The Marblehead 22

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In his book Wind, Sand and Stars, famed French pilot Antoine de Saint-Expry wrote, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Fair enough. But while this may be true of airplanes, in the world of naval architecture, there are aesthetic considerations as well.

Take the new Marblehead 22 daysailer: on the one hand the boat is simplicity itself, thanks to its wishbone rig. It also happens to sail quite well. But these practical considerations miss the fact that the boat is also beautiful to look at, a joy to behold whether you are holding the tiller or watching her, green with envy, from the dock. Form may follow function, but when it comes to boats, it’s important that a designer have a good “eye,” and Marblehead 22 designer Doug Zurn has a good one, indeed.

I had a chance to take hull #1 for a sail on a warm spring day on Marblehead Harbor, Massachusetts, and was immediately impressed by both the looks and performance of this new boat. From the waterline up, the M22 is classic in its approach, with its plumb bow, graceful sheer and overhanging reverse transom.

Below the waterline, though, it’s a very different story, thanks to the boat’s large, balanced spade rudder and bulb keel. Overhead, the rig is also very modern, with its un-stayed carbon mast and square-top sail. It’s not easy combining such disparate elements into a harmonious whole, but Zurn has succeeded admirably. The result is a boat that looks unique without being odd. I like the appearance of this boat a lot, and if the various dock walkers craning their necks to get a look while we cast off are any indication, I’m not alone.

Under sail, the boat sailed as well as it looks—no surprise given the boat’s 3ft 6in deep keel, narrow beam and fine bow. The wishbone rig is effortless to tack and gybe, as advertized, and the boat’s 271ft2 North 3DL sail (an option; the standard sail is Radian Dacron) provided plenty of power in 10-12 knots of breeze. The tapered mast bends to leeward in the puffs to help depower the sail. The sail also comes with reef points and a Cunningham, while the “snotter,” which supports the forward end of the boom, can be used to control foot tension.

One of the neatest things about an un-stayed rig like this is that you can sail safely by the lee, which can be handy when threading your way through a crowded anchorage or skirting the end of a dock. Singlinghanding the M22 on a daysail would be simple. Zurn, who was aboard for our test sail, said he also envisions the boat taking part in a kind of casual, gentlemanly one-design racing scene.

In addition to the boat’s magnificent cockpit—which at 11ft 9in provides plenty of room for you and your friends—there’s a surprisingly large cuddy forward for stowing provisions or getting little ones out of the sun. Epoxy-laminated cold-molded wood construction results in a hull that is both light and wonderfully solid.

The boat includes positive flotation forward, amidships and aft, while a varnished teak transom and coamings serve as nice highlights to the Awlgripped hull. Workmanship throughout was is fantastic. There is an option for an electric motor, though I suspect you won’t need it much, given this boat’s sparkling performance.


LOA 22ft 9in

LWL 18ft 8in

BEAM 6ft 10in

DRAFT 3ft 6in


BALLAST 1,260lb

SAIL AREA 271ft2


BUILDER Samoset Boatworks Inc., Boothbay, Maine, 207-633-8350

PRICE $84,500

Ballast Ratio 55

Sail Area-Displacement Ratio 25 (light ship)

Displacement-Length Ratio 158 (light ship)

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