Legend tells us Crazy Horse, the great Sioux chieftain, refused to pose for a photograph. “Why would you wish to shorten my life by taking my shadow from me?” he asked. He stood 6 feet and straight as an arrow, no doubt an imposing sight. Even more imposing was his tactical brilliance on the battlefield.
Crazy Horse, the striking express yacht from the drawing board of Bill Tripp, Jr., begs to be photographed. An imposing figure dressed in dark blue trousers and rich mahogany vest, she is 38 feet LOA and all about shadows, curves, line play and image. Even more impressive is her prowess on the oceans’ battlefields.
Few, if any, express cruisers offer such stunning beauty and so many subtle feminine details in a brutally masculine package. Tethered to a float at the end of a yacht club dock in Greenwich, Connecticut, Crazy Horse tap-danced atop the slop left over from the night’s serious blow. This restlessness, born of light weight and substantial chine flats, promised quick acceleration and eager response to the helm, a promise fulfilled later that morning.
Crazy Horse came to life in the imagination of her owner. He and his family have cruised the world’s high latitudes and tropical waters aboard their sailboat, Shaman, also designed by Tripp, but the owner wanted an elegant, speedy powerboat to commute to his New York City office and to dash hither and yon for weekend adventures. The result is a day boat/weekender that looks like nothing else and hasn’t a thing to do with any kind of eating event. What’s more, she will be available as a production boat sometime this year.
The best designs are the simplest. They make us think, “Hey, I could do this.” Crazy Horse is such a design. In response to a market overflowing with so-called Down East boats, Tripp avoided the obvious cliché and selected styling cues from a number of sources. The break in the sheerline near the after end of the house reminds us of sportfishing boats from North Carolina and South Jersey. So does the flare in the bow sections, though it isn’t as severe. The trunk cabin rises like a blister from the cambered foredeck and seems lower than it is because of the elliptical deadlights and an eyebrow line running forward from the base of the house’s windows. The most common way to get satisfactory headroom is to draw a blister from the bridge all the way to the stem head, which can bloat the profile into an ungainly jelly bean.
Breaking the sheer let Tripp draw quite a lot of freeboard to accommodate the cabin spaces below, and at the same time keep the freeboard around the cockpit low enough to fool our eyes into seeing a sleeker profile overall. The rub rail, which appears as a continuation of the line formed by the cockpit coaming, also visually reduces height. Nothing new here, but Tripp’s execution is pure art. Approached from the forward quarter, Crazy Horse is totally masculine, a muscle-bound bully.
Approached from the after quarter, she shows her feminine side. That curve you see in the after end of the house windows echoes the wonderfully delicate line the Pininfarina design studio drew in the C-pillar of the 1946 Cisitalia 202 coupe. This car resides in the Museum of Modern Art, where Crazy Horse ought to be, too. Even more interesting is the nearly mirror image of that line formed by the flying buttresses and the extension of the coach roof.
My visual sensibilities stressed to the max, I stepped aboard. The big Volvo Penta diesels throbbed beneath the deck, but they merely whispered their power message, as if to say, “The proof is in the driving, not in the braggadocio of a raucous exhaust.” These 480 hp engines rest on silent-block mounts and spin KaMeWa K28 waterjets through Twin Disk IRM 280 PL gearboxes.
We cast off. The owner moved the joystick forward and to the left, and Crazy Horse obeyed without a moment’s hesitation. That’s the “joy” in joystick. In maneuvering mode, the boat goes where you point the stick. During my stint at the helm, I moved the boat every which way but stayed within a circle not much larger in diameter than Crazy Horse’s LOA. All the directional changes were silent-no gnashing of gears, vibes from propellers or lurches of acceleration.
Outside the harbor, the winds had diminished to less than 10 knots and most of the boil had quieted to a chop of less than 2 feet. None of us, including the owner, had enough time on the stick to qualify as “experienced,” so we disengaged it and steered with the wheel. Crazy Horse accelerates quickly and so quietly you don’t realize how fast you’re going until you look at the knotmeter. Rather like a BMW 540i, I’d say.
Handling, too, is great. She hangs onto her line without asking for a lot of correction at the wheel, and she doesn’t mind being tossed into a high-speed corner. She simply digs in and scoots. We used the joystick to do a series of zigzag maneuvers at cruising speed, and Crazy Horse responded quickly with a shallow lean into each turn but no squirrelly behavior. At her maximum speed of 44 knots, the boat felt nicely buttoned down, showed no nervous lateral movements and planed at a comfortable angle. A little trim tab to get the bow sections working in the modest chop gave us a great ride, and the only time we experienced pounding was when we re-entered the water after launching off a substantial roller at about 40 knots.
Crazy Horse’s great ride comes from the bell-shape sections in her bottom. The inverted bell provides a good compromise among ride comfort, draft, maximum speed and reasonable fuel economy for a given displacement and power package. Had we been aboard a deep-V of 24 degrees deadrise aft, the hull probably wouldn’t have pounded when we re-entered the water at 40 knots. On the other hand, we’d need a lot more power to reach that speed, the boat wouldn’t corner at such a friendly angle of heel and she would have a deeper draft.
At first glance, you’d swear Crazy Horse is a wooden boat. The mahogany on the trunk cabin and house is a veneer bonded to molded composite parts. A lot of wood in the house and belowdecks reinforces the illusion. Solid or veneer, the wood is beautifully finished, and all the joints are precise.
The accommodations suit the boat’s use. A V-berth forward, a head right aft, a galley and a quarter berth on each side let four adults spend a pleasant summer weekend aboard. Guests would take meals at the table on the bridge deck and spend most of their time there or in the cockpit. Chilly or inclement weather may make the four wish they were two, but a tented-in bridge deck would ease the crowded feeling. The accommodations, though, are perfect for Mom, Dad and the children.
Crazy Horse is a fabulous boat that will come to market as the Regatta Jetstream 38 Coupe. The standard boat starts at $549,000, which seems like a bargain to me. For now, you’ll not find this level of beauty, performance and exclusivity anywhere else at any price.
Contact: Regatta Yachts, (203) 838-1909; fax (203) 838-1557; [email protected].