Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Salona 41 Review

I first noticed the Salona 41 a couple of years ago when we were still searching for a new boat. Salona Yachts is located in Split, Croatia. As the American sailboat industry has declined in recent years, eastern European countries have developed a strong presence in the sailing industry and Salona Yachts is a good example of why this has occurred. They build solid, well engineered boats that look good and offer excellent performance. The Salona 41 was designed by J&J Design, which is part of the Seaway group of companies. Over the last twenty years J&J has created an enviable portfolio of designs, including most of the Salona boats.
Sensible keel and large rudder on the 41.
In studying the sailplan and photos, I was impressed by the conservative approach to the hullform. We don' t have the lines plan for this hull but based on the photos and drawings, it appears that the longitudinal centers of flotation and gravity are somewhere near the aft end of the hull/keel joint, roughly at the deepest part of the hull in the drawing above. This indicates that the bow sections are finer than a typical cruising yacht but not extreme, and the stern is pulled in a bit compared to many new designs in which the beam at the stern is nearly as wide as the beam amidships. This boat will have good manners even when pressed hard. With a displacement of 16,424 pounds on a 37.56' waterline, the displacement length (D/L) ratio is 138, which might be a bit light for an all-out cruiser of this length but is about right for a racer/cruiser. I like the big, aft-swept keel. It isn't as hydrodynamically efficient as a vertical fin and bulb but it will shed kelp and is, in my opinion, the best solution for a performance cruising yacht. Salona offers four different keels of 5.74', 6.56', 7.38' and 8.79' draft on the 41. For cruising in most parts of the world I'd choose the 6.56' version. But for racing on the west coast, the deep keel would be my choice.

In cruising mode, the 41 shows off her  clean lines.

I like the rig on this boat. The chainplates are located a foot or so inboard from the sheer, making it possible to run overlapping jibs but I'm not sure they are far enough inboard to allow the tight sheeting angles needed for racing. For cruising, the large rig, with a sail area/displacement ratio (SA/D) of 22.2 means you can leave the genoa home and cruise with nothing bigger than about a 105% jib and a cruising kite. The mainsail is set up with an Admirals Cup style mainsheet that is led aft on the boom and down to a traveler located on the cockpit sole. This is an efficient arrangement but most cruising sailors accustomed to the traveler on the cabin top or even on an arch will find that it takes some getting used to. Notice the stackpack mainsail. Salona has wisely chosen not to install a roller furling mainsail on the 41.

Sleek deck lines, twin wheels and no chines. Notice the short bowsprit on this boat. You'll want one if you plan to do any cruising on your S41. It will keep the anchor chain from rubbing the gelcoat off the bow.

I like the wide open cockpit with the traveler recessed into the sole. 
The cockpit is well designed for racing and cruising. The coamings are wide enough to sit on and the seats are long enough for lounging, yet neither would hamper a racing crew. A large and uncluttered cockpit is essential for quick boathandling in racing situations, and is just as important for cruising. After living aboard for a month or so, you'll appreciate every square inch of space in the cockpit.

Two cabin version works best for a cruising couple. 
The boat can be configured with two or three cabins and one or two heads. For cruising I would choose the two cabin, single head version. The forward cabin is large and incorporates a good sized berth, two hanging lockers, a seat and plenty of open space. This kind of space gets important quickly for liveaboard cruisers. The main cabin is open and features a big enough galley and a big dropleaf table amidships. The accommodations plan above shows a forward facing nav station, but the photo below shows the three cabin layout with an outboard facing table with a stool instead of a seat. I would demand the configuration shown above. Those little round stools are great for the local pub, not so good for working at the chart table, especially underway.

The three cabin version, shown here, is okay but the two  cabin version is ideal for a cruising couple.

I like the fact that the builder chose a basic, straightforward interior design, without gimmicky features like angled bulkheads and foldaway tables. This is a comfortable and useful interior plan that will wear well over the long term. If you visit the Salona web site, where all of the photos I used here came from, you can see 360 degree views of all the interior plans.

Salona uses vacuum infusion technology to fabricate the hull, deck and other fiberglass parts of their boats. This process results in light, strong parts and minimizes styrene emissions into the atmosphere, which is important for the health of the people who build the boats, and good for the environment. They also incorporate a structural steel grid in the hull to accommodate keel and rig loads. This is not the easiest or least expensive way to build boats, but ensures they will be strong, light and stiff for years to come.

Overall I give the Salona high marks for design and construction. The boat will be fast enough to be a lot of fun to race, yet has enough cruising amenities to make life aboard quite comfortable. It's a good looking boat that avoids extremes and faddish design elements. The nearly vertical transom lacks a swim step, which would be desirable for cruising, but other than that minor point, this boat is ready to go racing or cruising.


  1. You missed the part of an non-sandwiched hull and carbon fibre enhancement in high stress areas. The first being (imo at least) a must have for a bluewater cruiser.

  2. And also the part of having a fin keel with lead bulb at 2,25m , and of course the two watertight bulheads for/aft. Loaded for cruising (c 1.500 kg) it is (imo) a beautiful fast and safe cruiser. My no.1 pick after months of study.