I´d like to start my first walkthrough of the Duesseldorf boat show boats of 2023 with one of the most exciting and interesting boats seen on “Boot”, from my point of view. A bit disappointing to find the Aeolos P30 somewhat hidden in a small and cramped little dark spot behind the catamarans in the jollyboat hall, but I guess this is why these things are called “hidden gems” and not “well illuminated and easy-to-find gems.” At last I was able to feel the Aeolos P30, touch it and look at it from all perspectives.
More than that: To my great pleasure it was not just the German dealer from Lake of Constance apparent on the small booth but also the father and mastermind of Aeolos, Hans Genthe. Keen to meet the guy behind this so exotic and un-normal boat (in the best sense of the word!) I was happy and absolutely astonished to get to know Hans as a quiet, very open and friendly but almost shy and self-effacing polite man. Still I find it almost impossible to imagine that this humble man is such a crazy sailor with such awe-inspiring determination. An impressive man and outstanding occasion meeting and speaking with Hans.
Clever fit: The trailer concept of Aeolos P30
But back to the boat. For a 30 footer I first must say that she appeared to be much smaller. This effect, I guess, si due to the fact that her lifting keel is fully retracted and she sits very low on the trailer. Much lower than my First 27 SE. Nevertheless, the concept of easy transport and rigging that comes with Aeolos P30 seems to work out, one big aspect for buyers of such boats: Being able to quickly drive the boat from race to race.
With keel up, rudder up and bow sprit up the boat can be slipped, which is a definitive plus. No crane needed. As the mast comes with a hoisting frame, the boat can be brought to water and rigged by the crew itself, which makes the mobility-effect even more valuable. The boat plus rigging weighs empty some 1.550 kilograms (without engine), which is even more impressive. So that seem to work. For the next boat show, Hans, maybe you should advertise to do a show-rigging two times a day to demonstrate the easiness of the handling … just an idea.
Made for single and double handed racing
For sure, each Aeolos crew is going to work out detailed solutions for their cockpits, it was quite clear how an ordinary race shift on this boat would be looking like: There are the working winches placed in the middle of the coamings right behind the trim cleats for the mainsheet traveler. Steering tiller and Gennaker-winches in the aft. Crew can cramp in between the massive stainless steel frames on the cockpit floor. Everything is well in range for single use but also well apart to fit for a crew of two.
The design of the Aeolos P30 is ambivalent. Many people love the unconventional approach for being fresh and modern, others reject it for being too radical. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I won´t judge it here, bit the dodger of the Aeolos seems to be able to hold off most of the spray coming over when beating upwind and may offer some protection against too much (cold) headwinds. At least, more than on many other flat racing boats for sure.
Interior space? Rarely.
Let´s climb inside! Of course, the purpose of the Aeolos P30 is not to provide her crew and sailors with interior space or comfort. The aim of the boat is to be as light as possible, as stiff as possible and thus to be as fast as possible. It is a boat designed to win races, designed to start planning not just much sooner than others but also to fly possibly upwind. In this, my expectations when I first sticked my head down through the companionway weren´t high.
And right I was: The Aeolos P30, just like any other thoroughbred racer, is mainly an empty boat. White painted prepreg carbon, not much effort being spent to make it comfortable or even “nice”. There is a small LED-light and of course very slim windows which will rarely illuminate the boat´s internals when sailed in daylight. But a second look is worth the efforts: The whole bow is a huge mattress. This should be very cool, also with a (racing-friendly) girlfriend or boyfriend aboard.
Supposedly tuned by every owner, the middle section leaves enough space to add luggage, clothing in duffel bags or food provisions. The boat is very narrow and due to the big-sized bulkheads or frames, it is hard to move about. Everything must be done head-down – in heavy seas or sailing heeled this will be quite a dance. Anyways, I would say that even in a much bigger IMOCA walking around is like dancing on a wild buffalo …
Minimum comforts for off-watch or in the marina
But the Aeolos P30 holds some more surprises. As the keel was up on the trailer, much of the forward volume was blocked by it. So, one must think of all the boat´s central volume without the keel. When lowered, a small navigation table may be rotated in place: A perfect work station for a rugged laptop providing weather routing or other info.
Right next to the three step companionway down below there are two very comfortable seats which are perfectly reclining when the boat is even. When heeled, the windward side seat is perfect for taking a nap, checking the phone or just taking some minutes off of the race. Those can be elongated backwards, just like in my First 27 SE, to for two full-sized quarter berths.
Speaking of the quarter berths: Two folding pipe-beddings can be ordered to increase sleeping comforts, folding them up will make the space available for spare sails, provisions or other stuff that has to be taken on to the sailing trip. All in all I found the interior not very appeasing: A little bit too cold for my taste and too cramped. But I am not a racer nor the target group for this boat, so that shouldn´t do anything. There was one particular installation I was very keen to inspect: The toilet.
On the Aeolos P30 Hans Genthe tried something almost revolutionary: No valves, no tanks, no holes in the boat no hustle and no frills. The ergonomic perfectly formed bucket is hidden underneath the folding stairs of the entry way. Put up and fixed, one can sit down and relax. I can figure this must really be the perfect place as the bucket is positioned right above the center of gravity and the pivotal point of the boat: No rocking, no rolling, no heeling and no rollercoaster slide. Perfect. Also, the dump falls into compostable bags which can either be stored aboard and get rid of when arriving or just thrown overboard to decompose. Nothing for my girlfriend though, but a skilled sailor-racer will eventually love this.
Clever details on the Aeolos P30
Some more clever details on this boat that is full of solutions and approached which mirror the long racing career of Hans on various small boats. For example the Gennaker snuffer. The long sleeve starts at the bow section of the boat and runs all the way abaft to the end of the hull. In this, when taking down the Gennaker fast, no stuffing action or a second hand is needed.
Just like many one-halyard Gennaker systems on other, mostly smaller, boats, the Aeolos P30´s Gennaker will be lifted and taken down in a matter of seconds. My own experience back on GEKKO was, that when I packed the Gennaker on land trying to make it just perfect, like a para-jumper, the chance of ending up with a sand clock was 50/50. I learned that hoisting the Gennaker out of the sail bag and leaving it inside just as crumpled as I stuffed it into it, made success rate of getting it up to 100 er cent. On Aeolos, I bet, there is neither a sand clock nor any crumpling of sails cloth.
Of course, a gimbal cooker – possibly with a Jet Boil – and some other surplus equipment can be ordered too. Hans Genthe build up a whole yard in the United Arab Emirates to produce these boats. With order book filled and having produces already two-digit number of boats, I guess we will start seeing these boats here and there appearing in races.
“How does she sail” – maybe the biggest question of them all. I´ve seen some pictures of first sea trials but I think it will take a major single or double hand race, like Silverrudder or Baltic 500, to prove the true capabilities of the Aeolos P30 and analyze here pros and cons compared to other boats. Hans is very determined and he promises that there are some other equally determined owners who are preparing to do exactly this. I will try to get to sail one of these this summer on Lake Constance – in not all too crazy conditions but enough to get a glimpse of her sailing abilities.
Also interesting in this respect:
Hans Genthe, father of Aeolos P30, interviewed
First Aeolos P30 out of the moulds
Yacht design: With Matteo Polli