There is no way for a sailor´s eye not to identify an X-Yacht at an instant: The sleek lines, low freeboards and flush decks are unmistakably Danish. So are the three genteel yet chary stripes at the waterpass and of course the tall and efficient rig of these boats. Even in a crowded scene like the Croisette-facing jetty at Cannes Yachting Festival it was a matter of seconds for my subconsciousness to identify the clean, slender lines of the XP-55. What a beauty!
The open transom was wide and inviting and after talking to the staff of the X-Yachts boots at Cannes I was very pleased to see Flemming Ancher again who instantly asked me to enter the boat and took his precious time to proudly show me the latest X in the fleet. The XP-55 is not an all-new boat as she had her world premiere at Boot boat show in Düsseldorf early this year but as I didn´t had any time to take a look at her I was very pleased in seeing the yacht here in Cannes. “Come on in”, Flemming invited me as I passed aboard over the large Teak-made gangboard.
Flemming Ancher is Sales Director of X-Yachts and himself a skilful and enthusiastic sailor. He lives the X-Yacht philosophy to the bone and talking to him is always a special pleasure as he gets as excited about the products his company makes as one can be. I first met him in Haderslev last year when he showed me around at the X-Yachts headquarters (read the article here) and since then we remained to hold contact as I am – you bet it! – also a great fan of these Danish made performance yachts.
The XP-55 is a sailing beast
Now, the XP-55 is again far away from being a “no frills”-yacht in the sense of my own definition of a yacht which I myself could be sailing. She might be among the smaller vessels moored here in Cannes but still with some 17.23 meters length over all this is of course a yacht for a very skilled and larger crew, not necessarily a boat for the single or double handed cruising guy like me. But we are at Cannes Yachting Festival and there are hardly any yachts to be found here for the “normal” sailor – the 55 foot X-Yacht is among the smaller craft of the Cannes fleet …
As X-Yachts is renown for, the XP-55 is a true racer-cruiser as her name “XP” indicates. XP stands for “Performance” and with all XP-yachts from Denmark there are some features standard here on these boats which mark the claim of these yachts to be potential regatta winners: Carbon mast, deep lead bulb T-performance keel, full carbon structural cage in the hull, rod rigging, fully hydraulic backstay (and other parts) control system, performance sails and much more. She is destined to go fast, that´s for sure. As we stand in the large cockpit I instantly notice the extremely reduced and tidy deck: There are no lines visible up until they re-enter daylight after running aback in the GRP-structure of the hull´s lid. Running through large clamps the lines could be run through the four main winches, as the X-Yacht XP-55 bears a rather classic cockpit layout, which I fancy at an instant.
The winches are h-u-g-e! As Flemming says: “All on board our boats is made with an extra margin. We tend to oversize certain things to give the sailor the best possible performance. We know that our yachts are races frequently and therefore you need to have the best equipment – as for the huge winches for example.” All winches are electric of course and can be reached fast by the sailor from behind the wheels at an instant. In this sense, the XP-55 may be operated single handed for sure or by two skilled people. Yet, I think this beasty fast boat really needs a proper crew to spring to full life.
The XP-55 also bears a big hydraulic system for fastening and loosening the backstays. “This system also operates the vang and the outhaul”, Flemming explains and shows the principal functions to me: It´s easy as ABC. “This is the reason why we don´t have a traveller anymore on this boat as this is all done by the rodkicker worked by the hydraulic system here.” I guess hardcore racing people would still like to have their beloved traveller mounted directly under the main sheet for fine tuning – I also find the lone idley pulley mounted there on the cockpit flooring instead looks a bit … puny. But That´s modern times now I guess – and therefore the cockpit area is basically free of anything. A large space to be utilized. “Let´ts get down below under”, Flemming insists to show me the interior design of the boat.
The Interior: X-DNA at its best
An X-Yacht just cannot be mistaken for another boat. It´s just impossible. The Danish company has it´s own unique style of designing their internals that you could set me blindfolded in any saloon you wish and I would instantly recognize the X upon making me see again: X-Yachts aren´t voluminous boats (that´s because of their superior upwind sailing capabilities) and tend to bear classic saloon layouts, as does the XP-55. A sofa group with a wide stool to port side facing a large dining table, vis-à-vis a large 3-seater sofa which I guess would be my favourite sleeping place as I personally prefer to rest near the cockpit.
Lines are straight and modern. Danish design at its best, timeless yet appealing, friendly and welcoming. There´s still much space for owners to implement their own style by utilizing the large areas on the bulkheads for decorations or stuff. Everything has it´s place here, no waste of space or material – the X again is very practical and everything makes sense. In this sense, the XP-55 may be a “no frills”-boat as I cannot spot a single thing which might me cause smiling and think “oh come on, you´re serious?!” Trying out the cushion on the sofas I find it very comfortable, can imagine being on board sailing for days … but seeing this nice interior I just can´t imagine the hollering and extreme tension of a serious race. Up outside on deck she´s a racing beast – down here below she makes an impression of a cozy, very comfortable and slightly luxurious cruiser.
Despite the ugly black fans (installed by the owner of this particular boat and not a standard on the boat upon delivery) I just loved the clean Scandinavian design. Everything is here on purpose. Just look at this galley: Large enough to being able to provide meals for a hungry bunch of saltwater-beaten racing guys yet narrow and tight enough to wedge oneself into it when sea is rough. The working benches are huge, not to mention freezing and cooling units, two large sinks and lots of stowage capacity for utensils and provisions. Facing the galley on the starboard side: The Nav station.
I judge a boat on it´s nav station as I would call myself a classic sailor: I do paper charting regularly, I do paper log books and I love to sit at the chart table to think through next steps, discuss options and find solutions. A classic proper nav station with a large enough chart table, with a main switch panel and electronic devices like VHF well within reach and with enough stowage for things is a definitive must for me on a sailing yacht – I just can´t stand modern day cruisers with those teeny-weeny chart teapoys cramped in a far away edge of the saloon “easily convertible” into some multifunctional crap. The XP-55, as all boats of this brand, offers such a classic nav station and by trying it out I judge it more than suiting.
“Give me the best timber available!”
Brushed Oak is a huge trend in yacht interior design since one or two years now. You rather seldom see any classic Mahogany interiors, let say, the conservative approach to “dark” saloons is vanishing as people want bright and light material making the “down below” a light suffused space. The X-Yacht is no exception here. Flemming points out that X-Yachts did something special in this respect: “We were searching all of the Scandinavian suppliers when we started this project. We said: Give me the best and most high-quality timber you can offer! And this is the outcome – best Oak available!” Of course, X-Yachts also offers the classic Teak fittings for the internals, but this cools and bright Oak-design does have its advantage, especially when the boat is sailing in hot areas.
I also notice some details which really surprise me. Like the grad handles: They are made of massive Oak fittings carved out of solid blocks of timer. Very rigid and sturdy, these handles are all over the place to provide a safe grip for the sailor´s hands even in rough seas. Best thing is, these handles aren´t noticeable in the first place in a way that they do not disfigure the tidy design of the saloon. It´s a detail like those handles that really excites me: Somebody really must have thought the whole boat through. What a difference to so many large production boats which barely offer such things.
“Look at this metal fitting”, Flemming points to another detail: “This just not only looks so cool and elegant by design, it´s also a very practical way of securing a drawer.” The fitting is essentially a push-button-solution pressing down a pin and giving way for the drawer. “But there´s more to it: Imagine how many times such a fitting will be used – with every closing of the drawer, the pin will be pushed down, the spring will be utilized … so there´s a lot of strain on the material and over time this strain sums up to probably a million times of opening and closing. So, plastic is not the material of choice here. It may be cheaper to produce – and there a loads of these fittings in the boats! – but they will eventually fail.” Flemming explains that X-Yachts took a plastic fitting to suppliers until they found a company which now makes these fittings especially for X-Yachts: “We manufacture these fittings completely made of metal.”, says proud Flemming: “They will last indefinitely.”
I also particularly loved another very nice detail of this boat: The stairs of the entryway down to the saloon. Bent full-wooden stairs, very elegant, very rigid. It is this infatuation with details which I love most about X-Yachts. If you go through this boat and even by looking behind panels, deep into cabinets and around corners you may find small but nice solutions. An X-Yacht is definitely not a Beta-Live version of a product which will be made proper by the feedback of it´s early users like so many modern products are, here, real sailors with a sailing background and lots of experience have thought through anything and came up with nice and durable solutions.
I just took a brief look into the cabins as I know by experience that X-Yacht´s cabins are more than sufficient. As you may know, I am not a friend of large island beds as I consider them impractical to potentially unsafe in tough conditions but on a yacht this size an island bed in the master´s cabin is a necessity I guess. Yes, there are much bigger cabins on the market with much more and bigger porthole windows – but there are few faster yachts out there offering this level of comfort and luxury.
An X-Yacht to the bone
Of course, the X is an X to the bone and although sitting at the mooring and not able to show what she´s got Flemming doesn´t let me cast any doubts that the new XP-55 is a pure performer: By removing one of the floor plates the boat offers a sight on the massive steel frame (also available in rigid Carbon) and the oversized keel bolts: “You see, we recently had a case where an XP-44 was hitting a rock a full speed”, Flemming tells a story: “The boat was roaring by at some 10 to 11 knots. The bulb hit the rock violently with full force. And guess what? The boat had no damage whatsoever.”
Flemming insists that there is nothing as important in making a hull than making it stiff: “A boat must be as stiff as it can be, you see? Because, if there is the slightest torsion, warpage or wobbling of the hull this has an immediate effect on its performance. So we strive to fabricate real stiff and rigid hulls.” I know that X-Yachts invests a lot in this topic – each and every hull is baked in a huge oven for several days to achieve a rigid hull, as Flemming showed me back in Denmark. We re-enter the deck and I walk forward. The gangboard is really wide and there are no obstacles in the way.
As usual I admire the sleek rod rigging which is also a standard feature on the XP-series. This boat is covered with a nicely done Teak deck even on the coach roof. All seams are spotless and the overall finish of the boat is marvellous. I love the solid handrails which are also standard on the an X-Yacht and a must have for the offshore sailor – it´s a shame that a lot of production boats do not bear these simple safety-related features.
Speaking of the nice Teak deck, standing right at the bow, it´s the “fish”, or the middle Teak batten, that is nicely done. You see such classy woodwork even with expensive Teak decks very seldom nowadays as many manufacturers try to cut down costs by having an easy job. I think, if one invests in a Teak deck, one should go for the classic design. What I also like about the XP-55 is the flush deck with all hatches sunk evenly into the deck surface. Also here the Teak deck is done with a proper coaming – and as one fellow reader of my magazine pointed in the comment section out some time ago, I will check the drainage of standing water in the flush hatches when the next chance is offered.
All in all, I am again excited about the X-Yacht. It´s always a pleasure to board one of the Haderslev-made yachts and it´s even a greater pleasure to sail these boats. This XP-55 might be some sizes too big for me but I am looking again so much forward to my upcoming sailing class for the German Offshore Certificate (SSS) which will take place aboard an older X 442, but the main thing is, a racing horse will always stay a racing horse and I can´t expect the day when I´ll get the chance to sail one of the latest models. Thanks Flemming again for showing me around!
You may read all Cannes Yachting Festival-related stories by clicking on this hashtag: #cannesyachtingfestival
Other articles on a related topic:
One day at the X-Yachts yard in Haderslev.
Visiting the yard of Luffe Yachts in Denmark.
Merfyn Owen, Britton Ward and Marc Lombard on naval design & Class 40´s.