Skip to main content

The Hunter 18

the new Hunter 18 replaces the Hunter 170, which for several years was a mainstay in Hunter’s line of small daysailers. Like the 170, the 18 can serve as both an easy-to-manage family daysailer and as a lively performance boat for those with more experience. At a glance the two boats look quite similar, sporting open transoms, centerboards and small sprayhoods forward. On closer inspection,
hunter18

The new Hunter 18 replaces the Hunter 170, which for several years was a mainstay in Hunter’s line of small daysailers. Like the 170, the 18 can serve as both an easy-to-manage family daysailer and as a lively performance boat for those with more experience.

At a glance the two boats look quite similar, sporting open transoms, centerboards and small sprayhoods forward. On closer inspection, however, you’ll see the 18 is a tad more performance-oriented, with two feet more of waterline length (compared to just one foot more overall length), a narrower hull relative to its length and an extra 20 square feet of sail area. The 18 also includes the option of an asymmetric spinnaker flown from a retractable bowsprit and sports some hard chines just above the waterline to increase stability and improve tracking when sailing at speed.

Yet another big difference between the two is in the construction. The 170 was built out of thermoformed Luran-S plastic, which reportedly sometimes cracked in cold weather. The 18 is simply a fiberglass boat, with a balsa-cored polyester hull and deck.

Picture%203

I sailed hull #70 on the Matanzas River in St. Augustine, Florida, with Steve Pettengill, who serves as Hunter’s unofficial Director of Destructive Testing. Given this job description and the weather forecast (winds building to 30 knots by afternoon) I expected we’d have an exciting sail. Working together, Steve and I commissioned the boat from scratch in less than an hour. Rigging a boat that’s already been fully commissioned takes only a few minutes and can be easily managed by one person.

By the time we were on the river the wind was gusting over 20 knots. I’d have been happy sailing under full main alone, or with the jib (which furls on its own luff) and a reefed main, but instead we set out under full working sail.

Though over-canvassed, the boat handled very well. Steering was precise, and we had no trouble keeping upright by playing the main when sailing on the wind. The controls are simple, effective and easy to handle. The high boom makes it unnecessary to duck when tacking, and a substantial centerline toerail and comfortably curved cockpit coaming make it easy to push your body out quickly to windward when heeling. The only thing lacking is a centerline hiking strap to hook your feet under, but this would be easy to retrofit.

Turning downwind on a broad reach, the boat tracked like a train and hit speeds of 7.5 knots over the ground stemming about one knot of tidal current. Steve then pulled out the retractable sprit and hoisted the spinnaker and things got busy. We survived the first gybe, but then broached as I was slow steering down in the first big gust that hit us. In the next big gust after we’d gotten ourselves straightened out again, I remained firm with the helm, and then the rudder snapped.

Almost instantly, Steve was on the phone with Hunter discussing this failure. Later he learned our test boat had mistakenly been fitted with a rudder off the old 170, instead of a proper 18 rudder, which has four extra layers of laminate.

I feel I can recommend this boat highly. Handled by sane people, it would be lots of fun to just knock around in. Obviously, it’s a blast to sail in the heavy stuff as well. And rest assured, if you ever decide you want to sail it as hard as Steve, your boat will be sure to have a rudder that is up to the job.

Related

00LEAD

A Force for Change: Captain Liz Gillooly

I first heard about Capt. Liz Gillooly in 2016 from my cousin while working three jobs in our shared hometown on the North Fork of Long Island and living with my parents to save money for a boat. But despite being the same age and growing up only 13 miles apart, Liz and I never ...read more

291726157_3222349914654950_8713674249134934221_n-2-1024x684

Sailing in the Growth Zone

The Goal This year, I’ve had a specific goal to be a better sailor. Some people have laughed and said, “Why do you need to be a better sailor? This was my 22nd year racing on the same boat, with the same crew. I like to win and want to make sure we stay at the top of the fleet. ...read more

00LEAD-Thomas-on-%22Melody%22-2004

The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Thor Tangvald

The first boat Thomas Tangvald ever owned was just 22 feet long. She was an odd craft, a narrow plywood scow with a flat bottom, leeboards on either side, and square ends—little more than a daysailer with a rotting deck and tiny cabinhouse tacked on. Thomas paid just $200 for ...read more

VIPCAshowbynight

USVI Charter Yacht Show Showcases a Flourishing Industry

As the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to attract sailors seeking to charter and explore the pristine territory on their own, the immense growth and expanded options for a crewed yacht or term charters have exploded here over the past five years. Last week, the USVI Charter ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-11-21-at-9.48.33-AM

Personal Locator Beacon Wins Top Design Award

The Ocean Signal RescueME PLB3 AIS Personal Locator took top honors at the 2022 DAME Design Awards, while Aceleron Essential, a cobalt-free lithium-iron phosphate battery with replaceable and upgradeable parts, won the first DAME Environmental Design Award. Announced each year ...read more

tracker

EPIRB in the Golden Globe Race

Tapio Lehtinen’s boat sank early this morning southeast of South Africa while racing the Golden Globe Race, a faithfully low-tech reproduction of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe. The boat went down quickly and stern-first according to the skipper’s emergency transmissions. ...read more

99640-victoire-de-charles-caudrelier-a-bord-du-maxi-edmond-de-rothschild-r-1200-900

Victory, Tragedy in the Route du Rhum

The 2022 Route du Rhum was a highly anticipated event in the ocean racing calendar, but few could have predicted exactly how challenging, dramatic, and tragic it would ultimately prove. French yachtsman Charles Caudrelier took home gold aboard the Ultim maxi trimaran Maxi Edmond ...read more

DSC_1879

Boat Review: Lyman-Morse LM46

Lyman-Morse has been building fine yachts in Thomaston, Maine, ever since Cabot Lyman first joined forces with Roger Morse back in 1978. With experience creating and modifying boats built of various materials, backed by its own in-house fabrication facility, the firm has ...read more