Pretty, elegant and fast, this award-winning Swedish cruiser is a real all-rounder. Graham Snook tests the Arcona 435
After the Arcona 435 sailed off with the Performance Cruiser category win at this year’s European Yacht of the Year we thought we should look at her in more detail. In order to win, it had to be good, but just how good is she to sail?
Very good indeed, is the simple answer. From the gorgeously smooth feel on the helm to its speed and handling on the water, the Arcona 435 makes for a fitting swansong from designer Stefan Qviberg – he sadly passed away last year.
It also ticks many boxes for would-be owners – whether you’ve grown out of racing and are looking to cruise in speed and comfort, or still want to compete occasionally, but demand more luxury for your sailing trips.
The more you sail the Arcona 435 the more involved you feel with it, and the more you notice the nuances with wind strength or course change. It’s involving, all-consuming: the balance, the weight, the direct connection.
Move the carbon wheel slightly with your fingertips and you’ll feel the boat respond. I’ve long been a fan of Jefa steering, but on the Arcona 435 it seems to be elevated to a higher level, and its feel is addictive.
Speed and comfort
It’s not only the feel of the boat that is addictive, but the speeds are sure to please too. Yachts ahead to windward were soon to leeward and in our wake. In the Force 3-4 winds we saw, the Arcona 435 sat happily at 28° to the apparent wind, making 6.0-6.9 knots, but ease off to a fetch and the log was soon threatening 8 knots (in 13 knots apparent). With the asymmetric hoisted, this rose to over 10 knots.
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There are comfortable options for helming as well, whether you prefer to sit forward, astride or abaft the wheel. Although the seating is a little low on the side deck, the further forward you sit, the easier the access to the Harken 46ST mainsheet winch.
The test boat had the option of electric mainsheet winches although, as it is, with a German mainsheet system it would be possible to just have one electric winch and get the same benefits. Abaft the helm the cockpit was open. There is the option for a semi-open design with stowage boxes aft of the helm and there are designs for a bathing platform too.
The test boat had upgraded North 3Di sails. The genoa is handled by Harken 60ST winches, there are in-haul tweakers which, like all the lines from the mast, are led under the deck and recessed sprayhood stowage to the cockpit. The furling line for the through-deck furler is also led below the deck to emerge abeam of the cockpit.
The control lines for the track cars are led into the coaming to reappear in the rope locker beneath the winch. Only the tack line from the asymmetric is the odd one out as instead of going under the foredeck it crosses it at ankle height.
It’s rare to find an abundance of rope stowage around the cockpit. Usually it’s an afterthought and barely satisfied by canvas bags screwed in place. On the Arcona 435, though, there are top-accessed rope bins in the forward end of the coaming, front-accessed stowage in the aft of the coaming and more space to stick errant lines under the helm seat. These prevent lines from being eaten away by UV and keep the cockpit tidy.
Deck stowage in the lazarette is also commendable. It is hull-depth, has a large locker lid and an internal light. There is also a large, deep deck locker abaft the anchor locker. These may be small, insignificant details on their own, but added together they make sailing and cruising the Arcona 435 a real joy.
When sailing the Arcona, you know you’re sailing a good-looking boat; she sails as good as she looks and vice versa. She sits low on the water, with a sharp bowsprit, plumb bow, low, sleek coachroof, and – unusually for Arcona – long coachroof windows.
Minimal visual distractions break up her lines and even the long, thin hull windows are neatly incorporated into the cove line. The cockpit is long and was designed with twin wheels from the off, whereas her predecessor, the 430, had a large single wheel with twin wheels a later option. The aft sections of the Arcona 435’s hull are wider to accommodate the extra space needed for the wheels, which has made the cockpit more spacious.
In turn this has increased accommodation in the two aft cabins. The underwater aft sections of the hull are also flatter than previously, and she has a noticeable soft, rounded chine.
Object of envy
The downside of owning a boat like the Arcona 435 is she won’t make you popular with other boat owners. As you pass by in something this elegant and quick, like an expensive car on a motorway, they will prickle with envy. There will be few on the water who, if they are being honest, wouldn’t trade places in a heartbeat.
The exterior might be sleek and sharp, but the interior is typically traditional Scandinavian; floor to deck Khaya mahogany interspersed with white hull-side panels and thick, laminated mahogany sculpted fiddles. It has the same practicality as the cockpit, and works well in port and at sea.
Moving forward from companionway to saloon is easy thanks to the high fiddles on the galley and L-shaped chart table opposite, excellent handholds running at deck level, as well as some suede-covered stainless steel handles too.
The 430 had a handy place for a chartplotter/MFD; at eye level when sitting, but this did confine the chart table and close off the saloon, so on the Arcona 435, it’s gone. It makes the yacht feel more open.
There is not a great deal of stowage outboard of the saloon seating or in the cupboards forward in the saloon, but the beam in the saloon has to come from somewhere. There’s C-shaped seating to port while to starboard is a long, straight seat.
The central table has a fixed leaf to port and a decent sized bottle drawer in its column. There is the option to have both leaves of the table folding. While this would make accessing the bilge pump and port side easier, the table does work well as it is.
The test boat had the three double cabin layout, but a two cabin option is available. The cabin hull sides have a white tongue and groove effect that gives a pleasant, light and classic feel. Slim hull portlights add natural light, but don’t expect grand vistas.
The forward owner’s cabin has a wide berth with access from either side at the aft end. There’s good stowage with top-hinged lockers, drawers under the bed and a hanging locker at the entrance. The ensuite heads features a shower, albeit one with a wraparound curtain rather than a separate shower compartment.
The extra width for the twin wheels in the cockpit pays off below decks with 1.58m/5ft 2in wide berths in both aft cabins. The cockpit table stores neatly between the two aft cabins affording their occupants a little more privacy.
The quality of the joinery throughout was good and the feel of the wood around the boat was lovely; the one-piece fiddles that surround the chart table and most of the galley are a work of art.
The J-shaped galley is large and secure, there is enough of a return to give good bracing and also a decent amount of workspace in the centre of the boat, accessible while cooks work their magic at the three-burner stove (a two-burner stove is standard). The top-opening fridge is a little small for cruising with a full complement of crew. A second drawer fridge, under the return of the J, is an option that would be well worth considering.
Arcona has increased the ventilation by way of opening portlights above the galley and in the aft heads compartment. The traditional line of opening hatches are an option, or there’s the style seen on the test boat with slightly recessed one-piece glass windows.
Time spent on the wheel of the Arcona 435 is time you’ll value. You’ll soon become a helm hog – you’ll get up for your watch early to see if there’s any chance of getting a few minutes more. Try it, if you think I’m exaggerating.
Down below is refined, comfortable, and safe, both in design and use. I wish Arcona could have injected a bit of the style from the exterior to the interior, but if you’re after a Scandinavian boat it may be you may want the mahogany interiors they are renowned for.
Given its versatility for owners sailing shorthanded or fully crewed, the Arcona 435 really can provide something for almost everyone – looks, speed, handling and build quality all in one.
There is no denying the 435 is a lovely boat; few yachts give such a sense of pride while sailing. The competition in the European Yacht of the Year was (as ever) tough this year, but the Arcona 435 is a worthy winner.
LOA: 13.80m (45ft 3in)
LWL: 12.20m (40ft 0in)
Beam (Max): 3.98m (13ft 1in)
Draught: 2.30m (7ft 7in)
Disp (lightships): 8,900kg (19,621lb)
Ballast: 3,400kg (7,495lb
Sail area: 111m2 (1,195ft2)
Engine: 45hp Saildrive
Water capacity: 300lt (66gal)
Fuel capacity: 180lt (40gal)
Sail Area/Displacement ratio: 26.3
Displacement/LWL ratio: 135.8
Price from: €360,000 (ex VAT)
Price as tested: £366,666 (ex VAT)
Designer: Stefan Qviberg