There are two clear schools of thought when it comes to getting from here to there. For some, it’s all about the journey, preferably made on a seakindly vessel that can stoutly shoulder its way through anything Mother Nature might toss in the way. The happy and rested crew measures progress not by miles per day, but by number of books read, videos watched and sunsets savored.
And then there are the crews that want to get there. Fast. Among the many choices they have is a whole line of good-looking, contemporary performance cruisers from the Danish builder X-Yachts.
Last fall, the company brought a pair of new offerings to the U.S. Sailboat show in Annapolis, Maryland — their flagship rocket-yacht, the Xp 55, and a smaller but equally impressive sistership, the X49 — where they made quite an elegant splash tied up along the outermost row of docks. In fact, the X49 had a most impressive stateside arrival, as it was ultimately named our Best Full-Size Cruiser for 2019 in our annual Boat of the Year contest. More about that boat in a moment.
But first, let’s take a close look at the Xp 55, which was first launched in 2013; in 2017, the boat’s exterior was restyled and a new interior was introduced. It was the updated model that made its debut in North America.
OK, right up front, let me admit to having a thing for X-Yachts. Across the ranges, including the “Xc” series of straight-on cruising boats and this “Xp” line of high-performance racer/cruisers, the workmanship and building materials are top notch, the various designs are both eye-catching and quite practical. There are good sea berths for the crew underway. Counters have fiddles. Handholds abound. Hardware is well-placed. Sail control lines are led so that trimmers or the singlehanded skipper can reach them.
Like its siblings, the Xp 55 is the product of X-Yachts’ in-house design team under the direction of Niels Jeppesen. The hull is foam cored and vacuum-infused using epoxy resin, with carbon-fiber reinforcements in high-load areas. For the Xp line, the builder has replaced a steel grid system with a similarly strong but lighter carbon-fiber and epoxy structure to absorb rig and engine loads.
Notes CW‘s Boat of the Year judge Tim Murphy, “They’re really making efforts to get the weight out of this boat.” The result is a very sporty displacement-to-length ratio of 143. Meanwhile, the builder opted for a cast-iron foil with a lead bulb down deep where pounds benefit rather than hinder performance. Three keels are available: deep (10-foot-6-inch), standard (9-foot-4-inch) and shallow (8-foot-2-inch).
The Xp55 comes with a couple of rig options, both with standard rod rigging. An aluminum mast and boom are also standard, but the boat we saw in Annapolis sported a carbon-fiber spar and boom with in-boom furling. Those, along with a few other options, brought the sticker price of the boat to $1.4 million, up from a base price of about $870,000. Among the add-ons were teak side decks and cabin top; a carbon-fiber bowsprit and anchor roller; North 3Di racing sails; bow and stern thrusters and B&G electronics. With stays anchored on the sheer line, the wide deck and low-profile coach roof were easy to navigate noted BOTY judge Alvah Simon. He cited positive safety features, including the design of the companionway, easily handled weatherboard and a bridge deck height of 7 inches to prevent down flooding. Visibility from the twin wheels was good, he thought, though the seats at either wheel were somewhat low.
Under way, the cockpit forward of the twin helms was open and roomy for lounging guests or a working crew. At anchor, a teak table that’s stored in the cockpit sole could be raised for entertaining. A pair of adequately sized Harken Performance winches were located well within reach of either helm. The skipper could also quickly adjust jib-sheet leads using the line-controlled cars on the fairlead tracks mounted inboard by the cabin sides. At the bow, a belowdecks Harken furler kept the pointy end clutter free; its drum could be easily reached by opening the hatch of the deep chain locker.
Down below, the accommodations were quite spacious. Rich teak furniture and a teak-and-holly sole — both standard — glowed in the natural light that poured in through overhead hatches, ports in the cabin top and windows in the hull. A Nordic oak and walnut sole interior is also available.
The boat we visited had the standard layout: twin aft cabins and an en suite owners’ cabin with an island queen berth far forward, behind a watertight bulkhead. To port, amidships in the saloon, a U-shaped couch outboard and an upholstered bench on the centerline surrounded a large folding teak table; a long settee (and good sea berth) was opposite. At the foot of the companionway, a large and well-equipped L-shaped galley was to port. To starboard sat a sizable head and stall shower, with a full-size nav station just forward of it.
The 55 comes with a large dinghy locker across the stern, closed off by an electrically operated swim platform. Because of the location of the garage, the double-ended mainsheet is anchored to a single block just forward of the helms. Under sail in 12 knot breeze and with little chop, the boat seemed a bit tender when hard on the wind, and there was a fair amount of weather helm that couldn’t be easily reduced by adjusting a traveler. Also, a new set of racing sails had just been bent on and a sailmaker was aboard and still playing with tuning. Still, the boat showed its get-up-and-go. Closehauled, the speed over the ground was 8.1 knots; cracked off to a reach (and with the strain on the wheel lessened considerably) the speedo jumped to 8.6 knots, a joyous thing.
For the sailor who enjoys immediate rewards for pulling on this and easing off that, the Xp55 delivers in spades. And fast sailing is fun sailing, no?
Mark Pillsbury is CW’s editor.
X-Yachts Xp 55 specifications
|LENGTH OVERALL||56’6” (17.22 m)|
|WATERLINE LENGTH||48’9” (14.86 m)|
|BEAM||15’8” (4.78 m)|
|DRAFT (Shallow/Std./Deep)||8’2”/9’4”/10’6” (2.49/2.84/3.20 m)|
|SAIL AREA (100%)||1,878 sq. ft. (174.5 sq m)|
|BALLAST (Standard)||14,330 lb. (6,500 kg)|
|DISPLACEMENT||37,038 lb. (16,800 kg)|
|WATER||159 gal. (602 l)|
|FUEL||123 gal. (466 l)|
|HOLDING (Per Head)||20 gal. (76 l)|
|MAST HEIGHT||85’2” (25.96 m)|
|ENGINE||110 hp Yanmar|
|DESIGNER||X-Yachts Design Team|