There will be times when you get caught out, when the weather doesn’t do exactly as forecast and the sea state becomes worryingly erratic. These are the sort of times when you feel the eyes of the young or less experienced members of the crew turning to you, wanting reassurance you may not be able to give. This can be the unpredictable nature of cruising.
At times like this it matters little how many sunpads you may have on deck, what size your flatscreen TV is, or which toys are lurking in the lazarette. You’d trade any of them for a comfortable and forgiving motion, safe passage on deck and a minimum of unnerving noises.
You want to be able to set the correct sail to the conditions. You may also re-evaluate what makes life comfortable: proper protection in the cockpit; a navstation where you can think and plan; somewhere to dry wet gear, make a hot brew safely, or cocoon yourself on a berth with a sturdy lee cloth
These may not be the sexy features that sell yachts at boat shows, but they could make a crucial difference to the enjoyment of an offshore passage. Rustler Yachts knows this well. It builds very elegant-looking cruising yachts, but they are designs that shun fashion for exactly this type of pragmatism.
It’s no fluke that the top three of five finishers in the retro, attritional Golden Globe Race 2018 were Rustler 36s. The Penryn, Falmouth, yard takes a belt and braces approach to its builds.
Its range has spanned modest-sized cruising yachts up to 44ft – until now. This new 57, by far its largest model to date, is still a yacht that its creators hope will provide that total reassurance.
No frills introduction
First impressions are reassuring: a sweeping sheerline rising to a raked stem, a spoon bow and an elegant counter, and a deep underbody with a softly turned bilge are all traits that have stood the test of time. They help produce a reliable, kindly motion at sea, with the added bonus of lines that are exceedingly easy on the eye.
Rustler’s go-to designer, Stephen Jones, who joined us for the first day of trials, explained that he endeavoured to keep the freeboard of the 57 as low as possible – no easy task with today’s demands for internal volume. His solution lay with modern influences: a fuller bow shape, noticeable in the forward cabin, and broad beam aft which buys valuable space in the two aft guest cabins.
This yacht is refreshing in its conservative, dependable nature. At this size and price range, there’s no shortage of competition in the luxury cruiser market, but Rustler is sticking to what it does best and, for that reason, the 57 stands out. Director Adrian Jones describes it as a scaled-up version of the company’s venerable 42.
“What our owners want is to not follow fashion,” he says, pointing out that the hull shape, protective skeg and single wheel are the antithesis of the offerings from most modern production yards. The rig is also unusual these days: “We stuck to our guns with parallel spreaders and a cutter rig,” says Jones.
Where this first 57 differs from the standard boat is in the rig and keel set up. The owner didn’t want the boat to draw more than 2m, nor have an air draught over 25m. Rustler’s solution was to use a long chord, lead keel case with a bronze fin centreboard that can lower to give another 1.5m draught. The carbon Seldén mast and V-boom carries a fully battened mainsail, which uses a Harken switch track to stow closer to the boom.
From the moment you step aboard the Rustler via a proper boarding gate in the guardrails, walk along its secure side decks between sturdy toerail and handrails, noting features such as the Samson post and protected dorades, and settle in the deep cockpit, you feel enveloped in a luxurious safety blanket.
Before moving on to performance, it’s important to point out where the money goes. This is a hand-built boat, more than 22,000 hours of it in fact. It’s a yacht built to last.
“We use a monolithic layup with a glass stringer matrix for all of our cruising yachts, as we genuinely believe it to be stronger,” Adrian Jones explains. He maintains that, compared to sandwich construction, this copes better with deflection, is easier to repair and won’t delaminate.
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