It’s been quite a year for Morris Yachts. In January the yard launched the baby of its daysailer line-up, the M29, and in May the new flagship, the M52, was gently lowered into the chilly Maine water. I sailed the $1.3m yacht two weeks after her launch.
Like the other M-series boats – the M29, M36, and M42 - the M52 is designed by legendary naval architects Sparkman & Stephens. She is a long, lean beauty with classical looks above the waterline and a modern fin-and-spade configuration below.
Belowdecks, she is as traditional-looking as it’s possible for a modern yacht to be, with white paneled bulkheads combining with a large saloon skylight and large portlights to give an open, cheery impression even on the overcast day on which we sailed her.
Ease of handling is an overlaying theme of the M-series boats, and this 52-footer can be sailed by one person. All sail controls are led aft to “command central” at the helm station, where electric winches allow the sails to be set or stowed without the helmsman breaking a sweat. The jib is self-tacking, so going about is simply a matter of putting the helm over, and attending to the mainsheet traveler.
Boat reviewing is always a lottery in New England; you gamble on the wind. Although the promised breeze fizzled out at around 6 knots, this was enough to give us an inkling of the big daysailer’s potential. She made just over 4 knots to windward, which is not bad going for a boat of this size. I wasn’t able to make any real judgments about her performance or handling except to note that she went about sweetly and came back up to speed (such as it was in these conditions) quickly.
This yacht was built for a family that previously owned an M42, and wanted a bigger boat for their annual commute from Maine to Key West and back.