This versatile trio of dual-purpose sailboats-the Archambault A40RC, the Santa Cruz 37, and the X-34-exemplify the 2009 take on racer/cruisers. A review from our April 2009 issue.
|Racers and cruisers will appreciate the Archambault A40RC's cockpit, which features twin wheels and sail controls near the helms, where they're easy to reach. The open design means plenty of room for a crew to work or lots of space to lounge and enjoy the ride.|
Santa Cruz 37: So Cool
Similar in concept to the sporty A40RC, the lancelike Santa Cruz 37 is another boat in which the cruising side of the equation is clearly secondary to that of the racing. Given that fact, the SC 37 nonetheless feels a bit more like a cruising boat than its slightly larger counterpart. A partial reason is that the dimensions are somewhat different. Though the 37-footer, like the 40, employs twin wheels and an open transom, the cockpit is proportionally smaller and tighter, and the rounded coachroof extends farther forward. While the SC 37 is clearly a contemporary creation, it's also less stylized than the Archambault. You look at the A40RC and you think Euro. You look at the Santa Cruz and think American.
The SC 37 was certainly born in the U.S.A. The original Santa Cruz line was the brainchild of Northern Californian Bill Lee, known as the Wizard for his groundbreaking series of ultralight-displacement boats. The firm has since switched hands and is now based in Florida under new ownership, which commissioned yacht designer Tim Kernan to design the SC 37.
"I got together with Bill to discuss the project and the sort of attributes that go into a Santa Cruz," said Kernan, who had deep respect for the models that preceded the 37. "We both agreed that the brand was built on fast, ocean-worthy, practical boats. I decided to add good-looking."
The aforementioned coachroof opens up the interior plan, which is indeed a simple but handsome space. The layout is not unlike the A40RC-twin doubles aft and a stateroom and head forward, with the sleeping compartments sandwiching an open saloon with settees port and starboard-with a couple of notable exceptions. First, the dining-table base doubles as the housing for the hydraulically controlled lifting keel, which adds to the design's versatility by making it trailerable. And second, the joiner work and bulkheads are rendered in ingrained bamboo, a light, renewable resource that also looks great.
As with the A40RC, the Boat of the Year panel awarded high scores to the overall quality of the build, which, in the case of the 37, is a state-of-the art carbon/epoxy/foam hand-laid laminate; in the interest of weight savings (and speed), the rig and retractable bowsprit are also carbon. "They did a nice job with regard to controlling weights and laminate integrity throughout," said Naranjo, noting that the boat's displacement of less than 9,000 pounds would translate to alacrity through the water.
The judges, however, expressed definite concern about the unique placement of the Yanmar diesel, a saildrive unit that's accessed through a large hatch in the cockpit sole just aft of the companionway. They collectively envisioned too many worst-case scenarios in which the engine might be potentially exposed.
But you don't buy a boat like this with motoring in mind. Like most of the J/Boats, the driving force of the SC 37's rig is in the mainsail, which is eminently tweakable. The traveler and mainsheet are readily at hand just forward of the wheels, the latter a double-ended number that's controlled by Harken 40ST winches on the port and starboard cockpit coamings. Also close and handy is the extremely clever backstay arrangement, a block-and-tackle affair that provides 56:1 purchase for rapid adjustment. Harken gear is also specified for the coachroof winches, adjustable sheet leads, and jib roller furler.
Tate Russack, a Santa Cruz dealer and the owner of hull number 1, which we sailed last fall, delivered the boat from Rhode Island to Annapolis just prior to the boat show. On the 55-mile stretch of Delaware Bay, with a northerly breeze of 22 knots and sailing with just the mainsail, he knocked off the run in just less than five hours, an average of more than 10 knots.
Unfortunately, during our test sail, the breeze never topped 12 knots, and it mostly hovered in the 8- to 9-knot range. Still, the boat sailed very well, making 7 to 7.5 knots upwind and topping the 8-knot barrier once we'd set the asymmetric kite off the sprit and bore off to a close reach. The rudder, which is situated in a dedicated cassette, was at times sticky, a bearing issue that the Santa Cruz representatives acknowledged and said would be addressed with subsequent models.
"We had two boats in the BOTY contest that claim to be true crossover boats, the Santa Cruz and the A40RC," said judge Tim Murphy. "In other words, boats that were meant to be raced with a crew, and then you go off cruising. Boats that do both things well. The SC 37, I felt, came a whole lot closer to that objective than the A40RC did."
LOA 37' 0" (11.28 m.)
LWL 34' 9" (10.59 m.)
Beam 10' 8" (3.24 m.)
Draft (standard) 7' 6" (2.29 m.)
(shoal) 6' 0" (1.82 m.)
Sail Area 717 sq. ft. (67.28 sq. m.)
Ballast 3,730 lb. (1,691 kg.)
Displacement 8,662 lb. (3,929 kg.)
Water 27 gal. (100 l.)
Fuel 19 gal. (72 l.)
Mast Height 55' 0" (16.7 m.)
Engine 29-hp. Yanmar diesel
Designer Tim Kernan
Santa Cruz Yachts