The new Rustler 37 is designed to be the ideal cruising yacht to suit couples sailing offshore: we tested her in a Force 6 to find if she meets that brief
Rustler Yachts in Cornwall has a loyal client base and an enviable reputation. The obvious question, especially during these times of frugality, is how? In an age when new boats offer increasing volume for the price, where does this appeal for traditional designs come from? This conservative new Rustler 37 is nearly three times the price of similar-sized mass-produced cruisers. Why pay so much for a moderate-sized yacht that looks as if it were designed last century?
These questions ran through my mind as I headed to Falmouth in August. But, given that the R37 shares a similar hull shape to her larger sisterships the R42 and R44, I could safely predict the answers – which were confirmed almost immediately when we took this first new 37 to sea in a Force 6. Ask most cruising couples who sail offshore what they want in a boat and a comfortable motion at sea will top their wishlist.
The classic West Country conditions we experienced, a gusty south-westerly with a sharp sea outside the harbour, were the type that would expose the failings of a lighter, flatter-shaped boat. There was no slamming aboard the Rustler. She has a deep canoe-shaped hull, which together with her full displacement helps part the seas softly.
A number of traditional features help promote this comfortable cruising, such as a lead ballasted fully encapsulated keel and generous stowage and tankage. A skeg-hung rudder was paramount. Rustler’s stance is that however solid the stock, if the rudder strikes something hard enough it can hole the yacht. A compromise between handling and safety was found by using a half skeg.
Proof of her credentials came once out in the clean air and consistent breeze, where the R37 was in her element. The deep cockpit remained bone dry despite having the sprayhood down. She never broached or overloaded on the wheel even with 30-knots over the deck.
Rustler owners tend to be couples who sail together and occasionally invite friends aboard in port. Look within then and you will find the R37 is therefore proportioned for a couple, with everything to hand. Typical modern beamy designs will obviously feel more voluminous, especially aft, where they may even be able to offer a third cabin. But there are no big open spaces aboard the R37, and stowage is abundant throughout. Stephen Jones has a reputation for sneaking in more internal volume than a yacht’s length should otherwise allow, so the R37 is feels large for her classic lined size.
Fiddles and grabrails are used intelligently and bracing is well considered. The more you explore the Rustler 37 in fact, the more the words ‘brick’ and ‘outhouse’ spring to mind. More thoroughbred than show pony, she rewards rather than exhilarates – this a pedigree yacht with manners to match, and one that puts the comfort of the cruising couple above everything else.
See the full report in our December 2014 issue.