Najad 440 AC
by Tim Day
Blue Water Sailing
BWS joins a 350-mile delivery that showed off just what a great sea boat the Swedish-built, Judel-Vrolijk design really is.
A three-day fall delivery along the East Coast can dish up just about everything and anything from calms to gales, and that’s just what we knew we had to look for as we motored north up Chesapeake Bay after the Annapolis sailboat show. We were aboard the new Najad 44 AC (aft cockpit) with owner Bruce Glassick and Alan Baines of Scandinavian Yachts and bound for Newport, R.I. The 350-mile trip was to be a fairly direct route up the Chesapeake to the C & D canal, down Delaware Bay and then north on a straight shot south of Long Island to Newport.
For the first 36 hours, we were under power completely with the 75-horsepower Volvo pushing us along at an easy 7 to 8 knots at 3,000 rpm. The 440 AC is comfortable under power, quiet and smooth, with zero vibration in the sail drive unit or standard folding propeller—an important feature considering the number of hours cruisers generally spend under power or motorsailing.
Najad 440 Pedestal Detail
While we motored down the Delaware Bay in flat calm, avoiding commercial traffic and the occasional fisherman, the breeze was forecast to build from the north-northeast to around 20 knots. This would make the 200 miles from Cape May, N.J., to Newport a beat to windward, with true wind steadily building until the following day when forecasts called for it to slowly shift to the south. If the predictions held, we were in for a dirty night at sea.
As the wind built off Atlantic City, we cracked off to 80 degrees with main and genoa fully out and providing some lift as we continued to motorsail. The well dimensioned hull and deep center of gravity provided by a delta shaped bulb on a fin keel (this 440 has the deepest keel option at 2.4 meters) gives the 440 smooth motion to weather and greater stability off the breeze. The deep well balanced spade rudder gives the helm a light touch and made finding the groove easy.
Weather did not cooperate for most this delivery and the wind continued to build to over 20 knots out of the north. Despite conditions, the 440 AC as a moderate displacement cruiser (28,000 lbs.), and with a long waterline of 39 feet 7 inches comfortably handled herself, cutting through the four-foot chop with little hobbyhorse motion. The 440 felt incredibly solid in these conditions and when not on watch, you could sit below with little disturbance from the weather on deck.
With the wind coming directly from where we wanted to go and showing little signs of abating or shifting around to the south, we continued to motor as we tacked up the New Jersey coastline. Alternating between one and two reefs in the mainsail and with 25 percent of the genoa rolled up, we were able to point well, averaging approximately 80 degrees off the breeze and making 7 knots most of the way. After more than 24 hours of this the wind eventually died down and became increasingly shifty. We made the decision to roll in the genoa and power forward with the main strapped in for stability.
We motored into Newport the following morning with the sense that we had tested our own levels of patience more than the capabilities of the 440. But we were dry and warm—testament to intelligent cockpit layout and symmetry of design and comfort provided by Najad, and with some additional provisions the 440 could have kept going indefinitely.
The design philosophy of the Najad 440 AC centers on balance. It seeks to be a comfortable and relatively fast offshore and coastal cruising boat that will provide owners a kind of functional elegance that you don’t really grow out of.
The AC version of the 440, as are all new Najad models, was developed by the design firm of Judel/Vrolijk and Co, a firm noted for designing performance yachts. Najad has incorporated this performance pedigree into the 440 while maintaining the Najad traditions of comfort and stability. The result is a yacht with an open and appealing interior, a functional and comfortable layout (our 440 made use of the alternate layout with twin berths in the forward V and port aft and a single berth aft starboard), modern hull, big yet protected cockpit and intelligent deck plan.
The hull is a composite/sandwich of vacuum-sealed Divinycell between two layers of glass fiber. Formed in a female mold, and reinforced at points where equipment is attached, the hull is strongest at its center. It provides longitudinal and torsional strength, and the design incorporates a V shape at the bow and U shape aft, maximizing waterline and stability. The keel (which has optional ranges from six-foot, two inches to seven-foot, 10 inches) is a short and narrow fin with a delta shaped bulb.
The standard rigging option on the 440 AC is a Selden tri spreader aluminum mast with Furlex furlers, for both the in-mast furling mainsail and genoa furler. Our 440 utilized the lighter, stronger and more expensive carbon fiber rig option provided by Nordic Mast, which increases the boat’s overall stability. At 67 feet above the water, the standard rig height is too high for the Intracoastal Waterway; however, this is probably not a major concern for most 440 owners.
All lines run cleanly aft to the cockpit, making singlehanded trimming easier and safer. And the main traveler sits just forward of the signature Najad windscreen (which increases the overall size of the attached fabric dodger and creates a more comfortable and protected place to sit when at sea) leaving the cockpit uncluttered. Our 440 had optional electric winches, with two primaries and two smaller self-tailing winches, which again contribute to ease of sailing when singlehanded. The genoa cars sit on a track and can be moved by a pulley system from the cockpit.
The standard 75-horsepower D2-75S Volvo Penta engine sits in a compartment below the companionway, making it easy to reach and work on. And because the engineering focus was on a sail drive and folding propeller that should be run at fairly low rpm, it is also remarkably quiet. Generators and batteries come in several different optional packages.
Najad 440 Saloon The layout below—which comes in several options—is a testament to Najad’s experience in building offshore capable boats. As the boat feels solid in its performance through the water, so does the feel of the interior construction, complimented by use of mahogany and jatoba woods and an open feel, giving you the sense that the 440 is bigger than she really is. Designers and builders who know and understand a boat’s motion offshore incorporate ideas like auto shut drawers, sliding doors in the galley and a top-loading fridge/freezer with separated compartments. Najad boats are above all else extremely functional and well thought out. That they are sleek and aesthetically chic is an added bonus. And it is guaranteed that the interior layout of the 440 AC (however you choose it) will have an intelligently designed nav station and galley, a spacious saloon, heads with ample room and designer faucets, and berths that are as comfortable—and sensible—at sea as at anchor. Throw in the Corian countertops, wood contrasts, stainless steel fixtures and high quality fabrics and you have the interior of a Najad.
Najad has been building offshore cruising boats on the island of Orust in Sweden since 1971. The addition of the 440 AC, their biggest aft cockpit design, brings a sleek and sporty new member to their lineup. It is geared toward those who want to be competitive in events but also comfortable and safe when cruising.
The 440 AC looks to find balance in style, speed and comfort—not always an easy mix. But Najad succeeds here because it offers a boat that can be scaled up or down depending upon your needs and budget. And when you do opt for the additions, you are only adding on to what as “standard” is already an exceptional blue water boat. With a range of options, from three different interior layouts to carbon versus aluminum rigging, and a host of entertainment and navigational upgrades in between, 440 AC owners can be as stylish, sedate and swift as they like.
Najad 440 Galley
LWL 39' 8"
Beam 13' 3"
Sail Area 900 sq. ft.
Ballast 9,600 lbs
Displacement 28,000 lbs.
Water 125 gals
Fuel 100 gals
Holding 30 gals
40 Mary St.
Newport, RI 02840
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