Best Boats 2013 Tartan Fantail

The past year has been a good one for small boats and daysailers, but even in a crowded field, the Tartan Fantail stands out as something special—a boat that is elegant, practical and, best of all, a whole lot of fun.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Tartan-Fantail

By giving the Tartan Fantail a nearly plumb bow, an elegant sheer line and the dramatically raked transom that provides the boat with its name, long-time Tartan designer Tim Jackett was clearly looking to make an aesthetic statement. By giving the boat a fine entry, a tall rig, a deep fin keel, a retracting carbon bowsprit and a high-aspect spade rudder, it’s equally apparent he was looking to make a performance statement as well. I distinctly remember seeing the drawings for the Fantail back in 2011 and thinking: this is one boat I’ve got to sail.

Fast forward to the fall of 2012 and an absolutely perfect morning on Chesapeake Bay, with the boat slicing effortlessly to windward at around 5.5 knots in 10-12 knots of wind. The motion in the chop was smooth and predictable. The boat came about crisply, and thanks to its self-tacking jib, with minimal crew effort.

At one point, the 353ft2 of sail overhead started taking over in the gusts, forcing me to use some extra muscle on the helm. Designer Tom McNeill—Jackett’s successor at Tartan Yachts—wondered aloud whether the boat could maybe use a bit more rudder. But I disagree. It was just a matter of getting used to the way the boat likes to sail.

Tartan-fantail-bow

Falling off onto a reach, we unrolled the asymmetric chute and were soon knocking off 7-knots-plus with ease. Once again, it took a few minutes to figure out how the boat should be sailed—a learning curve that was made a bit steeper by the fact that the mainsheet cleated aft of the tiller, which meant getting my arms crossed up playing the sail. (Tom speculated it might make sense to run the main to a barney post instead: this time I agree.) But that didn’t change the fact that the Fantail was a heck of a lot of fun to sail. With its comfy, well-protected 9ft cockpit, this is a boat you sit “in” rather than “on,” and with 1,200 pounds of lead in that 4ft 6in keel, capsizing is never a worry. I could have kept knocking around in the Fantail all day.

Tartan-fantail-cockpit

Like the rest of the Tartan line, the Fantail’s hull is an infused-epoxy laminate with an end-grain balsa core that boasts a high strength-to-weight ratio. The aluminum mast (a carbon spar is optional) is paired with a composite “pocket boom” with an integral sail cover that makes dropping and furling the mainsail a snap.

The boat is available in three configurations: a DS (daysailor) version with minimal “accommodations” belowdecks—basically a cooler and portable marine head—a self-tacking jib and a wealth of teak trim topsides; an ST (sail trainer) version that does away with the teak trim and the self-tacking jib, so that trainees with have more to do; and a WE (weekender) version, which has a larger cabintrunk for a bit more headroom, a marine head with a holding tank and a simple galley. All three share the same basic design dimensions and include large lockers under the cockpit seats for tucking away boat hooks and coolers.

Tartan-Fantail-Detail-motor

The boat is powered by a Torqeedo electric outboard in a well aft, which is controlled by a throttle alongside the tiller. Batteries can be charged by plugging in to AC power at home or via an optional solar or wind-generator package—a neat “green” touch for a great all-around boat that is as much a pleasure to watch as it is to sail.

Specifications

LOA 26ft // LWL 22ft 1in
BEAM 8ft 5in
DRAFT 4ft 6in
DISPLACEMENT 3,030lb
BALLAST 1,200lb
SAIL AREA 352ft2
ELECTRICAL 55AH (house);
2 x 110AH (motor)
DESIGNER Tim Jackett
BUILDER Tartan Yachts, Painsville, OH, 440-357-7777
Price $81,000 (base)

Photo by JH Peterson (top); by Adam Cort

Brokerage listings powered by BoatQuest.com
Find more Tartan boats

boatquest_100x30

Related

210913-11HRT-SKIPPER-PORTRAITS-VC-122

11th Hour Christens Two IMOCAs, Hits a Snag

This week has been a big one for the American-founded, sustainability-centric ocean racing team 11th Hour Racing. In addition to christening their two new boats, the team also took them out for a quick test ride—against some of the most intense IMOCA 60 skippers in the world. ...read more

01-LEAD-DSCF3091

Clewless in the Pacific

Squalls are well known to sailors who cruise the middle Latitudes. Eventually, you become complacent to their bluster. But squalls vary in magnitude, and while crossing from Tahiti to Oahu, our 47ft Custom Stevens sloop paid the price for carrying too much canvass as we were ...read more

Nigel

SAIL’s Nigel Calder Talks Electrical Systems at Trawlerfest Baltimore

At the upcoming Trawlerfest Baltimore, set for Sept. 29-Oct. 3, SAIL magazine regular contributor Nigel Calder will give the low down on electrical systems as part of the show’s seminar series.  The talk will be Saturday, October 2 at 9am. Electrical systems are now the number ...read more

5ae5b8ce-3113-4236-927b-f795be4ae091

Bitter End Yacht Club Announces Reopening

Four years after being decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Bitter End Yacht Club is set to reopen for the Winter 2022 season. Hailed as one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean and built by sailors, for sailors, this island outpost in the BVI has been a favorite with ...read more

01-LEAD-'21.05.01_Jay-&-Mira

Cruising: Bluewater Pollywogs

Bluewater sailing is 25 percent actually sailing and 75 percent learning how to live on a boat at sea, in constant motion and with no chance to get off the roller coaster. I cannot over-emphasize how difficult normal daily functions become at sea, even on nice, calm days. ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_0078

Refurbishing Shirley Rose: Part 2

If you missed the first installment, click here. Thankfully, the deck and cockpit of my decades-old Santana 27, Shirley Rose, were in pretty good shape. The balsa core, in particular, was for the most part nice and solid. Nonetheless, there was still a fair bit of work to do. ...read more

orca

Orca Encounters on the Rise

This week’s confrontation between a pod of orcas and the Nauticat 44 ketch Tuuletar which left the boat rudderless is just the latest in a string of encounters with orcas off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, over 50 of these encounters have been reported, half of ...read more

01-LEAD-Project-complete

DIY: an Antique Nav Station

Ever since the advent of GPS, I have not found much use for the chart table on my schooner Britannia. Most of our passagemaking navigation is done on a Raymarine multifunction display on the helm pod, which is then transferred to a paper chart on the saloon table roughly every ...read more