Boats

Santa Cruz 37

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The Santa Cruz 37 was one of several new high-performance keelboats introduced at the 2008 Annapolis Boat Show. However, describing the SC37 as a “keelboat” isn’t really accurate. This is a 37-foot lightweight carbon raceboat with horsepower to burn. Its high aspect-ratio torpedo bulb keel provides plenty of stiffness by getting the lead bulb 7 feet, 6 inches below the waterline; it also fully retracts with a powerful winch or optional hydraulic ram. The bulb comes up nearly flush with the hull to ease trailering and even make launching from a ramp possible (instead of having to line up for the crane). Here’s my take-away from a test drive that took place in a building breeze at the mouth of the Severn River, off Annapolis, Maryland.

Construction

Both the hull and deck are built with carbon-fiber fabrics, epoxy resin, and a structural PVC foam core, over a layer of isophthalic gelcoat in the mold. Hardware mounting points and high-load areas on the deck are reinforced with high-density-foam inserts and biaxial and unidirectional carbon fiber. The structural grid is made of E-glass with carbon-fiber reinforcements and is bonded to the hull with methacrylate adhesive. The main structural bulkhead is made of carbon with a PVC foam core and is bonded to both the hull and the deck.

On deck

This boat was the darling of the shows because it just “showed” so well. From the easily retractable daggerboard-like rudder (set in a cassette) to the twin carbon helms, open transom, and dual “sprits” on the bow (a short, fixed prod for the Code-0 and a long, retractable carbon pole for a big A-sail), the SC37 had lots of clever, though not really revolutionary, features. As we threaded the needle through a throng of powerboats lining up for the powerboat show, the go-fast deck layout did not surprise or disappoint. Long, easily accessible traveler with plenty of purchase on the sole directly in front of the helms—check. Double-ended mainsheet—check. Adjustable jib cars and dedicated jib in-hauler system led aft—check. Harken 40 two-speed primary winches—check. The cockpit has plenty of elbow room for a racing crew, and the lack of backrests makes it that much easier to maneuver crew weight up on the rail. Well-placed chocks by the helms allow for a comfortable driving position as the boat heels. Visibility is excellent.

Accommodations

You’re probably not going for a boat like this based on the accommodation plan, but it’s surprisingly spacious, comfortable, and, dare I say, even a bit “shippy” as opposed to “hard-core-racer-y.” Wood veneers give the space a warm glow, the long fixed cabinhouse windows let in plenty of light, and it has all the features (comfortable bunks, 6-foot, 3-inch headroom, big galley and nav station) you’ll need to spend a bunch of days aboard. And of course the saloon table folds up to reveal the top of the lifting keel.

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