trailer-sailers by Keith Callaghan
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Yacht Test: BLUESTORM - The Flying Compromise

(Translated from an article in the the German magazine "Yacht", April 2007.)

††††† Subtitle: The smaller a boat gets, the more difficult it is to combine comfort, safety, and performance. BlueStorm is determined to accomplish just that.

 

††††† What terrible weather! Scraps of autumn storms sweep across the north German lowlands, bringing showers and lowering the temperature until the air seems as cold as the water. In other words, not ideal conditions to take a dinghy-cruiser out on the Weser River. At least, not for someone like me who prefers light winds and sunshine. On the other hand, the design for the seven-meter Blue Storm comes from England, so these blustery conditions should provide an ideal platform to put the cold-molded trailer-sailer through its paces.

 

††††††† Large Cockpit, Raised Deck

††††††† The first impression of Blue Storm is very British: sober, simple, with clear straightforward lines. No visual flash or tricks, everything appears practical and built to be used. The now seldom-seen raised deck arrangement is not to my taste, but allows a large amount of space below deck and an equally large cockpit. British understatement appears to have its limits: the boatís website proudly boasts ďmore space than in most 40-ft. yachts.Ē Indeed, the 2.7-meter cockpit is enormous, offering comfortable space for six people. For six people to sail together, however, two would have to sleep on the cockpit benches.

†††††††† Hence the ideal number of passengers for Blue Storm is three adults or two adults and two children. And although the cockpit appears to belong to a full-grown yacht, the rest of the boat is built and behaves like a responsive large dinghy.

 

†††††† Fast and Lively Under Sail

†††††† This becomes more than clear under sail on the Weser. The wind blows perpendicular to the current at Beaufort 5, and Blue Storm takes off. Much lighter and livelier than one would think, the boat maneuvers easily through the chop and reacts promptly to every tic of the rudder. Its desire to plane becomes apparent even slightly on the reach. In calmer waters or longer swells, planing is realistic: the designer has personally achieved speeds of 12.5 knots on Blue Stormís smaller sister Blue Lightning.

††††††† It is therefore reassuring to know that the centerboard carries 140 kg of lead that would theoretically allow Blue Storm to correct a 100-degree heel. The feeling of safety is enhanced by Blue Stormís seaworthiness, evident on open water churned by current and wind ó a tribute to its English origin.

†††††††† The self-tacking foresail, a standard feature, generally takes care of itself, and any necessary trimming proceeds easily thanks to a useful mix of high-quality hardware.

 

††††††† Unusual Solutions

†††††††† Blue Stormís ambitions to be a different kind of boat are clear not only in its basic shape but also in many details, both on deck and underneath. Foremost among them are the outboard motor and the mainsail sheet. The German builder, Heinz-Erhard Foerster, who also helped develop the boat, decided against a mainsail traveler because it would have divided the cockpit in two, opting instead for a pair of cleats on either side of the cockpit. The classic traveler would have been a superior option, however, considering how much space is at hand.

††††††††† A better solution is the outboard motor area. Under sail and with the engine out of the water, a special plate slides into place to cover the hole beneath, preserving a smooth underwater profile but allowing the engine to be very close at hand.

††††††††† The space under deck is enormous in relationship to most dinghies and very comfortable besides. Sleek and bright white surfaces are contrasted by varnished mahogany details, and the asymmetrical layout in the rear provides a comfy nook between the daggerboard box and the sidewall. The elimination of running decks means a huge increase in interior space, for example 95 centimeters to sit in above the interior seats, and passengers will be able to ride out long bouts of bad weather comfortably.

†††††††††† Blue Storm has sleeping accommodations and storage for four, the prime spot being the large, 2.2-meter long V-berth in the front. Toilet and refrigerator are stored under the cockpit floor, and the single-flame stove and sink on either side of the galley are practical and exactly the right type for the boatís size.

 

Finish not Flawless

††††††††† Examined more closely, Blue Storm has one or two spots where the last measure of care was needed during building: a loose nut here, a run in the varnish there, and a few jerry-rigged solutions. In the face of the overwhelmingly positive sailing capabilities and the fact that the boatís concept has been so thoroughly thought out, these flaws are not to be overstressed, but should be eliminated in production.

††††††††† The boatís price tag is high enough (Ä 46000) that the boat must bear comparison to well-finished production boats and fulfill high customer expectations. The nimble Britís qualities on the water are part of an attractive package that requires equally attractive presentation. But when the weather is no better than on the test day, tea in the generous galley becomes very attractive indeed.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Overall impression: agile sailing cruiser with more than enough comfort, but clearly too expensive

Construction and Concept: + very light despite ballasted daggerboard

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† + able to sail along coasts and flat waters

Sailing and Technical: + very lively, single-handed

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -† mainsail sheet

Interior and Living Quarters: + much light-filled space because of the back deck

- relatively expensive

 

Picture captions:

† -Several unusual aspects: raised deck, extravagant mainsail sheets, and a giant cockpit.

† -Equally special: the anchor box is flat and needs no latch. The adjustable rudder allows for exact and sensitive steering even in flat waters.

† -Hidden and out of the way: the motor sits directly in the cockpit, but doesnít disturb in the least. Although made of wood, the boat is unfortunately only varnished in the cabin area.

† -Much light-filled space: the only sign that Blue Storm is no more than 20-ft. dinghy is the daggerboard box.

† -Galley: right and left are the stove and sink, right behind the main berth.

Drawing caption: Dinghy with a new deck: Blue Storm is a typical athletic dinghy cruiser.

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