Introduced as a prototype at Key West Race Week barely three years ago, the Melges 24 has already created the same sensation in the small boat performance world as the J/24 when it was first introduced. We're not suggesting that we should commence composing the epitaph for the J/boat, especially since hull number 5,500 was launched recently and sales are still strong, but we are preparing ourselves for a high noon, main street shoot-out between the aging sharpshooter and the young gun as they wrangle for ownership of the small-boat race market.
It's hard to mistake the Stiletto's appearance, with blazing topside graphics and aircraft-style, pop-top companionway hatches. It's also hard for the average sailor to appreciate the sophistication of the Stiletto's construction--epoxy-saturated fiberglass over a Nomex honeycomb core.
This summer, Stiletto Manufacturing will be launching the all-new Stiletto X-Series, including a foiling catamaran, with the first boats expected to splash about the time this article went press. Carrying on the Stiletto tradition, the 10-meter X-Series models are being marketed as high-performance boats that are fast, beachable, trailerable, and affordable, as well as easy to handle and ideal for coastal family getaways.
The Catalina 250 is one of a group of relatively lightweight, shallow-draft trailerable cruising boats that appeared in the mid-1990s, utilizing water ballast to provide stability. These boats notably the C-250, the Hunter 26, and the MacGregor 26 all are of very modern design, are relatively inexpensive, and feature workmanship and materials of generally serviceable but by no means superior quality. Their sailing qualities and accommodation plans make them suitable for daysailing and casual overnighting, rather than for serious cruising.
Boat maintenance master Don Casey, on the BoatUS website (www.boatus.com), suggests cleaning the surface using a mild abrasive like Bar Keeper’s Friend (www.barkeepersfriend.com) and fine bronze wool, and then sealing the surface with a wax. Sparmaker Seldén Mast recommends applying Woody Wax (www.woody-wax.com) using bronze wool to seal the surface and remove the pox. Casey cautions against using a polish on aluminum as some are so abrasive they will peel away the anodizing. We’ve had success with Mothers (www.mothers.com) and Prism Polish (www.mppros.com), but we do not recommend using the Mothers with the Powerball on aluminum. Be sure to read the label on any polish before using it; some advise against use on anodized aluminum.
This 26-footer is totally unlike familiar racer/cruisers from Pearson, Catalina or Hunter. For openers, it looks like a hot rod. The fine entry of its plumb bow and reverse transom give it a grand prix look, as does its 8' 8" beam. The boat displaces only 2,900 pounds on a 22' 0" waterline. It has a 7/8 rig supported by a pair of swept-back spreaders. Standing rigging is 3/16" wire on the uppers, forestay and lowers, 5/32" on the intermediates and running backstays. Ease of movement along wide decks is assisted by inboard shrouds.
Owners report that the primary motivation for purchasing the Sabre 28 can be summed up in one word: quality. Sabre is quite conscious of their image as producing a high-quality boat. The boat attracts buyers willing to pay a little more than average for a boat that is better than average. The Sabre 28 is conventionally modern in appearance. She has a modest concave sheer, straight raked stern, and short after overhang. With optional wheel steering, optional cockpit-led halyards, and optional self-tailing headsail sheet winches, the Sabre 28 can easily be handled by one or two people. The mainsheet is within easy reach of the helmsman. Unfortunately, his head is also within easy reach of the mainsheet when jibing, except on newer boats; the mainsheet was relocated to the cabin top in 1982.
In 1983, the Rob-Roy 23 was the only trailerable canoe-stern yawl in town. Its appeal, however, goes beyond novelty. This is a boat with character: She looks salty; sails well with working sails alone; and she provides accommodations for two. Simplicity, from a space-saving centerboard to a "hardened" kick-up rudder, from an unstayed mizzen mast to a tabernacle-mounted mainmast, is a watchword. The Rob Roy can be launched at a ramp and is easily beached due to its 1' 7" draft with the board up. Owners have cruised her for weeks at a time and routinely cross the Gulf Stream and other formidable chunks of open water.