Back from my first ever trip to a handover abroad since Corona-crisis hit our industry and society, I am not only tanned a lot more but also again richer in experience and learnings. As you may have read some months ago in my article “A Day at Quantum” I´ve had the luck of being able to go along the process of ordering and buying a new sailboat with a client who is not just interested in volume, comforts and style but also in sailing performance. In this, his new Oceanis 46.1 is not only specced with all creature comforts you may think of when conceiving a family cruising boat, but also with an emphasis on sailing performance.
We ordered the boat at the yard in their “First Line”-Performance package, which, I must admit, was the first time I´ve ever seen this option in detail on the 46.1 – although I have delivered a 41.1 last year in this configuration – but we decided not to go for the Elvström performance sails offered by Beneteau. Instead we sat together with Quantum Sails Germany and tailored customized sails cloth for our client: That´s a Genoa and Mainsail in DCX cruising laminate and a wonderful Gennaker in dark blue color for the light wind sailing. That was some 16 months ago (!) and, behold, here´s now the follow-up article on how these sails work on the boat.
Fitting the mainsail and a tiny mishap …
Arriving at Marina Portoroz in wonderful Slovenia was pure bliss. I am in this industry for most part because I love travelling and being out somewhere, seeing boats, working in a marine environment, near the sea. Smelling the fine salty odor of the Mediterranean Sea, looking at palm trees and seeing Lemons grow like “normal” fruits on the bushes, feeling the hot sun on my skin and switching from being German to smooth, relaxed mode. As much as I love my country, it´s the lush and life-affirming lifestyle of our Southern European neighbours that I fancy so much. But I´m was not there for a holiday, but for work.
The boat had been commissioned and readied by our partners already and a technical support crew of my own company had spent the past week in tweaking the details and preparing the yacht for handover. But there was a small mishap, which, I guess, happens when you are over 40: In cancelling yard-stocked sails and ordering our own, I completely faded out the matter of lazy jacks and lazy bag which, now standing in front of the boat, came off my eyes like scales: I forgot to order these parts! Oh, what an embarrassing moment!
Well, solution at hand: I placed an urgent order for forwarding an urgent lazy bag and began to size and fit makeshift lazy jacks to the boom. As our clients will have to sail away from this handover marina to their home berth which is situated down south in Croatia, they need to be able to get down the mainsail safely without hazzle. I was lucky and happy having just (helped to) rigged my own new boat including attatching lazy jacks so that I just needed to upscale the dimensions. It worked! Then we pulled up the mainsail and I sat on the boom, slider by slider attaching the brand new cloth to the mast.
The enormous size of a 45-footer mainsail is always breath taking! We were lucky that not so much wind was apparent that day so that the works proceeded steadily. Nevertheless, it took us nearly one our to fit the sail accordingly and in a good manner. I double-checked the fittings: Issues at the mast on the high seas is something I of course want to spare our clients from. Last point was attaching the reefing lines which was a job I as well had dress-rehearsed on my own boat the week before so that it was as easy as ABC. The owner was with us the whole time, keen on learning and getting accustomed to his new boat, which is something I welcomed much: 2 more hands to help working and less talking later for me during handover.
We took down the freshly attached mainsail, stacked it best we could and I roped the mainsail: To be honest, as much as we missed the lazy bag, this “pure” packing of the mainsail added enormously to the “racy” looks of the Oceanis. Looking for some details here and there I got accustomed to the details provided by the yard when ordering the “First Line”-package as well as on the Quantum sails – and here, I can say, I got surprised the best possible way by seeing the attention to detail.
Performance Equipment: It´s in the Details
Now, mostly, when delivering a new sailboat, people have their focus on comfort, not on sailing. Which is perfectly understandable as these cruisers mainly serve as moving holiday bases, sailing fun is created by simply sailing, speed is of less importance and so often the sails cloth is standard Dacron. By that, the big production yards offer what is demanded: More and more comfort, less emphasis on sailing performance. But now, having a boat at hand that is optimized for increased sailing performance, surprised me how deep down this package is tailored.
For example the mainsail halyard: It´s a 1:2 reduction halyard with very sexy loop-snatches by Ubi Maior. That is serious equipment! In a standard boat there´s just a halyard running over a block in the mast top with a simply steel shackle to attach the sail´s head to. On the “First Line” we have Harken Performa winches, the lines are a notch up and the main blocks have ball bearings. It´s in the details, of course, and I´d reckon that instead showing Bikini girls having a drink in their brochures, Beneteau could set a better focus on these outstanding and absolutely price-worthy details of their packages.
Same for the sails: As I have seen on GEKKO, some things often do not just come naturally, like the diverting blocks for the reefs. Here on the Oceanis I´ve found the Kohlhoff Loop which may be the cheapest one available in this range, but of course better that nothing, which is state of delivery with the standard sails. Looking here and there on the boat I discovered more details which convinced me of the usefulness and richness of the offer – if the sailor wants to get the extra kick out of his boat. We finished commissioning and did the paper works, had a great dinner and went home, sleeping a good night´s sleep before the big day: Sailing time!
Hoisting the new sails for the First Time
Steaming out of Portoroz Marina we´ve had a low puff of some 7 to 8 knots going on: Not so much to have serious sailing action, but almost perfect for a handover: New boat, bigger boat and everything still a bit alien, this is the best setting for having the new owner´s full attention to how it all works and no distraction by heeling, waves or a too strong wind. As wind direction was almost 45 degrees when we left, we took out the Genoa first.
Killing the engine, the owner looked at me and smiled brightly: 8 knots of wind and the boat was sailing at some 6 knots SOG with just the foresail out. Amazing! The good thing about a laminate is that it keeps the optimum wing shape over a very long time whilst incorporating some of the good properties of Dacron: Longevity. As for the Quantum DCX in “light grey”, they did not just stood up in the wind sharp as a razor blade, it looked amazing! The silverish glance, changing from metal to shiny silver and back to blunt grey, depending on the angle of the garment to the sun.
Our owner was an inmast-furling sailer before and not used to sailing full-battened main. Normally, by the book, would be steaming under engine right dead into the wind, having the mainsail out and afterwards, after luffing, getting the Genoa. I prefer the no-engine way and we exercised this technique: Just have the Genoa out and steer a true upwind point if sail, open the mainsheet and let the boom swing to leeward completely. Now it is like being dead in the wind. Driven by the electric Performa winches, the mainsail went up with ease, sheeting in the boom and up she went.
The boat heeled a bit but transformed the surplus power immediately into speed. The log showed a steady 7 which, considering the wind angle, was truly awesome! Getting out some 7 knots of a 8-9 knots breeze upwind is not an easy task: Especially taking into consideration that this particular boat was quite heavy: Two fresh water tanks, a gen-set and aircon, fully stocked for the delivery I would say that her dry weight of 10.5 tons was easily stocked up to some 11 tons. Nevertheless, she sailed pretty fast.
The owner and his sailing mate friend smiled and laughed. It is always so satisfying seeing clients being happy, but this time the reward was even bigger as the actual sailing fun is normally secondary to cruiser-clients as focus is on comfort: This was different. How nimble the steering on the rudder was is a thing we tested in multiple manoeuvres as we tacked and gybed and sailed to boat on every point of sail. Exercising how to reef (no-engine technique of course!) was another item on the list and we trained this as well. Quickly more than 2 hours went by like a wink of an eye: When things are fun and passionate, time flies. “Let´s move back, the ladies are waiting!”, the owner said and we turned the boat´s bow sprit back towards the harbor.
Ultimate sailing fun: Gennaker time!
Before we did that we took down the mainsail (whilst sailing on with Genoa) and I showed them how to stack it accordingly to prevent the precious laminate from being creased and how to secured the big sail on the boom without the lazy bag – a condition they will have to cope with the coming 3 or 4 weeks which is production time of the new lazy. As we´ve had the main down, took in the Genoa and steamed back, I checked wind: 4 knots true. “Wanna check the Gennaker?” At first a bit reluctant they argued that their wives shouldn´t be waiting too long. I said: “Wind is perfect, it will take no 5 minutes to have the Gennaker up, I promise!”
And so it went, attaching the Spinnaker halyard to the head and one sheet to the sail, hooking up the tack to the bow sprit, the electric winch had the sock filled with the nice garment up in the top in under a minute. I pulled the Gennaker-halyard and up went the ATN-cone. Graciously the Gennaker unfolded and – thanks to the low wind – the boat accelerated a bit. Both mouths open, the guys took pictures of this magnificent view: Gennaker sailing is always such a tremendously impressive and awe-inspiring event.
Killing the engine, the boat still sailed under just Gennaker (I know, normally we would have set up the mainsail as well) almost as fast as the wind and we took our time to admire the big, big, big blue sail. Now both weren´t smiling anymore – they began to celebrate! For me a new experience as I “win” our clients more through nice design, the lofty lounges and the luxury of a sailing yacht. This owner fell in love completely with his new sailboat because she was able to sail the right way.
We changed course and exercised a bit in which true wind angles the Gennaker worked and when it was time to luff or bear off when leaving the sail´s range of effective drive. In this they both got a feel for the sail, the force in the sheet and how to utilize the Gennaker. As always – and alike I am training on my own boat as well – I suggested that they slowly start to practice in low wind situations and step up performance with increasing experience with the sail.
Taking down the Gennaker through ATN-sock was as easy as ABC – one veered off the sheet as I pulled the reefing line, taking down the sock ever so slightly. The whole process lasted no longer than 15 seconds and half a minute later the Gennaker was stowed away in the forward sails locker behind the chain. Open mouths, standing ovations: That´s what I call a happy handover!
Handing over a Dream Yacht
We landed the boat and I collected the last signatures. In this, the tension of those last 16 (!) months waiting time fell completely off and now that the boat was his property, the owner let go a bit of the stress too. A glorious day! Decision to take an extra invest onto his shoulders and go for the good sailing cloth, he said, was absolutely right. Yes, custom made sails like these from Quantum are a big chunk. But the fun they bring is a payback multiple times worth the money, at least for our owner.
By the minute the ladies arrived and with them brought some last provisions. I did a final check up of the boat downstairs, collected the papers and my belongings and headed back to the cockpit. Bimini was up and cushions on the Teak, we sat down a last time, opened a can of good Slovenian beer and cheered to the owners and to the boat, which now was about to be christened.
Remembering the whole story, as we stood at the bow, as the couple approached me on Boot boat show Duesseldorf two years ago, taking a tour in the exhibited boat with me, speccing the boat in a two-hour meeting and finally signing the purchase was the start. January 2020, a long, long time ago! With Covid-19 locking down the yard a few weeks and – even worse! – prohibiting delivery as promised, we searched for a creative way to have our owners at least see their boats which we arranged on a trucker´s parking lot somewhere on the Autobahn. And now, after weeks and weeks in lockdown, finally we are all here, celebrating a new boat.
I guess it was a very moving and emotional moment when the couple poured the Moet over the bowsprit, whished the boat and all who travel on her the best of luck and cheered to each other. Unforgettable, indeed!
I drove back to Germany the same day and arrive – completely destroyed – after a 12 hour dash through Slovenia, Austria and all of Germany from South to the North. Waking up after a short but deep sleep, my phone beeped: “9 knots in a light puff! On our way to Rovinj. She is amazing!”, the owner wrote, and I can very vividly imagine how proud STARFLYER is sailing with her silver Quantum winds up. Fair winds!
You might also be interested in reading the following articles:
Sea trial on the Oceanis 46.1
At the Beneteau Yard, looking at Oceanis 51.1 production
A day at Quantum Sails