The "CR" on the Sydney 36CR stands for cruiser/racer but that should really be reversed. This is a boat designed with an emphasis on racing. From the bowsprit for the asymmetrical spinnaker to the efficient deck layout to the big epoxy and E-glass wheel, this boat screams flat-out racer to the normal cruising sailor. But the 36CR does have a cruising side. Six-foot long cockpit seats are great for lounging. Though the sprit is fixed, when it's not needed, it can be removed by undoing a single pin in the anchor locker, eliminating the potential for leaky seals to let water into the forward cabin when you're sailing in a seaway-sometimes a problem on boats with retractable sprits.
Below, the attractive, minimalist accommodations are trimmed with varnished Australian Southern Myrtle and the sole is Flexiteak, a good-looking, low-maintenance laminate that looks and feels like teak decking. There is more than adequate space for a week away with the family or to host the crew during a regatta. Identical double quarterberths located either side of the companionway steps will be good sea berths and each has an opening port above. To starboard, the stand-up nav station hides a large 12-volt refrigerator. Opposite is the galley with a small sink nearly on centerline and a two-burner propane stove and oven outboard. The saloon is bright thanks to the large windows in the house, an opening hatch, and the gloss white finish on bulkheads, ceiling, and molded components. A bright-finished Southern Myrtle table with a fold-up leaf provides seating for at least four, and the two settees would make good sea berths if fitted with leecloths. Forward to port is the head and shower-yes, there's hot and cold running water on this speedster-opposite is a large hanging locker and all the way forward is comfortable double V-berth with a large hatch overhead.
A trait that most racing boats share is that controls are well set up on deck and the 36CR is no exception; halyards and reef lines are led aft to winches on the back of the house, either side of the companionway. On a light-air test sail in Miami I found the boat very easy to handle. The high-aspect, balanced spade rudder made steering very precise-with a flick of the wrist I put the bow wherever I wanted it to go. That doesn't mean the boat was twitchy and demanded constant attention-far from it-I was able to leave the helm and walk forward to make a halyard adjustment and walk back to the helm to find the boat holding course perfectly. In the meantime, the crew relaxed on the 6-foot long cockpit seats.
The keel-stepped, anodized aluminum fractional rig has swept-back spreaders, which make running backstays unnecessary, and features a non-overlapping jib and a big main.
The boat is very easily driven as I found in the very light airs at the outset of my test sail in Miami. A little slop made sailing difficult but we were still able to enjoy the boat in conditions that would have caused many other boats to keep the sails furled and the engine on. As the wind picked up, the boat really came to life and was seriously fun to sail. The high-aspect lead keel with a T-bulb that makes up 43 percent of the boat's displacement helped keep it upright even reaching with the spinnaker up in more breeze later in the day.
Overall, the build quality on this boat appears to be very good. The fit and finish are excellent and the structure seems very stiff. Would I choose this boat as my cruising home for the next five years? No. Would I choose it if I wanted to race around the bay and cruise for a week or two in August? Sure. Would I sail it trans Atlantic? It'd be a pain to beat all the way (although this boat could do it), but under normal conditions, I'd give it some thought-it'd be a fun, lively ride, especially for a younger crew.
Sydney 36CR Specs
LOA: 36' 1" (11.0 m.)
LWL: 31' 4" (9.55 m.)
Beam: 11' 4" (3.45 m.)
Draft: 7' 7" (2.31 m.)
Sail Area: 683 sq. ft. (63.4 sq. m.)
Ballast: 4,850 lb. (2,200 kg.)
Displacement: 11,240 lb. (5,098 kg.)
Water: 26 gal. (98 l.)
Fuel: 31 gal. (117 l.)
Mast Height: 54' 0" (16.46 1 m.)
Engine: 30-hp. Yanmar
Designer: Murray, Burns & Dovell
Price: $255,000 F.O.B. Southern California
Sydney Imports Inc., 877-358-SAIL, www.seatimeinc.com