Garcia Exploration 45: Jimmy Cornell’s Ideal Boat

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Jimmy Cornell’s first two cruising boats were built of fiberglass and steel respectively. By the time he got to his third Aventura, an Alubat Ovni 435, he had settled on aluminum as his preferred hull material. His fourth Aventura, like the Ovni, is aluminum with internal ballast and an integral centerboard that pulls up into the bilges of the boat, a common feature on French-built alloy boats. Unlike the Ovni this new Garcia has twin rudders, dual helms and a deck saloon cabinhouse with a cored fiberglass coachroof.


Prior to this passage I had sailed Aventura IV briefly on Chesapeake Bay, as part of the SAIL evaluation team that gave her a 2015 Best Boat award, and I have to say her performance cannot be faulted. Jimmy claims she is more closewinded than his old Ovni, thanks to her foil-shaped centerboard, and during our test sail in Maryland she felt fully powered up at about a 40-degree apparent-wind angle, making better than 6 knots in a 20-knot breeze in choppy conditions. Even in light conditions, as I learned during the passage to Panama, she is easily driven, particularly when sailing off the wind, when her board can be raised to reduce wetted surface area. The wheel in a strong breeze feels light and easy, with just a touch of weather helm; in a weak breeze it is positive and exhibits little or no lee helm. One of the boat’s best features, I feel, is its motion in a seaway, which is remarkably smooth and easy for a monohull.

[brightcove videoid="3975550875001" playerid="4343385270001" height="315" width="560" featured="true"]

The cockpit layout is excellent. The best feature here is the overhanging coachroof, which functions in effect as a hard dodger and creates a comfortable, sheltered outdoor space from which the deck can be easily monitored. The drawback is that the raised roof obstructs forward sightlines near the boat’s centerline, but seating outboard of the wheels is very comfortable, so helmspeople should be happy steering and peering ahead from one side or the other. All control lines are led under the deck to the cockpit coamings, except that on Jimmy’s boat the lines for the first reef in the main are left at the mast. My one complaint regarding the running rigging is that certain important line runs, particularly those for the main halyard and mainsheet, have a bit too much friction in them.

The boat’s interior is dominated by the wraparound view in the raised saloon. The nav desk is forward, directly behind what is effectively the boat’s windshield, and has secondary autopilot and engine controls so that an active watch can be maintained from here. My one critique of the interior is that, in spite of the great view, it feels a bit cramped. Partly this is because of the two collision bulkheads stealing space fore and aft, but also because in this “Jimmy Cornell” version of the layout (shown below) there are too many berths. In addition to the owner’s stateroom forward, with an island double berth and ensuite head, there are two bunks alongside the short passageway between the forward stateroom and saloon and another two singles crammed into the undersized starboard aft stateroom, plus a full double in the larger aft stateroom to port.

Alternative layouts have fewer berths with more useful storage space next to the port-side inline galley and, if desired, a larger head aft with space for a dedicated shower stall.
The systems installations are first-rate. The engine space is easily accessed, as is the centerboard trunk, which has a very useful inspection port. To fine-tune weight distribution as fuel and water are consumed, there are transfer pumps to shift contents between the port and starboard tanks. Aventura IV is also equipped with a full solar array, a wind generator, plus a water generator, and in spite of being an energy-intensive boat, during our passage we found it easy to keep her battery banks pumped up and healthy.

Garcia 45 sail plan with Jimmy's configurations

Garcia 45 sail plan with Jimmy's configurations. Pip Hurn illustration


LOA 45ft 10in LWL 40ft 6in BEAM 14ft 6in
DRAFT 9ft 2in/3ft 5in AIR DRAFT 65ft
DISPLACEMENT 31,085lb Ballast 9,480lb
SAIL AREA 979ft2
ENGINE 55hp Volvo Penta diesel
What do these ratios mean? Visit

DESIGNER Racoupeau Yacht Design
BUILDER Garcia Yachting, Condé-sur-Noireau, France
U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Swiftsure Yachts, Seattle, WA,

To read A Passage from Florida to Panama with Jimmy Cornell, click here.

August 2015



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