There’s something especially fun about sailing a boat on the home waters of the company that built it. And when you’re sailing the latest performance-cruiser from X-Yachts, the X4°, on the “Little Belt,” just down the road from the company’s squeaky-clean yard in Haderslev, Denmark, the experience is out of this world.
Design & Construction
Not coincidently splashing on X-Yachts’s 40th anniversary, the 40ft X4° boasts the same top-notch build quality sailors have come to expect ever since the company launched its very first design, the X-79, back in 1979.
At the heart of the new boat is a trademark X-Yachts galvanized steel grid, which serves to anchor the boat’s keel and also help manage rig loads. The rest of the hull is infused in epoxy and post-cured for 24 hours to maximize the laminate strength while at the same time minimizing weight.
Two different keels are available—standard and deep—both comprised of a steel fin and lead bulb encased in epoxy and then precisely faired to ensure optimal hydrodynamic efficiency. A single deep, high-aspect rudder ensures good control, while a plumb bow and fine entry combined with an almost plumb transom provide plenty of sailing length.
Aesthetically, the X4° is vintage X-Yachts, with its nearly flat sheer complementing those same blunt ends and a no-nonsense cabintrunk to create a look that is purposeful without being in any way stark. A fixed sprit helps keep the hook from dinging the stem and serves an attachment point for an A-sail.
The standard, keel-stepped, double-spreader slightly fractional rig is aluminum. A carbon-fiber mast and boom are also available as options for those in search of a little more oomph. Rod rigging comes standard as does a self-tacking headsail. Genoa tracks set well inboard on top of the cabintrunk are also available.
Topside, twin Jefa wheels sit well outboard and provide great sightlines all around, while the main traveler spans the cockpit sole just forward of the pedestals—right where it should for good sail trim, especially on the racecourse. There’s a choice of cockpit tables: a semi-permanent one with a bit of internal storage or a foldable design that can be easily struck and stored in the lazarette. Similarly, you can choose between a large folding swim step that encloses the aft end of the cockpit when retracted or a smaller, lower platform that leaves the boat with an open transom when not deployed. Like the fold-away cockpit table, the latter will undoubtedly be the more popular option for those interested in doing some racing.
Interestingly, the primary winches are set into a pair of molded-in recesses near the tail end of the coamings, presumably, so there will be one less thing to bang up against when moving around. I wasn’t crazy about the arrangement, as I found it a bit tougher getting the necessary wraps on and off the drum. But then again it may have just been a case of operator error, something that would become easier with practice.
An innovation I did like without reservation was the pair of hinged doors framing the companionway that also serve to conceal a pair of line bins.
Beyond that, synthetic teak decking comes standard on the cockpit sole and benches, and looks good enough that it requires a serious double-take to realize it isn’t the real thing. This same faux-teak can also be ordered for the side decks and cabintop.
Retractable mooring cleats fore and aft also look great, with the forward foldable cleats, in particular, removing a major source of snags when gybing the spinnaker. The self-tacking headsail deploys on a belowdeck furler, a feature that, like the main traveler, is a prerequisite (at least in my book) for any boat that truly wants to call itself a performance-cruiser.
Instruments on our test boat were B&G. Winches were Harken, and there was a nice large sail locker forward.
Belowdecks, the accommodation are fairly conventionally laid-out, but magnificently crafted, exhibiting the same outstanding build quality as the rest of the boat. A number of different materials and finishes are available, with a Nordic-oak veneer and a teak-laminate cabin sole as standard.
The dining table folds out to accommodate guests sitting on both settees, and the port-side settee, in particular, will make for a fine sea berth on passage. A three-cabin arrangement is available with mirror-image quarterberths aft. However, I would definitely go with two cabins, as was the case on our test boat. The latter’s advantages include a larger head/shower compartment; a more substantial nav station; and scads of storage aft where the second quarterberth would otherwise be.
However many cabins you choose, the boat comes with an L-shaped galley to port of the companionway, equipped with an Eno stovetop and oven. The owner’s cabin forward includes a substantial double berth complete with side access and a pair of nicely sized hanging lockers alongside the bulkhead.
It would be hard to imagine a better day for a test sail than the one we had that day out on the Little Belt. Better still, I can’t imagine a better boat for taking advantage of these or pretty much any other kinds of conditions.
Things started out light, with the wind hovering around 8 knots. But that was fine with the X4°. Hardening up onto a beat, the boat and helm still felt plenty lively as we chased a series of wind lines coming off land. Bearing away, we easily maintained a very pleasant 6 knots with the A-sail up, even after falling off to a fairly deep broad reach.
Hardened up onto a beat again as the wind increased to around 10 knots, the boat logged an impressive 6.9 to 7 knots, maxing out at 7.7 knots as we bore away slightly in the gusts. Throughout, the boat both tacked and gybed with minimal effort, quickly settling back into a kind of “fingertip” control on each new heading.
Deploying the A-sail again as the breeze continued to build, the boat quickly took off, hitting double digits. Better still, even with the increased pressure in the rig, the boat remained effortless to sail. Whenever a puff hit, the X4° simply dug in its shoulder and surged forward, a testament to her moderate lines and nicely balanced rig. Short-tacking through a narrow gut on our way back to the marina, the self-tacking headsail shooting from side-to-side exactly as it should, was an exhilarating experience that I, for one, will not soon forget.
Not surprisingly given the boat’s performance under sail, the X4° also behaved exactly as she should under power. It was a bit tough gauging precise speeds because of the current that was running. However, with its Flexofold three-blade folding prop (a two-blade Gori folding prop is also available as an option) and the aforementioned powerful rudder, the boat backed up effortlessly and made its way in and out of the closely packed marina with ease.
Since it first burst onto the boatbuilding scene back in the ‘70s, X-Yachts has been a force to be reckoned with. Especially impressive is the way it has continued to maintain its commitment to quality and excellent design over the years with a tenacity more typical of a hungry startup. How appropriate that the company should mark its first four decades with this outstanding 40-footer.
LOA 39ft 8in LWL 34ft 1in BEAM 12ft 6in
DRAFT 6ft 11in (std.); 7ft 7in (deep)
SAIL AREA 840ft(main and self-tacking jib)
FUEL/WATER (GAL) 53/79
ENGINE Yanmar 29hp (with saildrive)
BALLAST RATIO 36
SA/D RATIO 20 D/L RATIO 194
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
DESIGNER Niels Jeppesen
BUILDER X-Yachts, Haderslev, Denmark, x-yachts.com
U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Rodgers Yacht Sales, (860) 536-7776,
PRICE $375,200 (sailaway) at time of publication