Leon R. Slikkers, a Michigan native who spent much more of his life building powerboats than sailboats, founded S2 Yachts in 1974. The sailboats are recognized for their performance, distinctive styling, and quality craftsmanship, and during its short history, S2 Yachts produced several sailboats that are still admired.
The 8.6 was introduced in 1983 and built until 1987. Naval architect Arthur Edmonds, whose best-known production sailboat is the Allied Princess 36, is credited with the design of the 8.6. He drew it with a somewhat flat sheer, moderate forward and aft overhangs, and a reverse transom. Together, these elements produce a balanced and graceful contemporary appearance.
The hull and deck are hand-laid fiberglass. While the hull is solid, all horizontal deck areas are cored with end-grain balsa. The deck joins the hull on an inward-facing flange to which it’s bonded and through-bolted. Below the water, the 8.6 has a spade rudder and was offered with a deep fin or a shoal-draft keel. Cast-lead ballast is encapsulated within a keel cavity that’s integral with the hull molding.
The accommodations of the 8.6 are fairly conventional. Forward is a V-berth with, just aft of it, a hanging locker and bureau. In the head compartment, a single fiberglass unit forms the sink, vanity, medicine cabinet, toilet base, and sole.
The main saloon features opposing settees and a bulkhead-mounted drop-leaf table. The L-shaped galley has a sink, an icebox, a two-burner alcohol stove, a convenient trash compartment, and a flip-up counter extension. Across from the galley is a generous single quarter berth with sitting headroom.
The S2 8.6 has a high-aspect-ratio masthead sloop rig with a small mainsail and an overlapping headsail. Jibs sheet to short tracks on the side decks, headsails through snatchblocks clipped to the toerail. The mainsheet is attached to the end of the boom and leads to a traveler that spans the transom. All sail controls, including the halyards, reefing lines, outhaul, and cunningham, are led aft through clutches—novel treatment in 1983.
The S2 8.6 is a very comfortable and easily managed coastal cruiser and club racer. It’s relatively stiff, its helm feels balanced, and it tracks well. On most points of sail, it compares favorably with other boats of similar size and type.
The standard 20-horse Yanmar diesel moves the boat well, and access to it for routine maintenance is excellent. The 18-gallon aluminum fuel tank is located just aft of the stuffing box.
A prospective buyer should pay particular attention to a few items. Any balsa-cored deck is a candidate for delamination. On the 8.6, one area of chronic leakage is around the chainplates. In the event of a grounding hard enough to damage the keel’s leading edge, water could enter the space between the fiberglass outer skin and the encapsulated lead ballast.
Despite having been designed more than two decades ago, the S2 8.6’s styling appears quite contemporary. The boats were well built and finished with care, and they tend to hold their value, so expect to pay from $14,000 to $23,000.
Gregg Nestor, a lifelong water rat, is the author of three books about sailboats.
LOA 28′ 0″ (8.53 m.)
LWL 22′ 6″ (6.86 m.)
Beam 9′ 6″ (2.90 m.)
Draft (deep/shoal) 4′ 6″/3′ 11″ (1.37/1.19 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 390 sq. ft. (36.23 sq. m.)
Ballast 3,000 lb. (1,361 kg.)
Displacement 7,600 lb. (3,447 kg.)
Water 37 gal. (140 l.)
Fuel 18 gal. (68 l.)
Engine 20-hp. Yanmar
Designer Arthur Edmonds