There has been a raft of new sailing scows announced this year, with the cruising market following the racing world in design philosophy
Those who followed the early stages of this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race will surely have been intrigued by how well the front runners in the Class 40 fleet appeared to handle the brutal wind against tide conditions that caused problems for a lot of other boats. Conventional wisdom has it that a slim, narrow hull is ideal for sailing upwind in a blow. Yet the recent Class 40s carry their immense beam well forward of the mast, with a bow that’s closer to a square shape than a conventional point.
However, when heeled these boats present a relatively narrow immersed section that doesn’t slam into a head sea with the intensity that the flat saucer-like hull might suggest. At the same time they have enormous righting moment, which gives power to punch over big waves and reduces the total time spent sailing to windward. This stability is also an important factor in the boats’ behaviour in strong gusts: an increase of wind that would have many of the rest of us scrabbling for another reef is often handled simply by depowering the top of the mainsail with a bit more twist.
Although this hull form has only been in existence for little more than a decade, since David Raison won the 2011 Mini Transat in a boat of his own design, it has quickly gained traction across the Mini 6.50, Class 40 and IMOCA 60 fleets. It’s now increasingly appearing in designs for cruising yachts, which also have potential to offer considerably more internal volume than other vessels of a similar length.
The Skaw Paradise is a very beamy 11.3m foiling scow bow cruiser with its roots firmly in the racing scene, but with the concepts reworked to produce an ultimate cruiser. Skaw CEO and founder Benoit Marie is also technical director, coach and co-skipper (when racing double-handed) for Caroline Boule, who’s notched up a string of impressive results in the Mini 6.50 class this season in her full flying Sam Manuard-designed Nicomatic.
Marie co-designed the Skaw Paradise with naval architect Clément Bercault of Berco Design. “We could not find any boat on the market suiting our needs, so we started designing our own perfect boat,” he says.
“It’s one to take our friends and family around the world to unseen places, in the safest, easiest and fastest manner.”
The Skaw Paradise differs to Nicomatic in that it has fully retractable C-foils that are intended to act like motion dampeners, giving a smoother ride, while also increasing both stability and speed. While much is borrowed from the racing world, this boat has been simplified as much as possible, so it’s not complicated to sail.
Much of the drive towards scow bow cruising yachts is driven by top level racing sailors. Armel Tripon, who raced the then radical Sam Manuard-designed IMOCA 60 L’Occitane de Provence in the 2020 Vendée Globe, has lent his name to the SailScow brand that’s working on a range of four designs from 28-42ft.
“The hull I was able to test racing around the globe delighted me,” says Tripon. “I can easily imagine myself cruising on a scow to take full advantage of the sailing performance, the ease of passage through the sea and the incredible comfort at anchor – I can’t wait to try it out.”
The first SailScow model is a 37ft cruiser designed by Gildas Plessis, a strong advocate of this hull shape. It’s primarily of marine ply and epoxy and offers a step change in internal space compared to other yachts of this length. Options include a four cabin layout, with two doubles forward, both with rectangular beds, while aft there’s a further double, plus a twin cabin with bunk beds. Alternatively there’s space for a giant owner’s cabin forward, plus one aft double port and a generous technical and stowage area to starboard.
VPLP Fast Cruising Scow
PLP’s carbon Fast Cruising Scow is a 40ft concept that aims to maximise both performance and comfort. It has a covered and glazed saloon/cockpit area like those found on cruising catamarans. On the same level as the working areas of the cockpit, it provides shelter from sun and water both when used as a dining area and as a watch keeping zone on passage.
Air draught a fraction over 20m (67ft) helps provide a big rig that will produce plenty of power, while retractable foils will reduce heel angles thanks to the righting moment they generate, at the same time as cushioning the passage of the boat through waves.
Breton yard IDB Marine was one of the forerunners in producing a cruising boat based on a scow bow design. The Mojito 650 uses the same extreme scow bow hull as the phenomenally successful David Raison-designed Maxi 650 that won the series division of the last Mini Transat race, taking five of the top nine places.
The Mojito 650 is a detuned boat with a new coachroof that gives a panoramic view, plus a six-berth interior with a full-size rectangular double bed forward. There’s also plenty of stowage and all that’s lacking compared to many significantly larger craft is standing headroom and a separate heads compartment. A smaller and simplified rig compared to that of the Maxi 650 makes this an easy boat to sail and a lot less tweaky than the original, yet it’s still one that will happily plane at speeds well into double digits and hold its own upwind against boats 10ft longer.
La Rochelle-based RM Yachts has been forging a different path to mainstream yards for more than 30 years with its range of distinctive fast plywood/epoxy performance cruisers. The latest model – a sixth generation RM designed by Marc Lombard, is directly influenced by today’s raceboats, with the aim of producing a spacious, fast and dry 36-footer that can cover long distances at fast average speeds.
“It offers greater safety, more interior and exterior space and greater ease of movement,” says lead designer Eric Levet. “The hull is powerful and voluminous but not excessively so at the bow, for a good passage through the waves.”
The first example is scheduled to start construction in January next year and is expected to be afloat in July 2024.
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