Swedish yachts are renowned the world over for their qual­ity, but not nec­es­sar­ily for their speed. Gra­ham Snook tests the Arcona 435 to see why this needs to change

Yachting Monthly - - CONTENTS - Words & pic­tures Gra­ham Snook

She’s sleek, light and fast, but this grey­hound of the sea is also built with ex­act­ing Swedish qual­ity

Iam not usu­ally one for tear­ing around the So­lent look­ing for boats to race, but af­ter a de­light­ful sail on the Arcona 435 the Mr Toad in me had thor­oughly taken over. Even though we were just about to re­turn to Lymington and the un­sus­pect­ing ‘tar­get’ was some way to weather, I couldn’t re­sist the op­por­tu­nity to throw the helm down and go off in pur­suit one more time. It just felt so good, and I would rather be late com­ing along­side than give up the chance of sail­ing the Arcona 435 for a lit­tle longer.

As much as I en­joy sail­ing my own boat, she’s not fast, and I can al­ways con­jure up a num­ber of ex­cuses why I am be­ing passed by other boats, but the Arcona is quick and sail­ing a boat like her was a treat I rarely get to en­joy. I test many yachts, but few match the Arcona for sail­ing plea­sure.

Fast cars are low, sleek ma­chines that look like they’re mov­ing while parked. In fact, see­ing one parked seems odd, as they should be driv­ing along hair­pin moun­tain roads. I had the same feel­ing when I saw the Arcona; see­ing her low, sleek pro­file re­strained (how­ever neatly) to a pon­toon felt wrong, like a grey­hound on a lead. What had she done to de­serve to be tied up?

It was a sunny, un­sea­son­ably warm Oc­to­ber day, and even though the winds were a light Force 3-4 the Arcona needed to be sailed. She re­warded those who took her wheels. The helm was fin­ger-light and re­spon­sive with just the right amount of feed­back from the Jefa steer­ing. Her hull is light and to­gether with a gen­er­ous sail area to dis­place­ment ra­tio, she’s quick and eas­ily pow­ered, helped on this oc­ca­sion by the North 3Di sails.

Even when over­pow­ered with her large asym­met­ric she re­tained her com­po­sure el­e­gantly so that only the weight on the helm and her speed in­creased. She sails as sleekly as she looks, mak­ing over 10 knots un­der asym­met­ric and in­creas­ing wind.

The seat­ing for the helm, out­board, is a bit low when sail­ing on an even keel, but with a bit of heel it starts to feel more nat­u­ral.

There is a raised lip in­board which gives some­thing to grip on (as do the pull-up foot rests), but a lit­tle more height would keep your rear pro­tected from a wet deck and make sit­ting a lit­tle more com­fort­able. As it is, you can sit aft, astride or for­ward of the wheel and still have ac­cess to the main­sheet winches (both were elec­tric driven on this yacht) and the main­sheet trav­eller which is for­ward of the wheel bin­na­cles. There is space aft of the wheels, do­ing away with the perched-on-the-tran­som feel­ing, but there is also the op­tion of hav­ing the aft end of the cock­pit more en­closed by way of wellplaced cock­pit boxes with a semi-open tran­som.


Un­like her pre­de­ces­sor, the Arcona 430 that started life with a sin­gle wheel, the 435 was de­signed with twin wheels from day one. This has made the hull carry the beam fur­ther aft for more width in the cock­pit, and with a flat­ter un­der­wa­ter pro­file for speed, her aft sec­tions lead up to a soft, rounded chine that gives more space in the twin aft cabins. While look­ing mod­ern, the hull hasn’t fol­lowed the fash­ion of hard an­gu­lar chines, twin rud­ders and high free­board. It’s an easy step up from a pon­toon to the deck, but the head­room be­low hasn’t taken a beat­ing be­cause of it.

The coachroof win­dows come in three op­tions, two with the frame­less look shown on this test boat — with one op­tion of hav­ing the win­dows open­ing, the other for them to be fixed. The third op­tion is for a line of open­ing black-framed hatches more fa­mil­iar to cur­rent Arcona own­ers.

The deck for­ward of the cock­pit is clean and clear, even the furl­ing line from the through-deck furler is led un­der the deck, as is the main­sheet, al­beit from a point aft of the mast. Hav­ing said that, the tack line from the bowsprit is led across the fore­deck just above an­kle height to dis­ap­pear into the for­ward end of the coachroof. There’s a good walk­through between the shrouds to wind­ward, but the jib is also sheeted through the gap and there’s a jib sheet in­haul run­ning across the deck from be­low the vang to catch out the un­wary.

Curved cor­ners and slight re­clines make the cock­pit a comfy place to be. At anchor or in har­bour the cock­pit ta­ble pops up from the sole (it’s housed in the space between the twin aft cabins). The lid, in the cock­pit sole, pro­vides a de­cent foot brace for the crew. She has Harken 60ST man­ual genoa sheet winches. The German main­sheet sys­tem is con­trolled by two Harken 46ST winches; one op­tion is for a sin­gle elec­tric main­sheet winch that can be op­er­ated

from ei­ther of the helm po­si­tions.

Main, genoa and spin­naker hal­yards are spec­tra and these, along with other lines from the mast, are led un­der the deck to an op­tional Harken 46ST elec­tric winch to star­board. The port winch is man­ual, but the lines can be crossed over.

There’s a 1.35m (4ft 5in) deep sail locker aft of the chain locker, with wind­lass. A sin­gle bow roller is in­te­grated into the car­bon bowsprit.

There are two large lazarette lock­ers aft of the helm. One neat touch I’ve not nor­mally found on other boats is that these lock­ers are il­lu­mi­nated, so even as dark­ness ap­proaches you can still find what you’re look­ing for.

There are rope bins in the for­ward end of the coam­ing as well as a cubby hole in the coam­ing aft of the sheet winch for the coachroof lines, and be­neath the helm seat in the deck for the genoa sheets and genoa car ad­just­ment line. One gets the im­pres­sion that, un­like some brands, those in­volved with the Arcona have spent time at sea and want to rid sail­ing of the an­noy­ing nig­gles we all en­counter.


Be­low decks, you’ll find an el­e­gant, un­der­stated fit out. There’s lit­tle wrong with the in­te­rior and it plays to the strengths of Arcona. It has the tra­di­tional feel of lots of qual­ity wood­work with white hull sides, which is good, but it’s con­ser­va­tive and doesn’t stand apart. Don’t get me wrong, there’s noth­ing bad about this, but it’s un­der­stated rather than set­ting the world alight or push­ing the bound­aries of yacht de­sign.

The in­te­rior is a pleas­ing mix­ture of Khaya ma­hogany and white tongue-and-groove ef­fect panels out­board. There were a few ar­eas that could have been im­proved upon (the fid­dle above the locker in the port aft cabin for in­stance), but when the whole boat is so good I was look­ing harder to find ar­eas that weren’t up to the gen­eral high qual­ity found on board. There are deep fid­dles-cum-hand­holds around the J-shaped gal­ley and chart ta­ble, and to­gether with

Even when over­pow­ered as the wind built, she re­tained her com­po­sure el­e­gantly

the suede-cov­ered stain­less-steel grab rails and deep ma­hogany handrails (at deck level) they make ne­go­ti­at­ing the sa­loon feel safe at sea. I did no­tice that when the blinds are fully down they ob­struct the long deck-level handrail though.

The gal­ley is also well thought out. At the base of the com­pan­ion­way the J-shaped gal­ley has workspace both in­board and out­board mean­ing your mot­ley crew can as­sist the cook with­out get­ting in their way. Per­spex slid­ing locker doors out­board are great as you can see where some­thing is be­fore root­ing around ev­ery locker in the gal­ley. There is a line of draw­ers aft, all with soft clo­sures, and for­ward of them is the three-burner stove (two burner is stan­dard). There’s also a nice bot­tle locker in the aft workspace which is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble while cook­ing. The stan­dard fridge isn’t the largest (at 37cm/1ft 2in deep), but this boat had the op­tion of the drawer fridge in the re­turn of the gal­ley, which makes get­ting drinks for the cock­pit dwellers a breeze.

It’s the de­tails that re­veal the work­man­ship in this boat. The L-shaped chart ta­ble op­po­site the gal­ley, for­ward of the aft heads com­part­ment, has a one-piece lam­i­nated 3cm-deep fid­dle that typ­i­fies the qual­ity of fin­ish on board. Un­like the 430, the nav­i­ga­tion sta­tion feels open. Gone is the plot­ter mount that came out for­ward of the chart ta­ble. This also makes the sa­loon feel longer, too. The chart ta­ble sup­port houses four long draw­ers, all just wait­ing to be filled with clob­ber that re­quires quick ac­cess.

There are hull win­dows which are sleek and barely no­tice­able as lit­tle more than bumps in the cove line from the out­side. While they do make the in­te­rior a lit­tle lighter they seem to be an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the cur­rent fash­ion for hull win­dows, rather than a whole-hearted em­brac­ing of it.


The Arcona’s cabins con­tinue the theme of a con­ven­tional, but ex­tremely high-qual­ity de­sign. The for­ward cabin is a pleas­ant, com­fort­able area

A true per­for­mance cruiser, the Arcona takes it all in her stride

with a long, wide is­land bed. There are top-hinged lock­ers, which on this boat did not have sup­ports to hold the doors open, but these will be in­cluded on all sub­se­quent boats.

The tongue and groove-ef­fect white hull sides give a clas­sic feel, and a ma­hogany hand-hold makes en­ter­ing and leav­ing the berth eas­ier.

Un­der the aft end of the berth are four good draw­ers, while for­ward of these is stowage with a small pro­tec­tive box screwed over the log and echosounder, but this does make it less con­ve­nient to clean the log. There’s a pipe, with a ball valve, run­ning through this locker. It leads from the for­ward deck locker into the grey wa­ter tank be­neath the sa­loon floor — the tank also takes the drip tray from the bot­tom of the keel-stepped mast and the drains from shower trays. The tank is then emp­tied via an au­to­matic pump.

The en­suite heads is a rea­son­able size, although it doesn’t have a sep­a­rate shower com­part­ment. It does, how­ever, have a wrap­around shower cur­tain. There’s a good hang­ing locker out­board, though the wet locker in the aft heads will per­haps see more use as you would have to get wet wa­ter­proofs to the for­ward cabin via the bed to use this one.

Both aft cabins are a good width (158cm/5ft 2in) that ex­tends un­der the line of top-hinged lock­ers out­board. These, like all lock­ers on board, have ven­ti­la­tion above them. It is an op­tion to have a pull-out shower from the tap in the aft heads, but this yacht’s owner chose not to have a shower aft.


This is a boat that of­fers el­e­gant and prac­ti­cal liv­ing space. The sa­loon feels wide as the seat­backs have been taken well out­board. While this does limit the stor­age space be­hind them, the trade-off is the sense of space. There are also plenty of hand-holds, ex­cept on the large fold-out ta­ble. There are lock­ers for­ward, com­ple­mented by book­shelves un­der the hull win­dows. With the tank­age un­der the seats (fuel to star­board, wa­ter to port) stowage is lim­ited to the ends of the C-shaped seat­ing to port.

There are also nice hid­den fea­tures such as stain­less-steel wa­ter tanks with cater­ing-grade pipework. The fixed ta­ble is good and has a deep drawer in its sup­port. Un­for­tu­nately, the bilge pump is on the port side of the ta­ble and is awk­ward to ac­cess as one has to crawl un­der the fixed ta­ble. There are op­tions for the ta­ble to have fold-down leaves.

En­gine ac­cess from the front and rear is ex­cel­lent, though less so from the sides. In­spec­tion panels can be added on re­quest.

The hull is foam-cored and vac­uum-in­fused us­ing vinylester resin; the foam goes down to around a 50cm each side of the cen­tre­line. The deck is foam­cored and in­jec­tion moulded, but care has been taken to hide any ex­te­rior fittings and the fin­ish of the head­lin­ing is ex­cel­lent.

RIGHT: A spa­cious and prac­ti­cal cock­pit. Note the foot rest that hides a pop-up ta­ble

BE­LOW: The Arcona is in her el­e­ment close to the wind. Jib sheet tweak­ers give ac­cu­rate con­trol of the jib leech

BE­LOW: With the asym­met­ric set, the speed jumped up to over 10 knots with­out los­ing any com­po­sure

RIGHT: Sa­loon seat­ing has been pushed well out­board to cre­ate a sense of space BE­LOW: Low, sleek lines and a moulded bow sprit for the kite

RIGHT: A fine bow makes the Arcona a quick boat to wind­ward

PROS + Sail­ing ex­pe­ri­ence + Good per­for­mance + Com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal in­te­rior CONS - No sep­a­rate shower com­part­ments - Low seat­ing at helm

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