One of the things we liked most about the Outbound 52, which also wins the Best Flagship award this year, is its no-nonsense center-cockpit layout. Where most center-cockpit boats have wide, shallow cockpits that promote a nagging sense of vulnerability, the Outbound 52’s cockpit is deep, narrow, and secure. Relative to the helmsman, the primary winches are installed at waist height on the coamings and can be easily controlled without stooping or crouching. Crew on the seats can easily stretch their legs across the footwell and brace themselves to windward while enjoying excellent support from the 16-inch-high seatbacks. For shelter there is a superbly conceived integral hard-top dodger with a cut-out rooftop that allows crew to step down the companionway without doubling over.
The companionway itself is also well executed. It can be sealed off with either drop boards, which offer seagoing security, or with louvered doors that can be quickly removed and stowed away when not wanted. The deep cockpit requires only a very short companionway ladder, which leads down just three 6-inch steps to the main saloon. None of this ease of access compromises weather security, as the companionway has a generous sill to thwart boarding waves, and the lowest drop board is integral and can be deployed in an instant. The overall deck layout promotes security in other respects. There are recessed storm-board sockets for all forward-facing windows, the stanchions are oversized (measuring 30 inches high with a diameter of 1 inches), the bulwarks are 1 inches high, and the 10 stainless-steel deck cleats (perched helpfully atop the caprail rather than behind it) are also super-sized. All in all, it’s one of the most seamanlike deck and cockpit arrangements we’ve seen on a production center-cockpit boat, and as such it deserves recognition. For more information, visit Outbound
Sail area: 1312 sq ft.
Ballast: 14,000 lbs.
The Best Boats team has recognized both a new performance boat (the Santa Cruz 37) and a new cruising boat (the Outbound 52) designed by one young man, Tim Kernan, who is still unknown to many members of the sailing public, so we thought it appropriate to toss a little extra ink in his direction. That Kernan should be adept at drawing both cruisers and racers is not surprising, as he grew up cruising with his family out of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, then later worked at Morelli & Melvin helping to develop high-performance racing multihulls. He worked for Bob Perry as well, who also enjoys quite a reputation for blending the best of cruising and racing designs. Kernan’s first design after striking out on his own was an interesting 50-foot bluewater powercat named Water Wizard. His breakthrough sailboat was the 68-foot sled Peligroso, launched in 2005, that has since notched up a string of West Coast racing victories. With these new Santa Cruz and Outbound designs, he promises to make a splash, too, in the realm of production boats. You can check out his work at www.kernandesign.com.