After sifting through the field of sailing sports cars on the market today, Practical Sailor identified five very different watercraft that met our speedster criteria. At the top end of our size and cost profile is yacht designer Bill Lees legacy, the Santa Cruz 37, a wolf in wolfs clothing that offers performance as priority one, two, and three. Next in line is the Andrews 28, a breakaway racer/cruiser that packs performance and a Spartan minimalists cruising package into a 25.7-foot waterline. Hard to miss is the Open 6.50, an out-an-out go-fast sportboat with room below for little more than a cooler and bevy of high-tech sails. For the diehard dinghy sailor, we highlight the quick-planing Stealth, a 14.5-footer that redefines reaching, and in true giant-slayer fashion, can fly by most 40-footers on a power reach. And if thats not action enough, we hop aboard a turbo-charged windsurfer, the Starboard Futura. Powered with a Neil Pryde sail, it runs away with the award for most speed and fun for our dollar.
We spoke with several owners of Cheoy Lee 42s and 36s for this article, and among the most seasoned was Kieron OConnell, a two-time owner of Cheoy Lee boats-first an Offshore 31, now a Cheoy Lee Clipper 42. OConnell sailed the 42 from California to Australia. He had this to say about the Cheoy Lee Clipper 42.
The fiber-to-resin ratio was increased through a vacuum-assisted resin infusion, a process that better wets out the laminate and simultaneously squeezes out all the excess resin. The mechanical properties and blister resistance of vinylester resin are better than its polyester cousin, and this uptick in materials and laminating process dovetailed with the use of Divinycell foam to deliver a strong, stiff, one-piece hull with a an inward-turning flange. The BJ40 hull carries a 10-year warranty against osmotic blistering.
The Bristol 39 and Bristol 40 are basically the same boat, even though the specifications state that the Bristol 40 is nearly a foot longer than the Bristol 39. If you like traditional yachts, you'll find the Bristol 40 appealing. The boat has the long overhangs, lovely sheerline, low freeboard, narrow cabin trunk, undistorted hull shape, and narrow beam we associate with the beautiful yachts of the past. The trade-off for these traditional good looks is a boat with a small interior compared to today's 40-footers.
Island Packet Yachts has been building cruising boats for over 32 years. It builds five different hull designs—about 80 boats per year—to American Boat and Yacht Council and European Category A (offshore) standards.
As the largest of the Citations, the Irwin Citation 38 is probably the best looking, handling the high-sidedness better than her smaller sisters. The boat has three windows set in the sheer stripe on each side, so they are not very noticeable. Like the other Citations it is distinctly modern-looking not pretty, but not ugly either.
The CS 36, despite its small, reverse counter transom, still looks fairly modern today, with its rakish bow, low-profile cabin and tall, singlespreader rig.
The Catalina 375 replaces the very popular Catalina 36, which was launched in 1982. According to Catalina Yachts, better performance was at the top of the improvements list, and giving the 375 a longer waterline and greater sail area-displacement ratio than the C36 ensured success on that front. Clearly, the 375 has a greater potential for faster passages than its predecessor, but it is, for all intents and purposes, a family cruiser, with safety, and comfort taking precedence. A spacious interior, ample on-deck storage, and in-mast mainsail furling are a few of the features Catalina included in the C375 to meet owners lifestyle needs. On the water, the boat moved well in light to moderate breeze, but beating in gustier conditions revealed symptoms of the disease that plagues similar wide-bodied cruisers.
The Islander 36 is a fairly light-displacement boat. The hand-laid hull is an uncored, single skin, with polyester resin and fiberglass furniture components adding rigidity. The hull and plywood-core deck are bolted together at close intervals through an aluminum toerail.
Two of the best built production boats in America, the 3700 and 4100 will go darn near anywhere.