X 41 Review – Racing or cruising, this new import can handle it all.
Most of the new boats from Europe these days are cruiser/racers, meaning they are yachts that can go fast but also accommodate people, usually in considerable style. The performance varies a bit and the style varies a lot, but the principle remains constant from range to range, builder to builder.
The Danish X-Yacht range has three categories: Cruising, Performance Cruising, and Racing. Performance Cruising is by far the biggest. The three types are different and perform different tasks but, for the life of me, if I wanted to mix cruising and racing I wouldn’t go past this X-41 to get to a more hedonistic boat.
Perhaps if I had to put 500,000 hard-earned dollars on the line I would reach a different conclusion, but that on both counts is highly unlikely.
The X-41 is a racing yacht with full accommodation. It has, as standard equipment, wonderful detailing to help performance, including hardware go-fasts that will make a racing sailor salivate. The table, and the cupboards behind and above the settees, lift out for racing. Anchor, chain and (wait for it) the electric anchor winch live in a bin in the bow, which is removable; you can leave the whole thing on the dock. Not so much to save weight, I suspect, as to getting that weight out of the bow to help the pitching moment.
The 41’s accommodation, while not as opulent, as avant-garde and high style as some, has a traditional look and feel and is comfortable enough for the use the average owner will demand. X-Yachts are more conservatively styled than most Europeans but to my eye it’s a traditional look that may not date as quickly as the more frenetic styles. I admire the avant-gardists, but I like this one, too.
Shipwrights tell me that X-Yachts are well built. They look well built and I have met a couple of owners who would not fault their craft. A galvanised steel H-frame supports the foam-cored hull and accepts the loads from rigging and keel. The top part of the keel is cast iron, incorporating a sump to collect water. The lower keel is connected to the cast antimony-hardened lead bulb, and the lot is encapsulated in an epoxy shell. One shipwright mentioned that he was impressed by the lifting eye incorporated into the H-frame a lifting strap is included in the options list.
There are three cabins, the master cabin in the bow, two aft, all with double berths. There is one bathroom, forward on the starboard side, next to the master cabin but it’s simple and it is not en suite. The trim throughout is conservative, white moulded areas and horizontal-grained teak.
If you take out the table for racing it exposes a stainless steel hoop to help locate both the sails and the crew. The table is the familiar drop-leaf style, mounted on the centreline. No coffee table area, as in some craft.
In the galley the fridge is nice and deep, with a side shelf to hold bottles so you don’t have to scratch around in the bottom.
Crockery is stowed behind simple cut-outs in the front of the teak shelving.
The saloon has two opening ports each side, vital in an Aussie boat. Andrew Parkes from X-Yachts points out that opening ports need never leak if you wash salt and grime from the gaskets with a wet rag, and occasionally nip up the clamps to maintain tension.
The X-41’s navigation area is full-sized and quite easy to use.
The list of standard go-fast equipment is long. It’s all the sort of gear that serious racing skippers add to standard cruiser racers, and racer/racing boats are delivered with. The one I like is that the rigging screw bodies are calibrated so you can easily reproduce approximate rig tension.
One option is the hydraulic ram under the mast heel to control rig tension. Another admirable feature is that wherever a line can possibly rub on the gelcoat a metal piece is fixed to the gelcoat to protect it.
The winches are big. “Nothing is underwicked,” says Andrew. The hardware is marked with the Ronstan trademark; the Aussie company took over the Scandinavian Fredericksen company and has rebranded the equipment.
The X-41 sails like a witch (how does a witch sail Ed). The steering is old-fashioned by current standards wire and quadrant but the quadrant is immediately below the helmsman’s feet, so the wire is short and passes over only one set of sheaves. Under sail there is no lost motion and the gearing is perfect. Typical X-Yacht approach ain’t broke, don’t fix.
The X-41 is fast. Target speed the speed that skippers aim for when tuning and racing is 7.5 knots hard on the wind in 15 knots of wind, which is quick. We saw 6.1 knots in a bit over 7 True, which is also quick. The crew shows me how, when she is settled down and trimmed to go upwind, an easy tug on the barber hauler a tackle that moves the jib clew inboard allows the X-41 to point much higher.
But if you are not racing you don’t have to use these systems. The backstay and mainsheet traveller can be reached by the helmsman to help short-handed sailing, but the headsail winches are further forward. The 40hp Volvo Penta diesel is almost silent.
So the X-41 exemplifies the Scandinavian approach. There is no external ornamentation X-Yachts would be anonymous but for the distinctive horizontal stripes above the waterline which they all carry.
What I was trying to explain to myself at the start of this story is that pigeonholes are fine, but only for pigeons. This boat is for racing but to use her as a cruiser is neither sacrilege nor an exercise in discomfort. Other production boats show greater luxury, which I’m not interested in, but a lot of people are.
The X-41’s smaller brother, the even racier X-35, doesn’t have the anchor in the bow at all. That didn’t stop one Tasmanian owner from buying his for cruising. He tosses the anchor out from the cockpit; then, walks the line to the bow. That’s a bloke who knows what he wants.
When I sailed this boat, the crew included the owner of an X-Yacht Performance Cruiser. I asked him if he would buy an X-41.
“Like a shot,” he said. “But I’m happy with my current boat and my wife demands a big bathroom.”
Which is a more succinct summation of the current yacht market than I could come up with.
WORDS + PHOTOS: BARRY TRANTER