I guess I should have paid more attention to the trapeze, and if not the trapeze, then the all-carbon fiber hull and appendages. If ever there was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the 19ft 3in Scandinavian Cruiser 20 is it.
The brochure shows a narrow boat with classic lines modeled on those of the Square-Meter boats of the early 20th century. There’s also a 309lb bulb comprising approximately half the boat’s total displacement, but don’t be fooled. This may technically be a keelboat, but is sure feels a heck of a lot like a dinghy to me.
By the time we got out on the SC 20, it was early afternoon and the sea breeze had come in, bringing with it puffs in the upper teens. The acceleration was amazing, as was the sensitive helm—again much like a dinghy. The narrow hull (beam is just 4ft 3in) is as slippery as it looks, and I had to both concentrate and relax to keep from over-steering. In fact, the boat steers so quickly if you put the helm down hard without warning your crew, he or she could easily end up in the drink.
In contrast to the 2M, the Scandinavian Cruiser comes with plenty of strings to pull, thanks to a 172ft2 roller-furling A-sail. The 41ft2 jib is self-tacking, and the 97ft2 main is set on a rotating, two-piece carbon fiber wing mast and carbon fiber boom. Our test boat came with an above-boom vang, which made it much easier going from side to side during tacks and gybes. This is a boat that would be a joy to singlehand. In true dinghy style, it will race with a crew of two.
One thing I didn’t particularly like was the way the mainsheet is cleated aft of the rudderpost. It’s a challenge to keep your arms from getting crossed up while steering, sheeting in or—most importantly—blowing off the sail in the heavy stuff. The downside of a diminutive cockpit, I suppose.
Despite its dinghy-like performance, the keel and bulb come into their own as the boat starts to heel. There’s not much form stability in a narrow hull like the one on the Scandinavian Cruiser, but once the bulb has a chance to establish some righting moment it does so with authority. The result is a boat that offers the best of both worlds—the exhilarating, high-octane performance of a dinghy with the safety and security of a keelboat.
Like the 2M, the Scandinavian Cruiser 20 offers a refreshingly new approach to daysailing and one-design racing. For those in search of a combination of blistering performance and classic good looks, this just might be the right boat. I very much hope the boat does well. A strong one-design class would be a sight to behold.
SCANDINAVIAN CRUISER 20 SPECS
LOA: 19ft 3in
BEAM: 4ft 3in
DRAFT: 4ft 7in
SAIL AREA: 138 sq ft (jib & main)
BUILDER: Scandinavian Cruisers www.scandinaviancruisers.com