Over the last decade, “gentleman’s daysailer” has become a popular phrase in the lexicon of pleasure sailing, and the term aptly describes the fetching and delightful new Alerion Sport 33. A revamped version of the Alerion Express 33 (also built by Pearson Marine Group), the Sport version has shed 700 pounds of displacement, added a longer, expansive cockpit, and discarded some of the coastal-cruising frills and amenities found in its sister ship. The end result is a boat that’s peppier and, well, a whole lot sportier than its predecessor.
And boy, oh, boy is it an absolute joy to sail, as we discovered on a gorgeous afternoon last summer on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. In a dying northeast breeze of 6 to 8 knots, we tacked upwind and registered 6 knots of extremely close-winded boat speed. With a powerful, fully battened main and self-tacking, 100-percent, fractional jib (a 105-percent genoa with dedicated primary winches is also an option), we had plenty of horsepower for the rather squirrelly conditions. The tiller was feathery and light, the motion sweet and solid. Optimistically, we hoisted the big asymmetric kite just as the breeze died altogether. It seemed like the fun was over until we spied dark patches on the water filling in from the south.
That’s when the slick, handsome daysailer really came alive. We jibed on the fresh, 10-knot southerly, and the Sport 33 kicked up its heels, skimming across the rippling blue carpet at 7 to 8 knots. Sitting low in the deep cockpit with the mainsheet, mounted on a central pedestal, close at hand—as was the control line for the traveler, which is situated well aft but led forward via an ingenious recessed compartment—I found it fun and easy to play the big main in the puffs. It wasn’t only thrilling; it was also very . . . civilized.
It’s no accident, either. For an outwardly simple boat, a lot of effort and thought went into the deceptively sophisticated layout and sailing systems. The aforementioned Spectra traveler is robust, with 6:1 purchase. The mainsail and the self-tacking jib can be trimmed with coarse or fine-tune adjustments. All reefing lines and sheets are led aft beneath recessed tunnels, but they disappear into dedicated boxes under nifty, removable teak coaming planks when not in action.
With its straight stem, teardrop ports, gentle sheer line (effectively underscored by a sweet cove stripe), minimal freeboard, and lovely counter stern, the Sport 33 incorporates some classic design elements. But once again, looks are somewhat deceiving: The carbon mast, Nitronic rod rigging, and SCRIMP infusion-molded construction technique are thoroughly modern features. So, too, are the underwater appendages: an angular fin keel with an integral ballast bulb and a separate blade rudder.
Down below, the sitting-headroom interior is simple but not spartan. There’s a V-berth forward, a head compartment, and a couple of long settees. In other words, there’s enough room for a long weekend aboard or a pleasant picnic in inclement weather.
But with the Alerion Sport 33, clearly, that’s not the point of the exercise. It’s meant to go sailing.
Herb McCormick is CW’s senior editor.