If you strolled the docks at the major East Coast sailboat shows last fall and thought you were seeing a higher-than-average number of good-looking new designs from Scandinavian builders, you were. Among the ranks of that swelling Nordic fleet was a mid-size performance cruiser called the Maestro 40, created by one of the true deans of Northern European naval architects, Eivind Still. The Finnish designer has always favored fast hull shapes, and the Maestro, built in his homeland, certainly looked purposeful last October tugging at its dock lines during the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland. I was eager for a ride.
Several days later, I got my wish. The short trip from the downtown waterfront out into Chesapeake Bay provided the opportunity to check out the Maestro under power. With its 39-horsepower Volvo diesel spinning the standard three-bladed folding propeller (on a saildrive mount), the boat made 6.1 knots at 1,800 rpm; 6.4 at 2,000; and a very slippery 7.6 when maxed out in “make-tracks” mode at 2,500 rpm. It was also quite maneuverable, completing a 360-degree turn in a little less than a boatlength. However, when we got out into the overcast bay, where a weak northeasterly breeze was topping out at less than 5 knots, the prospects for a lively sail seemed dim.
It’s never particularly inspiring to test a sailboat in light airs, but it can be surprisingly revealing. This was the case as we hoisted the main, unfurled the jib, and came hard on the wind (such as it was). At a true-wind angle of 35 degrees in 3.8 knots of apparent wind, the Maestro’s speed over the ground was 1.7 knots. In almost any other instance, that figure would hardly be cause for celebration. But we were surrounded by a slew of similarly sized boats that were positively parked, while we enjoyed steerage and movement and progress—slight but steady—across the proverbial painted sea. All things considered, I was impressed.
The Maestro 40 is very well set up for tweaking and trimming, with a big, workable cockpit and top-shelf hardware, including the Harken traveler right at the foot of the steering pedestal. Harken adjustable sheet leads, Andersen winches, and a dozen Lewmar rope clutches to handle the mainsheet, reefing lines, and so on, are stationed an arm’s length away to port and starboard of the helmsman’s 60-inch recessed destroyer wheel. These lines are led aft through a clever arrangement just beneath the standard teak deck, which keeps clutter to a minimum. The boat we sailed was equipped with an optional carbon rig from Offshore Spars that, like the standard Selden aluminum section, is a 19/20 fractional setup with aft-sweeping spreaders.
As the wind “piped up” to just over 5 knots, our boatspeed rose accordingly. We cracked off a bit, eased the main, and suddenly were making 3.5 knots. The Maestro 40 has a flat, fair entry that gives way to full, generous U-shaped sections that are carried well aft, all of which suggests a hull form that should reach very well. And, indeed, when the breeze came on a tad more, to 9 knots, we bore off and easily set the boat’s cruising asymmetric chute and were rewarded with a solid 6 knots over the bottom. Nice.
Down below, as is generally the case with boats built in Scandinavia, the layout is conservative and traditional. There’s a good-sized double cabin forward with a generous V-berth and lots of storage in shelves and lockers. The main saloon features long, opposing settees that would double under way as excellent seaberths; the leecloths are already installed.
You can order a Maestro 40 in a one-aft-cabin or two-aft-cabin configuration, both of which have the galley to port and the single head to starboard. In the former layout, the boat has a large double cabin to port, and the space that would be devoted to a second cabin is instead used as a giant locker, accessible beneath the starboard cockpit seat. This version also has a larger head than the model with twin aft cabins. A cruising couple would probably prefer the one-aft-cabin option for the extra storage and roomier head compartment. Growing families or sailors contemplating some offshore racing, both of which may need to accommodate larger crews, might prefer the two-aft-cabin layout. Maestro has done a good job of addressing both scenarios.
The Maestro 40 is a versatile boat that will serve its owners well as a quick coastal cruiser with good club-racing capability and the strength to tackle the occasional offshore foray or race, though its light-to-moderate displacement will likely provide a lively motion that some sailors may find a tad too sporty when off soundings in a seaway.
Price: $370,000, base boat; $425,000, sailaway version with light options; $450,000, fully tricked-out model (FOB East Coast)
Importer/builder: Maestro Yachts USA, Newport, RI; www.maestroboats.fi, 401-846-5531
Designer: Eivind Still
Construction: The Divinycell core used in the hull and deck is sandwiched between a vacuum-infused skin of fiberglass and isoplastic polyester resin. Reinforcing carbon fiber is employed in the stringers supporting the keel. Interior components like bulkheads, cabinets, and doors are also cored to save weight and are finished with a combination of fiberglass and wood veneers.
Pros: Light yet solidly built, fast, and great fun to sail across a wide range of conditions. A lifting-keel version is also available for shoal-water cruisers.
Cons: The keel-stepped spar, which intersects the central dining table in the main saloon, is not ideally located for dining or socializing. Likewise, the on-deck chartplotter screen, at knee level aft of the steering pedestal, could be better placed.
Draft (shoal/deep) 6’2”/7’2”
Displacement 15,432 lbs
Ballast 5,952 lbs
Sail Area (main and 110% jib) 1,010 sq ft
Power Volvo 39-hp diesel with saildrive
Tankage Fuel/water/waste 53/53/25 gal
Electrical (2) 130-Ah gel service batteries
(1) 80-Ah starting battery
Displacement-Length ratio 155
Sail Area-Displacement ratio 26.1
Ballast ratio 38%