New sailing boatTHE WORLDS FIRST MINI YACHTBy: Jakob Johannsen. Foto: www.sejlfoto.dk
Minbaad.dk and Baadnyt sailing magazine was one of the first (sailing publishers) to sail the Scandinavian Cruiser 20 – a delightful experience because of the new innovations, both concerning technical features and the entire concept of “recapturing the essence of sailing”.
When you call a boat a yacht you normally think of a larger boat with elegant lines, and associations with expensive performance vessels owned by wealthy yachtsmen at the beginning of the past century. These days even the term “super yacht” has been invented, referring to massive private yachts above 90 feet.
However, a Danish sailor based in China, together with an American naval architect, has turned the entire concept upside down and created an elegant performance cruiser, or yacht – only 20 feet long! for the purpose of “recapturing the essence of sailing” as he writes on the boat’s web site.
This small yacht, with roots in the old Swedish skerry cruisers, has been created by the Dane, Nis Peter Lorentzen – 3rd generation boat builder from the family behind Bandholm boats on Lolland, through his Sino-Danish company, Scandinavian Cruisers, in cooperation with the American-Swedish naval architect Eric W. Sponberg.
It’s a yacht all-right, but a yacht that you can pull behind a compact car, and bring home to your garage, or pull to the islands off the south coast of Funen, or to the French Riviera to truly enjoy “the essence of sailing”. Alternatively you can participate in club racing with your wife or child and enjoy sailing faster than much bigger and more expensive boats, or you can just go sailing.
The Scandinavian Cruiser 20 resembles a H-boat, Dragon, W-boat or Skerry Cruiser when we first saw her from a distance floating in the harbor among only a few other boats in the very early spring, except as you get closer you realize that she is smaller than these boats I mentioned. Rotating carbon fiber mast
Besides her smaller size, the SC 20 is radically different from other yachts, in several ways, which you only notice when you get very close. She has no standing rigging, and instead she comes with a freestanding rotating carbon fiber mast, held by two UHMW plastic ball bearings in the mast hole, and two tiny backstays, which keeps the jib or asymmetrical spinnaker luff tape straight in the breeze.
There is a trapeze for the crew (or for the helmsman if you sail alone), which I initially thought would be superfluous when I first saw it. However, after having tried this responsive boat I realize the advantage for the crew to use a comfortable trapeze belt rather than getting strained by hiking in the foot straps over the low freeboard.
The rudder design concept is amazing, consisting of a small round rotating “rudder well” where you simply put down the meter-long rudder blade!
All trim lines, halyards and sheets are led back internally to the middle of the small cockpit where they exit on both sides by the cam cleat platforms with practical rope bags. All controls can be reach by both the crew and the helmsman. Functional and elegant.
Both the small jib and the bigger asymmetrical spinnaker are attached to furlers, which are mounted below the foredeck. This not only looks nice, but it is also easy to access the furlers when you open the anchor hatch in the deck. Modern hull lines
While the SC 20 has classic 1930’s lines above the waterline, she looks like a modern racing boat below the waterline. The rudder is a long narrow carbon fiber blade, and the keel strut is a narrow carbon fiber blade, finished off with a 140 kg (310 lbs) bulb, reaching down almost 1.5 meter (5’).
And now the moment we have all been waiting for since we first saw the drawings of this boat last autumn – the test sailing!
From the moment I step down on the deck (with my 95 kilos/210 lbs frame) I almost get the feeling of a yacht again as she heels over less than for instance the Yngling, and the deck feels solid and stable to step on to.
Going upwind like a Dragon
We tested the boat twice, once in “too much” breeze of 12-14 m/second (23-27 knots) and once in too little breeze of 0-2 m/second. However both days were delightful. Going upwind she behaves well and is stable like a Dragon in the small choppy waves on Roskilde Fjord. In the strong breeze the unstayed mast flexes comfortably when the strong gusts sweep across the estuary. If we had had one man in the trapeze we would have been able to sail calmly, but since we did not, we had to release the main sheet a little in the worst gusts. The self-tacking jib worked perfectly, and all trim lines and sheets could be pulled with one hand.
Wild horse on a reach
On the breezy day we did not even bring the asymmetrical spinnaker on board. Thank God for that. We had plenty of speed on a reach with a full main sail and the small jib. With the deep and well-balanced rudder blade you barely have to touch the rudder before the boat reacts. Wow - we are flying. We quickly get up on a plane and we rush ahead with an estimated speed of 10 knots. Soon we are going upwind again, with everything working as intended, and at no time did we feel uncomfortable in the small boat (in the breezy conditions).
On the calm day I sailed with my two 11-year-old kids, Aida and Adam, and that was a piece of cake. She feels like a yacht going upwind and on a reach, except for the acceleration at the slightest puff, which I have only experienced in a Star boat or in a racing dinghy.
To unfurl or furl the asymmetrical spinnaker is child’s play when you have practiced a couple of times. The boat responds to anything you do and you feel in close contact to the wind and waves and the small boat almost constantly displays the best sailing performance – almost like a yacht.
Despite the low boat weight of only 280 kg (615 lbs), we have good momentum, like in a real keelboat, which she strictly speaking is, when we go head-to-wind to tie up at the pier.
It will be exciting to see how many of this model will be sold, and for which purpose, because it is an excellent boat for day sailing with a few family members, club racing with two crew, and for sailing schools, i.e. junior sailing in a club which has the courage to start up a new class. Regardless, the promoter has succeeded in creating a boat to “recapture the essence of sailing”, and the price of 170,000 kroner (approx. USD 28,000 excluding VAT) for a sail-way version delivered in Denmark is not frightening.
I look forward to seeing the new 30, 40 and 66-foot yachts under development from the company. I wonder if they also “recapture the essence of sailing”?Scandinavian Cruiser 20:
L.O.A.: 5.96 m (19’ 7”)
Beam: 1.30 m (4’ 3”)
Keel draft: 1.40 m (4’ 7”)
Shoal draft: 0.35 m (1’ 2”)
Displacement: 0.28ton (615 lbs)
Ballast (50%): 0.14 ton (310 lbs)
Upwind sail area: 12.8 sqm (138 sqf)
Downwind sail area: 28.8 sqm (310 sqf)
Price, sail-away USD 24, 900 excluding optional equipment, shipping, transport and duty/VAT.
Distributor (in Denmark): Scansail, Havnevej 7, 4000 Roskilde. Scansail.dk