Quest 30

The Quest 30 is for the race-minded cruiser.
Rodger Martin Design

I like the new breed of sport boats, and the Rodger Martin-designed, Barrett Holby-built Quest 30 illustrates brilliantly why. Skeptics are apt to look at her and see a vessel of confused purpose, but I see a racer up top with real accommodations down below, all in 30 feet and all for around $100,000. As sport boats go, the Quest has a far larger and more usable interior than others of her type. In short, she goes fast and she takes care of her crew.

Speed enhancers include a generous sail plan, an optional carbon mast, an asymmetrical spinnaker on a retractable sprit, a large working cockpit without coamings, a deep bulb keel, and optional side-tank water ballast. Integrated convertible sprits provide great power potential for shorthanded downwind work, and the one on this boat happens to be fully enclosed so as to control the ingress of seawater from leaky bushings or simply from the retraction of a wet spar.

The PHRF rating has ranged between 81 and 87, with the New England number settling in at 84. This rating applies either to a Quest 30 with no water ballast and seven crew, or to one equipped with water ballast and four crew. Significant triumphs in more than a few competitive New England PHRF championships over the course of the past year, not to mention David Scully’s respectable 21-day Atlantic crossing last June in the Europe 1 Star singlehanded race from Plymouth, England, to Newport, Rhode Island, aboard the Quest 30 Hot Glue Gun, point to a solid design with a real appetite for fast passage making.We sailed hull number one out of Newport, equipped with a deep bulb and side water ballast tanks. This type of movable and expendable water ballast should not be confused with the flooding water ballast used aboard the current spate of trailerable pocket cruisers in which the water is flooded into a central-axis cavity low in the bottom of the boat. In those boats, there is no shifting of water from side to side and there is no deep permanent ballast for added righting and security against capsize. By contrast, the Quest is configured in the fashion of a state-of-the-art singlehanded world-girdler, with sophisticated, albeit simple, gravity feed plumbed between the outboard tanks, and substantial fixed ballast at the bottom of a real keel.


There is tankage for 1,000 pounds of water on each side, which creates about 9 1/2 degrees of heel at dockside with one side full. Happily this falls within the 10-degree mark cited in most shorthanded eligibility constructs — a significant safety provision designed to ensure that you can still recover if caught aback with the tanks full on what has become the new leeward side.Seawater is used to fill either the high-side tank on a long weather board or the low-side tank just prior to tacking. Of course the leeward tank can be filled more quickly because the water need not be lifted as far. Our test boat was equipped with an electric pump rated at 3,700 gallons per minute, which would lift 1,000 pounds of seawater into the tank in about two minutes through a 1 1/2-inch hose.

If you prefer to use muscle power in lieu of electricity to fill the tanks, an optional Edson diaphragm pump can be fitted. Once filled, no more pumping is needed. Upwind the cross flow valve is opened about a minute before the tack and the water flows through a three-inch hose into what will be the new high-side tank. If the breeze poops out or you turn downwind, the water is allowed to drain out the transom and the boat is lightened by the equivalent of six fewer crew on the rail.

To date, side water ballast boats have been impractical for closed-course
tactical racing; however, for long-distance tilts or passage making there is a real performance benefit combined with a notable reduction of heel angle.The Quest 30 is very beamy at 11’6″ and exceptionally beamy aft. This is a recent trend in sailboats and in many cases I consider it overdone. Certainly in attempts to build a “maximum 30-footer,” beam overall and beam aft tend to grow, but often the same fiberglass and surface area would make a much better 33-footer of more normal proportions, with more waterline length and less of a tendency to drag the transom.


The extreme beam aft does call for a particularly interesting feature, that of twin rudders. The structural implications of truing up two rudders and choreographing the mechanical linkage to a single tiller may be complicated, but you get away with smaller, lower-aspect foils and a more efficient angle of attack from the leeward rudder when the boat is heeled.
Construction is of bidirectional glass and balsa core wetted out and cured by way of the resin infusion process. We hear a lot about resin infusion these days and as it grows in popularity and scope I stand solidly behind it. Nonetheless, the ultra-high-tech carbon laminates will continue to come out best I believe through the application of prepregs cured by means of heat and pressure available in a more “conventional” autoclave.

Accommodations include a large double berth in the stern, a smaller double up in the bow, longitudinal settees in the saloon flanking a fold-up dinette, and a working galley composed of a sink and two-burner stove/oven to port plus an icebox and further counter space to starboard. A fully enclosed head is located abaft the galley element on the starboard side. There is six-foot headroom throughout most of the living space, and a shower option available in the head. Our test Quest was fitted with an outboard motor on a bracket off the stern between the two rudders, but a serious cruising type might be served better by the inboard sail drive system available optionally. With 14 gallons of fuel capacity and 20 of fresh water, you are hardly restricted in conventional 30-footer terms when it comes to taking the boat on a distance cruise. And the vessel’s trump card — a high-performance sail plan with an easy-to-manage roller-furled jib — certainly indicates enough horsepower to make quick work of the miles.

So is the Quest 30 a cruising boat or a racing boat? From the perspective of a blue-water cruising couple ready to move aboard and sail off self-contained to faraway places for extended periods of time, perhaps this is not the best choice. But in a very real sense cruising is an art form, and if yours embraces a style of maximum performance with some practical interior accommodations, the Quest deserves your serious consideration.


Quest 30 Specifications:

LOA: 30’0″ (9.1 m.)
LWL: 27’6″ (8.4 m.)
Beam: 11’6″ (3.5 m.)
Draft (deep): 6’11” (2.1 m.)
Ballast (fixed): 1,800 lbs. (816 kgs.)
Displacement: 5,750 lbs. (2,608 kgs.)
Sail area: 660 sq.ft. (61.3 sq.m.)
Mast above water: 43’4″ (13.2 m.)
Ballast/Disp: .31
Disp/Length: 123
SA/Disp: 32.9
Fuel tankage: 14 gal. (53 ltr.)
Water tankage: Water tankage: 20 gal. (76 ltr.)
Auxiliary: 1GM 9-hp diesel
Cabin headroom: 6’2″ (1.88 m.)
Designer: Rodger Martin
Base price: $117,000

Quest Yachts
97 Broad Common Rd.
Bristol, RI 02809
Phone (401) 253-1711