words & photos - Kevin Green
Well known for their race yachts, X-Yachts is now offering a range of fast cruisers

- Overall build quality
- Lively performance
- Sensible and functional deck layout
- Oozes style

- Rather narrow coamings for the steerer
- Cramped workroom/office

-- A cruiser with pedigree
X-Yachts is known for its quality performance yachts but in recent years the Danish builder has increased market share by creating a cruising range and the latest boat, the Xc42, is a premium bluewater cruiser with an impressive list of credentials. This includes Dorade vents, wooden bulwarks and lavish use of quality teak on the topsides; all contained in a classic-looking yet spacious hull. This retro styling greatly softens the voluminous hull with snub-nosed bow and beam carried aft to a wide transom which makes for an aesthetically pleasing mix of form and function. The result is intended to be a fast passage-making blue water cruiser.

- You get what you pay for
The level of equipment (rod rigging, Andersen deck gear, near-customised overall finish throughout) puts the Xc-42 price tag of $665,000 well above that of the mass-production fleet but the discerning bluewater sailor will be rewarded.

The Xc-42 cockpit is clearly built around the helmsman with twin wheels right beside the primary Andersen 58ST winches, plus mainsheet 46STs just ahead and a centre instrument console incorporated in the solid teak fold-down table. Being a cruising boat the pleasures of enjoying a quiet anchorage are well taken care of thanks to the fold-down electric transom and pushpit teak seating.

Seating in the cockpit is again teak clad and deeply recessed, so combined with a slightly elevated coachroof bulkhead for the recessed dodger, it gives good weather protection; and raising the canvas dodger when in cruise mode seals the area off effectively. It also protects the sturdy alloy Spinlock jammers for the halyards on both sides of the companionway which are controlled by Andersen 46STs and includes the lines for the mainsail track nearby. Located away from the cockpit, the mid-boom sheeting has necessitated X-Yachts fitting a large spar to ensure integrity of the mainsail shape.

Like nearly all fittings on the Xc-42, the spars are oversized, so should survive a few Chinese gybes when tradewind sailing. Views forward are free of obstructions, including gutters for the headsail sheets, which keep the wide decks clear. Separate quadrants are used on the Edson cable steering system and power controls are on the starboard coaming. 

Locker space is voluminous with four in total and the starboard cockpit locker is accessed from the main cabin via a small door as well as the gas-strutted topside opening, and showing X-Yachts' typical attention to detail the area is floored with marine ply and could easily accommodate a six man life raft. Cockpit instrumentation on the review boat included a Raymarine E90 main console plotter but readouts can also be fitted above the companionway.

- Different layouts available
Below decks on the Xc-42 there are several variations apart from the standard three-cabin layout that has two symmetrical aft berths and an owner’s suite forward. Our review boat came with one aft cabin and a small (and rather cramped) office space in the other. While applauding this idea, often requested by cruising couples, the already-low ceiling is heavily encroached by the cockpit sole. However, storage space is good with three drawers, cupboard and under-desk space -- ideal for a laptop -- as well. A simple fold-down seat adjoins it but doesn’t really allow desk work. Over on the port quarter the guest cabin is functional with a tall locker and plenty of leg room, though natural light isn’t fantastic.

Cruising couples should enjoy the owner’s suite forward which uses the hull volume well with plenty of height and natural light. The spacious V-berth has an insert which can be removed to give more space and the foam mattress felt comfortable when I sunk my 70kg frame into it. Traditional fiddles along the sides give a classic feel while quality details such as the ventilated wardrobe and rich lustre of the teak woodwork reminded me strongly of the Swan 60 I was on a earlier this year. The ensuite moulded bathroom area has a manual toilet with separate shower cubicle and plenty of strategically-placed halogen lights for easy ablutions, though the more efficient LEDs would have been preferable. An adjoining bulkhead also stylishly hides the keel-stepped mast.

The main saloon confirms the classic ethos of this boat with deep lustrous teak veneers throughout, though cream bulkheads are available (but wouldn’t be my preference after seeing images of this look). The area is dominated by the portside dinette with wraparound seating and an island bench with under storage adjoining a rectangular table, also with central storage (ideal for wine). Opposite, the longitudinal lounge area has a useful drop-down coffee table. The synthetic suede cushion coverings felt both soft yet robust. Behind the lounge, the navigation station again should keep traditionalists happy with its full-sized chart table and outlying bulkhead cupboard that could house electronics. But others may prefer to replace it with an optional shower unit, creating a multipurpose area with extra bulkhead space for plotters and other smarts.

Over in the U-shaped galley a three-burner Eno stove/oven (with optional matching microwave) should keep the crew fed while perishables are well taken care of in the 140-litre chest fridge. The review boat also had the optional front-opening fridge as well. Other options include a dishwasher. Dual sinks and oodles of cupboard storage complete a very functional space with genuine Corian worktops.

Powering everything is a substantial four-cylinder 55hp Volvo Penta saildrive with three-blade folding propeller. It was so quiet that I actually had to check it was running. Engine access is on three sides and all the main servicing points -- impellor, oil and water -- can be easily reached from the saloon. Fuel supply is generous at 250 litres in a fully-baffled alloy tank and includes an analogue gauge. Onboard AC power requirements can be met as there’s space behind the engine for a generator and stored power is via two AGM 130ah batteries securely fastened under the starboard lounge settee plus an engine battery, a 55ah in the bilge. A flip-up control panel at the navigation station  shows a straight-forward wiring setup which should aid fault finding and additional system integration.

- Built for strength
The deck layout on the Xc-42 is an effective mix of contemporary and classic with recessed smoked glass hatches, polished stainless framed windows and swivelling Dorade vents. Crew protection is excellent thanks to the elevated toe rail, 1.25-inch diameter stanchions and long handrails on the teak-clad coachroof. Moving to the pulpit the anchor setup (20kg Delta with 50m of 10mm chain) uses a 1500W Quick vertical windlass which sits on the deck (rather than being protected under a cover). Handily, it also can be operated manually as well as being managed by the remote control unit.

Beside it, double rollers and an optional A-Frame was fitted on the review boat. This allows easy deployment of a cruising chute or asymmetric spinnaker. Alongside it sat the roller-furling headsail unit. On the review boat a 108 per cent genoa was fitted but a 140 per cent is available, as is a self-tacker.

The double-spreader rig is substantial with a large diameter keel-stepped John Mast alloy spar and heavy-duty rectangular boom. It’s held up by  rod rigging attached to enormous chain plates, heavily glassed into the hull. A Y-shaped backstay with hydraulic adjuster and larger diameter vang finish off a sturdy rig. The review boat came with slab reefed North Sails Dacron sails, a simple sail plan which is ideal for blue-water voyaging but in-boom reefing is an option.

For the hull X-Yachts has continued with their use of a galvanised steel frame glassed into the GRP foam sandwich outer skin. This well proven build is designed to absorb loads from the mast, rigging and keel. The keel uses a lead bulb on a cast iron shaft, thereby keeping the weight low and resulting in a high ballast ratio of 45 per cent. Overall, hull shape is fairly contemporary with little overhangs and plenty of beam aft. But underneath X-Yachts has deviated somewhat from their traditional Performance and Racing ranges. The Xc range, which now comprises the newly-launched 38 along with the 42, 45 and 50 have deeper V-shaped hulls unlike the more slippery U-shaped hulls of their performance brethren.

- Loves the light airs
Out on the upper reaches of Sydney Harbour I gunned the very quiet Volvo engine towards the narrows between the shores at the mouth of the Parramatta River as we searched for wind pressure, noting 8.1 nots of boat speed as the motor spun at 2500rpm. Finding about seven knots of pressure we hoisted the North Sails mainsail thanks to low-friction Harken Switch Track Battcars which then only required a brief tug of the underdeck headsail reefing line to get all plain sail aloft.

The Xc 42 needed little encouragement and sped off, clearly happy with the seven knot breeze as I found my seat on the windward coaming, which felt a bit narrow even for my bony derriere. The balanced helm felt lovely with enough feel and reach to allow concentration on the headsail telltales with occasional glances at the mast-top Windex. Light airs are a good test of cruising boat and the Xc-42 was clearly revelling in it; hard on the wind at 44 degrees with 5.5 knots of boat speed. Taking my hand off the helm didn’t change our track much, showing a balanced sail plan and a good energy saver for the optional Raymarine autopilot. The nearby hefty Andersen primary winches allowed me to easily trim the genoa and underfoot a simple slab of teak kept my feet secured.

The narrow confines of our sailing area meant plenty of tacking. So nimble was the Xc-42 that I oversteered for several tacks, while moving easily across the boat between the twin helms. As the wind gusted into double digits the boat heeled over then dug her shoulder in before continuing on.

Clearly the Xc 42 was a performer (as her Sail Area Displacement Ratio of 19.78 shows), perhaps at the expense of some stability but fast passage making would undoubtedly be her forte. With the mouth of the Parramatta River fast approaching I dropped the helm to bear away then gybed my way back towards Birkenhead. Grabbing a handful of mainsheet took little effort to control the fully-battened sail and I noted 7.7 knots in the nine-knot wind. Nice.

Approaching the marina I went forward as my host Andrew Parkes released the halyard, and guided the mainsail into the lazy jacks before rewinding the genoa, then cranked the motor. Keen to check out the handling under power, I steered the boat along the marina backwards. She showed no prop bias or walk, as you’d expect from a modern cruiser, but for those tight marinas a bow thruster is available.

Undoubtedly the Xc-42 is for the discerning sailor who has probably done an apprenticeship on mass-market boats, so can appreciate the difference that these quality Danish cruisers offer.

Comparable boats
Oyster 46 -- The hand built 46, the entry-level Oyster, is a serious blue-water cruiser with centre cockpit, deck saloon interior and varied sailplan. The marque has also recently began distribution in Australia
Hallberg Rassy 412 -- This model launches next year and is from the famed pen of German Frers with the emphasis firmly on quality and longevity. Very much a classic design but plenty of modern options including electric winches and in-mast reefing.
Dufour 445 -- After a recent ownership change the French builder is resurgent and the 445 has been nominated for European Boat of the Year, thanks to a combination of quality build and value for money.

Overall rating: 4.8/5.0
Mechanicals/Equipment/Rig, etc: 4.8/5.0
Packaging and Practicality: 4.5/5.0
On the water performance: 4.8/5.0
Value for money: 4.5/5.0
X-factor:4.8 /5.0

Price: $665,000 (base boat)
Hull length: 12.81m (42.03ft)
LWL: 11.37m
Beam 4.10m
Draft :- standard: 2.10m 6.90ft
Draft - shallow: 1.70m 5.60ft
Ballast - standard: 4,985 kg
Displacement light: 11,030 kg
Engine: Volvo Penta 4cyl 55hp
Water: 520 litres
Fuel 250 litres
Sail areas:
Mainsail: 53.0 sqm
Self-tacking Jib: 90 per cent 36.1 sqm
Genoa: 108 per cent: 43.5 sqm
Genoa 140 per cent: 56.6 sqm
Asymmetric Spinnaker: 158.2 sqm
SAD Ratio (108 per cent genoa & mainsail): 19.78
Design: X-Yachts Design Team

X-Yachts Australia, 64A The Quayside, Birkenhead Point, Drummoyne, NSW. 2047
Contact: Andrew Parkes, Tel: (02) 9719 9411, www.x-yachts.net.au

To comment on this article click here Published : Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. boatsales.com.au makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.

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