BLUE MOVES & the Windy 25 Mirage – “Best Handling Boat In The World”
January 11th, 2024
We knew when David Marsh had visited the Windy Boats shipyard in Arendal, Norway (yes – that’s right – Windy were a Norway-based boat builder from 1966 when Hugo Vold, the son of a local Skagerrak fisherman, started building boats for the sea) that he had enjoyed his time afloat. The article (which was published in November 1999’s Motor Boat & Yachting) was titled Fjord Explorer, and featured comments such as:
“I can’t believe it’s this good” “quality oozes” “flawless ergonomics”
The article has gone down in the history of Windy Boats and Berthon since it also crowned the 25 as the “best handling boat in the world”. So what does make these 25s so good?
Well – let’s look at BLUE MOVES – a Windy 25 Mirage that we at Berthon currently have on the market. She was built at the fabled Arendal shipyard in Norway, and the original invoice states that she was delivered by Berthon’s Windy Sales team to one Sir Elton John on the 7th June 2001.
You can watch BLUE MOVE’s video here:
Now, in 2001, Windy were at the absolute peak of their powers – they were considered to be the Rolls Royce amongst boat builders, getting to a level of finish unattained by their competitors. As David March pointed out “the standard of hidden carcassing is extraordinary – far higher than in, for instance, a Princess, a Fairline or a Sealine – and the internal structure inside a Windy is so substantial that there’s never any danger that the sort of handling extremes the Mirage encourages you to explore will hurt the boat.”. So the build was thought to be top of the tree, and another hugely important point to understand is that the team building these boats were passionate about their job, their product, and the reputation of the Windy product. At the time, Scandinavia had the highest per capita boat ownership figures on the planet, and many of the guys and girls laying up the Mirage owned boats, understood boats, and understood what a great boat needs to be. A very different scenario to the CNC-driven, vacuum-infused, cutting edge (literally) technology of today, and why the Windy Boats range of sport-cruisers as diverse as the superb centre console 760 (an epic flying machine), uber practical 37 Grand Mistral and flagship 52 Xanthos (once experienced, never forgotten) are as sought-after as they are today. All-round quality (seakeeping, build, finish and performance) at this level is rarely achieved in today’s market, so values remain high and Owners will enjoy and retain their boats through far longer ownership periods, and will generally only change to another Windy (as per BLUE MOVES’ current Owner Jonathan).
So – the driving? Well, these 25s for the UK market were variously engined with the Volvo Penta 260HP and 285HP KAD diesels, (although the test boat in the magazine article was actually Volvo Penta’s V8 gasoline 5.7L engine). The KAD44 Should still pull 40 knots, with rapid steering and a ratio set for two turns lock to lock – the boat is exceptionally well-balanced, and there is no fear of porpoising (stuffing the nose essentially), and the running costs are sensible. The strength of the hull and the reinforcement behind the skin (and what a beautiful feline skin) and the 25 degree midships deadrise, afford heavier-weather sea-keeping that others are just not built to endure. The seas of the Skagerrak and off the Norwegian islands are fierce, and new always found that these boats could therefore handle any UK weather that their Owners were thrown into. The company print advertising at the time led with a picture of a Windy disappearing into a wall of water, with the strapline “Relax, it’s a Windy.” – the boats are amazing, and yes, their offshore manners are universally well-regarded – but they actually really are that good!
And are they liveable with? Well – the Mirage has a super-simple cockpit – consisting of a horseshoe cushion, seating for 4 friendly crew, and two gas-sprung helm seats (both bolstered) at the front of things.
The bows cocoon a cabin with double berth (or a table & sofa if needed) a marine WC, and that’s it. “Compact and bijou Peter, compact and bijou.”
For those braving the briny, there is a cockpit shower abaft, and a Windy cockpit is not a Windy cockpit without a sink – so the navigator has a moulded basin and bottle cabinet! Of course, the whole cockpit is self-draining and can be covered with a complete canopy in a couple of minutes, although the original Norwegian SeaSit Sunbrella upholstery is remarkably weatherproof.
The other noticeable trait of Windy’s at this age is how well they have aged. BLUE MOVES has been thoroughly cosseted by a great Owner, and wonderful ex Owners, who have understood how to keep their boats. So do please remember, when you are buying a used boat you are actually buying the previous Owners also. She shines like a pin – her stainless steel is beautifully polished – and was originally built to such a standard, that it lasts. Her original teak cockpit is surviving very well – and her foredeck and bathing platform have been very sensibly substituted in synthetic teak. Her original Sunbrella was starting to age, so all exterior cushions are now trimmed in modern Silvertex (but with the classic yellow Windy flash!). And then you open the engine bay, and her original KAD44 is a thing of joy to behold, with the bills to price it… Most of her 260 horses are still present, and she is just as tight and sparkling as when she left the line in Arendal some 23 years ago now.
So – if that all sounds good to you, then please do pick up the phone – we dearly love these boats. As David Marsh ended his article: “Driving the Windy Mirage through the Norwegian fjords that first evening, I think I probably did die and go to boating heaven.” Well done Dave – spot on!
And if you do come and want to chat about Windys, then we are open seven days of the week, and I’ll show you my prized photo of Abba on their Windy 22, the pre-cursor to the 25 Mirage!