The debut of TomCat’s first 32-foot 970 catamaran, about eight years ago at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, was a pleasant surprise. Since then, the builders have continued to refine the boat, a process that has resulted in the new TomCat 970S.
All too often, sail trials end up taking place in minimal wind. But that certainly wasn’t the case with the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 439. Two days after the 2012 Annapolis Sailboat Show, a cold front brought with it overcast skies and gusts of 20 knots and more out of the northeast—which was just fine with the 439.
Five… four… three… two… one! The crack of the starting gun comes clearly over the radio, echoed a split second later by the real sound. Aboard Sojana, helmsman Poule Hoj-Jensen and Capt. Lionel Pean watch smaller boats take advantage of holes in the line to cross ahead of the 115-foot Farr-designed yacht.
With their compact cockpits, full keels and narrow hulls, the cruising boats of old are like a lone watch-stander, bundled up in foul weather gear, head bowed, arms folded, tucked in under a dodger for shelter.
We here in the United States tend to think of European boatbuilding in terms of the big series production builders who export their boats here: Dufour, Hanse, Bavaria, Lagoon and Fountaine-Pajot come to mind, as do Jeanneau and Beneteau.
I saw 19.9 knots on my handheld GPS, and I know we went faster than that, but at the time I wasn’t paying close attention to any GPS readout. The breeze was gusting into the 20s, and we were joking about whether or not the Marina del Rey harbor police would nail us for speeding.