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X 362 Sports Test.

X Yachts has a strong brand image. It's not just in the styling, although the waterline stripes and cabin-side colour bands have been prominent throughout the company's history. There's also the strong influence of Niels Jeppesen, the in-house designer and a partner in the company, and a tradition Of designing cruiser-racers.

X Yachts is a successful builder of one-designs, but it was also one of the first companies to make production boats into world-class racers. Traditionally production boats were seen as overweight and quickly outdated, but the Danish company managed to turn these problems into strengths. They left their basic hull shapes, with all their expensive tooling and production lines, alone. While the other designers and custom builders were developing new hulls, the X Yachts "works team" were working with their production-line hulls, using them as test-beds to trial and develop new keels, rudders, rigs and construction. It was a process that allowed X Yachts to be incredibly durable in competitive terms; their ton design won a total of seven world championships.

Niels Jeppesen also managed to design boats that were powerful enough to win while carrying more weight than most of their stripped-out rivals. Even some of their IOR world championship victories were taken with boats with racer-cruiser features like aft cabins, ovens and teak trim.

The company has continued this development process into IMS boats, albeit in a different manner. They modified their 38' cruiser/racer into the very successful IMX 38. Two years ago their X 362 cruiser-racer was given new foils and rig, a lighter vacuum bagged hull layup and some minor deck and interior changes. The result was the X 362 Sports

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

In broad terms the design of the X 362 Sports is typical IMS cruiser-racer. She appears finer in the bow than many of her contemporaries, and the foils are race-oriented; the bulb appears larger, the rudder deeper and higher in aspect. Displacement is 4,900 kg, with 2,150 kg ballast.

The Australian X 362 Sports have been given an extra 20 cm draft to increase their righting moment. The development will stop there, according to Andrew Parkes of importer North South Yachting; the boats are being sold in a standardised "club racing" specification, with the intention of maintaining secondhand prices and encouraging class racing.

Sail power comes from a 150% overlap rig with double swept-back spreaders, a high ("9/11") foretriangle, and no runners. Engine power is a 14.6kw (l8hp) Yanmar 2GM with saildrive.

The hull is hand-laid and vacuum-bagged E glass over a Divinycell core. A hefty tie-rod takes the shroud loads from the chain-plates to a very solid galvanised steel ladder frame in the keel area. The mast step and keel bolts are also secured to the frame. The idea, says Parkes, is to ensure that the hull can easily withstand the high rig tensions that swept-back spreaders create.

DOWN BELOW

The 362 Sports has what X Yachts term the "classic" interior layout, with a centre saloon table and an L shaped galley and nay station aft. It's a conventional but thoroughly well executed layout for a cruiser-racer, fully fitted down to the hot and cold running water. There's a very large and well fitted head compartment and the galley and nay station are both roomy and well equipped with stowage. The two private cabins include a vee berth in the bow and a twin cabin in the port quarter. There are many small, practical lockers and bins in each cabin and a variety of cockpit lockers, ranging from useful flat "trays" to cavernous lockers.

The joinery (including the planked hull sides) is mahogany-veneered plywood with solid laminated frames and cappings. The outer veneer appears to be about 1 mm deep, which is about three times as thick as the veneer on some competitive brands and should allow the interior to withstand the inevitable scuffs and scratches. With two hatches overhead and eight opening ports, it's light and well ventilated.

Like most cruiser/racers there's something of a shortage of sea berths as standard. There is, however, the option of altering the head layout to allow access to a pipe cot, which can be located in what is normally the big port cockpit locker. Other useful additions for offshore use would be some more handholds below, and vents that could remain open when spray is falling on the deck.

PERFORMANCE

There's not really much that a couple of pleasant hours sailing inshore in a fading westerly will tell you about a boat's performance but the X 362 Sports was very pleasant both to steer and to crew. The optional wheel was superb; it's large for a production yacht, allowing the helmsman to see the headsail and oncoming wind and waves easily, instead of sailing by braille. The Whitlock rack and pinion steering was delightfully responsive, with none of the free-play or vagueness associated with many steering systems. The X 362 was nimble on the helm and (although we had little real chance to test her balance) a single gust when we were shy reaching was easily handled. Even when I intentionally wound her up shy with the kite overtrimmed, the rudder gave no hint of stall.

The fact that X Yachts is run by racing yachtsmen is shown by the excellent deck layout and sail controls. The backstay, a vital control in a boat without runners, is a cascading tackle, powerful but fast to adjust. It's lead forward to the mainsheet trimmer, who also has fine and course tune mainsheet, backstay, and traveller controls to hand. The cockpit crew sit on well-shaped coamings with every control nearby. The test boat had a standard narrow-topped toerail but a flatter version is available for those who value their crew s legs. The cunningham, yang, kicker and outhaul are lead to the cabin sides and the genoa travellers are lead to the coamings. All the controls seemed very powerful- unusual for a production boat- and the hardware is quality stuff.

The X 362 Sports already in the country have only done inshore club racing. In Europe the boats have proven quite competitive under both IMS and IRC. Another was third in the international Baltic Offshore Nations Cup regatta as we went to press, between a pair of X 332s.

The X 362 Sports rates about 635 on IMS GPH and around 1.033 on IRC. The standard "club racing" specification for the X 362 Sports includes tiller steering, mylar mainsail, one and three and a 3/4 ounce spinnaker, Raytheon ST 60 log, sounder and wind instruments, and Cat 7 safety gear for $289,850 (including GST). North South Yachting sees the boat as a clublevel inshore one design, not as a competitor to the offshore one-designs that are currently becoming established. It's a solid, elegant and attractive boat with an excellent blend of accommodation and performance, so the conception may well come true.
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Publication:Offshore Yachting
Article Type:Evaluation
Date:Oct 1, 2000
Words:1155
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