At first I couldn’t help asking myself whether the sailboat market really needs another high-strung IRC racer-cruiser like the Aquila RP45. But one look at this carefully engineered, well-built racer was all it took to answer that question with an emphatic yes.
The collaboration between Reichel Pugh Yacht Design and China-based Sino Eagle Group (SEG) teams up a cutting-edge design firm with a builder that has mastered the art of handling advanced composites. More evolution than revolution, the RP45 represents a team effort to find the right blend of price point and high performance.
For example, the RP45's hull is set in epoxy resin, as its superior mechanical properties justify the increased cost. On the other hand, the same price-for-performance reasoning led to an E-glass and carbon mix in the laminate schedule, rather than a commitment to a more costly all-carbon structure. The same bang-for-the-buck reasoning also prevailed when it came to specifying more conservative rod rigging, but allowed for splurging on an all-carbon rudder.
All line leads on the boat are well thought out, and the high-quality hardware is appropriately sized. The aft deck traveler and German mainsheet controls don’t crowd the helm or conflict with the running backstay controls—an essential feature when flying a big-roach mainsail like the one on the RP45.
A high sail area-displacement ratio and modest beam make this IRC racer an efficient light-air performer. In 5-9 knot conditions during our test sail, the boat proved energetic upwind, ready to accelerate with any excuse of a puff, and efficiently brought its breeze forward on a reach.
Although the electronics had not yet been fully dialed in when I came on board, by lining up some shore-side ranges I was able to note the bearings on each tack, and it was clear that the Aquila RP45’s foils like to resist leeway. The boat carries its beam well aft, which adds a lot of form stability and sail-carrying capacity, while the crew on the rail has enough room to do some useful trim-shifting to cope with varied wind and sea states. The boat has sufficient buoyancy forward to help to decrease the drama when surfing on steep wave faces.
Calling the RP45 a racer-cruiser is a bit of a stretch. Yes, there are three double berths, two settees that can double as sea berths and a two-burner stove. But while a 45ft sailboat that weighs 14,000 pounds, draws 10ft 2in and carries 1,292 square feet of upwind sail area may be a family cruiser for those with three strong lads or lasses home from college, I suspect it will be a bit of a challenge for your typical gunkholer. Call it a racer-cruiser with a big “R” and a little “c.”
That said, the boat will excel as a serious ISO Cat A racer ready for IRC inshore action or an offshore sprint to Bermuda or Hawaii. Under sail she’s a user-friendly speedster with a fingertip-sensitive helm, and needs to be appreciated for the performance she can and does deliver.
HEADROOM 6ft 4in
BERTHS 6ft 6in x 6ft x 2ft 10in (fwd); 6ft 6in x 4ft (aft)
LOA 43ft 8in // LWL 40ft 9in
BEAM 13ft 9in // DRAFT 10ft 2in
DISPLACEMENT 14,000lb // BALLAST 5,973lb
SAIL AREA 1,292ft2 (main and 106% blade jib)
FUEL/WATER/WASTE (GAL) 23/23/10
ENGINE 29hp Yanmar (saildrive)
DESIGNER Reichel-Pugh Yacht Design
BUILDER Sino Eagle Yacht, Hangzhou, China
U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Reichel-Pugh Yacht Design, San Diego, CA, 619-223-2299
PRICE $499,500 base
Photo courtesy of Reichiel-Pugh Yacht Design