The latest production cruisers have huge hull volumes. Is it going too far?
Have you noticed how enormous, even hulking, the latest clutch of production cruising yachts is? This thought struck me at the Southampton Boat Show.
Beam and topsides seem to keep getting bigger. The cockpits of some of the new boats – the Hanse 445 and the Bénéteau Sense 50 spring to mind – are enormous: big, socialising areas rather than cosy seagoing layouts.
That is not, mind you, a complaint. The average sailor spends more time in harbour than at sea, and then these layouts with big, airy cockpits and saloons (like the Bénéteau) make perfect sense.
So, too, do the enormous hinge-out bathing platforms that are the latest thing. They are great if you are moored stern to, Med-style. They’re great for boarding from a dinghy as well and if you ever had the misfortune to have a man overboard they’d make recovery so much easier.
Where they double up as a helsman’s seat, though, they aren’t always quite so successful. As an example, take a look if you have a chance at the Bavaria Cruiser 40 (above).
When the stern platform is raised it makes a narrow seat behind the wheel. There is no coaming behind you so your back rest is the two guardails. That’s all that separates you from your wake. It feels quite vulnerable. I’m not sure I’d like to be there pitching upwind offshore.
The boarding platforms have become important, too, because in increasing hull volumes the topsides of the new boats have had to grow. Many of the new 40-odd footers at the Southampton Boat Show have topsides so high that, from the pontoons, the toerails at midships come up to my chest.
That’s a long way to jump down with lines when you come alongside in a marina – especially for a woman. For in a sailing couple, it’s usually us who cop this ambidextrous feat of yachting parkour.