She truly was the highlight for me on this years´s Duesseldorf Boat Show: The Arcona 435 performance cruiser. This boat had just received the honour of being chosen as European Yacht of the Year 2019 in the category of the Performance Cruisers and since I´ve never had the chance to see an Arcona yacht from the inside, I jumped aboard and … spend more time than usual on this boat. Why? Because the Arcona may be the perfect sailing yacht for me.
I know, boats are always a compromise between so many things. It´s hard for designers and boat builders to come up with a yacht that may be fast and comfortable, luxurious and lightweight or offering much volume but bearing a desirable design. It´s always in the eye of the beholder. I know. But there may also be common values or features which are valid no matter what boat you may take a look at. Arcona, from my point of view, has accomplished to come up with a pretty perfect boat indeed.
Performance in every line of the hull
First of all, the Arcona 435 is a very imposing attraction: She is sleek (just 3.98 metres wide) for her length of 13.20 metres, which makes for a 1:3.3 ratio – compared to the X-Yachts XP 44 (that is slightly bigger) which has a 1:3.5 ratio or the Dehler 42, as well a bit smaller, which has a 1:3.3 ratio as well. The Arcona appears to be a slim boat – and slim means fast.
Another feature may be interesting: As for Arcona, the ballast that is counted in the equation is just the weight accumulated in the keel-bomb, which is 3.4 tons (that´s 38 per cent of the boat´s displacement that is just 9 tons all in all). Compared to the XP44 which has 44 per cent – but with X-Yachts the keel´s fin as well as the hull-cage is taken into the ballast count. Dehler´s 42 offers 33 per cent ballast-ratio (as well counting the whole weight of the keel-construction). The Arcona is a stiff boat for sure!
Racing? Cruising? True sailing!
Standing in the cockpit I instantly notice the classic layout of the boat´s running rigging: The double wheels are mounted in a way that the Genoa winches could either be worked by the helmsman or a crew member. Secondary winches are mounted on the coamings as well as the working winches for the halyards and reefing lines which are situated on the coach roof to either side of the entry way.
That´s a pretty conservative approach of fitting this boat and may hint the preferred way of sailing these yachts: Fully crewed sailing trips, may be races and regattas, with people manning each winch trying to squeeze out the last bit of knots from the trim. Nevertheless, the boat may also be fitted to be sailed single- or double handed, in this respect a good powerful autopilot is needed because this layout cannot be worked on completely from behind the wheel.
The Arcona 435 – just as her bigger and smaller sisters – may be equipped with a classic mainsheet traveller as well, in times of effortless, single hand-cruising yachts a kind of “refreshingly dated” appearing detail. I also noticed the long Genoa sheet tracks – Arcona´s 435 braces 140 square metres of upwind sail area that will most certainly boost the boat to high speeds.
A great detail was the completely retractable cockpit table that will disappear into the area between the aft cabins – that´s for a clear and wide open cockpit in full racing mode with loads of hustle going on at the winches and providing a nice seating situation whilst mooring for having a full dinner being served up here. Clever solution.
Absolutely stunning interiors.
But the coolest part is the interiors of the Arcona. Some months back I was interviewing Torgny Jansson, founder and owner of Arcona yachts, and he told me that their specialty and biggest effort is to offer the classy high-quality wooden finish an owner expects from a Scandinavian yacht – and the 435 delivers full force indeed!
The entryway downstairs is admittedly steep and won´t be allowed in current cruising-optimized yachts but saves loads of volume so that the salon of the Arcona 435 appears bigger than one would expect it. Even the relatively short width of the boat doesn´t come out that much. One instantly notices upon taking the first steps inside that everything appears to be of solid, high quality: No squeeking, no scratching. Nice!
I loved the chart table which was absolutely stunning. Rounded edges, nice and stiff grab handles. The design is understatement at it´s best but looking at the details one quickly admires the craftmanship: Just look at the wood grain that is kept running through the whole length and width of the components where possible. Everything is very practical, very “ship like” on the one hand but also lush and comfy.
The salon comes in the classic layout with an L-galley situated right at port-side next to the entryway, facing the navigation station. That´s true sailing: Coming down quickly to check for the VHF or make an entry in the log, grab a sandwich or a coffee in the galley and return to the helm, that´s how it is supposed to be! No walking through the whole length of the salon to reach the chart table …
Also, a nice detail, was the gallay. That´s an L-shaped galley with a large fridge, a big sink and a worktop to prepare even complicated menues. The 3-flamed stove should be sufficient for providing meals and the measurements of the galley are well-sized to be big enough for the ship´s cook to work nicely but also tight enough to offer safety even in foul weather and high waves.
Wooden stuff where it belongs.
Looking into the bathrooms – the 435 has two of them – reminds me of the fact that wooden fittings shouldn´t be mounted just everywhere. On the Arcona they have done the one and only right thing when it comes to wood: Have it fitted where it belongs! That means, no wooden stuff where people take their showers. That´s a consistency I really appreciate.
On the other hand, they have worked so hard to have the wooden stuff presented the best possible way where it should be – in the salon or the cabins. The Arcona 435 features white lacquered ceiling and lots of glossy painted woodwork. Lots of stowage under the seatings, which in this case is a nice U-shaped sofa around a dinner table facing a 3-seater on starboard side.
Also the floorboards are classic and did spark so many memories on “old” sailing boats how they have been made 20 years ago – that´s the years before cost-reducing was setting in and boats haven´t been build with grey, white or other fancy colours but with Teak and Mahogany. I just loved it.
Cabins, just as it is supposed to be.
Last not least the cabins. The 435 has two aft cabins and the owner´s cabin in the fore peak. To make it short: That was and is one of the most beautifully designed fore cabins I´ve seen to date. No frills, no unnecessary stuff, everything sized well and placed where it is needed.
The wooden glossy painted parts have been sized in perfect harmony to the white-lacquered ceiling, the grey cushion was a perfect counterbalance to the design. I must say, standing in this cabin, I couldn´t really imagine any other boat that was making a similar nice impression to me to date (well, except for the much loved Oyster 745 (LINK) of course …)
The aft cabins are a bit less lush, yet offering white lacquered massive ceiling, loads of stowage and some wooden parts. The only odd thing about the cabins really – and I must state that this is something I really appreciate in modern boat building – is the fact that the Arcona does not offer any porthole or hull-windows in the aft cabins at all, which makes for a rather dark environment here. I think in modern times that´s something that can and should be made different.
Other than this detail, the boat is light suffused, especially the salon which has at last two slime hull windows but two big hatches which can be opened completely. I guess that´s something crucial for a hot summer´s day at the mooring. All in all, she is a gorgeous boat, more than appropriate to be awarded Yacht of the Year and given the fact that she sails like her interior quality fittings promise, she is an absolute dream yacht!
Love fast sailing boats? Try these articles:
Swift and fast – Torgny Jansson about Arcona yachts
Interview with Stefan Qviberg on Arcona yachts
First time sailing a Pogo 40 racing yacht