The Aussie-bred McConaghy 38 takes skiff sailing adrenalin and repackages it in a low-slung sport boat that redefines the genre. It came as no surprise that our Best Boats team found little not to like about this 7,000lb, all carbon, elegantly Spartan sloop. The boat is built to plane early, foot fast and steer with a feather touch on and off the wind, making it a racehorse to reckon with in a growing fleet of ISAF Cat II one-designs. It also looks to do well under the new HPR rating system.
Launched in Sydney over a year ago, the MC38 debuted domestically with a win in Key West. U.S. designer Harry Dunning’s goal was to raise the stakes in high performance sailing, and from what we’ve seen, he’s scored a big win.
There’s solid engineering logic behind the design and just as much sensibility in what’s been omitted. A traditionalist might wonder what happened to the cabintrunk and interior. But those who see sailing as flying on the water appreciate the value of shedding the extraneous. The MC38 has the freeboard of a 38ft windsurfer, the displacement of a 28ft production sailboat and the sail area of a 45ft club racer. All this adds up to a power/weight ratio that’s more than impressive. Equally impressive is the way Dunning has delivered the righting moment and boat handling demeanor to cope with all this energy. In short, he’s succeeded at building blistering performance into a “street legal” racer that keeps crew gymnastics to a minimum. A deep carbon keel foil and bulb comprising about half the total displacement seal the stability deal. The result puts a gleam in the eye of the young, but still allows a crew of seniors to tap into the skiff sailor’s domain.
Photos by Andrea Francolini