PxPixel
Boat Review: Allures 39.9 - Sail Magazine

Aluminum boats that carry true integral centerboards and can take the ground with impunity have been long popular with French cruisers. However, until recently they have gained little traction in the United States. This is now starting to change, as the French mini-conglomerate Grand Large Yachting, which owns two builders of these sorts of boats, Garcia and Allures, has pushed to gain them more exposure. The debut of the Allures 39.9 at the 2016 U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis was part of this effort. Though it shares many attributes with other boats of this type, the 39.9 also has some unique features.

Construction

The hull of the Allures 39.9, quite obviously, is unpainted aluminum, although with round bilges rather than hard chines, as is more commonly seen on similar boats such as the once ubiquitous Alubat. Aluminum plates of varying thicknesses between 6 and 10mm are first pressed into shape and then welded onto correspondingly shaped frames and stringers. None of the structure is forced into place as it is welded.

The deck and transom of the boat are a single part constructed of fiberglass cored with Divinycell foam. This laminate is vacuum infused with solid sheets of plywood interposed in areas where deck hardware is installed. The deck is bonded to a generous 4in inward-facing flange on the hull, and is also fastened with bolts and rivets.

The boat’s ballast is cast iron encapsulated in resin in the boat’s bilges, with none carried in the 9ft aluminum centerboard, which weighs 440lb and is controlled with lines led to the cockpit. To compensate for the relatively high-placement of the ballast, the boat’s fractional Sparcraft rig is correspondingly short, so that the boat’s stability is not compromised. Appended to the bottom of the hull is a short shallow skeg to protect the propeller when aground. Aft of the skeg are two short spade rudders.

On Deck

Two immediately striking features are the blister-shaped coachroof, a complex shape easily rendered in fiberglass, and the robust stern arch, which is aluminum and the only metal part of the boat that is painted. The arch, canted aft so that it hovers over the scoop transom, is equipped with a useful hinged gantry that can be used to carry a tender hoisted clear of the water. It can also support a large solar array, a wind generator and a forest of antennae.

The cockpit is exceedingly comfortable, with high coamings that provide plenty of back support. A sturdy fixed cockpit table with folding leaves makes a great bracing point when the boat is well heeled, and twin wheels aft has high granny bars in front that are easy to cling to. Ergonomics moving forward along the side decks, clad in Marine-Dek faux teak on our test boat, are also good, with well-placed handholds and lots of passing room inside of the outboard shrouds.

Working lines from the mast are led to a pair of Lewmar winches on the coachroof and are controlled with twin batteries of Spinlock XTS rope clutches. Four more Lewmar winches grace the cockpit coamings to assist in handling the two headsails, which are set on Facnor furlers.

The boat’s centerboard trunk is cleverly concealed

The boat’s centerboard trunk is cleverly concealed

Accommodations

The most distinctive aspect of the 39.9’s interior is the open saloon. Saloons on most integral centerboard boats are dominated by large centerboard trunks that necessarily limit layout options. On this boat, however, you wouldn’t even guess there was a centerboard.

The galley is set aft, offset to port in the traditional manner, with a generous amount of useful storage space. Just forward of this is a centerline table with folding leaves separating two settees on either side. Opposite the galley to starboard is a proper nav station with room to spread out charts and install auxiliary electronics.

The standard floor plans offer choices between two or three staterooms with one or two heads. In the “owner’s version,” the starboard aft stateroom is removed in favor of a large systems/storage/work space set behind an enlarged aft head with a separate shower stall. The “cruising version” offers twin staterooms aft with a smaller aft head and an extra ensuite head interposed in the forward cabin. On our test boat, the ensuite forward head was inserted into the cruising layout and boasted a composting toilet.

One drawback in either configuration is that the double V-berth forward is a bit cramped by American standards. The aft double berths, by comparison, may seem more comfortable. These are full size with no odd-shaped cutouts. They also boast good headroom, a decent amount of storage, two opening hatches and a hull portlight each.

Under Sail

Our test boat came equipped with a standard set of working sails—a full-batten mainsail, genoa and a solent-type staysail, all built in polyester by France’s Incidences. We also had an optional Code 0-type sail built of Mylar and carbon fiber by Quantum, which was fortunate, as the wind during our test sail on Chesapeake Bay was annoyingly light.

Sailing first with the genoa, we found ourselves carrying a bit over 4 knots of speed in 10 knots of apparent wind at angles between 45 and 40 degrees, which was about as high as the boat could sail productively. Cracking off a bit to angles of 50 to 55 degrees, our speed increased by a knot or more. Unrolling the Code 0, which flew from the end of a short fixed sprit, we did much better. Our speed increased to over 6 knots at a 45-degree angle and broached 7 when we bore off to 80 degrees. As we turned downwind to 120 degrees the apparent wind fell to 6 knots and our speed dropped to about 4 knots.

The helm in these light conditions was soft, and it was hard to feel what the rudders were doing. However, it was also stable and forgiving, so that it was not hard to steer accurately.

Under Power

The standard 55hp Volvo D2 diesel engine on our test boat was turning a three-bladed Flexofold propeller that pushed us along readily enough at 6 knots at 2,000 rpm with the centerboard down. With the throttle full open at 2,800 rpm we made 7.6 knots, and this increased to well over 8 when we pulled the board up. The boat was very easy to control in reverse, and I would guess most experienced boathandlers could live without the optional MaxPower bow thruster that was fitted on our boat.

Conclusion

I have long been a fan of these sorts of boats, and the Allures 39.9 seems a fine example of the breed. Though we did not see this during our day on the water, I know from experience that these centerboard boats have a very smooth motion in strong seas. Don’t let the shoal-draft capacity fool you. These are fully capable offshore cruising boats. 

Allures399-Sailplan-01

Specifications

LOA 41ft 6in LWL 36ft 11in BEAM 13ft 7in

DRAFT 3ft 6in (board up); 9ft (board down)

DISPLACEMENT 24,030lb

BALLAST 9,259lb

SAIL AREA 866ft

FUEL/WATER (GAL) 105/87

ENGINE Volvo D2 diesel 55hp with saildrive

BALLAST RATIO 39

SA/D RATIO 17

D/L RATIO 214

What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios

DESIGNER Racoupeau Yacht Design

BUILDER Allures Yachting, Cherbourg, France, allures.fr

U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Swiftsure Yachts, Seattle, WA, (206) 378-1110, swiftsureyachts.com

PRICE $320,000 at time of publication

October 2017

Related

HB96k_EP

Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP

What SUP?Dinghies and kayaks are all very well, but there’s nothing like a stand-up paddleboard for exploring interesting new shorelines while giving you a good workout. Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP makes a fine addition to your boat’s armory of anchorage toys, either on its ...read more

DSC_0031-43

Charting the USVI and Spanish Virgins

When my friends and I booked a one-way bareboat charter with Sail Caribe, starting in the U.S. Virgin Islands and finishing in Puerto Rico, we were a little nervous about what we would find in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria—even seven months later.When our plane ...read more

SailRepairKit

Know How: Sail Repair Kit

Despite your best efforts, there will inevitably be times when your sail gets damaged while at sea and needs to be repaired. First, no matter what the job, you will need to do a quick damage assessment, a task that requires a flat wooden surface, sharp scissors and a helping ...read more

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more

Navy-Sand-Dune_1080

Tucket Footwear’s Giller Shoes

Just for KicksMove over Crocs, there’s a new plastic shoe in town. Unlike the aforementioned fashion crimes, Tucket Footwear’s Giller shoes are made for boating. Water will get in, yes, but it will also run straight out again via rows of “scuppers” in the uppers and a dozen drain ...read more

01-m3113_git170829-294

France’s Maxi-tri Ultime class

It’s hard to believe how far foiling has come since the Moth class figured out how to reliably take to the air in the early 2000s.Was it really only in 2013 that the America’s Cup was dragged kicking and screaming into the foiling world by Emirates Team New Zealand back in San ...read more

GGTobagoCays

Cruising: Guadeloupe to Grenada

Our Dream Yacht Charter delivery started as a “wouldn’t it be fun if” idea. Those are usually misguided, if not downright stupid. But a Bali 4.3 named Jumelles (French for “twins,” appropriately) needed to leave Guadeloupe to do heavier charter work in Grenada, and as soon as I ...read more