I’ve long believed that while they may not be as much fun, the best sail trials are the ones that take place in drifters since it’s then that a boat’s performance—or lack thereof—really becomes evident. Pretty much any boat is fun to sail in 15 knots of wind. That said, there’s fun, and then there’s fun of the kind I had aboard the Dehler 30 One Design, winner of the 30ft and over performance boat category in SAIL’s 2021 Best Boats contest.
Design & Construction
One look at the 30 OD and you know this boat means business. The hull is vacuum-infused with a PVC foam core, and a propriety “Dehler carbon cage” is incorporated into its bottom structure to ensure strength and rigidity. The deck is also vacuum-infused with a foam core, and the keel consists of a high-aspect fin and lead bulb. Twin rudders and twin tillers make the boat a gas to helm on all angles of heel, and Flexiteek is used on the cockpit sole and benches to ensure secure footing. A connecting rod ensures the tillers move in unison.
Blunt ends maximize sailing length, and the combination of a full bow and equally full sections forward provide the necessary buoyancy to help get up onto a plane and avoid submarining when power-reaching. The deck-stepped, single-spreader carbon rig is fractional, with an aluminum boom and rod rigging. Dual backstays serve to accommodate the boat’s high-aspect, square-top main.
Water-ballast tanks are located well outboard to either side of the companionway and are operated with the help of an electric pump. They hold approximately 50 gal each, providing over 400lb of weight to windward as necessary. A soft chine running aft from midway between the stem and mast provides a touch more buoyancy when the boat is on its ear. Another chine runs from about two-thirds of the way up the stem all the way aft to the transom to define the boats oh-so-cool tumblehome bow and create a softer hull-deck angle for crews hiking legs-out. Aesthetically, if you like the look of a well-found raceboat, you’re gonna love the look of the Dehler 30 OD. For yours truly, it was love at first sight.
Suffice it to sail, you’ll never become bored for want of strings to pull aboard the Dehler 30 OD. That said, the plethora of lines and overall deck/cockpit layout work well together and make the boat surprisingly easy to sail. Along these same lines, while the boat is clearly configured with shorthanded racing in mind (and is even in the running to become the official “equipment” for the new offshore doublehanded sailing event at the 2024 Olympics), there’s plenty of room for other crew as well.
Aft, the main sheet, complete with fine-tune, runs to a module set in a pronounced kind of “spine” running the length of the cockpit sole. The traveler spans the width of the cockpit aft, where it is slightly elevated to keep clear of the twin tillers. A pair of Lewmar primaries is located within easy reach of the helm. There’s also room between the primaries and helm for a dedicated main trimmer.
Another pair of Lewmars to either side of the companionway handles the plethora of control lines, and a 3D, friction-ring-based headsail lead allows you to tweak the genoa to your heart’s content. A D-ring to either side of the cockpit coaming serves as an anchor point for a pair of outriggers for the boat’s reaching sails. How cool is that? I’m a huge fan of the abundance of clearance between the boom and cockpit sole. The last thing you want to have to worry about when playing with all those lines is getting conked on the head every time you come about.
I’m gonna keep this short. Rest assured, though, that belowdecks there’s everything a sailor, at least, could ever want for keeping comfy offshore. Not kidding here. True, the overall aesthetic is a bit on the sparse side. But the quarterberths and settee berths are all plenty long for the off-watch, and there’s a small but more than adequate galley to starboard and a compact but equally adequate head compartment to port.
The overall finish is workmanlike and very professional. There’s even a small, hinged dining table attached to the compression post. I especially liked the molded-wood settees, which in combination with the dining table lend the saloon a bit of warmth. Granted, it might not be the best space for entertaining clients or your non-sailing friend. But hey, when the fun starts those types are all just going to get in the way anyway!
This brings us (finally!) to what It’s like actually sailing this great little boat. With respect to the platform as a whole, what I liked best about the Dehler 30 OD is the fact it’s one of those designs that feels like a big boat, but isn’t so big you can’t still muscle it back under control in the event things go sideways. With the passage of the years, I find myself becoming less and less tolerant of boats that scare me every time they load up in marginal conditions. Same thing with mains and reaching sails that leave my arms feeling like wet noodles after I’ve been trimming them for a while.
Midway into our test sail, we were reaching along at a steady 14-plus knots under main, A-sail and staysail. But while it was important to pay attention, the reason for doing so was more for the satisfaction of maxing out our boatspeed than simply trying not to crash and burn. This is important, not just because it makes sailing the boat a lot more fun—especially for we mere mortals—but because success in distance racing means keeping your averages up, as opposed to just hitting big numbers during those admittedly exciting moments of adrenaline-fueled madness. Every now and then things would get a little, “focused,” shall we say. But the boat’s twin rudders kept a firm grip throughout, and there was always plenty of time to bear away a bit and keep the boat under control.
I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the 30 OD did sailing hard on the wind. Despite the sharp chop that was running, there was none of the banging I assumed we’d experience; though I suspect you’d feel it if you were to ever launch the boat off any real waves. Bottom line, as I’ve written previously in the pages of this magazine, my test sail aboard the Dehler 30 One Design may have been one of my best test sails ever.
Normally with a boat like the Dehler 30 OD, this is the part of the review where I basically say, “Who cares?” Aboard the 30 OD, though, there’s a twist in the form of what Dehler is calling it’s “Stealth Drive” system, in which the entire prop and prop shaft can be retracted up into the hull when not in use. Far from a gimmick, the system, which employs a short, articulated lever that tucks away into the aforementioned spine in the cockpit sole, works well. The fact you can go with a fixed prop means sparkling performance in both forward and reverse.
Not much to say here that hasn’t already been said. A plush cruiser complete with washer and dryer, the Dehler 30 One Design is not. However, if your idea of adventure offshore includes VMGs to burn, you owe it to yourself to give this boat a look.
LOA 33ft 10in LWL 30ft BEAM 10ft 9in
DRAFT 7ft 3in
BALLAST 2,072lb (in T-keel)
SAIL AREA 678ft2 (main and 105% genoa)
FUEL/WATER (GAL) 6.6/11
ENGINE 10hp diesel
BALLAST RATIO 37
SA/D RATION 32
D/L RATIO 102
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
DESIGNER Judel/Vrolijk & CO.
BUILDER Dehler/Hanse Yachts AG, Greifswald, Germany, hanseyachtsag.com/dehler/us