Kraken Yachts is not well known in the United States—yet. The British-based company has three yachts in its portfolio, the latest of which, the Kraken 50, is a center-cockpit bluewater cruiser aimed squarely at the niche dominated by the likes of Hallberg-Rassy.
Built in China and designed by New Zealander Kevin Dibley, who has drawn a host of successful racers and cruising boats, the Kraken 50 is a purposeful-looking boat whose form follows its intended function—to carry a cruising crew and a sizeable payload across oceans in all weathers. There are no concessions to fashion here, just well-proven design features and construction, all packaged in a good-looking hull.
A shorthanded crew can handle the double headsails and in-boom reefing without the need to leave the security of the deep central cockpit. In foul weather, they can retreat belowdecks to keep watch from a raised nav station. Raised bulwarks and wide side decks are useful safety features, as is what the company calls the “Zero Keel”—a long fin with its lead ballast encapsulated within layers of fiberglass and Kevlar (and zero keel bolts). The bow sections are reinforced with Kevlar for impact resistance. Unusually in this day and age, the rudder is skeg-hung, a feature that will delight traditionalists.
A boat with similar aspirations but vastly different execution, Dufour’s Grand Large 520 is a refinement of the 512 introduced last year as the new standard-bearer for the GL range. The sweet-sailing hull by Umberto Felci and the powerful sailplan remain untouched, but the cockpit layout and interior accommodations have both been revamped.
It’s been fun watching the big production builders try to one-up each other over cockpit design ever since Dufour introduced a built-in grill, fridge and wet bar with its GL 500 in 2013; these ideas have been widely imitated, but with the 520 Dufour has again upped the ante with an extended split-level swim platform that greatly increases the playing/sunbathing/swimming area. “Mine’s bigger than yours…” A 39-liter fridge is housed within the cockpit table, and the barbecue and wet bar under the helm seats are even more generously proportioned than before. Another new touch is the generously upholstered, curved helm seat-backs, along with a central helm bench that rotates to provide an extra seat at the cockpit dining table. How will Beneteau, Bavaria and Hanse respond? Watch this space.
Meanwhile, the cavernous interior has been restyled to make even better use of the impressive volume; there is a choice of four layouts, with up to four cabins/four heads. The new Dufour made its European debut in the fall and will appear at the Newport and Annapolis shows in 2018.
If you’re up for a touch of foiling fun, the new F101 could be just the boat for you. The little tri was developed by Ron Price, who designed the foiling Whisper cat that won a SAIL Best Boats award for 2016. Like the Whisper, the F101 is a foiler for non-foiling sailors—as long as you’ve got some decent sailing skills, you should be able to get airborne on this boat in next to no time.
It’s being built in the UK by White Formula, and the price tag is expected to be in the region of $20,000. At the time of writing, the search was on for a U.S. distributor.
Kraken Yachts krakenyachts.com
Dufour Yachts dufour-yachts.com
Foiling 101 Foiling101.com