If X-Yachts had asked my advice on boat names, I’d have recommended using an uppercase “P” for the Xp 38, since it’s a sailboat that tacks sharply toward the performance end of the cruiser/racer spectrum. After sailing the boat last fall with the Boat of the Year judges in Annapolis, Maryland, I might’ve also suggested an “L” for lively, an “S” for spirited, or simply a “D” for delightful. All would apply to what the company refers to as its “Pocket Rocket.”
X-Yachts has been building fast, well-constructed racing sailboats in Haderslev, Denmark, since 1979, and along the way, the boats have attracted the attention of cruising sailors who appreciate a good turn of speed. Today, the company’s models include one-design racers, the Xc line of cruising boats (with deeper hulls designed to sail well while providing more interior living volume), and the Xp line of performance boats that are loaded with go-fast potential but still offer more than adequate creature comforts.
“It’s going to have to appeal to both sides of the sailing equation,” said BOTY judge Alvah Simon. “So it’s going to have to be awfully competitive under sail and fun to sail and race, and yet it’s going to have to have an interior that for the most part works. It probably will run a little bit more toward the performance side, but they’ve done a good job of putting a coastal-cruising interior into it.”
Indeed. Belowdecks, the layout is simple and functional, albeit smaller feeling than on some comparable boats that trend more toward the pure cruiser lineage. Still, the galley is stocked with all the gadgets you’d look for in a 38-footer. Opposite, a head with stall shower doubles as a handy wet locker for anyone coming off watch. Twin aft cabins each have double bunks and good-size hanging lockers. And forward, the V-berth has plenty of elbow room and storage. Amidships, a full-length settee is to port of a centerline drop-leaf table; to starboard, a sliding nav station can be pushed aft, with the end of a shorter settee forming a seat, or it can be slid forward and a portion of the settee can also be moved so you have a front-facing desk or place to set a drink, with seating to either side. Teak woodwork and white laminate paneling throughout are attractive and low maintenance, a good combination on any boat.
The Xp 38 and its siblings, the Xp 44 and the Xp 50, were designed in-house by Niels Jeppesen to take advantage of new materials and construction methods now available since his last generation of performance cruisers was introduced. The trademark galvanized steel frame, previously used to carry rig and keel loads and to stiffen the hull, has been replaced by a laminated carbon-fiber grid. Hulls are an epoxy-infused sandwich of fiberglass cored with
Divinycell (solid glass at the keel and around the through-hulls) that’s post-production cured for added strength. The Xp 38’s deck, attached to the inward-turning hull flange using adhesives, is hand laid and also foam cored.
The boat we sailed had the standard fractional 7/8ths aluminum rig and rod rigging, and the standard six-foot-10-inch iron keel with a lead bulb. For the racer, a foot-deeper foil is an option, as is a Southern Spars carbon-fiber mast and boom. The boat is powered (though the judges thought perhaps a bit underpowered) with a 29-horsepower Yanmar and saildrive
The cockpit and deck reflect the same simple but purposeful design as the interior. Cockpit benches are shorter than you might find on an all-out cruiser, but they provide comfortable off-watch seats in the shade of a retractable dodger and plenty of room for a competitive crew to trim their way around the cans. A traveler spans the cockpit just forward of the twin helms and anchors a German-style split mainsheet, which runs forward to the mast, then aft through blocks via channels under the teak deck, and finally back to Harken winches that are easily accessible from either wheel. At the bow, an under-the-deck furling drum helps keep clutter to a minimum.
With a high-aspect full-batten main and slightly overlapping jib, the Xp 38 is pure fun to sail. In breeze that wavered in the mid teens, the boat stood up in the puffs and took off like a shot, the plumb bow effortlessly slicing through the chop.
As with a high-end sports car, you pay a premium for a ride as sweet as the Xp 38 delivers. The sailaway price, with decent sails and instruments, is in the $350,000 range. But judging from the grins plastered on all our faces when our sail came to an end, I’d say that in this case, you get what you pay for.