The French-built Archambault 27, with its blunt ends, retractable sprit, wide-open racing cockpit and hiking wings, is very much the kind of a boat that stands out in a crowd. But what really impressed me about this little sportster (aside from its performance) were the accommodations.
Designers Michel Joubert and Bernard Nivelt have given this sharp-looking 27-footer a “minimalist” interior, but a fully functional one nonetheless: complete with a pair of 6ft 5in settees, a gimbaled stove, a small chemical toilet, and a hinged table and small molded-in sink in the saloon.
The narrow but prominent cuddy, in addition to putting the Harken self-tailing secondary winches and banks of rope clutches close to hand for the pit crew, also opens up the center of the saloon so that even a 6-footer like me can relax without feeling confined. Large sculpted ports admit plenty of light, as does the companionway, and spacious quarterberths and a respectable forepeak provide yet more lounging space.
As a further testament to the Archambault’s livability, there is even a beachable version with a swing keel and twin rudders. Other options include an anchor locker, seawater head and 13 gallons of freshwater tankage: everything you need for cruising.
Of course, you can always still go for the stripped-down racing version, complete with an outboard bracket instead of a 12-hp auxiliary with saildrive.
Our test boat had a mix of cruising and racing features, with a sink and stove, but also a full complement of go-fast equipment topsides, including a clever jib-lead system and a powerful cascading backstay tackle. The main traveller is set in the cockpit sole just aft of the tiller, and all mainsail controls run to a pod on the sole just forward of the helm. A symmetrical chute (launched from a round foredeck hatch) can be flown in addition to an A-sail off the sprit. The deck-stepped mast is aluminum, as is the boom.
Although the morning of our test sail was hardly a day for the highlight reels, with winds of 10 knots and less, the Archambault still slipped along through the flat water at a satisfying 5-plus knots hard on the wind. Even in the light stuff, we tacked quickly and decisively through 45 degrees, and it was easy coaxing the boat up to an apparent wind angle in the high 30s.
Although we never got a chance to put those hiking wings to the test, the boat’s wide-open cockpit and overall deck layout worked well—no mean feat on a light-air day when the three of us aboard were continually shifting around as we tried to keep the boat at a fast angle of heel. The boom is set nice and high—a nice touch whether you’re daysailing or throwing in endless tacks on a crowded racecourse.
Lines all fell easily to hand, and despite our being in ghosting mode, it was a joy to be at the helm, even when the boat was moving at a crawl. I can’t wait to get a chance to drive this thing when it’s blowing!
All in all, this is a great-looking design that offers a lot for its size.
Images courtesy of Forum Marine