Miami Serves Up a Cruisers Buffet
The Alerion Express 33
Ever since the debut of the Alerion Express 28, Garry Hoyt and boatbuilder TPI have collaborated to reinterpret the design ideas of the late Carl Schumacher, first with the Alerion Express 38 and 20, and now with the 33, which was fresh out of the molds in time for Miami.
Ever the marketer, Hoyt refers to the Alerion experience as "select sailing," meaning that the boat is easy to handle, a delight to sail, and can be used when the owner wants to be on the water and then easily put away at day's end or when the weather takes the fun out of it.
With a name borrowed from Captain Nat Herreshoff and lines loosely adopted as well, the Alerion Express 33 has the full-battened, high-aspect, roachy main of her siblings and a self-tending jib brought under control by a Hoyt Jib Boom for easy handling. All sail-control lines lead aft to winches on either side of the wheel, where Hoyt, now in his 70s, easily raises and reefs sails himself.
Holding true to the tenets of the daysailer genre that the AE 28 invented, the 33's deck isn't cluttered with lifelines or pulpit, and the cockpit, which can seat eight comfortably, is the center of attention. By design, the boat is a couple of feet narrower than most cruisers its size, and the freeboard is low; together with a deep keel and a modern underbody, these elements combine to produce outstanding performance under sail.
In less than 10 knots of wind on Biscayne Bay, the AE 33 sailed closehauled at an impressive 6.5 knots, a pace it held off the wind, thanks to the Jib Boom, which keeps the headsail pulling long after it might be flapping on another boat. Should the wind drop or build too much for comfort, a 20-horsepower diesel can get you quickly back to the barn.
If you're having enough fun to want to anchor out, there are accommodations below. Though standing headroom is lacking, there's a table and a pair of settees in the main saloon-a space that's finished off in "Herreshoff" style with white panels and varnished teak trim. Between saloon and V-berth, there's a head to port that can be closed off for privacy. There's also a small refrigerator forward in the cabin, along with a sink and single-burner butane stove for heating up a stew or coffee.
This elegant daysailer comes at a price-$235,000-but all the other Alerion Expresses already on the water suggest that there are many sailors willing to pay for the sort of sailing this boat will deliver.
The Sydney 36CR
At the other end of the spectrum from the traditionally laid-out Catalina and the gentlemanly daysailer mystique of the Alerion stood the Sydney 36CR, a new offering from Australia. Sporting a high-aspect spade rudder and 60-inch carbon-fiber wheel on one end, a bowsprit on the other, and a keel-stepped fractional rig with swept-back spreaders in between, the 36CR promises lots of speed for an owner who might want to race, spend the night, then cruise home the next day with friends and family. On a test sail before the show, the boat tracked nicely when the helm was left to itself and stood up well to its asymmetric headsail while reaching in building winds later in the day. The cockpit is well laid out, with sail-control lines running back to winches on the cabin top. Forward of the wheel are 6-foot-long seats for the crew.
Below, the interior's white fiberglass finish is offset by trim of varnished Australian southern myrtle and a Flexiteak sole. Quarter berths run aft under the cockpit seats on either side of the companionway. Forward of these, there's a nav station with a refrigerator under to starboard; opposite is a galley with small sink and two-burner propane stove and oven. A myrtle table with a fold-up leaf is in the heart of the saloon, flanked on either side by settees that could double as sea berths if lee cloths were added. Just aft of the comfortable-looking V-berth is a head and shower (with hot and cold pressure water) to port and a hanging locker opposite.
While a bit spartan below for some, the Sydney 36CR, priced at $232,000, offers a lot of performance and has the creature comforts below to serve up fast passages during a week's cruise or longer.