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B42 beautiful: day-sailing in Italian style and pushbutton simplicity.

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I have always admired Italian design and the purity of creation that produces the beguilingly seductive lines which characterise so many of their luxury goods. This Italian style is prolific in fashion, motoring, furnishing and certainly in yachting both sail and power with Italian boats long conveying a statement of style on the sea.

Last summer, Sydney Harbour witnessed the arrival of not one, but three seductive new Italian models. B-Yachts had arrived Down Under and their beautiful all-carbon creations have been turning heads throughout the year. Style, simplicity and speed define this new generation of sleek harbour yachts, suited more to fast day-sailing and short breaks, than extended cruising or offshore passages. There are now two B42's and a B38 adding a touch of European glamour to sailing Sydney Harbour.

Having sailed the latest B42, a gleaming white example named Requin Blanc, I can assure you that it takes only one sunny afternoon aboard a B-Yacht to have you believe that this boutique builder has redefined the expression of the perfect personal yacht.

B-Yachts bring a purity of design and a new simplicity of sailing. The B42, as the mid-range model providing stand-up headroom and realistic accommodation below for short breaks, also must surely be one of the most glamorous small yachts to be sailing today. The B42 never fails to turn many heads, while beneath its carbon skin lies hidden a host of the latest yachting design and technology applications.

The concept of day sailers is certainly not new, but how Luca Brenta Yacht Design (LBYD), creators of the new B-Yachts brand, have approached this stunning vision is bred from the world of custom sailing superyachts. Luca Brenta Yacht Designs custom superyachts have included the magnificent 122-foot Vitter's-built Ghost, and LBYD was instrumental in the design of various Wally super sailing yachts in Europe, including Walligator.

The three partners of B-Yachts--Luca Brenta, Lorenzo Argento and Maurizio Testuzza--have decades of yacht design experience between them. This includes America's Cup campaigns, design of numerous racing yachts and sailing superyachts of note. The team is renowned for yacht designs boasting speed and class, and through the new B-Yachts line they are personalising the sailing superyacht, scaling their superyacht design experience to the smaller yachting sector. Most importantly, the B-Yachts model line-up brings to small yachts the latest composite construction techniques in hulls and rig, together with hydraulic ram sheeting and traveller technology originally developed to handle the huge sail loads and automated sail handling required by sailing superyachts.

Fingertip sailing by pushbutton has the B42 delivering speed and sailing thrills better than many racing yachts of its length, and without the muscle work, sail handling dramas, or for that matter, crew required.

As such, their new B-Yachts model range--from 30 to 60 feet--brings to the Australian market a whole new approach to personal yachting. Capable of literally single-handed performance sailing, all their yachts from the B38 up feature innovative, albeit expensive, automated sail handling systems, with everything controlled from a set of pushbuttons at the twin carbon-wheeled helms.

Electrically powered hydraulic rams below deck trim the mainsheet, full-width traveller, vang, and headsail, assisted by electric winches for hoisting and furling the main and the non-overlapping, self-tacking genoa. The automated sail handling systems custom designed for the B-Yachts line and built by Cariboni, have allowed the designers to deliver a powerful sail plan providing high performance sailing with only the skipper or a couple aboard.

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A sleek carbon-fibre hull is matched with a proportionally tall carbon rig with highly swept spreaders, ultra-lightweight PBO composite rigging and no backstay, allowing for a roachy mainsail with large area of 67 square metres. The B42 I sailed was fitted with a North Sails 3DL main, quickly raised and lowered into a furling carbon boom with an electric Harken winch in an effortless, single-handed process. The standard furling genoa of 33 square metres is a self-tacker and is also hydraulically-trimmed from push buttons tucked neatly under the hull fairing, falling perfectly at hand adjacent to the helm positions.

The hull looks long and lean with its low freeboard, wide uncluttered cockpit and stern open to the sea. The carbon construction of the B42 is lightweight and strong but with a total displacement of only 5.6 tonnes. As the hull design is based on weight stability rather than form, around three tonnes of this total is in the torpedo bulb hanging from a very narrow fin, accompanied aft by a sliver thin blade rudder. As expected from simply looks alone, the B42 is very swift through the water, making the most of extracting maximum waterline from its 12.8 metres, from the fine entry of its near plumb bow, to the trailing edge of its open transom. The power of its large, hydraulically trimmed sail plan translates directly into boat speed with upwind numbers of eight to 10 knots in typical conditions. Reaching downwind will often see over 15 knots on the clock, particularly when sailing under the large 140 square metre Gennaker.

I can honestly say that you grin from ear to ear, as you sit to windward, sailing this yacht by pushbuttons with your fingertips as you might play a musical instrument. With your body snugly positioned in the curved stainless safety rail to windward, in ideal view of the headsail tell-tails, the Genoa trim buttons fall perfectly beside your leg. With a hand-crafted carbon fibre wheel in one hand, and six trim buttons atop the pedestal for mainsheet, traveller and vang trim--easiest to remember as "MTV" as in the music show--it all feels so natural that it's as though you have been tailored for this yacht as for a handmade Italian suit. Meanwhile, your guests (remember you don't really need crew) can sit comfortably on the lounges located forward of the helms to port and starboard. With a good breeze, as the yacht heels, which the B42 does to a considerable degree with that very large main, it is certainly more comfortable to sit on the windward lounge. I suspect that with such comfortable seating it may be difficult to get crew to man the rail in a race!

What would I change? I would add teak footing rails to the centreline of the wide cockpit floor and beside the helm positions for more comfort when heeling on upwind legs. Not much more I can suggest as the yacht is such a revelation in the ease of sailing. The real distinction of sailing the B42 comes from achieving high boat speed and pure sailing satisfaction in a truly effortless manner--all without the typical work of winching and releasing, tacking overlapping headsails and all manner of crew work usually aboard a yacht, that simply no longer has a place on a B-Yacht.

The only aspect of sailing a B42 that would in any way require crew work in the traditional sense would be setting, trimming and retrieving the Gennaker.

As a self-tacker the standard furling headsail, although tall, does not have much length in the foot from tack to clew, so has relatively little contribution downwind compared to the large main with twice its surface area.

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If racing, you would likely want to furl the Genoa, less than a quarter the size of the Gennaker, and fly the kite whenever reaching or running downwind. This is set from a removable carbon bowsprit, with lines running back to the electric Harken cockpit winches, in a standard arrangement.

I commend you to try the B-yachts experience. It won't take you to Hobart as that is far from its design brief. But it will totally change the way you view the world of sailing yachts, and the B42 is quite capable of short offshore passages apart from its design focus for sailing in harbours, bays, and flat waters. Enthusiastic yachtsmen who have an appreciation of quality, together with the means and willingness to adapt to new technology, will be most attracted to this very stylish and satisfying yacht. The B42 allows electric motors and hydraulic rams to do the hard grind, forever the bane of crew and anyone not behind the wheel on other yachts. For that reason alone, wives and families will adore this yacht and in that respect the B42 is more like a powerboat than any yacht preceding it. But make no mistake, this is a responsive and rewarding sailing machine, aided by the latest design and technology from the big end of GP Offshore Racing, America's Cup and super yachting, scaled to be a near perfect personal yachting experience.

For further information visit www.b-yachts.cam or email info@b-yachts.com

Photography Andrea Francolini/Anthony Twibill
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

LOA 12.8 metres
BEAM (MAX) 3.1 metres
DRAFT 1.8/2.4 metres (optional)
DISPLACEMENT 5.6 tonnes
BALLAST 3 tonnes
WATER TANK 100 litres
FUEL TANK 100 litres
ENGINE 27 hp Volvo Penta
PROP Gori folding two-blade
RIG Carbon fibre
MAINSAIL 67 square metres
GENOA 33 square metres
GENNAKER 140 square metres
PRICE (AS TESTED) A$1 million (approx.)

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Title Annotation:B-Yachts B42
Author:Twibill, Anthony
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Oct 1, 2009
Words:1519
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