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Performance Yacht Review | 2024

By Ben Cooper

A recent addition to the positive column of having children is discussing lessons, learning and remembering what I learnt all those years ago, and inversely remembering what I had forgotten. Sums (now number sentences) I think I could hold my own on, but English now seems to be a different language. We recently discussed Polysemous words, and the difference to a Homonym, but I must admit I was lost – It did get me thinking though, as it coincided with the request to write 1,000 words for the Market Report. (Thanks to this, I have already achieved 96of them). One could argue that the word Performance is a Polysemous word, as it can stir different personal meanings and standpoints. Many cruising sailors really do not want performance. Every racing sailor wants performance. However, what if you could have comfort and performance? How do you decide what is ‘enough’ performance?

The Performance market for cruising is still one that is confused – almost every mid-range cruising yacht is provided with the performance moniker, but what does that actually mean? It is simple to look at the adverts, see the yacht thundering along and look at the slightly sped up ‘insta’ movies to convince yourself the yacht of your dreams will fill you with excitement when you want it, and comfort when you don’t– much like an Audi RS6. But how do you cut through this mire of information and promises, to determine what is really sporty? A good start is to wind the clock back to your physics lessons and use the good old rule of thumb of displacement and sail area. Add to the equation ballast ratio, draft and keel type and we are getting there. Unfortunately, there is no line in the sand to define Performance. I would rule displacement and righting moment as the primary ingredients, and add sail area depending on where you sail. For the Caribbean for example, you don’t need much. For the Med, much more please. Yes, of course you can reef. But. Hull shape, wide is good across the wind, narrow is good upwind and dead downwind. If wide –she must be light.

I am conscious that on this rather brief and apologetically banal waffle, I have come close to describing the relatively new and equally awesome Pegasus 50. Carbon build, with a simple view on systems, but very comfortable and a swift Bluewater cruising yacht with deck saloon with a very open plan living space that connects cockpit and saloon / galley well. Ballast ratio is a very reasonable 39% with a very light displacement of 12,300 Kg. Close to being half the displacement of some other ‘well known’ bluewater cruising yachts and around 20% less than her performance peers. An upwind sail area of just under 130 sqm gives a sail area to displacement ratio that knocks the socks off her peers. You can see for yourself on our website –

performance-yacht-review-2024-1VOLVO OCEAN 65′ – AMBERSAIL

Moving on from the advertorial, performance cruising is still a booming market, the advent of vacuum infusion, foam cores and carbon in construction is not new technology now and is being used by most manufacturers in their sporty ranges. The challenge now is to make the yachts that are easily handled, as for the majority of the time, they will be sailed shorthanded, and with a sporty ride, sail handling systems are a focus. Luckily, the Ocean racing scene is also strong and development of furling and sail handling has moved on quickly and trickledown to standard equipment aboard a lot of yachts.

Over the past few years and during the Covid pandemic, for the first time in a long time, we had a very strong sellers’ market and prices boomed, but now that is over. We have reverted back to a slight bias in favour of the purchaser. However, with material prices, inflation and supply chain issues, the prices of new yachts are under pressure and helping strengthen the position of the brokerage seller in the brokerage market, so on the whole, I would say we are sitting in a fairly equable market.

The world of racing continues to move, churn rate has slowed, and many events are having some fallow time. However, there is a feeling that the new dawn is just around the corner– domestically and now further afield. The Cape 31 and J70are filling the void, but participation rates for other classes are low. There is a notion that the RORC Admirals Cup in2025 has ignited the kindling for the next cycle of ‘big boat’ yacht racing and it will be very exciting to see this progressing in the near future. Offshore sailing is still the big adventure, and in some ways less about the result and more about the adventure, which supports the bulk of the fleet and generates participation, in contrast with inshore racing that is more focused on the result for much of the fleet. The big races –Fastnet, Sydney Hobart, Giraglia et al are still attracting high entry numbers. I think this will continue, and the next few years will see a rise in participation inshore, and perhaps the size of yachts starting to increase again as the Cape 31 / J70 sailors move on, and the smaller end of the Admiral Cup band start the training cycle.


2024 I think will be interesting domestically. Politically we have a potential change, and financially there may be hiccups ahead driven by supply issue and conflicts. However, we prefer to look out of the sunny window, and understand that whenever there is wind, there is a sailor looking at the trees bending.

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