Over here in Europe many people choose an aluminum yacht for the excellent strength to weight ratio and the sheer robustness of construction. As a result they are more and more the choice of long distance sailors, especially those heading for higher latitudes.
Many of them are cruisers from well-known French yards—OVNIs and Garcias probably being the best represented, and they’ve really made some notable journeys. But these are boats that would be as comfortable going up an African river as up a fjord; capable, comfortable family cruising yachts that with few modifications can (and have) covered much of the globe from pole to pole.
But the French have also designed and built some pretty specialized craft for real polar work, such as Eric Brossiers’ Vagabond which has spent five years overwintering at Spitsbergen as a research base, and Northabout, the first yacht to make an east-west circumnavigation of the arctic sailed by Jarlath Cunnane and his redoubtable Irish crew. Both of these are not of excessive size (around 15m) and both come from the drawing board of Gilbert Caroff. Great boats, but hardly your average cruising yachts.
A new boat launched recently on the French market that incorporates a good deal of sound thinking has recently been reviewed in many of the sailing magazines here and has gained rave reviews. The Boreal 44 is the second in a range (the first is a 50) designed and built by Jean-Francois Delvoye and his team at Treguier on the North Brittany coast. Having built and sailed his own yacht on a six year Atlantic circuit (including two years in Patagonia) with his wife and four children, Delvoye returned to France to build his dream boat incorporating all of the ideas he had gathered during their six years voyaging. And it shows, as the boat is full of great ideas, some of which we would have loved to incorporate in our own OVNI.
Things like a really neat hard dodger, with a small chart table and watertight door—excellent from a safety point of view, but great, too, for just taking things in whilst staying warm and dry. A minimum of 8cm of insulation throughout, and all of the portlights are double-glazed and in Securit glass. To assist her sailing qualities the chain locker is sited by the mast, with the chain being fed to the locker via a tube just below the deck. The lead ballast is cast in moulds to fit between the internal frames, and so is more dense than the usual cast ingots encapsulated in resin, thus aiding the centre of gravity.
The deck looks clean and uncluttered, and in the face of current fashion he has stuck with parallel spreaders, surely a better design choice for this type of boat. Everything except the genoa tracks is welded, to keep the water out and corrosion at bay. The only thing I personally don’t like from what I’ve seen so far is the self-tacking staysail, but I’m sure that wouldn’t be obligatory.
All in all it’s a pretty convincing package, and is a welcome addition to the French canon. And for anyone considering a new build aluminum boat with high latitude potential built in, she must be a real contender for many of the established yards.