Thursday, October 19, 2017


I had already posted about this boat when it was just a project. I called it a gorgeous design. Well it has become a gorgeous sailboat! Not all projects turn out so well in what regards reality:

For many the name Diva means nothing but it is one of the oldest Swedish yacht brands, made by Fabola Shipyard, that has been making beautiful yachts for the last six decades.
I will not repeat here what I said on the previous post (link above) that has important information to understand why this boat is so special (light and strong) and not only beautiful.

The Diva 34SC has been tested by several boat magazines from the North of Europe and Germany and all have been impressed with the boat, with the way it sails, with the quality of finish and even with the price (147 000 euros), not excessive for a boat with this built quality and finish.

To understand better the enthusiasm that this boat is raising, some quotes from magazine boat testers: on the German "Yacht de" they say - "An extremely exciting combination, which was also convincing in the test run in the Swedish archipelago" and on the Norwegian "Seil" - "Bernt "Lindquist has found the right mix...many have tried to create a combination of cruising boat and regatta boat but few have been so successful.."

Fabola shipyard deserves congratulations as well as its designer, Bernt Linquist, that is designing Diva yachts for the last 34 years and has succeeded in keeping updated regarding contemporary boat design, I mean state of the art. The 34SC is about 1000kg lighter and stiffer than most performance cruisers of that size. It has also a surprisingly big interior due to the integration of the chart table on the saloon table.

The table is very well designed, with space for maps, opening like all chart tables and the innovation doesn't stop here and extends itself to the galley that has a design that is mostly used on bigger cruisers, subdivided in two blocks allowing a good body support no matter the tack the boat is sailing.

Also on the version with two cabins and a storage space, the one that makes more sense, they found a way to have a separate shower!!!

The Diva is beautiful with only a transom that looks a bit odd, not an open one neither a closed one, but probably that is just on the prototype since we can see on the drawings that a big swimming platform will close that transom when it is raised. I am quite sure it will look a lot better that way.

I really hope this boat will have the success it deserves. The problem regarding sales has to do with the size of the sectorial market that points to the ones that like as much sailing as cruising and are willing to pay more for a better and more enjoyable sailboat, not a big one unfortunately. A pity for all that like elegant well built and fast boats.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I had already talked here about the boats from IBDMarine, the Malango and the Mojito, both sharing the same hull but with a different cabin. These boats are a mix between a Pogo and an RM having a unique feature, unheard on cruisers of this size: they have a dinghy garage.

If you are like me, you never take the dinghy on tow, but it is always a bit of a drag to put the dinghy in and  to tie it properly. Besides, a beautiful boat is not beautiful anymore with a dinghy on the deck and to have it on davits is only suitable for bigger boats and even that solution comes with its own set of problems.

On really small boats, less than 36ft, the problems are even bigger because a dinghy on the deck makes difficult the passage forward and even dangerous in nasty weather...and the bigger boat from IBDMarine is this one, a 36ft. All of them have a dinghy garage.

I love the concept and it is truly amazing how they found space for a dinghy garage on a 29ft boat and still have a nice cruising interior, specially on the Mojito version. I have done two post about the Mojito 888, that is a very interesting boat and one that for such a small niche market has been a comercial success:

All these boats are designed by the same NA, Pierre Rolland, that has begun his career designing mini racers and racing them on the mini transat. He is a specialist on small offshore solo boats and his experience makes him the right man to design this line of small fast offshore cruising boats.

Like the Pogo 36 this boat is suited for long range cruising on a spartan way and it is more adapted than the Pogo for Coastal cruising due to the boat's garage. A Pogo 36 displaces 3800kg, the Malango 4000, the beam is the same (4.0m), they both come with a similar lifting keel with the ballast on the keel, the Pogo has a draft of 1.18/2.95m, the Malango 1.1/2.8,  the Pogo has a B/D of 28,7% the Malango 37.5% and that is a big difference that the small difference in draft (10cm) will not compensate. This makes the Malango a stiffer boat but most of all a boat with a better final (safety) stability.

The Pogo has a sail area upwind of 84m2, the Malango has 74, downwind the Pogo flies 165 and the Malango 157m2. This means that on most situations the Pogo will be a faster boat but the Malango is a more steady boat (stiffer), will need to reef later and with medium/ strong winds will be certainly faster upwind.

That kind of explains the Malango 37 beating a J105 upwind (on the video). Hard to believe and a very good performance on a boat of this type even if that will only happen in almost flat water. With waves the J105 will easily outsail the Malango upwind and even more a Pogo 36.

Mojito 888
The Malango 1088 is in what regards sailing potential and speed closer to the Pogo 36 than to the RM 1070. The three boats have the same beam and the same type of hull but the RM displaces more 900kg than the Malango and 1100kg more than the Pogo, having a sail area similar to the one on Malango. The RM has a swing keel similar to the ones of the two other boats, with a draft close to the Pogo and a B/D that will be closer to the one of the Pogo than to the one of the Malango.

They don't give the RM1070 ballast and I can only find the ballast on the version twin keel with 1.72m draft (1800kg). That gives a B/D of 36.7% that on the swing keel configuration, with a lower CG (2.92m draft), will probably have a B/D similar or lower than the one of Pogo.
The Malango is, by far, the stiffer boat, the one able to carry more sail before reefing and the one that will sail better upwind where on similar hulls and keels the stiffness (that means power) will make all the diference.

Regarding tankage the Malango has the bigger water tankage with 370 liters!!!! compared with 190 on the RM and 200 on the Pogo. The Pogo has a 18hp engine while the other two have 30hp engines. The RM has the biggest diesel tankage with 80 liters and the other two have 60. Certainly all tese tankages can be increased if the owner wants to.

It may seem to many that the tankage is really small but these are fast sailboats with an auxiliary engine and need much less diesel tankage than an heavier boat simply because they will sail a lot more time. To put this in perspective my sailboat, that is also fast (faster upwind, slower downwind and on a beam reach) has a tankage of 400 liters of water and 150 liters of diesel and while cruising I need to go for water about each 15 days (two aboard) while I normally only need fuel once a month (or less).

RM 1070
 I sail almost everyday and most of the time upwind.The Malango would be absolutely perfect if it had an interior as good as the one on RM but unfortunately it is not the case. I find it even worse than the one on the Pogo and it has all to do with design. That has not to do with functionality but with beauty and comfort. 

It is not a question of weight but one of creativity, imagination and good taste. Light materials like textured paper wall and good chromatic schemes don't make the boat heavier but will make it a lot more comfortable and nicer inside.

Malango 1045
They should do as Pogo and contract a good interior design cabinet to take care of that. Anyway I find for long range cruising the Mojito cabin (the other version on the same hull) much more interesting, specially if it has a raised chart table that allows a view to the outside, much more spacious too in what regards living aboard.

The three cabin set up of the first boat (owners choice) does not make much sense and the storage space is not much even if reasonable, considering the dinghy garage. They talk about other version (without pictures) with two cabins and a technical/storage  space on the place of one of the aft cabins, a bit like on the RM, and with that configuration the boat will offer the needed storage for long range cruising.

Friday, October 13, 2017


Everybody knows that the best solo sailors are French (with very few exceptions) as well as almost all big solo races even if now many other Europeans participate in them. Solo and duo racing has become big and the Beneteau Figaro played a big role on that picture.

Everybody knows the Vendee Globe and many think that is where solo sail racing begun. In fact it started way before: the first Vendee Globe edition was in 1989 and solo racing started with the British in the 60's, not with the French. It really only became popular in France when the French started beating the British.

 The first big offshore solo race was a transat, the OSTAR, an English race ( Plymouth - New York). The first edition was raced in 1960 and dominated  by the British, the 2nd edition was won by a French, the 3rd edition was won by a British, the 4th, in 1972, was the first completely dominated by the French that made the 3 first places and with the exception of the 1980 race (won by an American), where the French chose not to participate racing another Transat (La route du Rhum), the French won all races till the race was split in several categories (2000) and lost importance.

Solo racing started in UK but it was in France that it became big. While in UK solo racing was seen like an adventure and was made by few in France it became a sport made by many, amateurs and professionals alike. That was what created the sailors that would dominate the solo racing for decades. The race that allowed many amateurs to participate was the one that later became the Solitaire du Figaro. Initially was promoted by another newspaper and was called "Course de L' Aurore" (created in 1970).

In 1990 "La Solitaire du Figaro" was raced for the first time on a monotype created expressly for solo racing. It was an offshore boat but a small one (33ft) and relatively inexpensive to allow many to participate on the race. The boat, like all the Figaros after, it is made by Beneteau. The first design was  by Finot and Jean Barret (Figaro I), the second by Marc Lombard (Figaro II- 2003) and the third, Figaro III by VPLP.

The Figaro it is not only used on the "Solitaire du Figaro", it is also the boat used for the French solo offshore championship that includes more solo races. Because those races are offshore ones, but not Transats, contrary to the boats designed for Transats or circumnavigation races (IMOCA, Class40), they are not maximized for downwind sailing and have a more balanced compromise between upwind and downwind performance.

All the Figaro designs where at the time state of the art, very advanced designs in their own time and they were influential designs, namely on cruising boats. The Figaro 1 hull was even used on four Beneteau cruisers, the First 310, the First 31.7 and the Oceanis 300 and the Oceanis 310. About 1300 sailboats share that hull!!!

That has not happened with the Figaro II but we can see many cruising designs from Marc Lombard and other NAs that are influenced by that hull, that today still looks contemporary. The Figaro 2 had water ballasts and if we compare its hull with the one of the Figaro 1 we can see many diferences, all over the hull, from the bow sections to the transom design not to mention the twin rudders and the keel that becomes almost a foil with a ballast. Just amazing the design evolution in 13 years!!!

But more amazing, because the Figaro II still looks modern, are the big diferences between its hull and the one from the new Figaro and I am not talking about the foils. Basically I would say that most of the diferences have to do with the direction sail design took on the last 40 years: the boats were designed to sail deep in the water and now they are designed to sail on top of the water and what is really surprising is that, contrary to what many would think, this brought not less seaworthy boats but certainly faster boats.

The new Figaro has managed to substitute successfully the righting moment of the water ballasts by RM created by a foil, that is not designed to fly the boat but to increase stability. Also very important is that the foil design allows it to be used on cruising boats: when the foils are taken in they just stay against the hull, following its shape.

Due to being nominated for the European Yacht of the Year contest the Figaro is being extensively tested by test sailors from all over Europe. I am very curious regarding those tests. I have no doubt about the increased easiness to sail downwind and on a beam reach, where it should be way faster than the previous model, but I will have some doubts regarding being better upwind.

 I am not sure if the answer will come from these tests, since many of those sailors have not a big knowledge regarding the previous boat, but will be answered when the boat starts to compete on the Figaro circuit, by the "Figaristes"(that's how the French call the ones that compete with that boat).

Regarding the Figaro and  the "Figaristes" let me remind you that from the all the editions of the Vendee Globe, all races except the first, were won by French sailors that raced extensively on Figaro and from those five won the Solitaire du Figaro (some as much as 3 times) and another (François Gabart) even if only 2nd on the Solitaire, was French solo offshore champion racing that boat.

This obviously is not a coincidence and tells about the importance of the Beneteau Figaro on the French solo sailing panorama, the more important boat ever in what regards solo sailing, a boat that has been fundamental in what regards solo sailor formation but that is by itself a challenge since it has always been a very difficult boat to sail in a sense that it is very sensible to sail trimming and it has the means to have an extensive control over the sails.

Many of those that won the Vendee and are solo sailing stars that race hugely bigger and more powerful solo boats (IMOCA class or big multihulls) but many of them come to sail the solitaire on the little Figaro, competing with young talents and many times winning. The Solitaire du Figaro and that boat are much more than a learning stage, they are at the top of solo sailing as well as the big IMOCA and Ultimate class multihulls. The "Solitaire" is a race where all have equal arms and not very expensive ones, Figaro racers.
It is good to remember that the Figaro II is still a great sailboat and that starting next year they will lose much of their value and will start to be sold at interesting prices. The boat is good not only for racing as it can be the basis of a relatively inexpensive fast cruiser, for those that like and have the skills to improve the interior.

 The boat is fast and seaworthy: between the two previous models they have crossed the Atlantic 40 times and I don't recall any serious problem. I remember also that one of the Figaro I was bought by a Canadian (long ago) and circumnavigated.

I like Figaro 2 so much that I made a post about the possibility of having one relatively cheap: 96 Figaro II were produced, an impressive number for a solo racing boat only used in French races. On the post some great movies that show the boat potencial and seaworthiness:

The drawings from the Figaros are from François Chevalier that has in his blog a very interesting article about the Figaro, one that deserves to be read:
For information regarding the technical characteristics of the three Figaro models, nothing better than the Beneteau page about them:

Monday, October 9, 2017


This was supposed to be the year of the foiling minis. Many would think they would be unbeatable. Among the most interesting Minis is the 747 designed by David Raison that won the 2011 Mini Transat with it. The boat was bought by Seair that has been developing a flying mini...with success:

Unfortunately it is not racing this year, surprisingly they say the boat is not yet ready and the development continues. The objective is winning the 2019 Mini Transat.

Also very interesting, the Arkema 3, a Neyhousser design, also a foiling mini but one that is not intended to fly. The foils are similar to the ones on the IMOCA boats and it has also a wing self supported mast (no stays). This one is racing the Transat on the hands of an experienced sailor, Quentin Vlamynck. Not doing a great race being now in 14th place among the Protos (prototypes) maybe because all these innovations, including being made with a recyclable resin, make the boat heavier, almost 300kg more than the lighter protos giving it a bad performance on light winds.

Then we have Simon Koster's boat, the Frog (888), a Mousselon design (Mer Forte). This one was designed to fly on foils but also at the cost of increased weight and worse upwind performance. Koster is a great sailor, in my opinion one of the best on mini and among the foiling boats, the best classified. He was 3rd for some time and sails now in 5th place.

Finally the two men that have dominated the race till now, Lipinsky and Léger, both on boats with conventional daggerboards. Lipinsky, one of the favorites (and one of the best) on a boat with a round bow, the 885, a David Raison design and Léger on an older design, a 2009 Marc Lombard one. Curiously among the first there are several relatively old Marc Lombard designs!!! Quite surprising.

But the BIG surprise is this girl, Clarisse Crémer, 26 years. Till one year ago she had never sailed solo, much less solo raced and decided to make this year's Transat. Well no big deal, but leading the Serie minis (the production ones) among more than 50 sailors? Many of those are very experienced sailors with several Transats done!!! But that is the least, she is racing 3rd overall, considering the two classes put together and the protos have canting keels, dagger-boards or foils, are much lighter boats, not to mention that among the proto sailors there are some truly great sailors.

Pretty much unbelievable!!! watch out for this girl and if you love sailing and can contribute with some sponsoring, well you will not probably find a better bet. Look at her saying that she wants to finish a Transat, so innocent and full of enthusiasm. She looks like a beginner but if she begins like this I want to see what she will do when she is experienced LOL.

She is sailing a Pogo 3, a Guillaume Verdier design, a great boat but a very simple and cheap one if compared with the prototypes that are much more technologically advanced and much more expensive. The relatively small diference in performance is truly astonishing.

This year's race is different, the race will be divided into two legs, one till the Canary Islands and the other from there to Martinique. They are almost finishing the first leg and you can follow it here:

There are skippers from many nationalities: France, Italy, Spain, Swiss, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Croatia and Romania, unfortunately all Europeans. It seems that solo racing is not only a French thing anymore but a European thing. I hope that in some years it will be a world affair. 

Another interesting observation is that solo racing is not a men's sport anymore. There had been always some exceptions with great solo sailors being women, but 10 women on a solo race? It seems a record to me.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Continuing with the Multihull category, above the Fountain Pajot 47, below the Neel 51 and the Leopard 45:

Two cats and a trimaran, neither of them a performance boat. I hope they don't chose the Leopard . I find it incredibly ugly. I am very curious regarding the test sails of the other two, that are not very different in size and to see if the Neel is really considerably faster than the Pajot, or not. Saw a Nell 51 test sail on a French magazine and they said well about the boat but when they talked about upwind sailing, close to the wind to the Neel are 60º !!! Maybe the Pajot does not make a big difference regarding that too. Leopards used to be  pretty bad upwind. Anyway, these boats are not made for upwind sailing but they seem to be worsening regarding that instead of getting better.

The last category, Special Yachts, it could have been called the racing category since this year no daysailer was nominated. All the boats are great but I think that if the Figaro III (above) sails as well as all expect we will have an anticipated winner. Pity for the other two that are also very interesting, the Flaar 37 and the TF 10 trimaran that this year is the only American boat nominated.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Starting with the Family Cruisers: Above the Jeanneau 440, below the Oceanis 51.1 and the Hanse 548

Three boats very similar in design. Good looking boats that manage well to disguise a high freeboard and a big interior volume. All of them beamy boats with the beam brought back, boats maximized for downwind sailing and with a clear influence of solo racers in their hull shape. 

Above the Halberg Rassy 44, one of the boats on the Luxury Cruiser class. The other two (below) are the Amel 50 and the Ice 60.

On this group 3 very different boats, the Rassy, one of the best from the last years, continues a North European tradition of central cockpit boats, the Amel 50 is quite revolutionary for an Amel, with only one mast, two spade rudders and a "normal" transmission. The Ice 60 is certainly a luxury boat but also a performance boat and therefore it is very different from the other two in design criteria.

Above the JPK 45, one of the boats on the category of Performance Cruisers. The other two (below) are the Club Swan 50 and the Grand Soleil 34.

Again, three very different boats, so different that it is hard to understand how they form a group: the JPK 45 is a fast performance voyage boat the other two are cruiser racers, much more pointed to racing than cruising and while the Swan is a luxury cruiser-racer the Grand Soleil 34 is much more modest even if with a nice but spartan cruising interior. All are great designs and they are already three winners no matter the one they are going to chose.

I will leave the two other categories (Multihulls and Special Yachts) for another post.