Toby Hodges takes the highly customised hull number one of X-Yachts new 65-footer for a test sail and found a yacht with untold potential for idyllic onboard life. Photos Richard Langdon.
The X6 is a bold design: a muscular, small superyacht blessed with powerful lines; a yacht that will place most others of her size firmly in the shade. The flagship of the new X range (the 41ft X4 was launched simultaneously – see full X4 test report), the X6 is a completely different animal, inside and out, from X-Yachts Xp performance cruiser range, designed to be a semi-custom cruiser with a healthy dose of testosterone and raw contemporary appeal.
“I have never walked into a boat before and fallen straight in love with it like this,” said our veteran photographer Richard Langdon, not one normally prone to exaggeration. The formidable natural light illuminates a mix of finishes including bare teak, clear-coat carbon, stainless steel and walnut – all modern, light, and fresh looking. “It’s sensational,” I agreed.
It should be noted however that this first X6 was built in collaboration with its British owner and is customised with a multitude of optional extras, including the carbon and leather trim, the brushed-stainless galley surfaces and the backlit feature bookshelf. He has also opted for a carbon Hall Spars mast and custom-made roller boom, which, together with features like her large hull portlights and bespoke dinghy stowage – there is room to stow a RIB facing forward on a roller-launching system that hinges down, as the aft deck lifts up – help identify her as very much a scaled-down superyacht.
Twin rudders are unusual for X-Yachts. The X73 in 2001 was the first model to have twin rudders – making room for the tender garage. “We don’t do it on smaller models because of prop walk,” Jeppesen explained. “But at this size you have a stern thruster.”
The X6 has very similar hull lines to the X65 I tested in 2009, seven of which were produced. She has a similar price and specification but her interior design is a quantum leap ahead.
To descend the bare teak steps of the shallow companionway is to witness a new dawn for X-Yachts. Yes we’ve seen a lot of raised saloon models before, but this has lashings of added panache. Stand in the saloon and you are at the perfect height for near-panoramic views, including that most prized angle looking forward over the flush foredeck. The amount of natural light in the saloon and galley is phenomenal.
Lift up the floorboards in the saloon and you’ll find high-calibre engineering: X-Yachts’s galvanised steel grid immediately imparts peace of mind; the tanks and batteries are all centrally positioned for optimum weight management and the hoses and wire looms are housed in metal cradles to keep them neatly together and out of the bilges. The plywood soles are thicker than those used in my house. I’m told that matching the walnut veneer in those lengths was somewhat tricky. The predominant trim is light oak Alpi again, but this has been brushed when bare for a more tactile finish.
By providing a modular layout to the three-part accommodation plan, X-Yachts can offer a variety of options. The test boat had a four-cabin format (two Pullmans and two double cabins). The choice of an extra Pullman forward, reduces the size of the sail locker and removes the space for a forepeak crew cabin. The aft Pullman is ideally placed for a professional crew next to the walk-in engine room and galley, although the addition of an en-suite here would make it more practical for crew use.
The telescopic coffee table in the saloon is an odd, over-complicated device with four diagonal folding leaf sections to seat a maximum of seven. Combined with a small cockpit table, this restricts the options for hosting any kind of slap-up meal from the wonderfully light and large galley, the size and quality of which is a real selling point of the boat. It has a phenomenal amount of locker space and cold storage, plus space for extras like a trash compactor, coffee machine, dishwasher, and microwave.
The owner’s cabin forward, with over 7ft of headroom, is again well lit and inviting with a distinct impression of luxury. The double aft has a corridor-style entrance that extends under the cockpit sole. It then widens out to reveal a generous cabin with a large hull portlight and private access to the adjoining heads.
Twin rudder power
Anyone familiar with X-Yachts will not be surprised to read that this is a slippery, powerful beast. In just 5–7 knots of breeze the X6 will almost match the wind speed to windward. Add a couple of knots in a puff and she heels elegantly and clocks 7.5–8 knots. When it piped up to 14 knots we were slicing upwind pointing 30–35º at 8.5 knots, even topping nine if we footed off 5º.
It was a potent and commanding performance. The inhaulers make a notable difference, adding five degrees to her pointing. An X-Yacht is consistently a delight to sail upwind, but the twin rudder grip offered on the X6 encourages you to push a little offwind. In 10–15 knots and with the Code 0 unleashed we maintained a steady 9.5 knots at 55–80º(apparent). This felt to me more steady than exhilarating and I noted excessive drag off the leeward rudder and wash off the windward rudder in this mode. Jeppesen said they had been tuning the rudder angles to get the best orientation. The loaded helm when reaching was probably more down to poor trim, as it was a nicer, more neutral feeling going upwind.
There’s no doubt that the X6 will make a formidable passage-maker. And if the wind does dip below 5 knots, the standard Yanmar 160hp engine with three-blade Flexifold propels her at 7.4 knots at 1,700rpm, consuming just 5.6lt of diesel per hour.
Cockpit arch benefits
For a large, powerful design, she’s a calm yacht to sail, thanks in part to a very smart, well thought-out deck design. The sheets for example disappear below deck aft, reappearing at two Harken 980s abaft the cockpit. The furlers for staysail, genoa and Code 0 are all under the deck and I like the versatility her cutter rig provides. The mainsheet is led from the arch forward through the boom and back to winches.
Personally I’m a fan of the cockpit arch. It’s a look reminiscent of the showpiece spoilers that typified the dream cars of the 1980s, but an arch also helps to create a cockpit enclosure, a sense of privacy and protection, and keeps the boom clear. The custom-made furler boom on the test boat has a manual override so the deck winch can be used in case of any power problems. This UK owner was also having a fixed bimini fitted with solar panels on top.
The lengthy but shallow cockpit has a small table and a dedicated liferaft locker by the companionway. Abaft the benches is a pair of winches either side, with storage beneath the side decks for running rigging tails. A generous sail locker swallows fenders and furling sails, plus there’s a chain locker with a wash-down hose and windlass.
LOA: 20.09m (65ft 11in)
LWL: 17.85m (58ft 7in)
Beam (max): 5.40m (17ft 9in)
Draught: 3.00m (9ft 10in)
Displacement (lightship): 29,500kg (65,036lb)
Sail area (100% foretriangle): 222.9sq m (2,399sq ft)
Engine: 160hp Yanmar
Water: 1,000lt (220gal)
Fuel: 1,200lt (264gal)
Sail area-displacement ratio: 23.7
Displacement-LWL ratio: 145
Price (ex VAT): €1,980,000
Test boat (inc VAT): £2,600,000
Design: X-Yachts design team
The X6 is right in the sweet spot for this new X range, as the 55-80ft sector is where the interior can shine too. I was excited about the edgy, muscular looks of this new age for X-Yachts, but it was the interior of this yacht that blew me away. It’s a prime example of how, if you’re prepared to pay for the extras, the step up to this size level brings the sort of customisation and systems design more typically associated with the superyacht world.
This mid-60ft sector has traction, so new designs have to stand out. The modern styling of the X6 is certainly backed up with the performance X-Yachts is renowned for, although the increased size, load and power level, can lead to a certain ‘loss of feel’.
X-Yachts has a facility in north Poland with 110 workers where the initial hull and deck lay up for both the X4 and the X6 is done. The rest of the assembly, including quality control, takes place in Haderslev, Denmark.