Modern Cruising Yacht Design:

There is no doubt that yacht design is going through a revolution in recent years, and as is so often the case offshore racing yacht design is leading to amazing developments in cruising yacht design.

France is of course home to the very latest developments in the offshore racing classes like the Mini’s, Class 40’s and Imoca 60’s, though the 60’s have now moved to foiling, which isn’t terribly useful for cruising yacht design. However, the class 40 rule specifies a fixed keel, so this is very useful in terms of conventional cruising yachts, while taking ideas from the little mini’s where many innovative new ideas first appear.

The bottom line is that at the forefront of modern cruising yacht design now are heavily chined hulls with twin rudders. However, I would argue that Jeanneau are leading this charge with the new Sun Odyssey 410, being the most sophisticated production cruising hull on the planet with features of no other production yacht.

Let’s talk about the general design trend first. Pronounced chines virtually extending the length of the hull add considerable form stability. What this means is that the point of heeling is further outboard from the centreline, so it takes more effort (wind) to heel the boat. What the chine also does when it’s engaged (about 15 degrees of heel) is make the hull want to move forward in a straight line. When you combine this with twin rudders, which are angled outboard with the leeward rudder fully immersed at normal angles of heel, then you also have an enormous amount of ‘grip’ in the water in normal sailing conditions.

On the new walkaround Jeanneau range there is a specific design philosophy to keep the weight of the boat down low, to further increase stability. Hence the cathedral rigging, no upper lockers, the injection moulded deck with less headliners etc

The result of all of the above are three keys things:

  • Less heel
  • More control
  • Less sail changes

The first two are fairly obvious, but the third may not be so. The combination of form stability and a low centre of effort due to weight being kept low means that these yachts can carry sail to a much higher wind range than previous generation yachts, and most current competitors in the market, before there is a need to reduce sail. In fact we’ve been astonished in particular at how the new SO410 can carry full sail, as we have yet to reduce sail in any form, and we’ve had it sailing upwind in winds of 20 knots plus!

The 410 takes design sophistication to a new level though, which can be attributed to naval architect Marc Lombard being at the forefront of the Class 40 racing yacht design. The smaller Mini Transat’s and Class 40’s have proven that you can have wide bodied yachts that perform across a broad range of conditions. It’s the first Jeanneau model ever to have a reverse bow, which offers a finer entry while still carrying the chine forward with lots of volume. Also the bow knuckle is clear of the water when static, but as the boat moves the wave form of the hull then immerses the bow further to maximise waterline length. So it increases potential speed while making the boat light and easy to steer.

The advantage of this in a cruising design is more cruising speed, a dryer boat at sea, less reefing of sails and a nicer motion in a seaway, while also being extremely nimble turning.

So if you haven’t yet experienced modern cruising design and you are considering a new yacht be sure to contact PBS for a test sail by sending an email to info@performanceboating.com.au or ringing us on (02)9979 9755.