Santa Cruz 37

The Santa Cruz 37 was one of several new high-performance keelboats introduced at the 2008 Annapolis Boat Show. However, describing the SC37 as a “keelboat” isn’t really accurate. This is a 37-foot lightweight carbon raceboat with horsepower to burn. Its high aspect-ratio torpedo bulb keel provides plenty of stiffness by getting the lead bulb 7 feet, 6 inches below the
Author:
Publish date:
santa_cruz_37



The Santa Cruz 37 was one of several new high-performance keelboats introduced at the 2008 Annapolis Boat Show. However, describing the SC37 as a “keelboat” isn’t really accurate. This is a 37-foot lightweight carbon raceboat with horsepower to burn. Its high aspect-ratio torpedo bulb keel provides plenty of stiffness by getting the lead bulb 7 feet, 6 inches below the waterline; it also fully retracts with a powerful winch or optional hydraulic ram. The bulb comes up nearly flush with the hull to ease trailering and even make launching from a ramp possible (instead of having to line up for the crane). Here’s my take-away from a test drive that took place in a building breeze at the mouth of the Severn River, off Annapolis, Maryland.

Construction

Both the hull and deck are built with carbon-fiber fabrics, epoxy resin, and a structural PVC foam core, over a layer of isophthalic gelcoat in the mold. Hardware mounting points and high-load areas on the deck are reinforced with high-density-foam inserts and biaxial and unidirectional carbon fiber. The structural grid is made of E-glass with carbon-fiber reinforcements and is bonded to the hull with methacrylate adhesive. The main structural bulkhead is made of carbon with a PVC foam core and is bonded to both the hull and the deck.

On deck

This boat was the darling of the shows because it just “showed” so well. From the easily retractable daggerboard-like rudder (set in a cassette) to the twin carbon helms, open transom, and dual “sprits” on the bow (a short, fixed prod for the Code-0 and a long, retractable carbon pole for a big A-sail), the SC37 had lots of clever, though not really revolutionary, features. As we threaded the needle through a throng of powerboats lining up for the powerboat show, the go-fast deck layout did not surprise or disappoint. Long, easily accessible traveler with plenty of purchase on the sole directly in front of the helms—check. Double-ended mainsheet—check. Adjustable jib cars and dedicated jib in-hauler system led aft—check. Harken 40 two-speed primary winches—check. The cockpit has plenty of elbow room for a racing crew, and the lack of backrests makes it that much easier to maneuver crew weight up on the rail. Well-placed chocks by the helms allow for a comfortable driving position as the boat heels. Visibility is excellent.

Accommodations

You’re probably not going for a boat like this based on the accommodation plan, but it’s surprisingly spacious, comfortable, and, dare I say, even a bit “shippy” as opposed to “hard-core-racer-y.” Wood veneers give the space a warm glow, the long fixed cabinhouse windows let in plenty of light, and it has all the features (comfortable bunks, 6-foot, 3-inch headroom, big galley and nav station) you’ll need to spend a bunch of days aboard. And of course the saloon table folds up to reveal the top of the lifting keel.

nav_station_santa_cruz_37
woodwork_santa_cruz_37_interior
santa_cruz_37_full_layout

Under sail

The breeze steadily built from a glassy 10 knots to a spirited 18 as the wind funneled out the Severn. Perfect. Early on, during the light-wind portion of the test, tacking angles were narrow (approximately 75 degrees), helm feel was balanced and responsive, and we sliced to windward at an easy 7 knots. You don’t need to be a flashy, sunglasses-wearing pro racer to keep speeds in the 7s and the boat in the groove. Sweet. As the wind ratcheted up, so did acceleration. Wind speed and boatspeed were almost in direct correlation. That said, as the big A-sail went up, the wind built to the high teens, boatspeed jumped to the high 9s and 10s, and the helm and sail trim required a bit more focus. That is the case on any high-performance boat; everything was under control, but the wide groove narrowed a bit. We ran out of water quickly at those speeds, and after several laps down the drag strip, we doused the kite and headed for home. It was at that point, working upwind in about 18 knots of breeze, that the helm felt a bit “funky” under the load. It wasn’t overpowered, but it felt kind of bound up. A crewmember was working the traveler in the puffs, and the boat’s designer, Tim Kernan, was on board, so when we got back to the dock I asked Tim, “Have you noticed anything with the steering?” He responded, “This is hull #1, and we thankfully got it to the show, but our supplier sent the wrong bearings for the barrel cassette. We’re all over it, and that funkiness will disappear with the new bearings.” These things happen, and I have no doubt that the steering will be spot-on in the future.

Vital Statistics

Headroom: 6'3", berths (forward/aft) 6'x5*8" (at widest point), 6'7"x5'8", Saloon seats 6'3"x1'8", Cockpit seats 4'x1'6"


BUILDER:
Santa Cruz Yachts, Green Cove Springs, Florida; santacruzyachts.com
DESIGNER:
Tim Kernan, kernandesign.com
LOA:
37'
LWL:
34'9"
Beam:
10'7"
Draft:
(std/opt) 7'6"/6'
Displacement:
8,662 lbs
Ballast:
3,730 lbs
electrical:
(2) Deep-cycle batteries, 50-amp alternator
Sail area: (main and jib)
725 sq ft
Fuel/water/waste:
19/26/9 gal
Power:
29-hp Yanmar
Displ.-length ratio:
92
Sail area-displ. ratio:
27.5
Ballast-displ. ratio:
46%

Under power

We didn’t really need the engine to get off the mooring, but the 29-horse Yanmar (smartly placed in the lowest part of the center of the boat) provided all the oomph we needed to get boatspeed up to 6 knots. Handling under power was exactly what you’d want and expect.

Our take

santa_cruz_37_internal_layout

Pros:

  • Speed potential
  • Retracting keel
  • Good accommodation plan

Cons:

  • Steering glitch (has reportedly been fixed)
  • Primary winches felt slightly undersized

Conclusion

This is a light, stiff boat that’ll scream if you want it to, and would be quite comfortable on a cruise or living aboard during regattas. The lifting keel will be a boon to anyone who has dealt with bigger keelboats on trailers or to those of us who sometimes try to cut corners over a shoal and fail. I’m not all that concerned with the steering issue I encountered. This is part of a new boat’s teething process. As long as they get that cassette/rudder setup dialed in, this boat should have a place at the table.

Related

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more