by Simon Day
Blue Water Sailing
THE DUAL-PURPOSE X-43
X-Yachts’ new 43-foot cruiser/racer offers exciting sailing with plenty of comfort
For almost 25 years the Danish company X-Yachts has been successfully building boats for modern sailors who look for fast, safe and comfortable yachts. The company specializes in mixing high quality and performance and the new X-43 is a continuation of this tradition. Unveiled in early 2003, the 43 is one of X-Yachts’ new generation of performance cruising boats and is slated to take over from the successful 442 as the company’s mid-range performance cruiser. Designed by Niels Jeppesen, who with his brother Lars and partner Birger Hansen started the company, the X-43 claims to be the hottest performance production cruiser on the market. They label the boat a “trendsetter,” and with the 43 X-Yachts has tried some new things. From an optional shoal draft keel and a new muffler system, which makes the 43 the quietest boat I have ever been on, to a new cabin sole that is less slippery when wet, the 43 takes the quality of X-Yachts one step further.
She is built in-house by X-Yachts in Denmark. From the bottom of her keel to the top of the mast the 43 is exemplary in the quality of her design and systems. She is built, using a female mold, out of biaxialE-glass with a 15- to 30-millimeter core of Divinycell. A solid laminate is used around high stress areas such as the keel bolts and rudderpost for added strength.
ALL AROUND TEST
In early October I was able to sail the boat 250 miles south from Stamford, Conn., to Annapolis, Md., in preparation for the boat show. This sail proved to be an excellent all-around test for both the boat and her crew. Conditions ranged from flat calm motoring to 18 hours of bashing to windward in 25 knots of wind to a wonderful screaming reach and back to flat calm again.
Michael Franks, the North American importer for X-Yachts, myself and two others, left Stamford on the chilliest morning of the fall and sailed out into Long Island Sound in 15 knots of northwest wind. We beam reached toward New York and the East River as the sun came up with not a cloud in the sky. By the time we were at the Throgs Neck Bridge at the entrance to Hell’s Gate the wind had died completely. Shedding layers of foul weather gear, we turned on the engine and motored through the river and bustling city harbor and out under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The boat comes with a 55-horsepower Yanmar diesel that drives the 43 easily at 6.5 knots at 3,000 rpms. X-Yachts has developed a new system to dampen noise and, as I said, it is the quietest engine I have ever heard. As we cleared Sandy Hook a light southwesterly began to fill.
I swear that I’m cursed. Every one of these deliveries that I’ve done the wind has blown like stink straight up the New Jersey coast. This time was no different. The afternoon started out with a lovely light southerly but steadily built. The 43 sailed beautifully under her 1,152 square feet of main and 135 percent genoa. As the wind built to 10 knots we sliced south at 5.5 knots, 35 degrees off the wind. A displacement of 18,960 pounds with a ballast ratio of nearly 50 percent means that the 43 is easily driven while being stiff and weatherly.
As the afternoon progressed the wind steadily built to 10 knots and then to 15 knots with gusts reaching into the low 20s. At around 3 p.m. we put a single reef in the main and rolled up the jib to the first reef. The boat happily powered along at 6.5 knots through the one- to two-foot chop. The boat that I sailed came equipped with a shoal draft five-foot, six-inch keel. The standard keel is seven feet, six inches, and it also comes with an eight-foot racing keel if so desired. In spite of the smaller keel, the boat handled the rising conditions well and made little leeway. By sunset we were 30 miles north of Atlantic City, beating into a steady 25 knots under two reefs and half the jib. The consensus was to go to delivery mode: roll up the jib and turn the motor on to get us through the night.
LIGHT AND EASILY DRIVEN
The night was clear with no moon, and when I came on watch at 9 p.m. we were bashing our way through four- to five-foot square faced chop. Every now and again the boat would come off a particularly bad wave and thud down with a jarring crash; the whole boat would shudder. Overall it handled the trying conditions very well. There are few 43-footers that would not have been bounced and jarred around out there. It is a price that modern boats pay for being light and easily driven.
By 10 a.m the next day we were off Cape May, N.J., and the only thing that had changed was that it was daylight. At this point the boat and crew were quite exhausted. But on this brand new boat none of the systems faltered after the night of pounding. It took what seemed like an eternity for us to slog around the shoals off of Cape May and turn up the Delaware Bay.
With a huge sigh of relief fromeveryone on board we bore away to a broad reach and put some more sail up. The next few hours proved without a doubt that there is a healthy trade off to the pounding of the light displacement boat. With a reef in the main and the full jib in 20 knots of breeze we scooted along at nine knots with regular surfs to 10. The wide and powerful aft section kept the boat on her feet as we blasted along. Hand steering proved great fun and the large spade rudder made the 43 sports-car responsive.
The cockpit most reflects the boat’s racing brethren. It is set up so that five people can work easily together when racing. In spite of this, the seats are comfortable and long enough for a person to nap on. A removable cockpit table with a storage bin proved to be very useful. The steering wheel is a large Edson unit that offers very good visibility and with a twitch of the helm the boat responds instantly. The mainsheet is two-to-one purchase on a full-width traveler. It runs forward to the mast and than aft underneath the teak side decks to the Andersen secondaries that are within easy reach of the helmsman. All of the halyards and other lines from the mast are led aft under the cabin top to winches on either side of the companionway. Going to weather in that slop, the cockpit offered good protection from the sheets of spray flying aft. It is possible for two people to stay quite dry even in the worst conditions. The only problem is that the Andersen primary winches were impeded when the dodger’s removable side flaps are down. We ended up rolling the leeward side up which solved the problem nicely. The cockpit lockers offer good storage for sails, fenders and lines and also give good access to the rudderpost and steering system.
Down below the 43 comes in two standard arrangements finished in teak with extremely high quality craftsmanship. The boat I sailed has the three cabin “modern” layout. The master cabin is up forward with a large double bunk and a private head. There is ample storage space up there for two people living aboard. In the saloon the longitudinal galley runs along the port side. This is an awkward arrangement because the sink seacocks have to be closed while sailing. The settee offers comfortable seating for six people. X-Yachts also offers a “classic” layout with an L-shaped galley back by the companionway, a more traditional settee and a table with lifting flaps. In my opinion this arrangement is superior because the galley is better suited to cooking under way and the bench on the port side of the settee makes a great sea birth. Both interiors have two aft cabins on either side of the companionway.
As day two ended we slid up Delaware Bay toward the C&D Canal. The wind slowly came forward of the beam and started to die. As we approached the canal we came upon four other cruising boats heading our direction. One by one we picked them off and sailed on. It is a very nice feeling at the end of a long day to effortlessly sail past boats. The wind finally shut off as we reached the entrance to the canal at 6:30 p.m. and on came the engine. The motor to Annapolis was uneventful. The wind switched back to the northwest and started its clockwise cycle again. By midnight we were tied to the dock and off to bed for sweet, well-deserved dreams.z
Overall I was extremely impressed with every aspect or the X-43. The level of quality in design and construction is some of the best on the market. The 43’s price puts it just above the middle for boats of its size while its value is among the highest. X-Yachts keeps growing and getting better and better. The company is one of the top production builders in Europe and is slowly gaining a faithful following here in the U.S. BWS gives them
our full support.
LOA 42.5 ft.
LWL 37.6 ft.
Beam 13 ft.
Draft (standard) 7.2 ft.
Draft (alternative) 8.2 ft.
Ballast 9,480 lbs.
Displ. 18,960 lbs.
SA 1,000 sq. ft.
Auxiliary 38-horsepower Yanmar
Base price $350,000
Foot of Washington Blvd.
Stamford, CT 06902
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