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.
|The X-34 carries on the X-Yacht tradition of speed under sail, but with traditional good looks and comfort below, the trip to and from the regatta will be as appreciated as the hardware won at the main event.|
While the A40RC and the SC 37 were deemed to be well to the left on the racer/cruiser spectrum, the X-34 ultimately stood apart as a down-the-middle boat that could meet both demands with equal aplomb. When the final votes were tallied, it was the unanimous choice as the top Racer/Cruiser for 2009 in CW's annual BOTY competition.
"It felt like a boat I'd be very comfortable taking out with one other person," said Murphy. "Just a fun, fun boat to sail."
"Comparing it with the A40RC," said fellow judge Stacey Collins, "I had a much easier time thinking about this boat in a cruising context."
So what, exactly, put the X-Boat in the winner's circle? Certainly, the judges for a cruising magazine will lean heavily on the amenities that make a boat livable and comfortable. And the X-34, even though it was the smallest of the three boats vying for the title, delivered a long list of seemingly small details that, taken together, built an irrefutable case.
The quartet of long opening ports in the coachroof provides the sort of ventilation one needs when swinging on a hook in a confined anchorage. Likewise, the husky, dedicated bow roller (with its attached tack fitting for a cruising spinnaker) addresses the matter of ground tackle, an afterthought on the other boats in the class. The handholds throughout were numerous and well executed, and the bookshelves in the main saloon and forward stateroom are another nod toward liveaboard sensibilities.
An extremely logical touch was the placement of all seacocks in a common locker just aft of the head, which doubles as a wet locker. A molded, built-in enclosure in the cabin top provides excellent stowage for the dodger when folded away for racing and/or visibility. Engine access, via the folding companionway-stair fixture, was terrific. And the accommodation plan, with the big double cabin aft to starboard along with good sea berth/settees in the central saloon, makes optimal use of the available space.
Topside, the general theme of packing a lot into a compact package continued. The cockpit, naturally, is considerably smaller than those on the A40RC and the SC 37, but it's still generous for a comparable 34-footer. The recessed 62-inch destroyer wheel was another feature that gave the vessel a big-boat feel, as did the four pad-eyes in the cockpit for harness attachments. But the design is also optimized for performance, with such items as the recessed furling drum, which allows a deck-sweeping headsail; the double-ended mainsheet; the Spectra backstay; and the in-hauler on the adjustable sheet leads, to squeeze out a few more degrees of pointing ability when hard on the breeze. Like the other racer/cruisers, the gear was top shelf, with Harken winches, Ronstan blocks, and nine coachroof-mounted Spinlock clutches adjacent to either side of the companionway.
We sailed the X-34 on the lightest day in our week of test sails, with breezes wafting in the 6- to 8-knot range. For many boats, this would've been a kiss of death. For the X-Boat, it underscored the vessel's excellent sailing capabilities. Upwind, in just over 6 knots of true wind, the boat made a highly respectable 5.5 to 5.7 knots. The boat maintained the same speeds, in the same wind pressure, under spinnaker on a tight reach with the pole just aft of the headstay. Throughout, steering was effortless.
The X-Boat line is manufactured in Denmark, and this year the company is enjoying its 30th year in business. The builder has carved out a solid reputation over the years with its long line of strong, straightforward, aesthetically pleasing vessels that all seem to sail exceedingly well. Like its siblings, the skeleton of the X-34 is a steel frame over which a fiberglass pan is framed in and tabbed before the furniture and bulkheads are installed.
The company obviously feels that this rather singular technique, at least for most of today's builders, designers, and engineers, promotes a boat of extraordinary strength and rigidity. But it did give the BOTY panel at least a moment of pause, primarily because of the extra weight it introduces to the structure, where that weight is located, and possible maintenance issues, though X-Boats maintains it's never been an issue in nearly three decades of production boatbuilding.
In the final analysis, though, the X-34 personified what CW's panel of sailors believes is the standard-bearer for modern racer/cruisers. "She was a spirited performer," said Naranjo, "and a kind little ship."
LOA 34' 0" (10.36 m.)
LWL 29' 8" (9.09 m.)
Beam 11' 2" (3.40 m)
Draft (standard) 6' 2" (1.9 m.)
(shallow) 5' 4" (1.63 m.)
Sail Area 638 sq. ft. (59.3 sq. m.)
Ballast 4,850 lb. (2,200 kg.)
Displacement 11,684 lb. (5,300 kg.)
Water 55 gal. (208 l.)
Fuel 21 gal. (79 l.)
Mast Height 55' 9" (17.0 m.)
Engine 20-hp. Yanmar diesel
Designer Niels Jeppesen
Herb McCormick is a CW editor at large.