BYM had the opportunity to sail on of the first new boats of Dehler’s new 44-range in a variety of conditions. Luuk le Clercq gives his impressions.
There was a time when the German Dehler yard was at the cutting edge of sailboat design, but that had faded over the past couple of years. Now, with new owners, there’s come a renewed focus on the road Dehler should be taking and, with a new design office, the company should once again be a brand with boats that are a step apart from other cruiser-racer producers. The 44-line is the first in a line where the whole range will be replaced. A new 60 footer and a new 34-footer are already announced and on their way to becoming reality.
The new 44-line was introduced, in September 2006, at the Amsterdam in the water boat show and, from the first model show, there to build number three that BYM sailed on, there have been several obvious changes. The spectacular colour of the first boat has been replaced by branding of Dehler’s new owner and this boat has a different interior setup.
Inside the boat
To continue with the interior, the boat we sailed had the L-shaped galley with a seating area in front and the navigation station to starboard. The owners’ cabin is at the front and has access to a separate bathroom. At the back there are two more cabins and behind the navigation station there is another bathroom.
The interior is quite friendly. The galley is well set up and should allow for relatively easy cooking whilst underway. Throughout the cabin there are sufficient rails to grab and at the navigation station one should be able to keep your mind on the job. The navigation station has a computer with a pop-up screen that is linked to a portable touch screen for easy navigation outside and on the rail, using Deckman tactical routing software. The instruments are Brookes &Gatehouse and are, of course, linked to Deckman for use during races.
All these features are nice, but have of course fairly little use when the boat is not sailed. North Sails, in the Netherlands, are heavily involved with the development of the inventory for the boat BYM sailed. There are two inventories for this boat, a cruising and a racing one. North Sails has opted for a Carbon-Aramid 3DL suit for the racing sails and a Marathon 3DL mainsail for the cruising set. Except for four jibs, a choice of symmetrical and asymmetrical spinnakers is available to the crew that will be racing the ‘EclectiC’ throughout Western Europe this season.
The sails are hoisted
Sailing with a large part of the EclectiC racing crew, with winds topping at 25 knots, was a pleasure. On the motor the boat feels secure, though the bow gets easily blown of course when manoeuvring, but with the sails up it all feels more natural. The route for the day had a nice run to start with and a big asymmetric spinnaker was set. The 150 square metres of cloth were a bit much in the set conditions, so the fractional spinnaker went up to take us downwind. In fairly flat water, the boat easily accelerated to 14 knots of boat speed and topped several times at 14.9 knots.
After a short break from the downwind run, it was time for a tough beat. With the number 4 and full mainsail the boat stayed easy in control of the helm. The load through either of the steering wheels was good whilst not overly heavy and as a result the boat was easy to keep heading the right way. Tacking did not seem to take a huge tax on the speed in these heavy conditions and the boat sailed close to her theoretical potential. During training it all looked promising for the crew with the tough competition of Spi Ouest France looming.
The first competitive outing of the Dehler 44 SQ in France was in unfamiliar conditions for both the boat and the crew. Light winds throughout the event were a great opportunity for the crew to learn more about the boat and her potential. BYM was on board again and with a weight of close to ten tonnes the light winds did not suit the boat really well. Accelerating out of a tack or to the start line took longer compared to the competition, getting the boat up to speed took also more work from the crew. The event showed the suitability of the Dehler 44 for light wind venues…
The overall workmansip leaves a good impression, though in some small parts it shows that this is a very new way for the yard. Some closures on the cabinets have trouble locking and the teak deck splinters, at some places, as a result of the gear used whilst racing.
Some other things must have looked nice when designing, but hardly work in the real world. Most obvious is the forward hatch, perfectly flush and with a gas-spring to help open it. As a result, however, the hatch could only open 90 degrees, or not at all, which of course is not a pleasure when dowsing the spinnaker on a choppy day. Dehler however have solved this by changing the hatch used and, whilst keeping the hatch flush, it now opens fully and can be closed with the spinnaker waiting for another hoist.
The Dehler 44 SQ is one of the latest additions to the very tough market of 40-45 feet sailboats. Whether you call themcruiser-racer, racer-cruiser or performance cruiser, all these models try to appeal to more or less the same audience. Dehler had slipped from the list of yards one would focus on looking for such a yacht, but now it’s back! The 44SQ is not a racer with full interior, but rather a fast cruiser with the ability to race. The interior is perfectly suited for longer cruises and holidays with a family, but, for a racer, it has to much weight and too many luxuries inside. The Dehler 44SQ that BYM sailed was not perfectly finished, but Dehler has shown commitment to the new road it is taking and is very eager to learn. The new 44-line deserves to be put on the list, alongside X-yachts, J-boats, Grand Soleil or the likes, for the owner looking for a nice yacht to race and take the family on holiday, for both sailing and service reasons.
Dehler 44 SQ Statistics:
LOA 13.70 m LWL 11.95 m Beam 3.86 m Draft 2.50 m Displacement 9900 kg Mastheight 20.85 m Main Sail 60 m2 Jib 44 m2 Genoa 61 m2
Spinnaker 172 m2 P 17.40 m E 6.15 m I 17.21 m J 5.03 m Engine Volvo Designer Simonis &Voogd.
Luuk sailed on EclectiC as part of the racing crew, which meant photography had to take a back seat. The photos in this article were supplied by Dehler.