Quick Look: Grand Soleil 43

Designers Botin and Carkeek bring a racey style to this cruising boat. A mini review from our January 2009 issue

Grand Soleil 43 The Grand Soleil 43 marries style and performance in an elegant but fast cruiser. Drafted by the same designer who created numerous America's Cup boats, the 43 is the ideal racer/cruiser, able to comfortably keep pace without sacrificing luxury. A sturdy keel combined with a balanced rig ensures that will cruise past your competition in comfort and safety. A simple layout also proves easy to handle short-handed. For more information, visit the Grand Soleil website.

When American sailor Ken Read launched his Puma campaign for the Volvo Ocean Race, he commissioned the hot, young America's Cup design team of Marcelino Botin and Shaun Carkeek to create his round-the-world raceboat. The Italian builders of the Grand Soleil 43 made the same choice, and the result has been no less effective.

By definition, the GS 43 is a dual-purpose racer/cruiser, and it handles both charges with style and assurance. The triple-spreader rig is tall and efficient, while the huge destroyer wheel offers fingertip control on the helm. (An optional version offers twin wheels aft and an open transom.) Despite the fact that on our test sail, the boat was equipped with borrowed sails from a smaller yacht, the deep-keeled 43 still trucked along at a good 6 knots in just 8 knots of true breeze. With a standard draft of 7 feet 6 inches (an 8-foot-6-inch version is also available), the 43-footer is an upwind sailing machine, though it's draft may be too deep for sailors who range across such shallow-water cruising grounds as Chesapeake Bay.

Below, the white upholstery and countertops contrast well with the rich mahogany lockers, cabinets, and furniture. The layout features a vast owner's stateroom forward with its own enclosed head; a central saloon, the centerpiece of which is a folding dining table that may be the largest ever outfitted on a 43-foot boat; and twin doubles aft. A second big head is to port; the L-shaped galley lies to starboard. The nav station, also to port, seems somewhat of an afterthought, but everything else in the interior looks and feels right. All told, the Grand Soleil 43 makes a grand statement indeed.

Herb McCormick

Specs

LOA 42' 6"
LWL 37' 5"
Beam 13' 0"
Draft (deep/shallow) 8' 6"/7' 6"
Sail Area 1,171 sq. ft.
Displacement 19,580 lb.
Water 105 gal.
Fuel 60 gal.
Engine Volvo 40-hp. diesel
Designer Botin & Carkeek
Price $430,000
Grand Soleil NA
(410) 757-9401
www.grandsoleil.net