A Wor­thy MIS­SION

The alu­minum-hulled BORÉAL 47 — Cruis­ing World’s over­all Boat of the Year for 2018 — is de­signed and built for the deep­est oceans, the shal­low­est es­tu­ar­ies and any lat­i­tude you choose.

Cruising World - - Boats & Gear - BY TIM MUR­PHY

Gale-force winds blew through the midat­lantic re­gion on the night be­fore we were sched­uled to sail the Boréal 47 on Ch­e­sa­peake Bay last Oc­to­ber. First thing that morn­ing, we called the builder to can­cel.

“Why don’t we keep our ap­point­ment?” replied Jean­françois Ee­man, Boréal’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. “These are the con­di­tions she was built for.”

So Cruis­ing World’s Boat of the Year judges suited up and went for a sail that I sus­pect none of us will ever for­get. It all crys­tal­ized for us as we sailed out from be­hind Green­bury Point into the full teeth and bois­ter­ous se­away of a northerly that by now had di­min­ished into the high 20s.

“Go ahead and take your hand off the wheel,” Ee­man sug­gested to my col­league Bill Bolin, which he very ten­ta­tively did. No au­topi­lot was en­gaged; no wind­vane; no lines from the sheets. “It’s OK,” said Ee­man. “Just let her go.” Sure enough, with main­sail reefed and the genoa par­tially furled, the Boréal steered it­self for a minute, two min­utes, five min­utes, six. And even as we walked around the deck and moved our weight around the boat, I’m con­vinced it would have con­tin­ued on like that, el­e­gantly bal­anced and steer­ing true, all the way to Nor­folk if we hadn’t made other ap­point­ments for that day.

The se­cret to the boat’s im­pec­ca­bly bal­anced steer­ing — just one of this boat’s sev­eral se­cret weapons — is a pair of shal­low dag­ger­boards mounted aft athwart the sin­gle mid­ship rud­der. By rais­ing the wind­ward dag­ger and low­er­ing the lee­ward, the boat tracks as sweet as you please. For con­text, it’s worth men­tion­ing that twin rud­ders have be­come a full-blown trend in this year’s fleet of cruis­ing boats. But the Boréal’s cre­ator, Jean-françois Delvoye, dis­trusts twin rud­ders. (In a com­pany led by two men named Jean-françois, the prin­ci­pals an­swer to JFE and JFD.)

Delvoye had con­ceived and de­signed the Boréal two decades ago, dur­ing a six-year cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion with his wife and four chil­dren that in­cluded long stretches of time in Patag­o­nia. His first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence taught him to dis­trust twin rud­ders be­cause their po­si­tion out­board of the keel leaves them too ex­posed. Yet so many of today’s full hull forms, with the beam car­ried well aft, of­ten beg for some steer­ing help once the boat is heeled. The Boréal’s dag­gers do ex­actly that, and all while keep­ing the rud­der pro­tected.

That brings us to an­other of the Boréal’s se­cret weapons: its keel box — or, as Delvoye calls it, the “keel em­bryo.” The boat’s cen­ter­board, which drops down to 8 feet 1 inch, is a NACA foil that’s de­signed for lat­eral sta­bil­ity only, not bal­last. The keel em­bryo con­tains the boat’s lead bal­last and ex­tends deeper than the rud­der’s low­est point. What’s more, the Boréal

is de­signed to sit on its keel em­bryo when the tide runs out from be­neath it.

“In Brit­tany,” said Ee­man of the re­gion of France that’s home to the Boréal yard, “we have 10 me­ters [33 feet] of tide. We use the boat as a week­end house on the beach.” No poles, no crutches: The boat sits on its own bot­tom. “We can stand on the side and jump. The boat will not flip over. If you had a vir­tual fin­ger, you could push the mast, and up to 14 de­grees she’ll come back. At 14 de­grees, she would slowly lay over on her first chine, which is at the same an­gle. So you never fall.”

Boréal builds be­tween eight and 10 boats per year. Since 2005, the yard has launched roughly 50 boats in two sizes: 44/47 and 52/55. Clas­sic tran­som ver­sus scoop tran­som ac­counts for the dif­fer­ence around the slashes. We sailed hull num­ber 37, Lu­nacy, owned by sailing jour­nal­ist Char­lie Doane. For de­tails about Doane’s first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence with the boat, in­clud­ing beach­ing and a shake­down transat­lantic pas­sage, check out “Lu­nacy Re­port” at wave­train. net.

The Boréal’s stand­out de­sign fea­ture is its well-ex­e­cuted dog­house and pi­lot­house. This is es­sen­tially a hard dodger that pro­vides out­side shel­ter for two at the for­ward end of the cock­pit. A mas­sive water­tight door opens into a pi­lot­house with a port­side nav sta­tion inside the heated cabin and still at cock­pit level. From that pi­lot­house, you step down the com­pan­ion­way into the sa­loon and pri­vate cab­ins.

The Boréal’s con­struc­tion is ro­bust alu­minum built to an “ex­pe­di­tion boat” stan­dard, fol­low­ing from the ex­pe­ri­ence both Delvoye and Ee­man gained from sailing in high lat­i­tudes, in­clud­ing Antarc­tica. Of course, ev­ery build­ing ma­te­rial comes with its par­tic­u­lar con­cerns. While stronger and far more abra­sion-re­sis­tant than fiber­glass-re­in­forced plas­tic, alu­minum lives near the least no­ble end of the gal­vanic se­ries of met­als. To coun­ter­act cor­ro­sion, Boréal sand­blasts the hull be­low the water­line, then ap­plies an epoxy bar­rier coat within eight hours, be­fore ox­i­da­tion can start. From there, the un­der­wa­ter cor­ro­sion-mit­i­ga­tion strat­egy con­tin­ues with three sac­ri­fi­cial an­odes: one at the rud­der, one at the cen­ter­board and a large 5-kilo­gram an­ode bolted to the hull near the en­gine and stain­less-steel pro­pel­ler shaft. Cus­tom-made plas­tic and an­odized bush­ings iso­late dis­sim­i­lar met­als through­out the boat. A hull-po­ten­tial meter at the pi­lot­house keeps the op­er­a­tor ap­prised of any gal­vanic-cor­ro­sion is­sues be­fore they dam­age ma­te­rial.

In the 2018 fleet, this Boréal 47 won Cruis­ing World’s award as over­all Boat of the Year. It’s a boat that puts me in mind of some­thing the legendary yacht de­signer Bill Cre­alock said at a de­sign fo­rum or­ga­nized around the magazine’s 25th an­niver­sary (see “The Fu­tur­ists,”

CW, Oc­to­ber 1999): “The chal­lenge of cruis­ing boats,” he said, “is that they’re a fixed plat­form op­er­at­ing in a vari­able en­vi­ron­ment. You re­ally need one boat for pas­sage­mak­ing and an­other one for port.” Our 1999 de­sign­ers fo­rum ended with a pre­dic­tion: “The trend of fu­ture boats will see an in­crease in their adapt­abil­ity to all the con­tra­dic­tory sit­u­a­tions we sailors love to put them in.”

The Boréal’s ul­ti­mate se­cret weapon is its over­all de­sign and build. Ro­bust, seakindly, bal­anced, beach­able: It em­bod­ies Cre­alock’s long-ago dream for the fu­ture.

Tim Mur­phy is a CW editor at large and a long­time Boat of the Year judge.

From its com­fort­able for­ward state­room (top) to its split-level sa­loon and ac­com­mo­da­tion plan (above), the lay­out of the 2018 Boat of the Year win­ner is clean and cozy.

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