Minorchino 34 and 42
Designed and built by sailors, the Menorquin 34 and 42 are aimed at sailors too – or anyone who wants a capable, comfortable and stylish semidisplacement motor cruiser, says David Harding
Stylish semi-displacement motorcruisers made in Menorca
For some of us, hearing the words ‘Mediterranean’ and ‘motorboat’ in the same sentence conjures up images of boats that are fast and flashy; fair-weather playthings for people we might choose to have little to do with in the normal course of events.
There are, however, all sorts of motorboats in the Med – and, lest we be accused of stereotyping, of motorboat owners too. Of course we’re all aware of the little open fishing vessels that still ply their trade away from the glitz of expensive marinas fringed by over-priced boutiques. What we might not know is that one of these breeds of little open fishing boat has evolved into a range of practical, semi-displacement motor-cruisers likely to be of particular interest to sailors hanging up their winch handles.
Not surprisingly, when we feature motorboats in PBO these are the sort we tend to test – rugged, go-anywhere motorboats that won’t force you to stay in harbour when people are leaving without hesitation in sailing yachts half your size. These are motorboats you’re happy to admit to your sailing friends that you own and that won’t lead to your being ostracised at the yacht club. Think Nelson, Seaward and Hardy and you’re on the right lines.
The names we know
These three well-established ranges have their origins in northern Europe – in Britain, to be precise – where you might expect such boats to come from. So you might be surprised that the new name hoping to get in among them comes from the Mediterranean. It’s less surprising when you consider that, as their name suggests, the Menorquins come from
Menorca. There’s a reason why it’s known as ‘the windy island’. And although the current generation of models is new to the UK, boats from the Menorquin stable have been around for nearly 40 years.
Tradition with a twist
it all began in 1978 when Juan Sastre Bernat started building production versions of the traditional double-ended Menorcan llaüt. Over the years he introduced progressively longer, roomier and more powerful designs, adding buoyant sections aft beneath the waterline to reduce squatting and increase speed without compromising the visual appeal of the round sterns.
Juan’s son José is now in charge, and the Saga Group – which includes Sasga Yachts and the Menorquins – has expanded its interests to include marinas, a charter company, commercial property and a yachtmaintenance division.
The boats have also seen significant developments since 2010, when Inigo Toledo was commissioned to update the range. I first came across Toledo, of Barracuda Yacht Design, in 2002 when testing the Ro 330 – a fast. attractive and well-mannered cruiser/ racer built by Ronautica Yachts. As well as being impressed by the boat, I learned that the designer had studied naval architecture at the Southampton Institute and worked with both German Frers and Reichel/Pugh before setting up on his own in the well-known coastal city of Madrid. His designs range from the Ro 330’s little sister, the 260, to one-off commissions, both sail and power, up to 190ft (58m) or so. Toledo has also been involved in the Spanish America’s Cup challenge and project management for the Spanish Royal Yacht.
The new designs are very different from the Menorquins of old. His brief was to create boats that were faster, roomier, more efficient and more modern in appearance while still being sea-kindly and retaining elements of the distinctive llaüt styling; hence the vertical stems, the bow and stern posts (harking back to the days of timber construction) and the canoe sterns.
It’s not easy to turn a boat that has always had a relatively slim hull, pointed at both ends, into one that’s capable of competing with the best of today’s semi-displacement motor-cruisers. To see how they had turned out, I went to Menorca with Nick Edgington of Edge-Water Marine, who had had just taken on the distributorship for the UK. At this point I should mention that the boats have also been promoted as Minorchinos, but the branding has now reverted to the original Menorquin.