by George Day
Blue Water Sailing
New Najad 440 Passagemaker
Swedish-built to a Judel/Vrolijk design, the Najad 440 will raise the bar for comfort and speed among midsize offshore cruising boats
We have long had a partiality for cruising boats with LOAs in the mid-40s and water-lines in the high 30s. Boats of this sizeare large enough to offer a couple and their guests a comfortable floating home but not so large that the sails and gear are too heavy for one person to handle nor are the forces on the standing and running rigging so great that you need extra crew or electric winches to manage the boat.
While we favor simplicity in a boat over complexity, many cruising folk today are eager to bring the comforts of home with them, and why not? Gensets, air conditioning, watermakers, microwaves, washing machines and elaborate home entertainment systems are now more the rule than the exception. Long gone, for most cruisers, is the notion that life on a boat is supposed to be rustic. Boatbuilders respond to their clients or they go out of business, so many of today’s best modern cruising boats not only are excellent sailing machines, they are also as comfortable and spacious as a one-bedroom pied-à-terre.
But getting the balance right between a cruising boat’s sailing and passagemaking capabilities and its accommodations—particularly in boats under 50 feet—is a knotty problem, one that is all too often skewed toward the latter instead of the former.
The new Najad 440, hull number one of which will be launched this summer, addresses these issues and judging from the specifications and drawings—BWS has not yet sailed the 440—the new Judel/Vrolijk design appears to have arrived at a very pleasing and practical resolution of the performance-accommodation compromise.
Najad Yachts, which is based on the same island close to Gothenburg, Sweden, as Hallberg-Rassy and Malö Yachts, has a long tradition of building high quality center-cockpit cruising boats that are capable of excelling in the challenging conditions of the North and Baltic seas as well as in the more benign winds of the tropics. It is not surprising that every year the entry list for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers has on it several if not many Najads. For Europeans, Najad has a well-earned reputation for building boats that stand up to the rigors of ocean sailing. But they also are known as sweet sailing boats. Two years ago a young couple sailing a Najad 373 crossed the Atlantic in the ARC and then went on to win the cruising division at Antigua Sailing Week with a pickup crew.
Najad builds cruisers from 33 to 51 feet and all, except the 33-footer, are center-cockpit designs. The new 440 was conceived to fill a “hole” in the company’s line between the 400 and the 460. The task of designing the hull went to the European design firm Judel/Vrolijk, which is based in Germany. Although not well known in North America for their cruising designs, the team has proven to be outstanding at designing high-end racing machines (including America’s Cup winner Alinghi) while at the same time pioneering designs in the luxury cruising boat scene. The firm has been working with Najad for several years and has been instrumental in helping Najad achieve that delicate balance between sailing performance and cruising comfort.
The brief for the 440 called for a boat that was a “comfortable, long-legged performance cruiser.” On deck the boat had to have a comfortable and secure cockpit from which most on-deck tasks can be undertaken. The hull had to incorporate the latest thinking in sailing performance on all points of sail while
being voluminous enough to contain a comfortable three-cabin layout and all the equipment and systems that modern cruisers tend to put on their boats. Tankage, engine size and storage had to be ample enough to allow the 440 to be relatively self-sufficient for weeks or months at a time.
Down below, the new 440 would have a large and airy main cabin with a dinette to port and the galley in the passageway to the aft cabin. The forward and after cabins needed to have ample headroom, large and long berths and plenty of locker space for a couple living aboard for extended periods.
Lastly, the boat had to look great, in the best of modern design styles. While we have yet to see the first boat, the drawings provided by Judel/Vrolijk indicate that their team has crafted a sleek design that both fits well with the Najad family of cruising boats and advances the performance-cruising concept in a very attractive package.
Najad has always built sensible boats and the new 440 is no exception. With its short overhangs fore and aft, long waterline and fair hull lines, the boat promises to be able to maintain high average speeds while sailed shorthanded.
With a displacement-length ratio of 267 the boat is no lightweight sled so it will have a pleasing motion in a seaway, particularly when beating into head seas. The 440’s nominal hull speed is 8.1 knots, yet the polars show that it will be able to power reach at up to 10 knots in the right conditions.
This ability to sail quickly and maintain high averages is due in part to the boat’s relatively narrow beam of 13 feet, three inches. This translates into a length-to-beam ratio of 2.8, which is lower than you will see on many modern production boats. A narrower hull also tends to be easier in running conditions since it can hold its line as waves pass under the stern better than beamier hulls with broader transoms.
The boat has been given a high aspect fin keel with a ballast bulb. The keel shape enhances windward performance while the bulb lowers the center of gravity. The 440 has a capsize screening number of 1.69, which is well skewed to the safe end of the spectrum and indicates that the boat will be stiff and weatherly. A 44-footer should feel stable and stand up to a good breeze—the 440 promises to do both with an almost ship-like motion.
But that is not to say that the 440 is going to be slow. The design incorporates a fairly narrow bow that will enable it to drive to windward without pounding and allows the boat to accelerate in puffs rather than simply heeling over under the wind pressure. The U-shaped aft sections of the hull carry well aft to the transom so the 440 will be able to fly a lot of sail on a reach, which translates into good speeds and a sense that the boat is running on rails. The sail-area-to-displacement ratio of 16.49 (100-percent foretriangle) is moderate and about right for a cruising boat destined to cross oceans. The foretriangle has been kept relatively small, and the boat is designed to sail with a 110- to 125-percent rolling genoa so it will be easy to tack upwind and has enough sail area to keep the boat moving nicely off the wind.
The 440 has a balanced spade rudder, a first for Najad, which traditionally has built semi-balanced skeg-hung rudders for their boats. The rudder appears large and deep so it will add to control both under power and around the docks and will actually add to the lift of the keel as the boat sails to windward. Off the wind, and under autopilot, the rudder will react surely and quickly so the stern will not be liable to radical shifts as it is lifted and corkscrewed by large following seas.
The numbers for the 440 are in all ways moderate, yet the shape of the hull, the new high-aspect keel and rudder and the moderate beam combine to describe a cruising boat that will indeed be long-legged. And for those who want to compete in cruising classes in regattas and offshore events, the 440 packs the potential of a truly competitive sea boat.
Cruisers used to believe that a ketch rig was the best choice for boats over 40 feet or so since the split rig divides the sails into smaller and more manageable packages and the “jib and jigger” combination works so well when sailing close hauled in a blow.
But the constant improvement of roller-furling gear, the invention of self-tailing winches and the refinement of slab reefing systems for the main have combined to make the tall sloop rig the best option. Not only is a sloop rig simpler and less expensive to buy and maintain, it is easier to handle in a wide range of conditions and will perform better on all points of sail.
The rig specifications for the 440 show a tall, triple-spreader mast, stepped on the keel, with single upper shrouds, intermediate diagonals and a mechanically controlled backstay adjuster. The spreaders are shown swept slightly aft, which eliminates fore and aft lower shrouds and allows both the cap shroud and the single lower shroud to be secured at a single chainplate.
The rig design shows running backstays, which we take to be a belt-and-suspenders addition to keep the mast from pumping in its midsection when the boat is moving quickly through bumpy water.
Not shown in the drawings is a staysail stay which would, in theory, lead to the top spreader and be supported by the running backstays. Since the foretriangle and working headsails have been kept small, a staysail may not be needed. Yet it would be comforting to have an inboard stay from which to fly a storm jib, and we would carefully look into adding a demountable staysail if we were going to be spending a lot of time cruising in the higher latitudes where the wind tends to blow hard and inevitably from forward of the beam.
One of the benefits of a center-cockpit design is the location of the mainsheet and traveler. Leading from the end of the boom, where it has the most leverage and strength, the mainsheet tackle falls straight down to the traveler on the after cabin’s coachroof where is it handy to the helmsman’s seat.
Being able to dump the traveler in a puff or trim the main sheet without having to leave the wheel is a real benefit and the safest way to handle the big sail. For couples who often will be sailing solo while their mate naps below, this arrangement really simplifies matters; also it eliminates mainsheet spaghetti on the cockpit floor.
The standard mainsail will be radially-cut with two reef points. There will be owners who will opt for in-mast or in-boom furling systems, adding to both the rig’s cost and com-plexity. Yet a roller-furling mainsail can add to sailing pleasure, will be a boon for shorthanded sailing and is one more tool that keeps us off the foredeck when the weather is bad.
The 440 does not come with an electric halyard winch in the specifications, yet in a boat of this size and value, the additional cost does not seem out of line. Whether you are hoisting the mainsail, lifting a dinghy out of the water, hauling a heavy crewmember to the masthead or warping the boat into a dock against a crosswind, a powerful electric winch will pay for itself just about every day.
At boat shows most of us tend to climb on boats that interest us, and after a quick scan around the deck from the cockpit we head below to check out the interior. The living space, obviously, is of primary importance when we are considering a boat that may become our floating home, even though it is the design of the hull and rig that will see us safely on our travels.
The 440’s interior features large fore and aft cabins, each with its own head, and the saloon. The galley lies in the passageway aft and the chart table, as shown in the accommodation plan, sits at the base of the companionway ladder and to starboard.
To fit the sleeping cabins and heads into the hull, the designers have pushed the interior well forward and aft, which opens up living space at the expense of large storage compartments for deck gear, sails and dinghy accessories.
The main sail locker is under the starboard cockpit seat, while the two stern lazarettes will be home to fenders, docking lines, spare running and standing rigging and sundry items such as the power cords, fender boards and so forth.
The sail locker will be divided in half so space remains available beneath the floor for a watermaker, genset, inverter and all the other add-ons that are so popular with cruisers.
The forward cabin sports a V-berth with storage beneath. This might be where an owner would hide away spare anchor rodes and bulky, light items such as the sail repair kit and life jackets. The plan shows plenty of shelf space for books, large lockers and a hanging locker. Certainly, guests will be comfortable here for weeks at a time.
The forward head has a separate shower stall, which is a feature many of us like since it keeps shower water contained. The space is also a good place to store fresh fruit and veggies when provisioning for a long ocean passage since it is well ventilated and easily cleaned.
The saloon has an L-shaped dinette to port with a small bookshelf and two large lockers outboard. The plan shows two armchairs on the starboard side with lockers behind. Those who want a second good sea berth in the saloon can opt for a long settee that can also have plenty of storage space beneath it.
The chart table, as shown, faces outboard and has a swivel seat beneath it. This also can be changed to a forward facing table and a built-in seat. Nav instruments and the central electrical panels will be mounted outboard of the chart table in hinged lockers that provide ready access to the boat’s vital nerve center.
The aft cabin has a large, centerline double berth with a seat to port and two large hanging lockers. The berth is split down the middle so it can be fitted with a lee cloth to hold you in place while underway.
The 440’s galley will be a good working space in port or at sea since there is plenty of counter space over the top-loading fridge and ample storage in the lockers outboard. The passageway is narrow enough so a sea cook won’t be thrown around in lumpy weather and will always be able to find a spot to hang on.
The galley sinks are well off center so they may not drain easily when the boat is heeled over hard on the starboard tack.
The interior features unstained satin-finished mahogany so the atmosphere below will be warm and cozy. With large ports and windows and an overhead hatch ventilation will be good, and plenty of light should find its way below.
The interior of the 440 will feel like home and will work well for a couple who likes their comforts, their privacy and the security of well designed spaces.
THE NAJAD OPEN HOUSE
The new Najad 440 will be launched this summer and will be on view at the Najad open house in Sweden in late August. Those who aspire to owning a 440 or any of the Najad line would do well to visit the factory and meet the builders. And for those who can afford the time, it makes sense to take delivery of a new Najad in Sweden so the shakedown cruise can begin and end at the factory. Not only can buyers save some money by taking delivery in Europe, but they can also enjoy beautiful cruising and any warranty work can be undertaken right where the boat was built.
Najad is represented in North America by Scandinavian Yachts in Newport, R.I., and through their agents Seacraft Yacht Sales of Seattle on the West Coast and Gunnar’s Yacht & Ship in the Great Lakes.
This winter Alan Baines of Scandinavian Yachts established Scandinavian Holdings Inc., based in Newport, and acquired a share of Najad, when the founder retired, and now represents the line as an owner of the factory. So when you speak with Scandinavian Yachts’ Alan Baines you are speaking to one of the owners. For more information contact Scandinavian Yachts at 401-846-8442.
LOA 44’3” (13.5 m.)
LWL 36’9” (11.2 m.)
Beam 13’3” (4.0 m.)
Draft 6’9” (2.1 m.)
Displacement 29,700 lbs. (13. 5 m. tons)
Sail area 994 sq. ft. (92 sq. m.)
Mast height 64’7” (19. 7 m.)
Water 156 gals. (600 l.)
Fuel 104 gals. (400 l.)
Capsize ratio 1.69
Hull speed 8.1 knots
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