by Quentin Warren
Blue Water Sailing
A spry, oceangoing cruiser from Sweden
In the world of well-found cruising sailboats, 41 feet is a great size for a young family or a couple of any age answering the call of the sea. It is large enough to provide the accommodations and payload capability that long-distance voyaging demands, but not so large as to overwhelm a small crew with mass, complexity of systems and a daunting press of canvas. All things being equal, of course, a bigger boat nets you better speed, better seakeeping and more room to move, but people’s upper limits vary and it is probably safe to say that for many blue-water sailors a capable 40-footer represents the ideal practical compromise.
Among the more impressive new boats in this range currently on the market is the Malö 41, built by Malö Yachts on the island of Orust along the western coastline of Sweden just to the north of Göteborg. The company has been around since 1939, and the tradition established there over the course of three generations is one of refinement and integrity. The neighborhood is hardly shabby—Malö is within walking distance of Hallberg-Rassy and Najad—and its location at 58 degrees north latitude bespeaks a deep appreciation of the rigors imposed on any boat by the planet’s colder and more tempestuous seas. The yard produces less than 40 vessels a year, which means that attention to detail and the acceptability of custom input both rank high. Other models in the Malö line include the 36, 39 and 45.
The design by Leif Ängermark features round volumetric sections, conventional overhangs and a choice of sterns. These include a modern reverse counter (the 41 Standard) and a conventional raked counter with a fantail (the 41 Classic). The Standard stern is available clean, as it were, or outfitted with steps and a swim platform; the Classic also is available clean or with an optional hinged transom that opens into a swim platform with folding steps. The Standard makes for a lighter stern more readily accessible to boarding, while the Classic provides more real estate on deck by way of the fantail and greater storage potential by way of an enhanced lazarette. Aesthetically the distinction amounts to modern and swept in the case of the Standard, versus traditional and full in the case of the Classic.
Foils include a moderate-chord fin keel with a squashed bulb drawing 6’6”, and a semi-balanced, semi-elliptical spade rudder the upper third of which is supported by a skeg. The keel is a medium-aspect-ratio affair designed to assist tracking and provide lift at relatively subdued draft without contributing an inordinate amount of drag. The rudder is buttressed by its skeg at the top but allowed to balance below, which leads to sweet steering as we found out in sea trials. It is operated by way of Whitlock steering linkage.
There is nothing particularly radical about the 41, which is in keeping with the mindset at Malö—namely to “build lovely, seaworthy boats, well-suited to the demands of the elements.” In a noteworthy departure from neighbors Hallberg-Rassy and Najad down the street, the Malö line is strictly aft-cockpit. The 41 shows a fairly straight sheer resolved in a powerful-looking bow with enough depth in the stem and forward sections to control pounding in a seaway. A Length/Beam ratio of just over three (3.28 for the Standard, 3.38 for the Classic) points to modern thinking on that score (as in, beamy), and a Displacement/Length mark of 247 indicates medium displacement comparable to, say, a Sparkman & Stevens-designed Tartan 40 (244), or a Bob Perry-designed Nordic 44 (241). Sail Area/Displacement tips in at a powerful 20.1, which is in J/Boats and X-Yachts territory. Ballast/Displacement at .38 and a Limit of Positive Stability (LPS) at a little more than 130 degrees are both well into the safe zone.
CONSTRUCTION AND SYSTEMS
The emphasis on quality characteristic of the Swedish builders is particularly evident at Malö where so much of the boat is fabricated by hand and so many details are meticulously addressed. The hull is based on a solid glass layup with balsa core introduced above the waterline for its insulating qualities. The resulting sandwich features glass-reinforced ISO polyester with an NGA gelcoat barrier. The deck shows some balsa core as well, but it is important to note that no balsa is penetrated at the attachment of loaded fittings such as line organizers, genoa tracks, pad-eyes and winches; rather, balsa in these locations is tapered back and solid glass is built up to form raised pads on deck for secure watertight fastening. In some cases aluminum backing plates literally are glassed into the laminate, so that the corresponding fittings bolt directly to the plates themselves without the intrusion of a hole all the way through the layup and into the interior.
The hull-to-deck detail is glued, thru-bolted, then glassed over for maximum integrity. Chain plates are secured to solid glass knees tabbed to the hull and extending well belowdecks. Only solid glass is used below the bootstripe. The hull’s centerline is reinforced with fiberglass hat sections running athwart-ship, particularly where mast compression-post loading and keel bearing come into play. A total of three crash bulkheads occur forward—the watertight anchor locker and two baffled
sail lockers stacked just aft of it beneath the V-berth.
The sloop rig features a deck stepped, two-spreader Seldén spar, with a compression post beneath it consisting of two steel columns hidden away and trimmed out in the main cabin. Standing rigging spec’d is 1x19 stainless wire and includes dual fore-and-aft lowers and discontinuous shrouds aloft. Tensile and compressive components are resolved at this station, where the main bulkhead below—a sturdy laminated component actually three panels thick—performs ring-frame service and effectively stabilizes this important confluence of forces.
A 75-horsepower Yanmar lives beneath the companionway and shares space with the after cabin. The installation is immaculate, with access to the front by way of the companionway (the top step lifts up and the bottom steps hinge forward and away). Access on both sides is through removable panels in the after cabin, and in back you get to the flywheel and drive train—a super-quiet Aqua Drive anti-vibration unit —simply by removing the bedding and a support panel in the cabin. It is remarkable that Malö has taken pains to provide a custom access port providing an easy shot at the Yanmar’s raw-water impeller pump on the port side, which turns this essential, often frustrating maintenance item into something rather straightforward. A cabinet in the stern opens to allow access to the Whitlock system and to an optional genset should you decide to install one. Other equipment accessible in this area includes a high-end Swedish-built stainless Isotherm water heater. There is space available for a watermaker as well.
Plumbing and electrics are carefully organized and scrupulously installed. The freshwater cache is stored in three separate stainless tanks—two beneath the cabin sole and one beneath a settee. Hose manifolds and pressure-water pumps are neatly arranged and easy to get at. The battery complement includes one 75-Ah start battery and three 140-Ah house units (totaling 420 Ah), all serviced by a standard 80-amp alternator. Beefing up the battery bank and by all means installing a high-output alternator would be recommended upgrades, especially if your needs coincide with the typical demands of modern-day cruising.
INTERIOR AND DECK
The living quarters are rendered in satin-finished mahogany. Floorboards are teak and holly, and the overhead is comprised of low-gloss white panels trimmed out with mahogany batts. Joinery and finish work are first-rate, which means that it is difficult to go below in this boat without being impressed by the quality of the space. It is rich and clean. In the true spirit of semi-custom boatbuilding, Malö leaves the layout fairly wide open; you can’t move the mast, the main bulkhead or the keel, but just about everything else below is ripe for negotiation.
The boat we inspected features an L-shaped galley to port at the base of the companionway, with access behind it to the after cabin and a smallish berth in the port hip. The standard galley is polished off with Corian counters and includes a stainless Isotherm refrigeration system, double sinks, a two-burner stove/oven unit and good cabinet storage outboard. To starboard is a forward-facing nav station, hanging locker behind that and head/shower aft.
The main saloon includes a wraparound settee and dinette to port and dueling side-chairs flanking an entertainment console to starboard. Cleverly, the back of the port settee is removable to allow the cushioned surface to expand outboard and become a double berth—a great spot at sea. To mirror this arrangement on the starboard side in lieu of built-in chairs would make practical sense. All the way forward is a second head and a spacious V-berth. Both of the boat’s heads are serviced by stainless steel holding tanks.
Moving topside, the deck scenario is dominated by teak underfoot, plenty of open space devoid of clutter, and a unique aft cockpit with Malö’s signature Targa mainsheet arch and a fixed, low-profile windscreen. The arch serves a variety of positive functions. It keeps the mainsheet and traveler away from cockpit circulation, which is as important to the safety of kids in all conditions as it is to the safety of experienced sailors jibing on a blustery dark night. It also provides a pivot point for the dodger brought back from the windscreen, and for a brilliant convertible Bimini aft which extends the full length of the cockpit and effectively encloses it, allowing the space to become an extension of the living quarters below. Currently the arch is available in three heights; we sailed with the lowest and found it plenty high.
Other notable deck details include jib tracks fully adjustable from the cockpit, a split backstay for easy transom access, and a removable intermediate stay with its own tensioning device for flying staysails or storm canvas. All the way forward is a very clean anchoring scenario in which the primary anchor is deployed off a roller let into the stem—below and off the foredeck—with rode and windlass cleverly concealed in the bow locker. Additional rollers are available conventionally at the stemhead, along with a short stainless kicker set up for the tack of a gennaker.
We sailed aboard a Malö 41 Standard with a conventional-hoist main and a 135-percent roller-furled genoa in San Francisco Bay on flat water with wind ranging from light to 12 knots. You definitely feel the boat’s 24,000 pounds, which translates into solid motion with reassuring stability and excellent seakeeping potential, but response at the helm is spry and balance overall is spot on. In other words, the 41 is fun to drive, as her designers appear to have come upon a successful combination of hullform, foil configuration and horsepower. There is enough balance in the rudder to assist the helm without losing a weather groove, and the Whitlock linkage certainly adds discernable smoothness. Response in fluky conditions is more nimble than one would expect given a vessel with the long-distance offshore agenda of this one.
Which leads us to find plenty to recommend in the Malö 41. Beneath a good roachy mainsail with the jib dialed in and a spoke of weather helm, we churned along tempting seven knots in 10-12 of breeze and kept good way on in the lulls, hitting apparent angles of 35 degrees upwind, roughly 45 degrees true. Cracked, the boat accelerated and the helm remained lively. Clearly this is a solid, well-thought-out vessel designed for oceangoing service and we would consider it under-utilized were it confined to inshore use.
The flexibility of the Malö yard with respect to layout, options and appointments is also a strong suit, one that brings the 41 into the realm of custom boatbuilding. The interior described in this report may be typical of the model, but for Malö customers it is by no means etched in stone. That flexibility, plus the quality of the work and the success of the design, make this boat particularly attractive, especially if your upcoming cruising plans include a European component. Pricing is quoted in Swedish krona FOB Sweden, which at press time converted in the US$310,000 range. That, for one of these, is a deal.
LOA (classic) 43’11” (13.4 m.)
Hull length (std) 42’0” (12.8 m.)
Hull length (classic) 43’2” (13.2 m.)
LWL 35’5” (10.8 m.)
Beam 13’0” (3.97 m.)
Draft (std bulb) 6’6” (1.97 m.)
Ballast 9,408 lbs. (4,267 kgs.)
Disp 24,640 lbs. (11,177 kgs.)
SA (100%) 1,066 sq. ft. (99 sq. m.)
Mast above water 59’6” (18.15 m.)
Length/Beam (std) 3.28
Length/Beam (classic) 3.38
LPS 130 degrees
Fuel 100 gal. (375 ltr.)
Water 145 gal. (550 ltr.)
Auxiliary Yanmar 4 JH3T(B)E 55.2kW 75 hp
Designer Leif Ängermark
Base price FOB Sweden SEK 3,065,000 (US$309,783)
Malö Yachts AB
S-473 99 Henån
Ph: +46 (304) 596 00
Fax: +46 (304) 591 45
1500 Westlake Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
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