Blue Water Sailing, Winter 2023

Page 12




winter 2023


12 Bluewater Adventure

Laughing Goat: Havana to Isla Mujeres

20 Denmark Under Sail







Dragonfly by George Day


3 Captain’s Log

4 Blue Water Dispatches

56 Charter

62 Classifieds

Front Cover: Faurby 460 ghosting along.

How Europe Influences U.S. Cruisers

THIS IS OUR DANISH ISSUE WHICH HIGHLIGHTS six of the leaders of Denmark’s marine and sailing industry. I had the good fortune to spend a week in Denmark meeting a lot of new friends and finding out a lot about how Danish companies and innovators affect the world of sailing worldwide and in the U.S. I hope you enjoy this in-depth feature.

In the course of a year, I tend to get to Europe a couple of times for boat shows, the Multihull Festival in La Grande Motte in the spring, and the amazing show at Cannes in September. This gives me a chance to see the innovations in Europe before they debut in North America and an opportunity to meet with those who are influencing changes.

Here are some innovations that have made their way across the pond in recent years. Large mainsails with self-tacking jibs with a sprit for downwind sails are now quite common in the U.S. but weren’t until quite recently. Synthetic rigging was once only seen on high tech race boats, but now it can be had as an option of many top end cruising boats. Twin rudders were once considered too exposed for offshore sailing but most European-designed cruisers now have them as standard equipment and U.S. sailors have adopted them. Twin wheels have been popular in Europe for two decades but are now seen on just about every cruising sailboat in America. Cockpit arches, once considered unusual in the U.S., also are coming in from Europe and have the distinct benefit of removing the oftendangerous main sheet from the middle of the cockpit. Americans adopted sugar scoop transoms when they first came out. But, now, we are seeing full fold-down transoms with large swimming platforms and storage spaces or even a dinghy garage in the cockpit. In some current designs we are seeing the cockpit inverted so the helms are forward and the large sunning beds are aft. And, now we are seeing real hard tops over cockpits as you might have on a cruising powerboat that replaces the soft dodger and canvas Bimini.

As you read the Danish Issue, I hope you will reflect on just how much Danish sailors and designs from Paul Elvstrom to the present have influenced sailboats and sailing in North America. And that is true for the rest of Europe, too.

winter 2023

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winter 2023 3

Energy Afloat: Lithium, Solar and Wind Are the Perfect Combination

AFTER YEARS OF THINKING ABOUT upgrading the house bank to lithium on Pandora, our 2007 Aerodyne 47 sloop, we decided to move forward and ordered four 210AH batteries from Blue Heron Batteries . I decided to go with that brand since I know the principal, Hank from my years on the board of The Salty Dawg Sailing Association and

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winter 2023 Explore, enjoy and share ! Find your AMEL dealer on B O OT DÜS SELDOR F january 21-29 2023 Share your sailing experiences with the AMEL community #AMELENSEMBLE

trusted him to provide a quality product and support, which was particularly important to me given the horror stories I had heard about fires and other issues associated with lithium batteries.

I wrote about the installation considerations in BWS Fall 2022. Last fall, I ran Pandora to Antigua as part of the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean. The 1,500-mile run proved to be a great shakedown giving me a feel for the performance of the new bank. BWS publisher George Day was with me for the run and also saw, first hand, how the upgraded electrical system performed.

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In order to be sure that I could get the best performance from the new batteries, I upgraded a number of my older solar panels, bringing my capacity to 900 watts and added a wind generator.

This year marks the beginning of our second decade as snowbirds and I have plenty of experience to draw on when making comparisons. Pandoradoes not have a house generator and while her old AGM bank and solar panels were adequate when we were anchored, on passage I generally had to run the engine at least once every 24 hours to keep the house bank properly charged as the load from instruments and autopilot were more than the panels and AGM batteries could support. While I expected the charging rate of lithium to be better, I was very pleased to find that during the two-thirds of the run to Antigua that was under sail, I no longer needed to run the engine at all to keep the bank fully charged, and the batteries never dropped below 84% of a full charge.

Pandora has substantial energy requirements while on passage, drawing about 8 amps with the autopilot and instruments operating round the clock. The large freezer and refrigerator add to that load consuming more than 75 amp-hours a day. The new solar panels and wind generator easily replenish the batteries every day with the wind generator able to supply the bulk of the power needs of the instruments and autopilot when sailing in 20 knots of apparent on a close reach. This performance was

{ CRUISINGDISPATCHES } 8 Blue Water Sailing

beyond what I had expected, and I was impressed that the batteries were able to absorb all the power available with no apparent resistance, regardless of the state of charge. The theoretical power curve for the wind generator shows 8 amps of output at 20 knots of wind, and that’s exactly what the batteries took, with no discernable charge resistance, even when at 95% charge.

We have no house generator and our 55hp engine is fitted with a power takeoff driving a large 280-amp alternator. The new bank easily accepts a full 200 amps right up until the batteries are

fully charged, a tremendous increase in charging efficiency over my prior AGM bank where input would slow to a trickle the closer the bank got to full charge. In planning the new bank, I had been very focused on the total usable amp-hours and yet that didn’t come into play as the batteries stayed at near full charge between the solar and wind. I was even able to run my Spectra watermaker when sailing, something that I have never been able to do in the past.

Years ago, our need for power was minimal, primarily focused on a few lights and perhaps mechanical refrigeration. Nowadays, boats are more power hungry with a whole fleet of devices, computers, cell phones, rechargeable lights, autopilot, navigation instruments, microwave, TV, water maker that grows every year.

Months of preparation, full days of sailing, star-filled nights. Does it get any better thanthis?

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Staying ahead of this increasing load is so much easier with fast charging lithium batteries. I had considered adding a dedicated house generator and now, with the exception of air conditioning, I no longer feel that is needed. In fact, I have wired my inverter to heat hot water and even plan to configure our washing machine to run off the inverter.

In addition to upgraded solar (the old panels had lost more than 50% of their power output), I chose the Marine Kinetix wind generator since a few of my friends have that unit and are happy

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with the power output and near silent operation.

After struggling with power issues for so long, it is remarkable to see how much better things are now. The lithium bank has made more of a difference than I expected as the batteries suck up power at a much faster rate. Even if the batteries are nearly full, they continue to accept all available power up to 100%, so different from lead acid batteries in which the acceptance rate slows to a trickle the closer the batteries get to full charge.

While our energy needs continue to

grow, we now have excess power storage capacity, multiples beyond my old AGM bank, and now I can even keep everything fully charged on passage without running the engine except when there is little wind.

The newest generation of lithium batteries are safer than ever so now is the time to consider an upgrade as a key part of a comprehensive energy production and storage program.

For more information:

Blue Heron Batteries

Marine Kinetics Wind Generator

Salty Dawg Sailing Association

Laughing Goat: Havana to Isla Mujeres

Part two: After a successful cruise from Florida to the Bahamas and Cuba, the Coles set sail from Havana to Mexico

WE LEFT HAVANA AND SAILED WEST through the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles from the Cuban coastline, skirting the strong Yucatan Current flowing against us, northeast from the Western Caribbean toward the

Atlantic. This would be our longest passage, three hundred twenty-five miles. As night fell, the lights of Cuba glowed in the distance. Eight-foot waves and twenty-five-knot winds out of the north pushed us along.

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We were far enough out in the ocean that the waves were steady and rolling, not choppy as they would be in shallower water near shore, yet they hit us uncomfortably on the beam. I put meals together one-handed while holding fast to the handholds in the galley with the other as we clanged up and down the waves—sails snapping, shrouds clanking, loose cabinet doors thumping. This was very different from the light winds and flat seas on the way to Nassau when I sautéed steak and we ate chocolate under the stars. By the time I cleaned up, I could barely remember what we ate.

The rain came and went. Kate stayed up for part of John’s watch the first night out; Kate and Elmo had become John’s watch buddies. As I awoke to join him, John was explaining about the cloud cover to her before she drifted off to sleep below. No moon shone a bright path on the water, nor did stars cascade softly out of the night sky. As we sailed further out, the lights of Cuba disappeared.

John and I stared upwards at the black shape of each wave heading toward us out of the blackness. The wave would blot

out the amorphous darkness beyond, suspended for a moment like it was preparing to attack before whooshing under the boat. We would briefly glance at each other and then watch, transfixed, as Laughing Goat slid down the back of the wave. Then the next wave would tower up in front of us. Without the blue sky and water as a backdrop, there was no scale, nothing to measure them against. They looked like mountains.

At the top of the wave, one of us would grab the binoculars, stand up and swivel around 360 degrees to look for ships. We had fifteen seconds until the boat began its downward plunge. Once we were in the trough, waves blocked the view. The first time I saw a ship in the distance, I stuttered with excitement and shoved the binoculars over to John to confirm the sighting. He had to wait until the boat took the next wave to sneak a glimpse. Peering through the binoculars, John tried to identify the navigation lights in the few seconds before dropping beneath the wave—red for port, green for starboard, or white, which meant we were seeing the bow or stern. In the rush, it was hard to determine.

“What is it? What is it?” I bounced in the seat as John peered.

“It’s a cruise ship.”

{ BLUEWATER ADVENTURE } 14 Blue Water Sailing

“What’s it doing?”

As the waves tumbled underneath us, sprayed droplets, and lifted us up again, we tried to figure it out. A cruise ship, ablaze with light, now shared a square of the Gulf with Laughing Goat . The ships traveled four or five times faster than Laughing Goat . If it was headed in our direction or crossing our path, it would look bigger with each view. When Laughing Goat surfed to the top of the wave, we both sprang to our feet, exchanging the binoculars again.

“What do you think?” I asked. We kept staring in the ship’s direction while in the trough.

“It might be crossing us. Let’s alter course to be safe and aim for the ship’s stern.”

John adjusted the autopilot a couple of degrees.

Twice, we convinced ourselves that the ship was aiming straight for us. Eventually, we believed it was heading south toward the Yucatan Straits, maybe for Cozumel, and was way ahead of us. We came back on course, somewhat embarrassed by our overreaction.

When John went below, though, and I was on watch by myself, a breathless, hysterical refrain would run through my head, “I’m in the middle of the ocean, the middle of the ocean!” I

would ignore the solidity of the boat under me, as though I were bobbing directly in the sea and disaster could strike from any direction. I had to force myself to calm down as the boat steadfastly took one wave, then the next, one at a time, up and down, up and down.

For a second, I would imagine myself as Captain Jack Aubrey, the larger-than-life sea captain from Patrick O’Brien’s historical novels, lustily steering through North Sea storms. Or Naomi James, the New Zealand sailor who made headlines in 1978, sailing around the world by herself in her twenties. Then the tiniest change— a wind shift,

winter 2023 15

something in the distance I couldn’t identify—would set off the hysterical refrain again. I usually didn’t last for more than ten minutes before calling John.

John would bound up the companionway stairs and, without a word, my tension eased. Maybe he would squeeze my shoulder, hand me a soft drink to share, or just lay down and doze. His presence slowed my heartbeat, un-hunched my shoulders, and smoothed my forehead.

On watch on Laughing Goat , we followed our friend and professional crew Cliff’s

penciled Xs advanced across the broad white expanse of the Gulf toward Isla Mujeres. When it was my turn, I plotted a fix slowly and methodically. A slight error could lead us to miss our destination by miles. In the middle of the night on our small vessel, we could envision our path forward.

John had shown me how to use parallel rules and dividers, centuries-old navigation tools, when we lived aboard Phaedrus. Like John’s foul weather jacket or topsiders, they were an integral part of his sailing gear. Despite the simplicity—the parallels looked like transparent attached rulers,

practice of noting our position every half hour, entering latitude, longitude, and compass heading on a lined yellow legal pad. I added my notations to John’s and Cliff’s as we sailed onward. By the second day, our entries on the yellow pad covered a page. We also plotted a fix on the half-hour on a large paper chart of the southern Gulf of Mexico from Cuba to the Yucatan. Little

and the dividers like a child’s math compass made of brass—they enabled us to approximate where we were. Long after we returned from the voyage, I would picture the nav station tucked next to the companionway on Laughing Goat , a light illuminating the chart as we worked to plot a fix while Laughing Goat rushed through the

{ BLUEWATER ADVENTURE } 16 Blue Water Sailing

black night.

The next day on Laughing Goat , we arrived at the Yucatan Channel, a narrow pass of about one hundred thirty miles that stretched between Cabo San Antonio on Cuba’s western tip and Mexico’s Yucatan coast. It was the entrance into the Western Caribbean where three great bodies of water—the Atlantic to the northeast, the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest, and the Caribbean to the south—converged. All the water from the Caribbean funneled up through the opening, shooting into the Gulf of Mexico and turning northeastward into the Atlantic as the Gulf Stream. If the wind blew from the opposite direction, the current could accelerate to seven knots and slam the boat backward as she tried to head south.

Now, midday on the second day out of Havana, we stared through the binoculars at the water ahead. As we turned south into the Yucatan Channel, the current pouring north slowed us down, but the gigantic breaking seas of our fantasies did not ma -


We spied the land glow of the Yucatan coast at about three o’clock in the morning, and by five o’clock, we were three miles off the reef north of Isla Mujeres, “Island of Women.” Laughing Goat drifted while, hearts quietly pounding with the knowledge that we had come this far, we sipped coffee and waited for enough light to see the harbor entrance. The land smelled sweet. Red and green Christmas lights winked from the giant fake Christmas tree atop the municipal building in the town square. We woke Kate up so she could see it, too. The island looked like a series of black mounds against the lighter charcoal gray sky, with a gay twinkling hat.

I remembered our first visit to Isla Mujeres shortly after John and I began living together in our twenties. We had taken a long vacation to travel around Mexico, and wound up on the coast in Cancun, then a sleepy, undeveloped town with spectacular beaches. We grabbed a ferry from Puerto Juarez, outside of Cancun, to Isla Mujeres.

winter 2023 17

The ferry did not look promising. Scrapes and gauges pocked the hull. John lightly ran his hand over one of the planks on the side of the hull, and the wood where the planks joined together disintegrated. Mexicans chattered and piled the aisles with sacks of oranges and bulging suitcases. It was only about eight miles over to the island, and the locals seemed unperturbed. We stepped aboard.

Squeezed in on one of the interior benches arranged in horizontal rows like a movie theater, we looked around. There was not much safety equipment: one dinghy and a smattering of life jackets. A Bugs Bunny cartoon played on a TV set in Spanish. People were unwrapping tortillas, peeling oranges, popping open colas, and bags of chips. As we left the shelter of the harbor, the wide top-heavy boat swayed, fishtailing side to side. I became queasy. Stuffed in the middle of the row with Bugs’ high-pitched Spanish quacks in the background, I concentrated on not getting sick as the spicy, tangy smells of my fellow passengers’ snacks assaulted me.

When we arrived in Isla Mujeres two hours later, I jumped groggily off the boat onto the wide ferry dock. We snatched our backpacks and wove through the crowd to the quiet sandpacked road lining the beach. A café across the street beckoned us, and over beers, we took in the scene: a sunny street, palm trees lining the beachside, scooters and old cars puttering by, travelers wearing not much more than shorts or bathing suits. Fishermen repaired their nets, and ice

cream or juice vendors—smiling, joking, whistling, singing—served customers. We felt immediately at home. John wandered off to find a hotel. Unlike other parts of Mexico we had visited, where people stared disapprovingly at my shorts or John’s long blond hair—or chased us out of a bar shouting “Hippie zippies! Hippie zippies!”—in Isla Mujeres, no one noticed us. Europeans tanned topless on the beaches, and hippie backpackers slept on hammocks strung between the palms on North Beach. Sailboats from all over the world were tied up at the docks or anchored in the harbor. The fish was fresher than any we had ever tasted. We ordered pescado frito every night and licked our fingers clean after sucking each bit of flesh from the bones. Houses were a riot of saturated pinks, yellows, and blues; molded clay pots were arranged on porches; flowers in intricately

{ BLUEWATER ADVENTURE } 18 Blue Water Sailing

painted vases spilled over windowsills. John knew enough Spanish to joke with the friendly locals. We visited many times over the years. Even though one of us would get sick for a couple of days each visit, we kept coming back.

Now, as we waited for dawn on Laughing Goat outside of the harbor entrance, the gently blinking lights of

the town Christmas tree pulling us in, I kept glancing at the shoreline. The charcoal gray sky lightened, and I began to see the outlines of overturned fishing boats on the beach, of pale pastel hotels before the bright sun intensified their colors, of the heads of palm trees looking like a line of happy feather-dusters. As we headed in, my heart hummed with excitement.

winter 2023 19

Denmark Under Sail


to be invited by several my friends in the Danish sailing and yachting industry to pay the country a visit and to get to know firsthand what several of their leading marine businesses are up to. As an American, I was certainly very aware of the names of the companies I came to visit, yet the simple fact of distance meant that I had only a shallow appreciation for how large a role this small country plays in all things to do with sailing and yachting worldwide. I now have a far deeper appreciation.

Born to the Sea

Denmark is a Scandinavian country of about six million people. It sits on the top end of the huge Jutland Peninsula with Germany to the south, Norway to the north, Sweden to the Northeast. And, it is entirely surrounded by water.

The coastline is full of bays and coves and stretches more than a thousand miles along the North Sea to the

Land of Vikings,

Home to a Vibrant Sailing and Yachting Industry

west, the Baltic Sea to the East and the famous huge sounds called the Skagerrak and Kattagat to the north. In these waters, Denmark is host to some 406 islands, many with coves and inlets.

With this native coastline and the abundance of fish in the waters around it, it is no wonder that Danes became sailors early and had become a great trading, fishing and voyaging people by the Eighth Century. That they, with the Norse and the Swedes, were Vikings known for raiding expeditions and planting colonies in other lands, is well known. Their exploits are legendary and often infamous.

Today, greater Denmark includes the Faroe Isles north of England and the huge island of Greenland, which are self-governing protectorates. But there was a time when Denmark included Iceland and southern Norway and Sweden as Danish lands. And who knows, they may have had settlements as far west across the North Atlantic as Nova Scotia, Maine or even southern New England. Every now and then a Danish rune shows up on American soil to fuel the theory that the Vikings had crossed the Atlantic.

If the raiding, pillaging and voyaging has faded into history and lore, the attachment to the sea still lives on in the Danish spirit and the sense that, even though their country is small, their heritage empowers them to play a significant role in whatever endeavors, sports and business in which they

20 Blue Water Sailing

choose to compete. That spirit was embodied by one Dane in particular.

The Flying Dane

In 1928 a boy was born north of Copenhagen in a house that looked out over the Kattagat. His father was a sea captain so this boy, like many of his neighbors, grew up with salt water in his veins. He would grow up passionate about boats and sailing, while being completely indifferent to school. As he noted later in life, if his teachers couldn’t find him, they’d know he was out sailing. That passion and the time on the water made that boy, named Paul Elvstrøm, a dinghy and keel boat sailor and racer the likes of which the world has almost never seen, before or since.

Elvstrøm was a natural sailor and a fierce competitor. He could and did race and win in anything that floated and had a sail. In the 1948 Olympics, he claimed the gold medal in the individual Class and he would go on to sail and win the individual gold medal in four consecutive Olympics (1948-1960). Only six athletes in any sport have duplicated this feat and only Brit Ben Ainslie has done it in the sailing category. It is no understatement that Elvstrøm put Denmark and Danish sailors on the world stage and garnered the admiration of sailors around the world.

Yet, he didn’t retire or put himself out to pasture. He sailed for Denmark in a total of eight Olympics. In the last two, in 1984 and 1988, at the age of 56 and 60, he sailed in the doublehanded Tornado catamaran class with his daughter, Trine, as his crew. He was, as any who sailed against him, indominable.

Innovation and Sail Making

Off the racecourse, Elvstrøm had learned sail making as a profession

and launched his own Elvstrøm Sails in the 1960s. By the 1970s, the company was not only a sail maker but built masts, booms, and a host of sailing innovations that came from the champion’s experience, engineering talent and passion to win.

The sail making business continues today and we will visit with those running the company now in a later chapter. Suffice it to say, it is now one of the top three sail making companies in the world.

Among the other innovations that Elvstrøm brought to dinghy sailing and racing include: hiking straps that allow a sailor to hang their full torsos from the knee up right outside the boat; he popularized boom vangs that allow a skipper to better shape the mainsail for varying angles of sail and wind strength; and, he invented the Elvstrøm bailer that allowed dinghy sailors to bail out a boat that had shipped water while racing without having to stop to use a pump or bucket.

Elvstrøm, who died in 2016, was a giant among sailors and set a very high standard for sailing, racing, sail making and innovation that has inspired the generations Danes who follow, many of whom have won their own Olympic medals. In the next five chapters, we will get to know several of them and meet the international companies they run.

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Elvstrøm Sails: A Pure Love of Sailing

VISITING THE ELVSTRØM SAILmaking plant in the town of Aabenraa not too far from Haderslev in the south of Denmark is to me like visiting something of a living, working shrine to sailing. It is a thoroughly modern sail making loft and business facility, but for me, with Paul Elvstrøm as one of my sailing heroes as a dinghy racer in my youth, it is also a place where the excellence of the past meets the innovation of the future.

Elvstrøm Sails to the U.S. sailing public, has for years been a European sail maker with expertise in high-end Scandinavian yachts, racing dinghies and Olympic campaigns. After all, Elvstrøm sailors and staff have at least half-adozen Olympic medals to their credit.

But, in fact, the company that Paul Elvstrøm founded more than 65 years ago, has become one of the top sail makers in the world with agents and lofts on every continent and in every major sailing community. Their major rivals on the sail-making business, North Sails and Quantum, have solid bases and loyal followings. Elvstrøm Sails, for North American readers, is very much a part of that sail making fraternity.

Over the last decade, the distinctive Elvstrøm red crown logo at the clew of every sail has been appearing more and more often in the U.S. on the sails of new production boats coming into North America as original equipment for new buyers. We’ve seen this at

{ DENMARK UNDER SAIL } 22 Blue Water Sailing
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boat shows and at the deliveries of new boats to owners. The red crown logo is a sign that Elvstrøm Sails now is a primary supplier to almost all of Europe’s production and semi-custom builders, both monohulls and multihulls.

Elvstrøm Sails has three large lofts, the main loft and headquarters in Denmark that I visited, a loft in France and a third very large loft in Tunisia. All sail

design work is done in Denmark so the finished sails that come out of all three lofts are of consistent shape, construction and quality. Elvstrøm France was a separate franchise until re-united with Elvstrøm Sails Denmark in 2017.

The combined lofts are capable of producing 10,000 square meters of sails per week. And, 2022, was Elvstrøm Sails biggest year ever as they expanded farther into the production end of the market.

The Danish loft can build any type of sail, but it often focuses on high performance membrane sails for performance cruising, racing boats and large custom yachts. The EPEX patented string system that builds the directional strength into performance sails got a major upgrade in the last few years. Instead of using round fibers that are common in modern sail making, they

{ DENMARK UNDER SAIL } 24 Blue Water Sailing

now use flat fibers that give the sails a flatter, more uniform surface and a better marriage of laminates, fibers and adhesive.

Watching the string laying process is mesmerizing as the machine mounted on a multi-axis gantry over the huge sail making vacuum table responds to the computerize program and lays out the fibers in extraordinarily complex

in their offering, and each has characteristics of its own.

The Alisio portfolio is what many cruisers would recognize as a polyester, Dacron sail with a cross-cut or trioptimal panel patterns, with reinforced head, tack and clew. Alisio sails can have full battens and up to three reef points. Alisio sails are for casual cruisers who want to have fun sailing and cruising with family and friends with good, durable sails that will be easy for the family to handle. They say Alisio sails are “Simply Hygge”, with the Danish word hygge meaning “enjoying the good things in life.”

and, I think, quite beautiful patterns. A recent innovation to the fibers is called EPEX Nanno for high-end fleet and Grand Prix race boats. The Nanno sail structure combines second-to none Vacuum Infusion Technology with stateof-the art material science. With the flat carbon fibers and integrated carbon filament reinforcement, they can build performance sails with a lighter and thinner core structure without compromising sail shape or stretch qualities. The membrane used is significantly lighter than taffetas.

Elvstrøm Sails has six categories of sails

The Marin portfolio is for those seeking a crossover performance set of sails to power the summer cruise on boat´s with an in-mast furling main, with performance and durability that go hand-in-hand. These are EPEX sails built with double taffetas and Technora or Vectran fibers. Vertical battens in the main will give the sail some roach and the jib can be fitted with partial battens that can be rolled up on a standard roller furling system. For those with slab reefing mains, the sails can be built with either a crosscut or trioptimal design.

The Solano portfolio was created with blue water sailors in mind on boats with either in-boom furling mains or slab reefing mains. The sails are built to

winter 2023 25

last with Hydranet radial designs, heavily reinforced corners, and beefed-up batten pockets. The mains can also be EPEX sails with double taffetas and Technora or Vectra fibers. To complete the blue water theme, Elvstrøm Sails has created a wing-and-wing double headsail that, when set on twin poles, will be perfect for running before the world’s trade winds, the Blue Water Runner.

The Koonaa portfolio is for multihulls and the sails reflect the very different strains and demands on the sails of boats with more than one hull. The sail designs offer a fathead at the top, a large amount of roach and heavily reinforced reef points. The sails can be built in any of Elvstrøm’s fabrics and

styles but for those interested in performance cruising, a double taffeta sail with Vectran of Technora fibers would be a good choice. Because multihulls often sail with the wind on or forward of the beam, radial cut Code Zero sails are part of the package.

The Maestro portfolio is for club racers and those who sail in regional regattas. These performance sails use the EPEX system and can be built with standard double taffetas and fibers or with a film-on-film membrane with e.g. black technora fibers. These are custom sails with many options to fit your racing style, your boat and the weather and sea states where you will sailing most of the time.


The Zonda portfolio is provided for the Grand Prix racing sailors out there who want the best performance sails they can buy. These are EPEX Nanno or filmon-film sails that are light in weight, very stretch resistant, and reinforced with addition fibers to ensure maximum performance in a wide range of wind conditions. When the silver is on the line and winning is the ultimate goal, Zonda sails will be your choice.


Over the last few years, Elvstrøm Sails’ technical team has been exploring ways to build sails and run their lofts in ways that will ensure a more sustainable future as they cut back on their carbon footprint and work with materials that can be recycled. This is a core company value and reflects Elvstrøm Sails’ and Denmark’s commitment to fight global warming with sustainable power sources.

The loft in Denmark uses energy that comes from the huge wind farms offshore and throughout the countryside.

In sail making, a lot of the basic elements-- polyester fabrics, taffetas, thin films and the exotic fibers-- used to build the sail are not all recyclable. To create a new model of building sails that are recyclable, the team is working with scientists in Europe and the U.S. to develop sail materials created from recycled material, such as plastic bottles.

The new brand is called EKKO with the first K being backwards in the logo. One of the EKKO fabrics eXRP laminate is made from recycled UV protective film, taffeta and polyester fibers – only with up to 5 % virgin fibers.

The drive for sustainability is a key differentiator between sail makers and positions Elvstrøm Sails squarely on a path to the future where quality, innovation and sustainability are as or more important than simply price. Visit Elvstrøm Sails


MY HOST FOR THE WEEK I SPENT IN Denmark was Lars Ostergaard who is the Senior Vice President for Gori Propellers, which is a subsidiary of the BSI Group. After an overnight flight from Boston, Lars met me at the Billund airport in the west of Denmark and we drove directly to the BSI Group facility in the coastal town of Haderslev. Along the way, we passed not far from the headquarters of the Lego company.

We were met by BSI’s Senior Vice President Eric Quorning and Lars and Eric led me on a tour of their expansive industrial plant. The BSI Group is a large and growing conglomerate focused on marine products and primarily on the sailing side of the market. The company defines itself and its products as simply “Made by Sailors, For Sailors.”

The BSI Group includes the core busi-

The BSI Group

ness BSI Rigging, Moonlight Hatches and Easy Line Clutches and Blocks. The companies the group has acquired are GORI Propellers, Jefa Steering, OYS Rigging and Hundested Propellers. BSI Rigging, GORI and Moonlight are based in Haderslev while the other companies have their own facilities.


BSI Rigging is the largest rigging company in the world. The name comes from the company’s original identity Berendsen Steel Industry. They are no longer in the steel business per se but the name, as initials, lives on. The current rigging business grew out a small wire rigging line and expanded into rod and synthetic rigging and the fittings that go with them. Originally part of a large conglomerate, in 1999 BSI and sister companies Moonlight Hatches and Easy

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Riggers to the World, the BSI Group also builds a range of highquality marine products sold world-wide

broke away to operate on their own. They acquired milling machines and set up their facilities to handle rod rigging of all types and sizes.

Rod rigging is really the driving force of BSI Rigging, and they have rigged every type of sailboat from 30-foot race boats to a new 417-foot mega sailing yacht. Being close to the Netherlands, Italy and the UK, BSI is well positioned to enter the large yacht end of the market and deliver rigging to the many custom yachts built in these countries. With inhouse-engineers, they can work closely with the designers and engineers on these large custom builds to create rod rigging, turnbuckles, toggles and tip cups that will stand up the rigors of the sea. As Eric noted, “We set out to design, manufacture and market highly

specialized rigging and equipment for cruising, racing and superyachts. Our goal has always been to build best-inclass rigging with the engineering and strength to handle anything the sea throws at it, without compromising control or speed.”

The machinery to create rod rigging that lives up to the BSI mission are large and powerful. The presses that form the cold headed ball that will join the rod to the tip cup on the mast and at the spreaders are massive and capable of applying tons of force. The swaging machines or cold heading hydraulic machines are similarly powerful pressing at 1500 metric tonnes. When you think that the bobstay on a mega yacht is about three inches in diameter, you can understand just how powerful these presses are.

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While rod rigging is BSI staple, the company handles all types of rigging, including Kevlar fiber stays that are wrapped in UV protection, Dyform stays and standard 1 by 19 stainless wire. The US market is covered by a BSI daughter rigging and distribution company in Rhode Island.

While new builds are an important part of the BSI Rigging business, their bread and butter lies in service. For larger yachts in the EU and yachts that are in charter, insurance companies require the standing rigging to be inspected every four years. So, owners and their skippers often chose BSI to do the inspections and to replace any components that are suspect or fail. For larger yachts, BSI is one of the only compa-

nies that can do the job. When I was at the factory, dozens of sets of stays were laid out for inspections.

The technology, metallurgy, composite Kevlar engineering are all vital aspects of what BSI Rigging is all about and in each category improvements, innovation and new technology are coming rapidly and need to be mastered and incorporated into their service. Eric Quorning, summed up by noting, “Employing the latest materials and technologies, our sailors and craftsmen are never done exploring new ways to improve, tomorrow, upon the best solutions that we are making today.”

For most of us in the U.S., BSI will not have been a household brand that we associate with rigging because we deal with riggers and not the rigging supplier. So, if you have rod rigging on a larger boat, chances are you are sailing with BSI every time you set sail.


In 2021, BSI had the opportunity to purchase their main competitor OYS, which cemented their position as the largest rigging company in the world. OYS stands for Ocean Yacht Systems. Like BSI, OYS has specialized in rigging for large and super yachts but they are capable of handling rigging projects of just about any size.

Based in England, the company has the largest cold press in the world and thus can create rod rigging in enormous sizes. They also specialize in Kevlar composite rigging for boats that require lighter standing rigging.

The marriage of BSI Rigging with OYS is a natural one and means that designers, engineers, project managers and builders of large yachts have clear choices for the projects.


BSI’s Moonlight Hatch production facil-

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ity is on the same lot as BSI but in a separate building. The build strategy has remained constant for 30 years plus, too. Eric said, “We do everything ourselves right here. From concept and design through the careful selection of materials, we apply rigorous quality control, right down to the finished product. This strategy has earned Moonlight an impressive list of clients among boatbuilders and refit boat yards.”

The hatches come as standard on-deck hatches, lowline deck mounted hatches, low profile hatches that mount flush with the deck and robustly-built offshore hatches. All of the hatches come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes for new builds or to fit as a replacement hatch in a refit project.


BSI also produces the Easy brand of sailing hardware, blocks and line clutches. For more than 30 year, Easy has been delivering high quality hardware to the racing cruising fleets. Their blocks are used in the full sailing range from dinghies to large world-cruising boats and

are known for being extremely durable and easy to mount in all block applications.

The line stoppers are high quality construction and come in a range of sizes from a single to multiple stoppers that can be ganged together. In modern boats that have all lines led aft to the cockpit, line stoppers are essential and have to be both reliable and soft on the lines running through them.


Three years ago, I was invited to sail across the North Atlantic aboard a Hanse 50. I wanted to have a look at the boat before making a decision and when I saw that the Hanse had Danish-built steering system and autopilot drive from Jefa, I said yes.

Jefa was founded in 1998 and has grown into the leading builder of steering systems for production and custom sailboats. The BSI Group purchased Jefa in 2018 and continues to run it as an independent company.

The list of production builders that use Jefa steering systems is pretty much all inclusive in Europe, and builders in South Africa, Australia, China and the US have all adopted the brand. The reasons are many but as Eric likes to say, “We strive to build products that are best in class. Not the cheapest, but based on quality and performance, and that’s what Jefa has always been

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Jefa offers three types of drive systems between the wheel and the rudder. Their most popular is the rack and pinion system that connects the helm and rudder via drive tubes and a gear box that reduces the force of the rudder by a factor of as much as 5. This eases strain on all the parts and makes for positive and reliable steering.

On boats where a rack and pinion system won’t fit, they offer a transmission system that is similar to the rack and pinion system but can be routed over longer distances and on more complex layouts. It still uses drive tubes and universal joints and a geared transmission.

Jefa also offers the traditional chain and cable steering system with sheaves and an old fashion quadrant. This type of system might be most often used as a refit of an existing chain to wire system.

So, the passage across the Atlantic

from Newport to Cowes in England took 17 days and gave just about all types of weather. The Jefa steering system behaved flawlessly and the autopilot drive never complained or took a break.


The BSI Group purchased the venerable Danish propeller company Hundested in 2018 and continues the business through the company’s existing facilities. Hundested is famous for their controlled pitch propellers that are fitted on a wide range of vessels from tugboats to fishing craft to mega yachts.

The beauty of controlled pitch propellers lies in the skipper’s ability to give the prop the best pitch for the job at hand. Fixed propellers can only do one job well. But, a controlled pitch prop can add pitch for slow-speed, maximum-power needs, such a towing, or lessen the pitch to boost speed and performance.

Hundested also can handle a complete power package on a new project from the engine all the way aft to the prop, including the transmission, shaft, pitch control unit and the prop itself. All drive systems are custom made for each new build or retrofit so the system has a unique match to the boat's displacement, beam, length and, most importantly, its purpose, whether as a work boat or a pleasure craft.


Last but not least, BSI bought GORI Propellers in 2015 and moved the company into it main headquarters at Haderslev in Southern Denmark. We’ll cover GORI in detail in the next chapter.

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Gori Propellers

A world-leader in performance folding propellers for cruising and racing boats of all sizes

THE TOUR OF THE BSI GROUP HEADquarters naturally took us to the section of the plant where Gori propellers are created. I say created, because they are, in my view, both great performance propellers and works of art.

Gori was founded in 1975 and since 1994 has produced revolutionary folding three-blade and four-blade propel-

lers that reduce drag when under sail, provide excellent performance in forward, equally good performance in reverse and outstanding “crash stopping” power.

While the whole point of folding (and feathering) propellers is to reduce drag while sailing, the Gori design and purpose expanded that concept right from

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the start by developing three and fourblade props that have an “over-drive” function that no other folding props have. Because the blades are slightly asymmetrical, they can open in either “forward” mode with a lesser pitch or a “reverse” mode in which the blades present a high pitch and thus more drive power or torque.

The over-drive capability delivers dramatic performance numbers. Over the years, Gori has partnered with sailing magazines, yacht dealerships and others to test the actual performance of their props in real-world situations and under scientific controls. In one typical test, they took a Bavaria 44 that was equipped with a Volvo Penta D255 Saildrive and a Volvo three-blade folding prop. The team ran the Bavaria through a series of speed tests, using a GPS for speed measurements and a special tachometer on the flywheel to measure exact RPMs.

With that data collected, they hauled the 44 and attached a Gori threeblade prop. Using the same measuring tools, they ran the 44 through the exact same trials and collected the data. The results proved that the Gori performed better at every RPM in normal “forward” mode and was significantly better in over-drive. For example, at a normal cruising speed of 1600 RPMs, the Volve prop achieved 5.4 knots, the Gori in standard mode ran at 5.8 knots and the Gori in over-drive powered the 44 at 6.8 knots.

The difference is dramatic. Anecdotally, in my own experience, I had a Gori three-blade prop on my Jeanneau 45.2 which had a 75-hp Yanmar. We noted very similar results over 10 years and some 10,000 miles of use. With the fixed three-blade prop that the boat came with, we could get 5.6 knots at 1600 RPMs. With the three-blade Gori, we ran at 5.9 in standard mode and 6.3 in overdrive. We found that we could motor at 6 knots in over-drive at 1300 RPMs and reduce fuel consumption by about 12%.

The Bavaria tests also showed that in reverse the Gori was 6.5% faster than the Volvo prop. And, in a “crash” stopping test, the Gori stopped the boat twice as fast as the Volvo prop, 8.7 seconds versus 15.7 seconds.

The downside of the over-drive capability, especially when first using the prop, is figuring out if you are in standard or overdrive mode. If you know your boat’s motoring qualities well, you get the hang of this after a couple hours. To change from standard mode to overdrive, you slowly back the boat, put it in neutral and then put it in forward while the boat is still moving backward. To shift from over-drive to standard mode while going forward, all you do it put the engine in neutral, so the blades fold up and then re-engage the transmission in forward. It’s easy once you get the hang of it. From experience, we only used over-drive in fairly flat water since the extra torque can put some strain on the engine in a chopped head sea.

In addition to the three-blade and fourblade props with over-drive, a few years ago, Gori introduced a three-blade prop without the over-drive feature for those who want the efficiency of a folding prop but do not need the added powering qualities.

Gori also makes two versions of their

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two-blade props; the cruising version, in which the blades fold into a hydrodynamic profile but still presents a small amount of drag and the racing prop which offers slightly lower powering performance but folds tightly together to optimize water flow and boat speed under sail. The two-blade props do not have the over-drive capability.

The GORI Racing Propeller was introduced for the Whitbread boats in the race around the world. Today the GORI Racing Propeller is the preferred choice for all new One Designs, like NYYC 37 (Melges 37), Cape31, Club Swan 50, MAT 1280, and all the IMOCA 60s, VOR 65s, and performance multihulls like Sodebo, Idec Sport, Baron de Rothchild, Gitana 17, Mazarque, and all the Ultim tris.

The four-blade prop was designed for use on boats in which there is not enough room to mount a three or twoblade prop due to the limited space between the prop shaft and the hull. And, Gori recommends using a fourblade prop on boats with engines over 200-hp. The four-blade folds down into a streamlined profile and provides extremely low drag.

The props are built from raw bronze casting that are milled with the milling machines in the factory. The process is painstaking and produces blades and hubs that meet extremely tight tolerances. Once the blades and hubs have been milled, the props are polished and assembled. The final step is balancing the blades to make sure each is exactly the same. This prevents any vibration while the prop is spinning. As I mentioned at the top, the finished products are works of art that would stand up with modern sculptures anywhere.

Gori has dealers worldwide. In the U.S., they are represented by A.B Marine in Middletown, RI. A.B. can fit a prop to your engine and transmission and can provide service and annual zincs.

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X-Yachts: Luxury and Performance Combined

I ARRIVED AT THE X-YACHTS YARD in Haverslev in early afternoon and was met there by Torben Kornum, the company’s Global Market Manager. Like so many people in the Danish sailing industry, Torben is an avid sailor who also has wide business experience outside of sailing. As it happens, the owner of X-Yachts, Ib Kunoe, is an avid sailor as well as being a highly successful indus-

trialist. And, the company’s new CEO Kraen Brink Nielsen is also a veteran sailor who – like Torben and several other employees – love single-handed racing in their private X-yachts. That’s the X-Yachts culture: Excellent sailboats built by and for discriminating sailors.

As a way of underscoring that culture, two summers ago Nielsen signed the

36 Blue Water Sailing

company up as a major sponsor of the Silverrudder Challenge, a 135-mile, single-handed race around the Danish island Funen that is extremely popular with Danish and Baltic Sea sailors. The race attracts more than 300 boats in various classes.

To top that, Nielsen then entered the race in a brand new X40, joining a class

of some 75 boats between 35 and 40 feet. The weather proved a challenge, indeed, going from very light to over 20 knots, but luckily mostly from aft of the beam. Nielsen finished in 20 hours and 20th in his class, which is very respectable in a pure cruising boat. That a busy CEO can manage such a feat tells you a lot about the company’s priorities and the men and women who create these lovely boats.

Pure is a word much used in the XYacht family. The company builds three lines of sailboats and a small line of powerboats. The sailboats fall under Pure X, for all purpose racer-cruisers, XC for dedicated cruising boats and XP for dedicated racing boat (but with fine cruising accommodations).

X-Yachts was founded in 1979 and has been building sailboats continuously ever since. Along the way, the founders and then the new owner developed the distinct X-Yachts style. Their boats are fine sailing designs, built to the highest standards with the best materials and offering accommodations and a fit and finish you would expect from a classy Scandinavian builder.


The Pure X line offers stylish hybrid performance cruisers with five models from the X4.0 that Nielsen sailed around Funen, to the large X56. The first boat in the new Pure X line was the X4.3 that was launched in 2016. The boat was a huge success with more than 100 sold in six years. In 2018, the

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company launched the all new X4.9 and X4.6. The X4.0 was developed and launched in 2019 and won the European Boat of the Year in 2020, a huge achievement in a very crowded field of nominated boats. In 2021, the X5.6 hit the water to become the Pure X flagship. With a wider transom, an S-bow design and an integrated bowsprit, the 56 revolutionized Pure X design theme and has proven to be much more in demand than expected for a boat of this size and quality. Eighteen of the X5.6 have been sold so far.

In 2022, the company did something remarkable. They took one of their most successful designs, the X4.3, and completely reimagined it with an all-new 43-foot design. Still called the X4.3, the new boat incorporates many of the innovations in the new X5.6, including a broader transom and soft chines aft for stability and downwind performance, as well as the new S bow configuration and a built-in bowsprit. The deck has been completely redesigned with the coach roof and coamings flowing together in a harmonious line, which gives the X4.3 a lower sleeker profile. The rig is taller than on the original 4.3 to provide extra sail power and with the longer sprit it is possible to fly larger gennakers off the wind.

The Pure X design brief is to create boats that have great sailing qualities that are ultimate family cruisers. With T-bulb keels and high aspect spade rudders, upwind performance is enhanced. And by keeping all weight in the boat over the center of gravity, X-Yachts provide a very stiff and stable platform that won’t pitch in a head sea.


The XC cruising line was created for sailors who want to sail across oceans, live onboard for long periods and still get most of the sailing performance that X-Yachts are known for. With more than 300 XC-yachts out cruising about the world, the company has a huge resource for gathering feedback on what cruisers want and need in new boats.

The first in the current iteration of XC designs is the XC 45 that was launched in 2009 and won the European Boat of the Year for that year. This was followed the next year by the XC 42 and then by the XC 38 and XC50. In 2023, the company is focusing on two XC design, the 45 and 50.

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While XC owners can expect their boat to sail well, the designs reflect the needs of long-range sailors. Instead of open transoms, XCs have enclosed cockpits and a small windshield forward where a dodger can be mounted. The hulls are fuller and have deeper vees than Pure X designs to allow for larger tanks and storage, plus this type of hull provides a softer ride in a seaway. The keels are more conservative L-bulbs to accommodate occasional groundings, and the spade rudders are larger and more robust. The fractional rigs come standard with an overlapping jib and small bowsprit, but a self-tacking jib is an option.

The XC45 remains one of X-Yachts most successful designs since it combines all of the build and finish quality owners expect from an X-Yacht while still delivering the performance they enjoy. The XC 50 is a larger version of the 45 with all of the extra storage space and tankage you need for living aboard and voyaging across oceans.


Torben took me on a tour of the boat building facility, where we could get a good look at several boats in various stages of built. He said he wanted to save their secret project for last so, when the tour was finished, he took me to a closed-off part of the facility. Inside, there was a full-size mock-up of a brand new XC that was to become the all-new and innovative XC47. We climbed into the mock-up, which had the accommodation plan all laid out so we could get a true feel for how the new boat will be when actually built. The mock-up of the 47 was mounted on an articulated frame so the hull could be heeled over to demonstrate how the boat will feel at sea.

The XC47, which will be launched in 2024, has a higher cabin top than previ-

ous XCs in what the builder calls a “semi deck saloon”. Based on years of experience and extensive feedback from XC owners, the new 47 is designed to be a classic, short-handed blue-water cruiser that can be handled by a couple or a family crew.

The hull has a deeper vee shape, like all XC designs for a soft ride and extra volume. The beam is carried well aft and soft chines have been included to add form stability and extra volume for the after cabins. The cockpit is a proper seagoing cockpit with high coamings, a closed transom and benches long enough to sleep on. The main traveler is on the cabin top where it is out of the crew’s way.

All lines and sheets run aft in underdeck channels to twin winches at both helms. This enables the watchkeeper at the helm to hoist and deploy the main and jib, trim sails, reef and furl sails and manage the traveler without leaving the cockpit. This also prevents the cockpit from becoming cluttered with a tangle of lines. Slab reefing will be

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standard on the main but in-boom furling will be available, too.

The interior layout, as we experienced in the mock-up, will have a large master cabin forward with a center-line double berth and two quarter cabins aft. The galley and chart table amidships are raised a step to provide space beneath for storage and tanks. The galley is Ushaped so it will be excellent at sea. The large dinette will seat up to six and the bench outboard will make a good sea berth.

A lot of thought has gone into the creation and design of the new XC 47 and when launched it will stand out as a very special new addition to the world cruising fleet. The design is focused on creating a boat that gives the same feeling of space, light and ventilation (16 openable hatches) as modern Danish homes.


The XP line offers two high performance boats at 44 and 50 feet that will be very competitive on the racecourse, while also providing a spacious and attractive cruising interior. The optimized hull shapes, T-bulb keels and high-aspect spade rudders, combined with large, powerful rigs, are designed to excel in IOR and ORC rated events and in pointto-point distance races. Both the 44 and the 50 have XPerformance bows that cut through the water like knives. And they have broad transoms that provide stability and power when reaching under big downwind sails.

The cockpit of performance boats like the XPs need to be large enough for a full crew to manage sail trim and quick maneuvers. On both the 44 and 50, the cockpits have double winches on both sides that are mounted so each winch can be operated by crew at the same time. In addition, there are two winches

Blue Water Sailing

on the cabin top for halyards and control lines. The cabin top is quite low so the helmsperson has a full view ahead and of the sails. The aft side decks provide good seating for the helmsperson, particularly when steering from the leeward side.

Both the 44 and 50 have three-cabin layouts, with the master forward and the quarter cabins aft. There are several layout variations that owners can chose including the size of the heads and the positioning of the chart tables. Although designed for racing and thus for light weight, the interior of both boats are warm, classic X-Yacht styling that will be great for cruising, too.


You can’t spend time with X-Yachts without noting just how well their boats are built and how unique several aspects of their built techniques truly are. To start with, the company controls all aspect of the build of each boat in-house, from the initial concept, to the design, to manufacture of all parts and to the final assembly. The wholistic process allows the builders to pay strict attention to all details and to insist on only the very best materials and practices.

At the core of each boat is a massive strong back or frame that anchors the keel, mast step and chain plates. On XPure and XC yachts, the strong back or frame is made of galvanized steel. On XPs, in which saving weight is a factor, the frames are made of much lighter carbon fiber.

All X-Yachts use vacuum-infusion, epoxy-sandwich construction in each hull and deck, which ensures that the laminates and cores are fully saturated with epoxy in exactly the right ratios. In combination with the internal frames,

this technique creates hulls that are extremely stiff and able to bear high loads without deforming or “bending”.

A lot of thought goes into weight distribution since weight in the bow and stern contributes to pitching and slamming in seaways. Tanks and batteries and other heavy items are placed as close to the boat’s center of gravity as possible and as low as possible. This commitment really shines when the wind picks up.

X-Yachts is unique in the way they build their keels. They use iron castings like many production builders but they go one step farther. Instead of just coating the keel with epoxy, they encapsulate each keel in an epoxy and e-glass shell that ensures that shape is exactly true to the design and has a perfectly fair finish.

The interiors of X-Yachts reflect Denmark’s reputation for design and architecture that has a clean, natural and timeless style. The craftsmanship exhibited in all interior cabinetry and joinery is world-class and creates floating homes that are functional and beautiful

Suffice it to say, X-Yachts does not design and build cruising and racing boats to a strict price point, but chooses instead to make sure they always use the best materials and the most advanced building techniques to create yachts that you could consider a family heirloom.

Read more here.

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X -Y ACHTS | PO Box 182 | West M y st i c, CT 06388 Tel: 860-536-7776 | Email: rbr @x- ya

Nordship and Faurby: Semi Customs Luxury Cruising Yachts with Danish Flair

I WAS INTRIGUED TO VISIT WITH the semi-custom builder of Nordship and Faurby yachts because I knew only Nordship by reputation and had never seen or sailed either of these premium Danish brands. The brands, which have been in existence for many years, have been joined since 2018 and live under the parent company banner True Boat Builders.

I was picked up from my hotel by Thomas Dan Hougaard, who is the owner of Faurby and a half-partner in True Boat Builders with Lars Buchwald of Nordship as the other half-partner. A smiling energetic man, Thomas drove me to a marina nearby and led me at a quick pace to see the Nordship 500 that was moored there. Like the rest of the Nordship lines, the 50 has high topsides

that glinted in the morning light, a flush foredeck, a raised salon coach roof, and an aft-placed center cockpit. It was immediately apparent that the 500 was a true blue-water cruising boat.

Nordship has been building boats under the expert guidance of Lars Buchwald since 1988. Prior to that Buchwald built interiors for other yacht builders and tackled one-off custom-building projects. With the acquisition of the rights to build Nordship Yachts, Buchwald was able to use his long experience to develop a new and up-dated line of offshore cruising boats. Today, the line includes six models from 36 to 57 feet. With Thomas coming on board as a partner, he and Lars developed the new Nordship 420, 500 and 570 that are the next generation of Nordships and have

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been designed, prototyped and built all in the last three years.


We boarded over the bow and from the start I had to admire the quality of the stainless-steel pulpit and bow fittings and the mega-yacht look of the laid teak decks and flush hatches. The mast is keel stepped. All halyards, sheets and control lines lead aft to the cockpit via stainless-steel conduits. Being semi-custom, owners can choose to have a self-tacking jib or go with a slightly overlapping genoa. These can be augmented by downwind sails flown either free or on a furler from the short bowsprit.

The raised deck salon is remarkably streamlined and low for this type of design, a feat made possible by raising the topsides for interior volume. The wrap-around windows on the 500 are sleek and sexy looking. Handrails on the coach roof will make going forward in any sort of seaway secure.

The cockpit is deep and very much an offshore cockpit, high seat backs for comfort and security, excellent drains and plenty of places to secure yourself in bouncy weather. The single helm has a large wheel, with twin-wheels as an option, so you can steer easily from both sides of the cockpit. With sheet winches handy to the helm, a lone watch stander will be able to trim and reef easily. There are essentially two cockpit spaces, aft for sailing and trimming, and forward where the crew can lounge and eat without dealing with a spaghetti of lines. The main traveler runs on a bridge-deck between them. With a dodger forward and a Bimini over the helm, this will make an excellent seagoing and cruising cockpit.

The swim platform aft folds out of the flush transom and is large enough for

climbing out of a dinghy and loading bags of provisions. And, for swimming, too. Davits can be installed above the swim platform for carrying a dinghy when underway. And, if necessary, you could mount a couple of solar panels over the davits. I personally would put flexible panels on top of the Bimini over the helm.

We climbed five steps down the companionway into the salon. The large Ushaped dinette was to port and I could see at once that this is a true raised salon in which you can sit at the dinette table and look straight through the large windows to the world around you. Most raised deck saloon designs do not have a raised dinette, too.

One of the real benefits of having a raised sole in the saloon is the amount of space beneath it for tanks, batteries, a genset, watermaker and so forth. All of this weight can be concentrated near the boat’s center of gravity, which will improve motion and dampen pitching in a head sea.

There are several ways you can position the galley and other accommodation plans. You can have the galley forward and down a step, or you can have it in the raised saloon instead of the chart table. Or, you can install it in the passageway that leads aft to the after cabin. This last option has proven to be the most popular.


The master cabin aft runs the full width of the boat so it is spacious and has surprisingly good headroom considering that it lies under the cockpit. This bit of design slight-of-hand is, again, made possible by the higher topsides. Because the boat is built to order, there are several ways to lay out this cabin and the en-suite head and shower.

Forward of the salon you can have up to three cabins, depending on how many will be sailing aboard. A standard configuration might have a V-berth forward, a guest or kids cabin with upper and lower bunks and a common head and shower.

The Nordship 500, like the 420 and 570, is a boat for a couple or family that has the horizon on their minds and distant landfalls in their dreams. Thoroughly modern and imbued with fine sailing and seakeeping qualities, you could go anywhere in this boat in comfort, safety and style. If you are thinking about an Oyster or a Hallberg-

Rassy, you should add Nordship to your list and get a semi-custom design that is built just for you.


After a good look at the Nordship 500, Thomas and I drove to a nearby marina next to the True Boat Builders facility to look at a handsome Faurby 460. I have to admit that in the 40 years I have been writing boat reviews and visiting boat shows all over the world, I had not heard of the Faurby brand. I am sure that is partly my fault since the brand has been in build for two generations. But it also lies in the fact that Faurby Yachts has a very niche audience of buyers in the Baltic, and particularly in Germany. Of the 600 Faurby yachts that have been built since 1976, many have ended up on Lake Constance in southern Germany where the marina slips are narrow and the wind often in summer is very light. Niels Peter Faurby, who founded the company and retired in 2008, solved both of those problems.

winter 2023 45

The 460 we inspected has modern lowslung lines and a nicely proportioned cabin top that flows aft neatly into the cockpit coamings. The side decks are wide and with the shrouds running to chainplates at the gunnel, the pathway fore and aft is not obstructed at all. The mast is keel-stepped with rod rigging and all lines run aft to the cockpit through under-deck stainless-steel conduits so the side desk and cabin top are completely uncluttered.

Since the boat is built as a semi-custom, one-off for each owner, you can choose to have a self-tacking jib or an overlapping genoa. The downwind sails can be flown from the small bowsprit that doubles and an anchor roller. The anchor windlass and anchor locker are tucked away neatly underneath the foredeck. This is a very simple, clean and well-thought-out deck layout.

The cockpit is set up for fun sailing and

even racing, with twin wheels, main sheet winches aft next to the helms and spinnaker winches on the coaming. The main sheet runs to a traveler on the cockpit sole just forward of the helms so traveler trim and sail shape can be handled easily by the helmsman if necessary. In a race, a crew of four or five will be able to work together in the cockpit to trim sails and raise and lower or roll up downwind sails.

The 460 has a very long waterline but is a narrow sloop by modern standards as are all of the hulls in the Faurby line. The combination, coupled with a quite tall nine-tenths rig, creates a boat that will be an exceptionally good performer in light to moderate breezes and will be sailed more than motored. It also creates a hull that will rate well under modern rating systems. This is the solution that Niels Faurby delivered for his audience of sailors in the Baltic and places like Lake Constance.

{ DENMARK UNDER SAIL } Blue Water Sailing

The knock-on effect of building a 46-footer with a narrow hull is that the interior volume is somewhat less than in comparable modern luxury cruisers. Yet, when you climb down the companionway ladder into the saloon, the sensation is of, yes, this is a proper yacht of long tradition, and particularly Scandinavian tradition, and not a condo with sails.

Faurby yachts are all built to order for specific and special customers so the interiors can be [fully] modified to suit and owner’s whims, wishes and needs. There is no ‘standard’ build, but an owner could, for example, have three cabins with a master cabin forward and two quarter cabins. The saloon can have the galley aft or in-line along the starboard side. The dinette will probably be standard with a U-shaped bench and a table for six adults. But, that said, anything is possible so owners can do what they please as long as the basic structure remains intact.

On my first encounter with Faurby Yachts, I was very favorably impressed and think this long-waterline, narrow hull, big rig concept might be just right for many sailors in areas like Southern New England, Maine, Long Island South and the Chesapeake where summer winds are most often light and many cruisers end up motoring most of the time. Why not sail? Why not sail

in a semi-custom yacht that is elegant, swift and built to the highest Scandinavian quality?


Because both the Nordships and Faurbys are built in the same facility in the same way, I held off mentioning the details of how they are created above. In both boats, owners make a lot of the substantive decisions on how their boat will be built, what sort of rig it will have, what the interior layout will look like —in style, choice of wood, and arrangement-- and how the systems will be installed and integrated.

But, the basics of both boats are the same, with cored hulls down to the waterline, L-shaped or T-shaped keels with lead ballast, spade rudders and a cast iron strong-back laminated into the very bottom of the hull. This strong back is the structure that handles all heavy loads from keel bolts to mast compression to the strains on the shrouds. It gives the hull ultimate integrity and the best possible longevity.

The craftsmanship that goes into the finish of both brands is classic Scandinavian yacht style. Whether it is teak decks and cap rails, or the dove-taildrawer construction, or the way the systems are installed for optimum owner and service convenience, the end result is a yacht that compares favorably with any luxury semi-custom yachts in the world.

For our North American audience, if you are looking for a sailing and cruising yacht that will be enduring classic with exceptional sailing qualities, both Nordship and Faurby are worth an in-depth look.

To learn more about Nordship and Faurby click here.




The Dragonfly 40 Performance Cruiser sets new standards for comfortable cruising in the fast lane in terms of performance, ease of handling and sailing with shorthanded crew – or even solo.

Beautifully crafted interior offers elegant woodwork and on arrival at the marina, the Swing Wing system quickly reduces beam to access a single berth, simply by winding a winch.

Dragonfly trimarans will redefine your expectations of sailing with a unique blend of performance, quality and comfort.

48 Blue Water SailingPlease visit

ON A HILL ABOVE THE VILLAGE OF Skaerbaek, not far from the other companies I had visited, the Quorning family has been building boats, primarily trimarans, for 55 years and through three generations. From the beginning, when founder Borge Quorning returned home from a sojourn in North America smitten by the trimarans he had discovered there, Dragonfly has been a builder known for innovation and a passion for the sea. In 1967, no one else was building trimarans in Europe. Now 55 years later, Dragonfly has now built well over 1,000 yachts and builds 40 tris a year in four sizes, 25, 28, 32 and 40, all in the same spot where it all began.

I was met at the factory by Jorn Ravnskjaer, sales manager, and Jens Quorning, Borge’s son and the CEO and owner of Dragonfly. Also, there was Peter Quorning, Jens’ son, who is doing his apprenticeship with the company, and

Award Winning Dragonfly Trimarans: Innovation and Elegance in Three Hulls

Nick Steenberg, an American who had recently been recruited to be Dragonfly’s man in America.

Over coffees, Jens and Jorn gave me a good picture of the company, how it began, how it evolved and how innovation and strict attention to quality and detail drive every decision. The first trimaran that really found a market for the Quornings was the Trident 27 that was introduced in 1974 and over the next five years 36 of the 27s were built with various design modifications. The success of the 27proved that Borge was right, Europeans would buy and sail trimarans, and this size (actually 28 feet) has remained a constant ever since.

Racing has always been in the Quorning’s blood so in 1978, Borge and Jens built a 28 foot tri in which they, with Jens’ brother Eric, won the “Round Zeeland Race” beating a fleet of 1,500 boats. Four years later, with the intro-

winter 2023 49

duction of a one-off 35-footer and the goal of once again winning the “Silver Spinnaker” trophy, the brothers and a crew not only won the trophy, they set a course record for the fastest time ever. It was a mark that stood for 25 years.

The allure of racing on a bigger stage was strong so in 1985 Eric and Jens entered the grueling but prestigious “Round Britain and Ireland Race”, Eric in a modified Dragonfly 25 and Jens in a rebuilt version of the 28-foot Quick Step. After 2,000 miles of shorthanded racing, Eric won the Boxhaul Trophy on handicap and Jens finished second. Suddenly, Dragonfly and the Quorning family had made a huge international breakthrough. And, over the years since, Jens and others continue to dominate point-to-point and multihull class

races. Fine sailing, speed and success are in their blood and in every fiber of each Dragonfly ever built.

In 1989, Borge and Jens finally introduced a design concept that they had been working for years and perfected. It was the Swing Wing folding trimaran design introduced on the Dragonfly 800 Mk II, which had proved to be a very popular model. Uncertain how the sailing public would react to a “folding boat”, they planned to build two lines of 800s, folding and not folding. But they need not have worried; the Swing Wing concept met with instant approval. Two years later they introduced the 1000 Swing Wing, which was a proper offshore cruising boat with an inboard engine. It, too, sold very well. Every Dragonfly built since 1989 has the Swing Wing system.


Jens and his wife Lene took over the company from his parents in 1995 and in 1996 they launched the first 920 model and over the next decade they built 165 of them. In 2000, they introduced the 1200 Swing Wing, which was a true blue water cruiser that helped them build the brand in North America since Americans really liked the bigger hull sizes and accommodations.

Being innovators and delivering cruising boats that could sail at 15 knots or more, the Quornings have always been a family to watch in the sailing and boat building community. Others took notice, too. In 2001, Dragonfly won the prestigious prize “ The Danish Design Award”, which covers the entire Danish design industry, not simply yachts, and gained them a new level of national and European prominence. In 2003, the 920 Extreme model earned Dragonfly the European Yacht of the Year Award for boats under 30 feet, an award the company would win again in 2007, 2018 and 2021.


After coffee, as Jens and Jorn tended to actual work details in their offices, Nick took me for a tour of the boat building facility and caught me up on the Dragonfly Fleet today. Although new to his position with Dragonfly, Nick is no stranger to the boats and the company. He likes to quip that “he went sailing on a Dragonfly the day before he was born.” That’s because his mother and father, Joanne and Carsten Steenberg, were Dragonfly’s North American agents from 1990 to 1997. Nick is carrying on the tradition as the U.S. Sales and Service Manager.

The boat building facility has the feel of a company that has been in one place for 55 years while constantly growing and expanding. Jens has added buildings, innovated boatbuilding systems

and made it possible to build 40 trimarans a year with a workforce of about 50 people. There were six boats under construction the day I was there and since the parts and hulls had not all been assembled, it was interesting to see just how complicated the designs and systems truly are.

The Swing Wing Systems involve the amas and the cross beams or akas, and these have to fold neatly against the main hull topsides. The various pieces are works of modern abstract sculpture, with flowing curves and bright shiny gel coat surfaces. When all together, the final creation is elegantly simple to look at yet technologically quite complex.

The Dragonfly 25 is the smallest tri in the fleet and is a size that has been in production in different configurations for more than 30 years. As noted, in an earlier version of the 25, Eric Quorning won the Round England and Ireland Race. The 25 is a high-spirited performance tri that can race effectively and can double as a fun weekend cruiser. The boat comes in two versions, the standard Touring model for family daysailing and weekending, and the Sport version with a taller rig and larger sail

winter 2023 51
Dragonfly 28

plan for a more dynamic sailing and racing experience. The 25 folds into a beam-width that will fit into any marina slip and can be trailered behind a family sedan. And, when folded up and with the rig down, it will fit inside a 40-foot container for shipping. For dry sailing or launching in a new cruising ground, it takes about two hours for two people to raise and set up the rig from the down position.

The 28 holds a special position in the life of the Dragonfly family of racer cruisers. It is an heir to the original Trident 27 and the Quick-Step 28 that launched the Dragonfly brand throughout Europe and it was the boat, due to its size, that carried the company through the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Today, more than 250 28s have been built.

A trailerable family cruiser-racer, the 28 can sleep up to five in three cabins so it can be a fine weekender for a family or a perfect platform for a couple on an extended summer cruising vacation. It comes in two versions, Touring and Performance. Note the wave piercing bows that greatly enhance seakeeping in lumpy seas. A sweet and venerable design that has been constantly updated, the 28 has many more years to build its legacy.

The 32 also follows in the wake of a series of 31 and 32 footers that es-

tablished the company in extended cruising and offshore racing. A folding tri like the smaller sisters, the 32 is not trailerable and has an inboard engine instead of the outboards on the 25 and 28. The 32 is set up for extended family cruising and can, in a pinch, sleep up to seven people. The cabin and cockpit are fairly large and given the expanse of the tramps on both sides, there is plenty of space for the crew to relax and enjoy special anchorages. And, with folding hulls, it will fit into any standard marina slip.

While designed primarily as a cruising boat, the 32 comes in two versions, Touring and Evolution. The Touring model will readily achieve cruising speeds in the mid-teens in the right conditions, while the more powerful Evolution has been recorded at an eyepopping 23 knots. Imagine the ground you will be covering while running at 15 to 20 knots; your cruising grounds will be expanded enormously.


After the factory tour with Nick, I joined Jens for a drive to the local marina and a couple of hours of sailing aboard the new Dragonfly 40. This is an experience I have been hankering for since the day I first laid eyes on the renderings of the boat a couple of years ago. It is apt to note that Jens drives a Porsche Cayenne, a stylish, technologically advanced motorcar with well above average performance, very much like the boats he builds.

The 40 was sitting in her slip with the amas folded neatly against the hull. Jens suited me up in foul weather gear since it was cool with rain threaten-

{ DENMARK UNDER SAIL } 52 Blue Water Sailing
Dragonfly 32

ing. Ready to go, we fired up the inboard diesel, dropped the dock lines and motored into open water. There, we slowed to almost zero and with a line around a winch Jens extended first the starboard, then the port ama, each taking a minute or less to deploy. Once fully out, he secured them in place with diagonal cables to make sure that the amas would not spontaneously fold back against the hull while we were sailing.

We hoisted the square-top fully battened mainsail and rolled out the jib –both from Elvstrøm—and sailed quickly into the large bay off the marina. The wind was blowing a steady 12 to 15 knots with gusts coming over the hills of up to 22 knots. Perfect. Our first tack was to head off on a broad reach so we rolled up the jib, rolled out the code zero and, boom, the 40 took off like a falcon chasing a rabbit. Ten knots, then 15, then in a puff we would bear away a bit and the speedo would soar to 18. Fantastic. The 40 heeled to only about 5 degrees in the puffs and steered like a sports car, or perhaps a Cayenne, with a light touch and a very sure grip on the sea. This was, to me, thrilling, especially when you think we were sailing a cruising boat with an inboard, a full main cabin, and berths throughout for up to seven souls.

We sailed at speed right up to the leeward shore –I think Jens was giving me a fright– and then rolled out the jib, rolled up the code zero and turned upwind for a long close-winded sail the length of the bay. Upwind, she sails like a high-performance monohull, fast and quite close to

the wind but without the annoyance of half a dozen chunky crew on the rail to hold her flat. In the puffs she clawed to windward and, as the wind eased, we’d fall off a bit to keep the jib drawing nicely. She is dead easy to sail and making eight to 10 knots up wind without heeling seems like a miracle.

We tacked a couple of times, easily coming through stays without stalling, before turning back, under the Code Zero again for another speed run on a broad reach. The 40 is dead easy to sail, so a couple or a competent singlehander can certainly manage her alone with the aid of the autopilot.

That day on the bay, we were accompanied by a small fleet of classic Danish coasting vessels with gaff rigs, bow sprits and bulky, working hulls. As we sailed through them, at three times their speed, we had the perfect contrast of Danish sailing and seamanship both old and new. We got hearty waves from volunteer crews manning these handsome, classic working boats of old as they watched the future blow by them.

Close to the marina, Jens removed the

winter 2023 53

bracing cables from the amas and, with a bit of forward motion, easily winched the amas back against the hull where he made them fast. One of the innovations in this folding system is that the amas sink slightly into the water as they fold, adding buoyancy and side to side stability in a much narrower beam configuration.

Back in the marina, we took a few minutes to go over the interior layout and accommodations. The 40 has a central hull with a step-chine above the water line, so it is narrow where it goes through the water and much wider where is has to accommodate the cabins. This works well as the interior seems quite spacious. There is a V-berth forward, a double berth aft, and, in the salon, the port bench settee can convert to a pleasant double berth.To starboard, the bench makes a fine single berth.

The galley has a counter-top stove, a microwave oven and a fridge large enough for a cruising family. The salon table will seat six comfortably. Although

Dragonfly 40 Dragonfly 40

tight by monohull or catamaran standards, the interior is bright and warm and the finish is of a very high, Scandinavian-furniture quality.

My two hours on the 40 were barely enough. If you love to sail far and wide, enjoy finding remote shallow coves and want to show your transom to just about every sailboat out there, the Dragonfly 40 offers a very special way to make all of that true.


That evening I had a pleasant dinner out with Jorn, Peter and Nick and we had a chance to discuss how the North American audience will react to the new 40 and the smaller boats. Certainly, many have been sold into the U.S.

and Canada. But, the 40 is something uniquely different; it is big enough, spacious enough and exciting enough to catch the eye of many an American sailor. This is not your father’s station wagon. This is like the Cayenne of sailing and, as we know, performance cars and performance sailboats appeal to a special breed of driver and sailor.

To learn more, click here.

winter 2023 55

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