WORDS + PHOTOS: BARRY TRANTER
This yacht comes in from the cold to seduce Australian racers and cruisers
Though C&C Yachts are now built in Ohio the company’s origins are in Canada where, in 1961, Mr Cuthbertson (a mechanical engineer) and Mr Cassian (an aircraft designer) got together to design and build boats.
Perhaps because Mr Cassian knew about aircraft C&C yachts used sophisticated construction methods from the start.
The company was taken over by American interests in 1997 and in 2002, C&C became the first production yacht builders to make their whole range from wet-pregged vacuum-bagged epoxy over a foam core. Since 2004 all spars have been carbon. Epoxy is a big deal in production yachts; it’s stiff and strong and saves weight.
The company builds five models, all cruiser/racers, from 9.9 to 13.1m long. The 99 is, not surprisingly, 9.9m/32ft 6in long. At a time in history when the average length of production yachts sold here is heading south of the 40ft mark it is good to see a cruiser/racer of this length and affordability (introductory base price is $195,000). It’s also interesting to note the C&C 99 does not have much competition.
BROAD IN THE BEAM
The C&C 99 is a beamy boat with beam carried well forward, so she is immensely roomy below decks. The double berth in the bow cabin is almost as wide as it is long; the needle-nosed entry of more radical racer/cruisers restricts this area.
The other notable feature is that the main bulkhead is angled to the centreline so the stern cabin, whose double berth is set athwartships, is also angled to the centreline. Galley and navigation area are similarly affected. This creates a sense of great space; she feels like a 36-footer.
The cherrywood trim has an oiled finish rather than the heavy gloss the Europeans favour, and it’s both classy and cosy. This saloon is a pleasant space.
The bathroom is a good size, with manual toilet and lift-out showerhead. The navigator sits on the portside settee facing aft, and the galley is good ? a gimballed two-burner stove with oven and a deep sink. The fridge is clever ? there’s a false floor in a clear material, so you can stow the little-used stuff in the bottom and not forget what’s there.
If you are trying to boil the billy while on starboard tack you can get some leg support from the engine cover, a once-piece moulding on struts that lifts for easy access to the 20hp Volvo-Penta.
The layout holds no surprises. The 48in (1.2m) greenhide-covered wheel is a good size and the helmsman’s seat folds up for access through the stern or it lifts out for racing.
On our sail, Ausail Pathfinder’s Rod Mackay (from Lake Macquarie) sheeted the headsails to the Harken No.40 winches on the gunwales but the bigger winches (No.48s) are further aft, near the helmsman, and you can use either. This means that when sailing short-handed the helmsman can reach the mainsheet, mainsheet traveller and backstay leads and, if you use the rear-mounted winches, the headsail sheets.
The deck moulding is heavily cambered in places, which helps create the extreme volume below, but there is plenty of non-skid on the cambered areas.
The carbon mast is keel-stepped and supported by two spreaders and continuous upper diagonal shrouds, so shroud tension can be adjusted on deck. The rig could be called old-fashioned, because it’s a masthead set-up with a shortish spar and big headsails, but both the heavies onboard. Rod and Neville Wittey, from Doyle Sailmakers, who made the C&C’s main and genoa, reckon they enjoyed a boat that gets so much drive from the headsail.
These are new and this is an exploratory sail for all on board. Rod and Neville want to take stock of the gear and the trim.
Main and genoa are made from a cloth, which Nev tells me would have been high-tech only a few years ago, but which is now a good club-racer Mylar material that holds its shape well and is good value.
Sailing the C&C 99 is as straightforward as sailing gets. In a breeze whose absolute peak is around 12 knots, we see a top speed of 6.2 in 10 on the wind, not bad for a boat with a waterline length of 8.86m, or 29ft 1in. Later, in more breeze, we saw 6.6.
Neville decides the mast is too stiff, so he loosens the lower shrouds, first on port tack, then we tack onto starboard and he does the port side. The mast now has a little more bend and Neville is happier with the sail shape. As they try to get a feel for the 99’s performance Neville suggests that because she has ‘fullish’ bows and a fairly shallow draft that Rod should keep her a little full when on the breeze, especially in the sort of slop we are in between Sydney Heads.
The boat now feels happy, we feel happy. We furl the headsail and motor home with the aid of the very, very quiet Volvo-Penta.
To summarise the C&C, she can be sailed short-handed and fleet-raced with five crew. She was designed to rate under the IRC handicap rule and in the US she races as a one-design. For family groups she is a light boat, easy to handle, manoeuvrable under sail and power, and for social sailing the skipper can reach all the control lines.
Rod points out that this boat’s relatively shallow 1.65m draft provides access to places with shallow entrances, like Batemans Bay and Lake Macquarie, south and north of Sydney respectively.
This boat is very American and combines advanced construction with styling and detailing that’s not swayed by radical decor the Europeans relentlessly pursue. Her dimensions aren’t radical by current standards she’s of medium displacement with a reasonable ballast ratio. All this adds up to a comfortable boat that is easy for a family to handle and should be a rewarding IRC racer. She’ll fulfil as well as any boat the modern requirement that she should be able to race well on Saturday, cruise well on Sunday.