A Designer's Dream

Cruise family-style aboard the Zurn 65 offshore sloop.

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Doug Zurn designed this handsome sloop for himself, though he said that actually building and owning it is more wishful thinking than reality. Nevertheless, the 65-foot cruising yacht shows Zurn's priorities-spirited performance and easy handling coupled with a supremely comfortable and practical general arrangement plan for a couple and their children.

A quick look at the profile tells us that Zurn hasn't broken any new ground in styling, but he has produced a nicely proportioned modern silhouette. I like the relatively low profile of the trunk cabins and how he's created a visual whole from a divided structure. If we connect the line of the coach roofs across the cockpit, we produce an elegant and subtle line. Taking the pains to make these two elements work together has let the trunk cabins blend with the rest of the design, adding to the yacht's overall attractiveness.

Any cruising yacht, even at this size, gives up something in exterior styling to accommodate the interior volume-headroom and the stuff we love to carry with us-so we welcome the long rectangular portlights just below the cove stripe. In addition to their shedding quite a lot of natural light on the interior, preventing it from feeling like a spelunker's delight, their length and placement reduce the visual bulk in the topsides.

Below the waterline, this yacht is every bit as pretty as she is above. To give this boat a long static waterline, along with graceful overhangs, Zurn drew a moderately raked straight stem, which penetrates the water at station zero and ends in a fairly sharp knuckle. This shape is a pleasing compromise between the stunning grace of a spoon bow and the edgy all-business plumb stem of the VO 70s and other modern offshore racing yachts. Although the bow doesn't have a great deal of flare, the sections (vertically slicing the hull in equal sections, starting at 0 and ending at 10), from station one aft through stations two, three, and four, have enough reserve buoyancy to ease pitching and keep her head above water in rough seas. The stern sections are full and nearly flat to support the weight of the master stateroom back aft, and to encourage surfing on the face of the waves. All of these characteristics promise a quick and seakindly yacht.

The ballast bulb at the tip of both keel options lowers the center of gravity and reduces the vortices that cause drag. The balanced elliptical rudder ought to steer the boat with precision, translating input at the wheel into immediate response from the boat.

Zurn drew a versatile high-aspect rig for this yacht. The non-overlapping masthead jib of the working sail plan will tack and jibe easily. The genoa, set on the forward of the two head stays, increases power for beating and reaching in lighter air, and the asymmetrical spinnaker, flown from the retractable bowsprit, turbocharges the yacht off the wind.

Belowdecks, we find a seamanlike arrangement plan that also ought to be great place to live while the boat's in port. A bulkhead divides the space forward, making it ideal for children or paid crew. A pilot berth occupies the space above the settee on the starboard side; the entertainment center takes up a similar space on the port side. We find a second pilot berth in the passageway to the master stateroom on the port side. The navigation station/dinette is near the companionway opposite the galley. A joystick at the nav-station lets the skipper steer from below.

As much as possible, Zurn has located the machinery and tankage around the center of buoyancy. This reduces the pitching motion. Let's hope that Zurn gets to build one of these for himself and his family, but meanwhile, maybe a lucky client may beat him to it. I hope they let me sea trial the yacht before they slip over the horizon.

Contact: Zurn Yacht Design, (781) 639-0678; www.zurnyachts.com