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 Boréal 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.