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What does performance bring to cruising?

April 15th, 2024 news

What does performance bring to cruising?

Contrary to popular belief, a fast yacht has a lot of advantages when you’re heading off on holiday as a couple or with family. Safety, effortless manoeuvrability and fun sailing even in light airs are all substantial, if not essential assets, when you want holidays on the water to play out without a hitch. Indeed, its benefits are in stark contrast to a typical heavier cruiser, which has less ballast stability and a deck layout geared around lounging about rather than manoeuvring. Below are four reasons why a high-performance cruiser is the best choice for sailing with confidence.

 

Greater safety

Between Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa, we encountered 40 knots of breeze on very choppy seas. I was very happy to be on a seaworthy yacht with a deep draft and a cockpit designed to manoeuvre quickly,” explains Thierry Douillard, an inshore and offshore racer, who also relishes family cruises every summer. To escape a gale, a high-performance boat with a reasonable draught (1.90m) and well-proportioned deck fittings, which are positioned in such a way as to enable effortless manoeuvring, is a guarantee of safety. “For years, I’ve chartered yachts designed for anchoring rather than sailing. Close-hauled in a strong breeze, it’s impossible to get to your destination so we’ve had to turn back on several occasions. It’s enough to put you off sailing!” admits Gilles Mendiboure, owner of a J122 Elegance, based in the Mediterranean and built at J Composites in Les Sables d’Olonne on France’s Atlantic coast.

 

More fun when sailing

Some meticulous work by the naval architects and the design office goes into these so-called high-performance cruisers, particularly with regards to the power-weight ratio, which ensures the best possible balance. At the helm this translates as a thrilling ride: finesse, precision, a bow clear of the water and hence responsive to the slightest twitch of the rudder as well as safe reactions in the gusts. In short, it ensures you get an immense amount of pleasure from sailing! “I often sail alone on my boat and I love feeling that the trimming is serving a purpose. The boat sure is nifty. I only sail along the coast from island to island. I love the idea of going from place to place under sail with a well-trimmed sail wardrobe,” smiles Gilles Mendiboure. Thierry Douillard echoes this sentiment: “An ergonomic deck layout designed around trimming your sails and set up for manœuvres like reefing, well-positioned mainsheet tackle… All this makes for a seaworthy boat and that’s the definition of pleasurable sailing. Equally, it’s more comfortable for everyone on-board and it’s less hard on the crew.”

 

Devouring the miles faster

Isn’t the pleasure of cruising associated with discovering an unknown island, a solitary anchorage or a foreign port? Whether it’s a question of a long sea crossing or a shorter passage, making fast headway across the water means you can get much more out of a stopover. “Only yesterday it took me just 5 hours to cover 30 miles. Close-hauled in 18 knots of breeze, the boat racked up an average speed of 7 knots. What more could you ask? enquires Gilles. At 30° to the apparent wind at an average speed of 7 knots, or at 55° making 4.5 knots, this takes cruising to another level. “The extra 50cm of draught on these high-performance yachts makes a huge difference when you’re sailing and ultimately it’s not a hindrance at anchor, especially if you’re sailing in the Mediterranean. 1.50m and 1.90m makes no difference when you’re dropping anchor, but it makes a world of difference when you’re sailing!” explains Thierry Douillard.

 

Less time under power

These high-performance yachts may not be able to boast a Louis XVI chest of drawers, but the layout is very adequate and above all there is a concern for weight distribution, like water and diesel tanks generally being positioned close to the centre of gravity. Add to that a light, stiff construction, and you’ll get a lively craft, which gets up and going in the slightest puff of breeze. High-performance boats love the light airs! Gilles Mendiboure backs this up: “In three years of sailing for 6 months of the year, I’ve only clocked up 120 hours on the engine. In fact, I only use it to exit and enter port.” Less motoring, less noise, even greater pleasure under sail!

 

So, you’ve got it, for sailing along the coast or long passages, a high-performance yacht can only be an advantage, unless you want to sail in long, narrow inlets or shallow areas. The very essence of navigation is respected on these cruising craft, with more and more emphasis on habitability. The equation of performance = less comfort, no longer holds true. So why deprive yourself when you love real sailing?

 

 

 

Qu’apporte la performance en croisière ? 

Contrairement aux idées reçues, un voilier rapide offre bien des avantages lorsque l’on part en vacances en couple ou en famille. Sécurité, manœuvrabilité sans effort, et plaisir de naviguer même dans les petits airs sont autant d’atouts appréciables voire indispensables pour que les vacances sur l’eau se déroulent sans anicroches, contrairement à la navigation sur un bateau plus lourd, avec moins de stabilité de lest et un plan de pont plutôt étudié pour le farniente que pour la manœuvre. Voici en quatre points pourquoi un croiseur performant demeure le meilleur choix pour naviguer sereinement.

 

Plus de sécurité

« Entre Malte et l’île italienne de Lampedusa, nous avons rencontré 40 nœuds de vent sur une mer très hachée. J’étais bien content d’être sur un voilier au sens marin avec de la profondeur de quille et un cockpit étudié pour manœuvrer rapidement. » raconte Thierry Douillard, régatier et coureur au large, également grand adepte de la croisière en famille chaque été. Pour s’échapper d’un fort coup de vent, un bateau performant doté d’un tirant d’eau raisonnable (1,90 m), d’un accastillage bien dimensionné et positionné de telle manière que l’on manœuvre sans effort est gage de sécurité. « J’ai loué pendant des années des voiliers conçus pour le mouillage, non pour la navigation. Dans le vent fort au près, impossible d’arriver au but, il nous a fallu plusieurs fois rebrousser chemin, c’est à vous dégoûter de naviguer à la voile ! » confie Gilles Mendiboure, propriétaire d’un J122 Elegance, basé en Méditerranée et construit chez J Composites aux Sables d’Olonne.

 

Plus de plaisir en navigation

Derrière ces voiliers de croisière dits performants se cache un travail minutieux de la part des architectes et du bureau d’études sur le rapport poids-puissance, gage du meilleur équilibre possible. A la barre les sensations sont garanties : de la finesse, de la précision, une étrave hors de l’eau qui répond à la moindre sollicitation du gouvernail, des réactions saines dans les surventes, bref un immense plaisir de naviguer à la voile ! « Je navigue souvent seul sur mon bateau et j’aime sentir que les réglages servent à quelque chose. Le bateau a du répondant. Je ne fais que du cabotage d’île en île, j’aime l’idée d’aller d’un endroit à un autre à la voile avec une garde-robe bien réglée. » sourit Gilles Mendiboure. Et Thierry Douillard d’ajouter : « Plan de pont ergonomique conçu pour régler ses voiles et pensé pour la manœuvre comme les prises de ris, palan d’écoute de grand-voile bien placé, c’est tout ça un bateau marin, c’est le plaisir de la voile. Et c’est plus confortable pour tout le monde à bord, moins dur pour l’équipage. »

 

Des milles plus vite avalés

Le plaisir de la croisière n’est-il pas dans la découverte d’une île inconnue, d’un mouillage solitaire, d’un port étranger ? Que ce soit sur une longue traversée où un plus petit parcours, aller vite sur l’eau permet de profiter d’autant plus de l’escale. « J’ai mis 5 petites heures pas plus tard qu’hier pour faire 30 milles. Au près dans 18 nœuds de vent, le bateau a affiché 7 nœuds de moyenne. Que demander de plus ! » raconte Gilles. A 30° du vent apparent à la vitesse moyenne de 7 nœuds, ou à 55° à 4,5 nœuds, la croisière n’est pas du tout la même. « Les 50 cm de tirant d’eau en plus sur ces voiliers performants se ressentent énormément en navigation et finalement sont peu gênants au mouillage surtout si l’on navigue en Méditerranée. 1,50 m et 1,90 m cela ne change rien au moment de jeter l’ancre et c’est le jour et la nuit en navigation ! » explique Thierry Douillard.

 

Moins de moteur

A bord de ces voiliers performants pas de « commodes Louis XVI » mais des emménagements suffisants, et surtout un souci de répartition du poids, comme les réservoirs d’eau et de gasoil généralement placés proches du centre de gravité. Ajoutez à cela un matériau de construction rigide et léger, et vous obtiendrez une unité vivante qui démarre au moindre souffle d’air. Les bateaux performants aiment le petit temps ! Gilles Mendiboure le confirme : « En trois ans alors que je navigue 6 mois de l’année, je n’ai fait que 120 h de moteur. Ce dernier me sert finalement qu’à sortir et rentrer au port. » Moins de moteur, moins de bruit, toujours plus de plaisir sous voiles !

 

Vous l’aurez compris, pour le cabotage ou les grandes traversées, un voilier performant n’a finalement que des avantages, à moins de vouloir naviguer dans des rias ou des zones de faible profondeur. L’essence même de la navigation est respectée sur ces unités de croisière sur lesquelles les constructeurs travaillent de plus en plus sur l’habitabilité. L’équation performance = moins de confort, n’est plus vrai. Alors pourquoi s’en priver quand on aime la voile, la vraie ?

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