Big daysailers that are attractive, quick, and easy to sail continue to gain in popularity for a simple reason—the design concept fits a growing number of owners (and prospective owners). The folks at Sabre understand this, and the 36-foot Sabre Spirit is a worthy entry into this ever-expanding field. Most of my test sail took place during a friendly race staged off Marblehead, Massachusetts. I actually sailed aboard two separate Spirits in a match-racing series. Here’s what I found.
• The self-tacking jib made sailhandling a breeze, and there was still enough area in the main to keep the boat powered up in the light stuff.
• The cockpit is pleasantly long. The seats and properly angled seatbacks were just right. We raced with a crew of four, and there was room for two more to sit comfortably.
• The view (of both the telltales and the leeward side) from the helm station is excellent.
• We raced with the lifelines attached, but the boat is equipped with detachable lifeline stanchions that are sturdy when fitted, while also being easy to remove; lifelines and stanchions roll up and stow in a canvas bag supplied by Sabre. Removing the lifelines puts a bit more priority on being careful, but enhances the boat’s clean look.
• The craftsmanship belowdeck is vintage Sabre. Drawers have dovetail joints. The saloon table is inlaid by hand, and, as with all Sabres, the varnish is applied by hand and is impeccable.
• The layout is plenty comfy for a weekend cruise. Unlike some daysailers, the Spirit has full standing headroom below.
• The proportions of the full galley and fully enclosed head allow plenty of room for a spacious saloon settee.
• Numerous opening ports and hatches ensure excellent light and ventilation below.
• There’s room to sleep in the forepeak and on both sides of the saloon. This will work on a weekend cruise and provide incentive to pull over and grab a nap on the hook during an extended daysail.
• Both boats I sailed maneuvered beautifully on the short racecourse. Tacking duels required hardly any manpower, thanks to the self-tacking jibs.
• The helm returned just the right amount of feedback. I believe the term is “sweet.” The boat fell into the upwind groove almost on its own.
• The Spirit isn’t a drag racer, and that’s the point. It’s responsive without being twitchy. It’s light enough to be quick, but also has the right amount of ballast to be pleasantly stable. Acceleration out of the tacks was good. We wound the boat back up to top speed with a touch of footing after the tack.
• Off the wind, we set a cruising kite on the bow (no sprit pole), cleated off the sheet, and were gone. It was smooth and fast, and so easy two us could manage it.
I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon, either by myself or with a couple of friends, than taking a Spirit out for a daysail. It has all the ingredients (good looks, good performance, ease of use) that have made modern daysailers popular. If they let me borrow one for a week, I’d be gone for more than a daysail.
Price: $275,000 (sailaway, FOB South Casco, ME) includes sails, basic electronics, and commissioning
Builder: Sabre Yachts, South Casco, ME; www.sabreyachts.com
Designer: Jim Taylor
Draft (deep/wing) 6’7”/4’11”
Ballast (deep/wing) 3,740/4,360 lbs
Sail Area (100% foretriangle) 668 sq ft
Power 27-hp Volvo
Displacement-Length ratio 181
Sail Area-Displacement ratio 24