I’ve often wished I had more time for a boat test, especially aboard a boat I liked. This wasn’t a problem, though, when I got a chance to sail the Swedish-built Arcona 460 Safir III this past summer. She had just finished the Queen’s Cup, an overnight race across Lake Michigan, and needed to be delivered to Chicago. Although the boat has been available for a few years in Europe, this was the first 460 to come to North America. There’d be plenty of time to see what the boat could do, and then some.
At the heart of the sparkling performance is a combination of good design and outstanding build quality. The Swedes are renowned for high-quality boats, and the 460 is no exception. The hull and deck are built of multiaxial roving and high-grade ISO-polyester with a high-density Divinycell core. Bulkheads are all laminated to the hull and deck. The main bulkhead is also securely bolted to a galvanized steel chassis, which carries all the dynamic loads from the keel and rig. This chassis runs well aft to help reinforce the keel in the event of a hard grounding.
The keel itself is cast iron, with a bolted-on antimony-hardened lead bulb. It also features Arcona’s proprietary Keel-Pro system, an integrated shock absorber on the leading edge of the bulb, again to lessen the effects of a hard grounding. Both deep and shoal keels are available.
The triple-spreader rig is slightly fractional to provide extra clearance for reaching sails and to help control mast bend. Although our test boat sported a carbon spar, the standard rig has an aluminum mast and boom and wire standing rigging.
The 460’s deck layout and cabinhouse perfectly complement the short overhangs and minimal sheer of the hull. The boat is well laid out for both racing and cruising. The helm station is both comfortable and secure, with the winches for the double-ended German style mainsheet close at hand. The primaries are a bit of a stretch if single-handing, but there’s plenty of room for the rest of the crew to grind away when trimming the headsail.
The side decks are wonderfully wide, and the teak decks and a substantial teak toerail on our test boat provided a real sense of security, though the latter could get hard on the thighs during prolonged stints riding the rail. The control lines running to either side of the companionway pass underneath the cabintop and a molded-in base for the dodger, and there is a substantial bridgedeck to keep water from sloshing into the saloon. The cockpit seats are nice and deep, and their backs and the aft face of the cabintrunk are angled for comfortable reclining.
My only complaint is that the space around the base of the mast, where the halyards and control lines emerge to run through their turning blocks, is a bit crowded and could make for some precarious footing when jumping halyards. Good positioning is the key to getting the kite up smartly on a big boat like the 460, and I’m afraid that could be tricky with so much going on underfoot.
Compared to the light, airy interiors that are all the rage these days, the Arcona is definitely on the dark side. You could even describe it as “old school,” as it features lots of varnished mahogany, but like everything else about this boat it is very well executed. I can think of no better place to cozy up on a cool Baltic evening. In the case of our test boat, the AC kept things comfortable despite the muggy weather in Chicago.
A number of layouts are available. Two spacious heads are standard, and owners can choose from a spacious in-line galley—best for entertaining on the hook—or an L-shaped galley to port near the companionway if they’re planning on preparing lots of meals offshore.
Our test boat had the latter, a large master cabin with double berth forward and twin quarterberths aft. There was a large, secure nav table to port, and the aft head contains a good-sized wet locker. Both heads are nice and large, and the saloon includes plenty of storage space and bookshelves. Nothing earth-shattering here, just a nice, practical well-executed layout that will take good care of skipper and crew.
Leaving Grand Haven on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, we immediately encountered winds on the nose in the upper teens. The 460 is a big boat, though, with power to burn, and it simply ate up the 5-foot seas at 7-plus knots like they were nothing. Despite the boisterous conditions, I was able to work the helm with my fingertips alone. The rig, hull and underwater appendages were all perfectly balanced, making the steering almost effortless. In short, the Arcona 460 is a joy to sail in heavy air.
Later that day, the winds fell light, and we took a few minutes to throw in some tacks and gybes in flatter conditions. Once again the 460 performed flawlessly. It’s a popular misconception that heavier boats only do well in big winds. With its tall rig, high-aspect underwater appendages and powerful hull form, the 460 did just fine in the light stuff as well.
The 460 also did well under power. As the sun went down and the wind died to nothing, we fired up the Volvo D2-55/SD and it had little trouble moving us along at just over 6 knots at around 2,500 rpm. The marina at Chicago’s Montrose Harbor is a tight one, to say the least, but maneuvering into the slip went without a hitch. The nice thing about big boats is that, so long as things don’t get out of whack, they offer few surprises in tight quarters.
The Arcona 460 is an excellent yacht: well designed, well built, and an absolute joy to sail.
• High-quality construction throughout
• Well-balanced rig and hull
• Beautiful, straightforward accommodations
• Toerail could be tough on rail meat
• Deck cluttered around mast partners
HEADROOM 6ft 5in // BERTHS 6ft 8in x 5ft 10in (fwd); 6ft 8in x 5ft 3in (aft)
LOA 46ft 7in // LWL 41ft 2in
BEAM 13ft 9in // DRAFT 9ft (std); 8ft (shoal)
SAIL AREA 1,222ft2 (100% FT)
FUEL/WATER/WASTE (GAL) 52/100/36
ENGINE Volvo D2-55/SD
ELECTRICAL 70AH (engine);
3 x 105AH (house)
DESIGNER Stefan Qviberg
BUILDER Arcona Yachts AB, Gustavsberg,
U.S. AGENT Gunnar’s Yacht & Ship, Oak Creek, WI,
PRICE $540,000 (FOB Sweden)