First of all, the X-Yachts X-41 is not simply a larger X-35.
Although they are clearly from the same stable, Niels Jeppesen has given her a deep T-keel for stability.
But the X-Yachts X-41 carries a comparatively lower sail area than her sister.
The reason for this, according to Jeppesen, is that the X-Yachts X-35 was designed specifically to establish a class in the Mediterranean, requiring plenty of sail to cope with light conditions.
Choosing to market her as a one-design has also let X-Yachts fit her with all the toys as standard – carbon spars, wheel and some tidy line handling arrangements.
The deck layout of the X-Yachts X-41 rewards close scrutiny.
There’s an abundance of tweaks to be made, with barber haulers for the head sail and spinnaker sheets and powerful outhaul, cunningham and kicker purchases led to camcleats on both sides of the coach roof.
The mainsheet is led under the side decks to the aft pair of cockpit winches, avoiding any trip or chafe problems for crew sitting out.
A powerful traveller runs the full width of the cockpit within easy reach of the helm or the main trimmer.
Both mainsheet and traveller lines are continuous, the traveller line routed through small blocks clipped to the guard wires to keep it to hand.
Backstay adjustment is through X-Yachts’ patented Magic Wheel, as fitted to the IMX40, IMX45 and most recently the X-35.
This impressive system uses a huge drum below decks to provide most of the purchase, allowing rapid backstay adjustment simply by pulling a lot of line.
It’s tidy and quicker than hydraulics and is routed conveniently through a small tube which emerges just below the centre of the traveller.
The innovations don’t stop there. X-Yachts have fitted Harken’s dual diameter Quattro winches to the coachroof, which allow fast sheeting of the spinnaker sheets via the large diameter drum or a lower gear by simply shifting the line up to the main drum and self-tailer.
Lifting the GRP cover below the helmsman’s feet reveals another clever detail – the quadrant is immediately abaft the helm and as close to the centre of the wheel as possible, allowing short cables to be used and eliminating slack.
All good in theory, but does it work on the water? In a word, yes.
The X-Yachts X-41 is a thoroughbred racer which is already showing her class – the team won the first race of the Warsash Spring Series by 15 minutes on corrected time.
We sailed the boat twice; once for the second race of the series, then later for a detailed test.
On the first occasion, the wind ranged from 30-38 knots, giving us a fast run to the course and race organisers the jitters.
A stiff performer
They cancelled the race, but skipper Jochem Visser suggested we should go for a sail anyway.
It was a bumpy ride upwind under reefed main and jib, conditions that the hull’s steel reinforcement, which picks up rig and keel load, is designed to counteract.
Turning for the spinnaker run, we drove the boat hard, surfing down waves to reach speeds up to 15 knots.
The 12 crew were necessary to sail and balance the boat in these conditions and proved that the large cockpit could work well when fully crewed.
The second session couldn’t have been more different – bright sunshine and light winds averaging six knots.
Sailing upwind and sacrificing a little height for power, the X-Yachts X-41 turned in a more than respectable five to six knots, often matching or exceeding the true wind speed.
She responded well to crew placement, delivering much better helm balance with plenty of weight to leeward.
The big carbon wheel was comfy to use from either side of the cockpit and offered a good view forward, and there were plenty of brace points for the helmsman whatever the steering position.
Helming was finger-light yet positive – the boat responded well to small corrections and the steering system showed no slack.
Even in these light airs, feedback was good and she proved easy to keep in the groove.
Tacking is fast and straightforward thanks to the non-overlapping rig.
Bearing away and hoisting a symmetric spinnaker, we nudged seven knots, reaching as the wind filled in slightly. Again, she proved positive to handle, rewarding puffs of wind with good acceleration.
Under engine the 41 performed well, cruising at over eight knots and reaching just over nine knots flat out.
As can be expected from her narrow keel. the turning circle was tight – 1.25 boat lengths – and performance astern was secure and positive.
Although primarily a racing boat, the X-Yachts X-41 still offers a few cruiser comforts.
The cockpit is a good width for bracing and deep enough to feel secure, and has two good lockers for fenders and lines plus a large lazarette accessed through the floor behind the helm.
The racing foil on the headstay can be replaced with roller-reefing gear with the drum mounted below deck. But the really neat concession to cruising is the anchor box.
X-Yachts’ system lets you fit an anchor well and windlass which can be entirely removed when racing, using a fully sealed hatch to prevent water ingress. It’s not a quick job, admittedly, but impressive nonetheless.
Light and welcoming
The interior layout is similar to that of the X-35, but the extra length has allowed a few welcome changes, notably a larger galley, forward-facing nav station and doors and lockers for the aft cabins.
Yet the first impression below is of simplicity – there’s a light, welcoming feel thanks to teak being restricted to necessary joiner work, a generous use of white and lots of opening lights and hatches.
Starting at the bow, there’s a zippered, mesh panel which opens into an empty bow cavity suitable for sail stowage, but would be filled with the anchor box when cruising.
The forecabin has a conventional triangular berth, its split mattress easily moved to allow access beneath the berth.
The hatches which offer access to this stowage space are too narrow to accept anything but the smallest sails, but provide plenty of stowage for other objects.
Other stowage is provided by a large locker with hanging and shelving space. Both aft cabins feature a similar locker.
Forward and accessed through the saloon, the heads is large enough for showering and has a large locker behind the usual mirrored doors the space below the sink is left open.
The saloon has two long settees either side of a drop-leaf table.
As on the X-35, the seat backs hinge upwards, giving access to the full width of the cushions when sleeping.
It’s a shame no extra cushion is provided, so that the hinged section can double as an upper berth.
That said, because the boat is able to sleep ten, few people are likely to find this restricting.
The settee cushions and their plywood bases also hinge up to allow access to the water tank to port and diesel tank to starboard, plus limited stowage. Grab handles below the portlights run throughout the saloon.
A large nav station is at the foot of the companionway, with plenty of space for paper and electronic navigation.
Stowage is in a stack of four drawers in the pedestal and there’s even a handy pen box under a flap in the chart table top.
Opposite, the galley is large enough for standard cooking and has good stowage above the stove.
However, less successful is the stack of four drawers adjacent to the stove – with an inside width of only 9cm, you have to wonder how useful they will be.
The simple aft cabins have a large locker each and berths that are mounted low in the boat, with little space beneath.
A pipecot is also fitted should you need to squeeze three people into each cabin.
The engine box, which protrudes into both cabins, can be readily removed, as can the companionway steps, to provide superb all-round engine access.
For sheer adrenalin, the X-Yachts X-41 takes the honours. She’s fast and fun, and rewards careful trim and handling with clear returns of speed.
The big rig, deep draught and high sail area/displacement creates a stiff, responsive yacht that can put a smile on your face and some results on the board.
My guess is that X-Yachts X-41’s will spend most of their time in racing mode.
That said, just as many a sports car driver has never been near a track, several owners of the 40 or so boats already pre-sold admitted that they never plan to race at all.
First published in the June 2007 issue of YW.
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