability both on and off the wind. Add to the mix a respectable sail area-displacement ratio, and it’s clear that this Pearson is more than an oversized pocket cruiser. Envisioned originally as both a club racer and a family cruiser, the boat lives up to expectations.
Florida-based Island Packet targets a relatively narrow niche, so the toughest competitors to its new boats are often older Island Packets. Introduced in 2010, the 36-foot, shoal-draft Estero is the company’s latest attempt to introduce a distinctive model that doesn’t stray too far from the company’s proven formula for success: moderate displacement, full-keel cruisers designed to be lived on, sailed far and in comfort, and endure the bumps, scrapes, and storms that cruising boats inevitably encounter. After sailing the Estero on Florida’s Sarasota Bay and inspecting its interior, construction, and systems, Practical Sailor testers noted that the shoal-water cruiser will appeal strongest to Island Packet fans who’ve been waiting for a shoal-draft, easy-to-sail boat that compares to the IP37 in terms of interior space. These strengths will be most apparent on intracoastal or riverine adventures like the Great Loop.
When classical musicians start playing rock and roll, fans take note. When their first songs a hit, everyone listens to the lyrics. Bob Johnson, Bill Bolin, and the Island Packet Yachts (IP) crew have decades of experience delivering traditional cruisers to appreciative owners, but IPs newest player has increased the tempo.