Boat Reviews

Modern Tradition

Bookmark and Share


If there’s one lesson to be taken away from the success of the daysailer concept, it is that traditional is never old-fashioned—at least not when it comes to boats. I find plenty of modern boats attractive, but the only drop-dead, wolf-whistle gorgeous ones are those that look as though they could have been built at any time in the last century.

I’m far from alone in this. A sweet sheerline and pretty overhangs can put a gleam in the eye of not just any sailor, but anyone with a pulse. The continuing popularity of modern daysailers attests to this, and the steady trickle of new arrivals into this niche never seems to abate. Two new imports are excellent examples of the undying attraction of classic styling coupled with up-to-the-minute thinking in rig and hull design. Both the Mystery 35 and the Rustler 33 are from small British yards. The Mystery is built by Cornish Crabbers, better known for a range of gaff-rigged centerboarders: the Rustler is the big sister to the pretty Rustler 24 daysailer that appeared in the United States two years ago.

The Mystery 35’s modest beam, long overhangs and retro styling run counter to the modern concept of a performance cruiser; no plumb ends, T-keel or twin rudders here, just a slim hull, balanced waterplane, efficient foils, and a mainsail-driven sailplan set up for easy singlehanding.

Belowdecks, the layout and dcor could have been lifted from a quality cruiser of the 1950s or 60s; you can have your woodwork varnished or finished in white with bright trim. There has been no attempt to squeeze an aft double into those slim quarters. The master cabin is forward, and guests can sleep on the saloon settees or in the snug quarterberth.

Reportedly, the Mystery 35 boasts scalding-hot windward performance that embarrasses most other performance cruisers of its size and is no slouch downwind either. The cockpit design is such that a wheel is impractical, but this boat should be a real joy to steer with a tiller. U.S. importer Forum Marine will have the first example at the Newport and Annapolis boat shows this year.

Like the Mystery 35, the Rustler 33 is designed by Stephen Jones. Although not well known on this side of the Atlantic, Jones is well respected in Britain. He has designed many fast and well-mannered racing boats, as well as cruisers for Oyster, Southerly and Rustler. As a longtime Folkboat owner he has an eye for classic styling, but he also likes a fast boat. While the little Rustler 24 was an adaptation of a 1960s design and hence had a full keel and attached rudder to match its traditional above-waterline appearance, the Rustler 33 is a different animal altogether.

Long overhangs, a toothsome sheerline, a narrow (8ft) beam and a short, low cabintop make this 33-footer a real head-turner, but there is more to it than good looks. The underwater lines are fair and shallow, the foils are finely sculpted, and once the boat heels and lengthens her sailing waterline she should really pick up her skirts and hustle along. Belowdecks, four berths, a small galley and a roomy heads compartment provide reasonable if snug accommodation for a weekend away for a couple or (very) small family. The first boat was launched in the spring, and importer Scandinavian Yachts hopes to have one here by the fall.

Germany’s biggest boatbuilder, Bavaria Yachts, now has a new U.S. importer. Bavaria Yachts USA is setting up shop in Annapolis, Maryland, alongside a charter operation that will eventually see most of the company’s rejuvenated range of fast cruisers available for bareboat charter on the Chesapeake.

Bavaria Yachts USA is an offshoot of Horizon Yacht Charters, which has bases in the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Grenada. It has sold many Bavarias to owners who then put the boats into charter service, and co-owner Andrew Thompson sees great potential to expand that model into the U.S. market. There are plans to open another base in Newport, Rhode Island.

Over the last year, Bavaria has renewed its entire range with a line of Farr-designed fast cruisers from 32 to 55 feet. The Cruiser 32, 36, 40 and 45 will be the first models to be imported and they will be on display at the fall boat shows. If the prices are as competitive here as they are in Europe, they should fare well.

  • facebook
  • twitter