Finding a boat that offers the right combination of comfort and performance is rarely easy. Every boat is a compromise, and you have to choose your priorities. Then of course there’s the emotional element, which defies rational analysis. As Phil Nicholas, the happy owner of a Maxi 1100, puts it: ‘I’m mindful of the saying that unless you’re a ferryman or a fisherman you don’t need a boat. For us, it had to be a love affair.’
To some people, like Phil and his wife Julie, a boat’s appearance and what you feel for her are important. ‘When you look at so many modern boats with their towering topsides they’re really not elegant,’ he says. Few of us would disagree.
Given Phil and Julie’s enthusiasm for their boat, coupled with the amount of time they spend aboard and the number of miles they have covered, you might imagine that they had owned a number of yachts before buying Destiny. In fact they hadn’t. Julie’s uncle ran a sailing club on the Thames, where she sailed dinghies as a child, while Phil had owned a series of small motorboats between some early dinghy sailing before succumbing to the urge to buy a cruising yacht.
The Maxi proved to be that cruising yacht. Once the urge had lodged, Phil became ‘a serial boat-show goer’ even though, when he started, he was still several years away from taking the plunge.
‘I liked Beneteau’s First 31.7,’ he explains, ‘but I kept coming back to the Maxi 1100 for four or five years despite not being in a position to start looking seriously.’
Those of us who have been in the boat-sales business will recognise a message in Phil’s story: ignore someone just because he’s not about to write you a cheque there and then, and you might lose a sale a few years down the line. Buyers of sailing yachts are often on a slow burn. So that’s how the Nicholas family came to buy a family cruiser – son Luke came along later – and it’s now 14 years on. In that time, Destiny has covered a good many miles around the south coast from her base in Poole, both cruising and, though not initially, racing too.
Much of the racing has been with Poole Yacht Racing Association (PYRA). Phil had given no thought to competitive sailing at first. He did, however, sail throughout the year and quickly learned that 20 knots of wind on a hot summer’s day is very different from 20 knots in the middle of winter. Then, on the way back from the Solent one day, he found himself in the midst of a racing fleet heading the same way.
‘We asked what was going on, found it was PYRA racing back to Poole, and have been racing with them ever since,’ he says.
Given the way things have turned out, it’s just as well that the Maxi is capable of giving a good account of herself on the race course. Regular PYRA competitors include everything from an Elizabethan 29 to a 50ft ex-Admiral’s Cupper, so Destiny sits pretty much in the middle size-wise even if she is closer to the cruising end of the spectrum. Weighing in at over 6,000kg (13,000lb) she’s appreciably heavier than many comparable boats and, not surprisingly, goes best in a breeze. Phil’s racing results show that, when the wind picks up, Destiny can outperform a lot of boats that one might expect to be faster. It follows that light airs are not her favourite conditions, especially upwind when the relatively wide sheeting angle on the minimal-overlap headsail limits her pointing ability. Phil suspects that the Maxi’s keel profile might not allow her to point higher even if the sheeting angle were narrower. He knows that he can’t rely on boat speed to be competitive in under about six knots of wind and that other strategies are needed – which he often deploys to good effect.
He also accepts that, had he bought a boat principally for racing, he would probably have chosen something else. ‘For the reasons we bought it, the Maxi has been ideal,’ he says. ‘For racing, I could use more of a boy’s boat that I could bash around a bit more – something like a Sun Fast 3200 or a JPK’.
THE RIGHT BALANCE
On a boat with a nicely finished mahogany interior, bundling wet spinnakers down the hatch is something you try to avoid unless you have plenty of protection in place for the woodwork. It’s the sort of compromise faced by many people who cruise with the family and race with friends, but the Maxi has proved to be a pretty successful cruiser-cum-racer and has stood up well to being treated from time to time in a way that Phil hadn’t envisaged when he bought her.
Her interior looks remarkably fresh for a 14-year-old boat. It’s testament to the way she has been looked after and to the way she’s built. There’s no doubt that she’s several cuts above the average in the way she sails, too. I have seen Destiny and other Maxi 1100s – including Maxi Magic, which graced Yachting Monthly’s July 2021 cover – racing and cruising in a wide range of conditions and have always thought they look pretty competent all-rounders.
When I went for a sail with Phil and Julie, we had winds that were on the light side of moderate, so it was interesting to see how Destiny handled in 8-10 knots and the sort of chop that even a gentle easterly often kicks up in Poole Bay. For a relatively heavy boat with a small headsail, the performance was impressive. The Maxi comes with genoa tracks fitted as standard but the majority of 1100s have never used overlapping headsails. Phil has found the headsail settings that work best and, when the wind across the deck nudged 12 or 14 knots, we typically clocked 6.5 knots with the apparent wind at little over 30° in the flatter patches. The rest of the time we had to keep the nose down a few degrees to punch our way through the chop, the Maxi’s weight and fine, rounded entry allowing us to do so quite comfortably.
Once she gets into her stride, she has an easy, relaxed feel. There’s no definite groove, so you don’t instantly know whether you have got everything right. It’s a subtle process of getting to know exactly what the boat likes.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Why It's Time To Pay Attention To Your Boat's Hoses
Your boat is full of hoses for many different purposes, many of them critical to essential onboard functions, and even keeping your boat afloat. Make sure they are fit for purpose, says Dag Pike
How Do You Offset Making Too Much Leeway?
A question of seamanship
10 Best Cruising Destinations For Bird Watching
10 Best Cruising Destinations For Bird Watching
John Marley returns to the Louisiades, Papua New Guinea, for a second aid project – with 300 pairs of glasses and copies of YM
‘I decided to just go alone'
Chris Ayres realised a childhood dream when he sailed from Britain to New Zealand, via Panama, in a 28ft yacht – bravely setting sail solo when crew let him down at the 11th hour
As an understated fast cruiser with racing potential and a nicely appointed interior, the Maxi 1100 has much to recommend her. David Harding reports
Jane Cumberlidge escapes to Jersey’s south-west coast to anchor off one of the Channel Islands’ prettiest beaches
OWN UP TO YOUR SAILING SINS
Sailors aged 14 and 82 finish circumnavigations around Britain
Katie said the only challenging bit of her circumnavigation was going through the Menai Strait.
ADVENTURE THE LONG WAY
Katy Stickland meets the skippers turning their backs on modern technology to take part in the slowest yacht race around the world - the Golden Globe Race
DR. ICHAK ADIZES is an expert in change management for organizations. Here he shares some thoughts on why we celebrate diversity, cultural and otherwise.
I WAS RAPE SLAVE AT EPSTEIN SEX FACTORY
Billionaire's orgy island was depraved prison run by Ghislaine Maxwell
A Pharaoh Goes to Oxford
The star of the opera Akhnaten takes his role so seriously, he’s been offered a fellowship in Egyptology
A TRIO OF NATURAL AND MANMADE LANDSCAPE ELEMENTS DEFINE A HAWAII HOME’S DESIGN
A GOOD YEAR for the ROSEWOOD
As Fender releases the George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster, we retrace the fascinating story of this iconic model with Fender historian Martin Kelly and a gorgeous 1969 original from its first, all-too-brief run.
MotoGP Springtime for Aprilia
Don’t ask me how that happened. Aprilia, I mean. From bottom of the class to the top of the podium, in one easy move. Well, perhaps not one … it’s actually taken seven years of dogged persistence in the face of serial humiliation. But it still seems to have elements of all-of-a-sudden.
Embrace Your Roots
GINA HOMOLKA, THE AUTHOR BEHIND THE SKINNYTASTE COOKBOOKS AND BLOG, CRAFTILY TRANSFORMS A VEGETABLE SCRAP OFTEN DESTINED FOR THE TRASH.
Our house is kind of famous
A California couple scored a late '50s stunner and did it up in all its mid-century glory.
“Read. Just Read,” advises Billy Collins. “The best teachers are not lecturing behind some seminar table, but are instead sitting quietly on the bookshelves of your home.”
JULIE-ANNE DAVIES: Fascinated with Cultural traditions
My approach as a travel photographer is to move slowly, fuelled by an honest and deep inquisitiveness in the lives of those around me.