I am a huge fan of Solaris sailing yachts, as you may know: For me, there is not another brand currently out there that has a similar uniqueness and sexiness in their lines as Solaris. The unmistakable signature design of a Solaris sailing yacht makes her indistinguishable and adorable. Surely, this is due to the determination and straight foresight of the yard, but also the work of Solaris´ principal designer, Argentinian naval architect Javier Soto Acebal.

Javier Soto Acebal: Mastermind of Solaris

With their new Solaris 40 out on the market for a few months now, I contacted Javier again to have a little chat with him about this particular boat, his work on that one and the boating industry in general. Here´s what we have been talking about …

Javier Soto Acebal on Covid, the boating industry and the new Solaris 40

NO FRILLS SAILING | Lars Reisberg: “Javier, it has been quite a time since we spoke last time about your work for Solaris. But first, let me ask how you did cope with the Covid 19-craze the last 2 years? Has the Pandemic affected your work in some way – is everything fine so far?”

Javier Soto Acebal: “Hi there, Lars. Well, everything is okay down here in South America but for sure work has been very different during that period, I can tell you. There obviously was less demand at first and so we´ve had much more time available which we brought to a good use. For us it was to do some research and work on personal ideas. In my own personal case, I directed design-hours into a new pocket cruiser that can be transformed easily from sloop to catamaran.”

A true Solaris: And what a beauty!

NO FRILLS SAILING: “That is good to hear, Javier. Now, the new Solaris 40: Introduced in 2020, she came out, like so many other boats, during the Covid crisis. I personally somehow did not fully recognize the launch of this milestone – what was your impression of this? How was this new boat conceived?”

Javier Soto Acebal: “As I mentioned before, the crisis was not all too bad for us to approach a more focused way into design. For example, I was totally isolated with my family back in the countryside. Life changed totally and so did my working environment. I embraced this situation as there have been a lot of hours without phones, no meetings, nor any typical city procedures. Basically just myself in front of the object to be created. I must say quite frankly – I liked it.”

One of the first sketches

NO FRILLS SAILING: “The works on this particular boat must have started quite some time earlier. Tell me, when have you been approached by the yard to come up with some ideas for a new 40 footer and what was the design brief like?”

Javier Soto Acebal: “That´s a short one: As usual, the yard came up with an interior distribution in general and of course they had in mind a particular threshold of the later cost and budget for that new boat. As always, they wanted to evolve in all areas as possible to resume the overall development of their product range. As I told you in one of our previous interviews, I like working with Solaris because they don´t have the habit of suppressing: Nothing was discarded, they looked into all ideas with an open mind and even things short cabin endings near the mast have been tested.”

Unmistakably Solaris!

NO FRILLS SAILING: “I really like the new Solaris 40. In many ways, the Solaris 40 is a true Javier Soto Acebal – the lines, fine entry and the very low deck structure. Was it hard to keep the beloved signature features of Solaris in such a “small” boat?”

Javier Soto Acebal: “Mmmhh… I would rather say that in comparison with other Solaris yachts, we do not have such a fine entry on this model – in contrary – we go wider in the forward zones! There also is a very pronounced chine in the bow rising the beam above the waterline and landing on deck with slab sides, which really is the new thing on that boat. That helps us to add form stability, balance the powerful stern and last but not less – at all”- we can move the forward berth a bit towards the bow, gaining almost one feet of interior space. To keep that proportion of a low cabin versus hull, we have gone with a 100 per cent straight sheerline, that rises the encounter of the cabin with the deck sides, lowering its lateral view. That is pretty much a summary of what characterizes the new boat design-wise in my eyes, Lars.”

A proven layout

NO FRILLS SAILING: “What I found particularly interesting about the new Solaris 40 have been the really big hull windows. Can you go into more detail on these new features a bit?”

Javier Soto Acebal: “These new big windows are here to stay I can promise. People just love them indeed! And I can say that they really change life onboard as they are making the in-out-connection really pleasant. We also go with an all-beam cockpit design: There are no deck corridors on the aft zone which makes it really nice to steer the boat and look forward. Just like you are on a racing boat. Thanks to that change we manage to locate the steering wheels really close to max beam, so the helmsman has a great view to incoming waves, the tell tales on the sails and has a great overall boat view.”

Loom at these hull windows!

NO FRILLS SAILING: ”Solaris boats are by no means yachts for beginners, I shall say. Neither in terms of their sailing capabilities nor in terms of the budget needed to acquire one. 40 feet is a rather “small” boat size for high priced boats – do you think that even owners of smaller boats are increasingly sensitive for higher quality and therefore demand “more”?”

Javier Soto Acebal: “I see it this way: Quality is like an angel speaking in light form to your ear. You don´t want to hear but you do. And at the end of the road you want it. You want it badly. In a reverse way I can say, it would be hard for a Solaris owner to walk backward to a lower quality boat. So, we have faith we can do our boats with high quality and keep our jobs. From the beginning of my relationship with the yard, the people in Aquileia were very clear that this was the philosophy to follow and that thinking must not be changed over the years. So, there is a portion of the market for these boats, smaller? yes, but a portion for sure!”

Chaste and stylish

NO FRILLS SAILING: “When I first met the guys at Solaris yard in Aquileia in 2018 they had begun construction of new workshops and halls, work on the new Solaris 44 was in mockup-state – the yard now offers an impressive range of sailboats from 40 to 111 feet: A quite staggering development for the brand. The product-range – the boats – is the brainchild of yours, one could say. What is the secret of a Solaris in general”

Javier Soto Acebal: “Maybe part of the answer is in the above comments, but I can give an example how serious they are: A friend of mine was deciding to buy a big boat. And he was confronting Solaris against other brands available on the market. He finally decided to go with Solaris. After one year owning his new boat I asked him why his choice fell onto this brand. He told me that back then that every time he spoke with the other yards, they lowered the price. Which initially even wasn´t part of his questions. He told me that the Solaris-guys never ever consider to do that. In this he finally knew how much they have been committed to delivering quality.”

The new 40 footer under full canvas

NO FRILLS SAILING: “What is the current project you are working on right now, maybe for Solaris too?”

Javier Soto Acebal: “Well, right now I am not occupied with Solaris. I am working in on a new 38 and 60 footer. Regarding Solaris, we are started on a new 74 of which at the moment I am with the hard part: Her aesthetics. The team is helping with interior layout, structures, systems and such. So, Lars, quite busy, I would say!”

Javier, as usual – thank you so much for your time!


Pictures © by Solaris Yachts


Also interesting articles with Javier Soto Acebal and Solaris:

At the Solaris yard in Aquileia

Talking the Solaris 50 with Javier Soto Acebal

From mock-up to the final boat: Solaris 44