Racing Boats, Especially Now

While Swiftsure Yachts has earned a reputation for selling high quality offshore cruisers, racing is in our blood. In fact, everybody at Swiftsure has spent plenty of time calling shifts, sitting on the rail and packing chutes. And sometimes we get to sell racing boats too!

Racing has changed over the last few decades and in particular this year. While much of the racing has been cancelled nationwide, it’s starting up tentatively all over. Masks are the new foul weather gear, and crew size (which had been shrinking already) is sometimes limited to folks in the same household. While there is certainly a pause on the fully crewed, massive party events, racers are still enjoying the heart of it — sailing. And, in some ways, maybe enjoying it more than ever.

Right now, Swiftsure Yachts has several wonderfully race-worthy boats listed, and, importantly, many of them do double duty as cruisers as well. As with any yacht purchase, it pays to be careful and get some expert help along the way. Our current listings are a good indication of the variety of racers to consider.

Firefly may be the definitive top-drawer racer-cruiser. Built in 2000 by Morris Yachts (now part of Hinckley) and designed by Chuck Paine, she is the New England boatbuilding answer to what a racer-cruiser should be. On the inside, the finish is impeccable, with white bulkheads offset by bright finished woodwork throughout. There’s a large aft cabin, well separated from a comfortable forward cabin. The main salon features a centerline drop leaf table that seats the whole crew, plus port and starboard pilot berths for racing. The galley and navigation station, both bathed in light from the large cabinhouse windows, are exceptional. The deck layout is optimized and updated, and the carbon mast flies a very complete and current suit of North sails. The keel was designed by Jim Taylor, and Firefly is the proverbial “freight train” upwind. Firefly has raced in the Caribbean, England, the East Coast and most recently notching up line honors, and proving her downwind abilities, in the 2018 Vic-Maui Race (with Swiftsure’s Brad Baker doing the navigating!). Firefly is competitive under everything from PHRF to IRC, and will be the envy of nearly every skipper in the raftup.

Le rêve is a completely different kind of cruiser-racer. The Beneteau Oceanis line isn’t known for racing, but Le reve is proof a well prepared Oceanis can more than hold its own. Outfitted with all the usual cruising amenities, she is a thoroughly modern cruising platform. The cockpit is spacious, with twin wheels and an arch that keeps the mainsheet out of the way. That same arch secures the aft end of the dodger. The three-stateroom layout provides plenty of room for a family or group of friends to enjoy comfortable cruising, and the forced air diesel heating assures comfort in the off-season. A bow thruster makes Le reve easy to handle even in tight marinas. But the owner wanted to race it as well. With advice from experienced racers, he dialed in the boat with a formidable suit of North Sails, adjustable headsail tracks, in-haulers and a state-of-the-art constrictor clutch system, all giving the crew the tools to get all the performance they could out of the boat. Le reve responded by winning the 2018 Swiftsure Race, among many other victories.

Ocelot as a catboat on the Bay

Ocelot started life in 2006 as a Tom Wylie-designed unstayed cat rigged racer. She was later modified by Tim Kernan to have a more conventional rig, which has served her well after her move to the Pacific Northwest. With a displacement of only 9,000 pounds, she’s “powered up” and more than holds her own in the prevailing Pacific Northwest conditions. In fact, she nearly won the Race to Alaska in 2016. Accommodations are minimal but comfortable for overnights and short cruises. Ocelot is certainly one of the best dollar/knot opportunities available!

Night Runner is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. The 42-foot Bob Perry design is known, and feared, throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has been enormously successful for the past 30-plus years. Perry worked closely with the original owner Doug Fryer to come up with a medium displacement, long waterline hull amply powered by a big rig and long bowsprit. Fryer also planned to cruise extensively, which he did to South America. Night Runner’s performance surprised many over the years. Competitors learned quickly not to be fooled by her traditional looks and beautiful wooden topsides. Night Runner is one of the more unique and original boats to ever race the Pacific Northwest circuit, and could happily continue that tradition here or sneak up on a fleet in another area.

Fortuna represents the final refinement of the cruiser-racer approach pioneered by C&C Yachts. The 2007 C&C 115 is outfitted with a 2017 carbon mast, a carbon spinnaker pole and a full racing sail inventory. Below decks, the interior is imminently cruise-worthy with a large aft double, spacious galley, roomy main salon and an aft head. Racing in the same PHRF rating band as the J/35, J/109 and Express 37, Fortuna comes in at a size where there’s great competition in closely matched boats.

Papa is another French boat with a turn of speed. The Jeanneau 349 was ordered with the Performance Pack with a fathead mainsail, furling spinnaker with Seldén bowsprit and a 6’5” keel. Her performance has impressed us here at Swiftsure during sea trials. She accelerates nicely, is close-winded and has plenty of effective waterline with its broad aft sections. What may be more important, she’s set up for a short-handed sailing and with a 110-percent headsail, she’ll be easy on the crew. Papa may be perfect for today’s limited crews and casual racing.

Brilliant is a stellar example of the J/100, an elegant daysailer with a turn of speed. Light, with a modestly sized rig and non-overlapping headsail on a furler, Brilliant is easy to sail, and easy to sail well. The interior has minimal accommodations, but a marine head and inboard make this 33-footer a nice retreat for the occasional overnight as well. For casual and particularly shorthanded racing, the J/100 is an elegant solution — easily handled and maintained, yet has a really good turn of speed and a place to sleep.

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