Not only is the Columbia Yachts logo back in business; Vince Valdes, the son of Columbia's founder, now heads the company, and his new boat is faster and more fun to sail than its predecessors.
This boat is anything but your father's classic Columbia 34. Introduced at the 2004 U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, the trailerable Columbia 30 is a no-nonsense sportboat that can serve as a club racer or a performance cruiser that trades amenities for sailing thrills. The berths are comfortable, and there's a head, a small dinette table, and a rudimentary galley, but under sail is where this boat shines.
Initially, I was a little disappointed when I put the boat on a close reach in 10 to 15 knots true. We only managed to stay even with a particular 37-foot cruiser not known for alacrity. We luffed up, and two Chesapeake Bay crab-pot buoys surfaced. Free of this handicap, the Columbia 30 vaulted by the cruiser and picked off large cruising multihulls on a reach. The tiller had a fingertip feel, and foot chocks provided a comfortable position when heeling. It was clear this boat would appeal to a performance-oriented cruiser looking for an agile sloop that excels in the light summer conditions found in many of North America's popular sailing venues.
Designer Tim Kernan leveraged such go-fast attributes as a carbon spar, a retractable keel with 2:1 purchase, and a retractable carbon-fiber bowsprit. There's a 1,400-pound lead bulb at the tip of the keel foil and a hoisting mechanism that reduces the 7-foot draft of a weatherly performer to the 2-foot draft of a trailer-sailer.
For the hull, Columbia uses bias-biaxial fiberglass that's vacuum bagged to a PVC foam core and infused with vinylester resin. The deck is built from balsa-core sandwich and reinforced with a carbon-fiber space frame that helps to spread rig and keel loads.
In many ways, the boat behaves like a blend between a sportboat and a pocket cruiser. Its light displacement, substantial sail area, and easily driven hull shape actually simplify sailing. The Columbia 30 has a simple sail plan, with a dominant main and a small jib on a roller-furling headstay. The retractable bowsprit allows a shorthanded crew to cope with an asymmetric spinnaker and will coax a fun sail out of 5 knots of breeze.
Down below, simplicity reigns with two comfortable quarter berths, a forward V-berth, an enclosed head, and a small galley space with a sink and a one-burner stove--perhaps all you need if your preference is marina-based daysailing and dining out.
The standard auxiliary is a 9.1-horsepower Yanmar 1GM10C with saildrive that produces adequate thrust in a calm. An optional 18-horsepower two-cylinder Yanmar diesel is available. The Columbia 30's streamlined styling alludes to the bubble top and bullet window that typified earlier Columbias.
This boat is all about blistering performance and simple, practical accommodations. If you really like to sail fast, and your cruising isn't about all the comforts of home, it's worth going for a ride aboard the new Columbia 30.
Circumnavigator Ralph Naranjo has written extensively about boat design and performance.
LOA 30' 0" (9.14 m.)
LWL 27' 0" (8.23 m.)
Beam 9' 6" (2.90 m.)
Draft (board down/up) 7' 0"/2' 0" (2.13/0.61 m.)
Sail Area 443 sq. ft. (41.2 sq. m.)
Displacement 3,900 lb. (1,773 kg.)
Water 9 gal. (34 l.)
Fuel 12 gal. (45 l.)
Engine 9.1-hp. Yanmar
Designer Tim Kernan