Alerion Sport 30 2016
I remember sit-inside daysailers being all the rage when I was growing up in the seventies and early eighties. They were comfortable boats with actual cockpit coaming and freeboard, with seats where you could sit and stretch out. You could relax on those boats. Fiberglass versions were everywhere: Flying Scots, O’Days, Typhoons and catboats of varying shapes and sizes. Stepping onboard the Alerion Sport 30 made me immediately think about those days—those times when an afternoon day sail was very much a means to get away from all the things bugging you onshore.
North Point Yacht Sales, with offices in Annapolis and Portsmouth, Va., has carried the Alerion line since 2011, and my friend and broker Grady Byus was nice enough to accompany me on a sail in May out of Annapolis’s Back Creek into the mouth of the Severn River. We tested the brand-new Alerion Sport 30 Hull No. 1, the first one made for the 2016 model year.
Alerions are made by US Watercraft in Warren, R.I., and benefit from the craftsmanship present across all of their brands. Built to last, the carbon-fiber reinforced structural grid makes this boat tough, without being exceedingly heavy. With appropriate care and maintenance this boat will like new for decades and hold its value well.
We motored out on a cloudy day with 5–10 knots of breeze and flat water. Not the best conditions for a daysail, but as I subsequently discovered, the conditions really didn’t matter.
It was easy to hoist the sails—the running rigging is accessible from seated positions in the cockpit (both the main halyard and traveler exit through the teak coaming). The self-tacking jib easily rolls out from a furling unit mounted below deck, and when you want to go downwind the top-down furling asymmetrical spinnaker is a breeze to handle. Simplicity is the name of the game.
I was pleased to see the spinnaker, and I think this will make buyers who race sailboats happy. The carbon fiber bowsprit looked perfectly pieced to the bow, but still kinda weird (to my eyes, anyway) on such an elegant, classic looking vessel. But carbon fiber bowsprits are common these days and they all look weird to me. But if you want performance, you know you gotta have ’em.
The wind was a mere 5 knots when we got under sail, but the boat was faster than I thought it would be (the listed weight is just under 6,500 pounds). Upwind the heeling was minor and when the wind reached 10 knots, the powerful big-roached full-batten mainsail and self-tacking jib were simple to trim. Downwind we had smiles plastered on our faces as we made 6.8 knots of boat speed on a tight reach with the spinnaker. Gotta love a boat that’s quick to speed up and slow to decelerate.
The cockpit is ample and comfortable. I really liked how we could nestle down inside of it and be completely sheltered from the wind and waves (temps this drizzly day were in the mid-50s). This aspect makes this design a true all-season boat that die-hards will take out on warm winter days without a second thought.
The wheel was oversized for the cockpit but gave fingertip control while climbing to windward or jibing downwind. I would have preferred a tiller because I think it would have fit better and enhanced the look of her lines, but that’s just me. Plenty of sailors like the convenience of a wheel and I’m sure that’s why it’s an option.
Down below, a V-berth and port and starboard settees were perfect for overnighting or an afternoon nap—or just to get in out of the rain. There’s a pretty galley with dry storage lockers, a cooler, a single-burner stove and sink surrounded by Corian accents. You’re not likely to rustle up a gourmet meal from here, but you could put together a terrific picnic. The rest of the cabin featured lots of teak (including a tongue-and-groove beadboard overhead panel) and felt cozy and well put together. Headroom was perfect for a sailor like me (I’m 5’7”). The plumbed head is situated next to the mast and forward of the galley. It’s all open though, a prudent design for a cabin of this size.
One of the more interesting aspects of our test boat was the electric powerplant for the auxiliary Ocean Volt electric saildrive motor (optional). The Alerion motored along at 5.4 knots at just half power. At this level, the meter showed 2.24 hours of motoring before the battery would need to be recharged.
Electric winches are an option on the Alerion, though I wouldn’t feel they’re necessary, as the sail handling aspects are simple and fit this boat’s easy-to-handle attitude. I could imagine sailing this boat comfortably long after I’m past manhandling a bigger boat.
This day we did not have a heavy chop or big gusts of wind, however the feel of the hull through the water made me think she would have slid in and out of the waves with grace. Easy to operate, yachtie and elegant, comfortable day- sailing is what this boat does well. It’s on the high side as far as price goes, but with proper care it will likely hold its value for years to come and pay back its owners in pleasure.