Yachting Monthly review

Yachting World just did a review of the VAr 37 (or Varianta 37) compared to the Bavaria and Jeanneau 37.   The review has not yet been published, but the video review is interesting.  You can see they did not think so much of the VAr 37 until they sailed her, and from the looks of it, she  clearly outsailed other 2 (as I would expect!).



Update – got the review last week.   Here are the details;

Yachting World September 2014 VAr 37 review, Page 45+   This was a review of 3 boats, a VAr 37, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 and a Bavaria Cruiser 37.

“However, the Varianta (VAr) soon won over all the testers on the water.  With a solid Force 5 blowing down the Solent, she behaved obediently and tacked sharply.”  “A large and seemingly dated single wheel provides light and excellent feel on the helm.   She’s nimble, quick and a real pleasure to sail simply for sailing’s sake.”

“What immediately set the test boats apart was the difference in speed and pointing ability of the Varianta, particularily against the Bavaria.  She smoked the other 2 yachts upwind, despite having a fixed prop – we had to keep luffing up to let the other 2 catch up for the benefit of the photographer.”

“The Varianta (VAr) was easily the most rewarding boat to sail, not because she felt like a raceboat, but because she was so well-balanced, so light on the helm and so easy to feel on the wheel.”


They made some rather odd comments however, so I responded with the following letter to the editor.  The editor agreed that I had some good points, and will publish a cut down version.


Letter to the Editor,

Comparisons to other boat under sail is very useful, as you did with your review of the Varianta 37 in the September 2014 issue.  I am thankful you conduct such reviews, but I would expect more thoughtful analysis from your testers.

I was for many years the US importer for Contest Yachts from Holland, and have visited over 50 boatyards.   I was the Metro NY Hanse dealer for 6 years to 2012, and have sailed my 2006 Hanse 400 over 30,000 offshore miles with 6 trips to the Caribbean and back.   I also make sailboat hardware (the Dutchman Flaking System and Boom Brake etc) and run the largest Sailing School in CT.  I have many offshore passages and races to my credit, including the 2000 Ostar, when I was the only American to finish.  After inspecting the Varianta’s in production at the Hanse Group Yard in January 2014, I signed on to be the US Agent for this line (VArYachts.com)

From the start, the reviewers were critical of the Varianta.   “The design is old and consequently she looks dated… is a good example.  The design is from 2006 which is surely not old.  How exactly has the design for a family racer cruiser advanced since then?     Are hard chines or portlights in the hull really that important vs things like an excellent design, lots of sail area, and a high end rudder bearing system?  Furthermore, it’s hard to find someone who thinks she looks dated.   Clean and elegant will always be in style.

The reviewers were negative on the storage.  Because the VAr 37 galley is not pushed out to the hull sides, she has more galley storage than most other boats.   The upper cabinets measure 10″  high x 11.4″ deep x 21.5″  wide x 3, for a total of 4.3 cubic feet of storage, or 25cm high x  29cm deep x 55cm wide x 3, for a total of .123 cubic meters of storage.  The aft lower cabinet has 2 separated spaces, both with high fiddles, measuring 22″ wide x 12″ high x 12″ deep, and 22 wide x 15″ high x 21″ deep, for 5.8 cubic feet of storage space.   The middle cabinet measures 20″ wide x 11 high x 14″ deep.  The forward cabinet measures 18″ wide x 12″ high x 8″ deep.  There is additional shelf space above or outboard of all the lockers and a deep shelf 65″ wide x 12″ high x 4″ deep  just below the upper cabinets.     What production 37 sailing yacht has more storage?  A fanny strap is of course an easy and needed solution to starboard tack cooking, which far too few yachts have.  All the cabinets have excellent fiddles btw and can be opened on either tack.   The Varianta also has excellent access to all the areas under the berths, so plastic bins can be used to store lots of gear.  The ability to store duffel and food bags in the outboard shelf is an astonishingly sensible and efficient method, and keeps the interior looking tidy with a large crew.

You noted that she was “built to a good standard, with frames and bulkheads laminated in”.   Of course, most production boats do not bother with laminating in anything.    The Varianta has more tabbed or laminated in bulkheads than the other boats in the test with the largest keel bolts, a stronger structure, etc. which contributes to her solid feeling and performance, even when sailing much faster than the other boats, as she did.    The other boats used cheaper, glued in grids and bulkheads.   The Varianta 37 has six 33 mm diameter keel bolts, one 30 mm bolts and one 24 mm bolt.  These keel bolts are over 80% larger than similar boats.  I would think your readers would appreciate knowing which boats have oversized keel connections, given some recent and not so recent incidents.

What really blew me away was when you compared her to a cheap Malaysian car, saying you can’t help having doubts in the longer term.   What special doubts should one have when buying a boat designed by one of the leading NA firms in the world and built by what I believe is the second largest sailing yacht builder in the world, known for rugged boats?  Note that several Varinata’s are owned by Hanse Group personel and associates.   Anyone who knows boats appreciates where Hanse has put the money in this boat.  Her interior is made of high quality Marine Plywood, and because laminate surfaces are so durable (far more durable than any varnished interior), she probably will look much better in 20 years than most competitors.

The simple interior of the Varianta is not for everyone, but Yachting World reviews should be based on facts, not unsupportable or incorrect opinions.   There are very few new yachts one can successfully and enjoyably race offshore, then go on a cruise with the family or have a fun daysail.  Your review did a good job of conveying the importance of sailing performance, which I commend you for, but by critizing the Varianta as you did, you have done your readers a disservice.

Best Regards,

Martin Van Breems

Fall Boat Show Update

The VAr program certainly is off to a great start. This will bring you up to date with our fall and winter plans.

Fall 2014 Boat Show Season   As usual, we invite our members and students to assist in the delivery to / from the shows, and to help out at the shows. The deliveries to and from are detailed below. Members in the boat to be delivered have priority, followed by members in the smaller boats. This is a great way to get some free sailing time. If a member for the respective boat is not avail, SSC will provide a Captain for the trip.

If you would like to help out at the shows working the VAr37 or the Dutchman booth for either Newport or Annapolis, we will get you free passes and a berth on board. You would need to spend 1/2 your time working. The other half can be spent looking around at other boats and enjoying the show.


Newport Boat Show Thurs Sept 11th to Sunday Sept 14th 10-6:00. This is the largest show in NE, combined sail and power, with more in the water sailboats than at any other show. The show is about 40% sail, 60% power. Of course, Newport is a fun town to visit in any case. We will have VAr 37 in the show.


Delivery / Basic Cruising Class to Newport – The VAr 37 must be in Newport Tuesday Sept 9th for move in, but she can arrive Sunday night so those who need to jump off can do so. Our space is M15, across from the Swan. We will leave from Norwalk Friday morning with a class, and the instructor will jump off in Mystic Saturday afternoon, so the class can sail to Block Island Saturday evening, and then on to Newport the following day.


Newport Return – The VAr37 can leave Newport Sunday evening, Sept 14th at about 7:00 pm. There is normally room at the Yachting Center to lay alongside till Monday am, which we will do if the weather is poor. Otherwise, we will run to Pt Judith (or Block Island if the crew has extra time), so we can catch the morning flood tide. 10nm Newport to Pt Judith, 20nm Pt Judith to Noank.


Norwalk Boat Show   Thurs Sept 18 to Sunday Sept 21th 10-6:00. This is the largest show in NE. The show is about 10% sail, 90% power. We will not have any boats in this show. Unfortunately, you will need to pay to park at Sound Sailing Center during the show.


Annapolis Boat Show  The Annapolis Boat Show runs from Thurs Oct 7th to Monday Oct 11th 10-6:00. This is the largest sail show in the US, and the largest in the water sailboat show in the world. The show is 100% sail. Annapolis is a great town, certainly one the sailing capital of America. We will bring the VAr 37 to the show. We will run the trip south either as a class, or as a Member trip, depending on the interest.

Delivery – The VAr37 must be in Annapolis Monday, Oct 5th at around 10:00 am for move in. Expect a zoo! We will depart Friday October 3rd for the trip south. The tide starts ebbing at 7:15 am, and starts flooding again at 1:47pm. It is 28nm to the start of the East River, so it will take us 4 hrs with the current. Since we will be running this as a class, the trip will take us about 9 hours, so a 11am departure time will work well. Students will arrive at 9 am, loading food, supplies, gear systems review, etc.

Head South with the VAr – The 37 can leave Annapolis Tuesday evening, Oct 14th at about 7:00 pm. The show ends Monday at 5pm, but we probably will have demo sails to do on Tuesday.

A big question for us is do we leave the VAr in Annapolis for a few weeks for members to use her down there, then take her south. Of course, the season is far longer in Annapolis and farther south. Members will need to sign up for the various legs, so that one member might sail her from Annapolis from October 14 or later to Norfolk, taking 4-5 days up to a week or more. Of course, there are many interesting side trips, including making a trip up the Potomac. One could easily spend several weeks exploring the Cheasapeake Bay, and serveral members could spend Oct on the Cheasapeake Bay.

The next leg would be from Norfolk thru the intercoastal waterway and into the Pamlico Sound, travelling inside the Outer Banks. This should be done around the end of October. The Dismal Swamp Canal is the normal route from the Cheasapeake Bay, and provides a very sheltered passage from the Cheasapeake Bay to the Ablemarle Sound, with many opportunities for interesting side trips, including Kitty Hawk and Roanake Island, the site of America’s lost Colony. The Pamlico is very much like the Cheasapeake Bay, and quite an atttractive cruising destination in itself. The VAr should probably be left in Beaufort, which provides a good inlet out into the Atlantic Ocean.

In November, the VAr would make the 200 nm passage from Beaufort to Charleston SC, which provides a very interesting city to explore and sail around. From there, she should continue south to the Hilton Head, South Carolina area, where she could stay for much of November into December. The next passage might be from Hilton Head to Brusnwick Georgia in early December. Of course, there are are numerous inlets to jump into in this area – the intercoastal waterway is not an option in the Georgia region due to no recent dredging.

In December, the VAr will make it’s way from Brunswick down the 400 nm miles to somewhere in the southern FL area. Options are Singer Island, Lake Worth (good access to the northern Bahamas, ie Grand Bahamas / the Abacos), Ft Lauderdale, or Miami, for good access to the Florida Keys, Andros Island or Nassua in the Bahamas, etc.

It is crucial for members to consider, plan for and sign up to take the various legs now. Of course, we will start bringing the VAr back from FL in March or April, so there will be another round of options as we head North. For the trip North, it is more likley that we will go outside in the Gulf Stream for a very quick passage from FL to Cape Hatteras / Norfolk, provided we have a good weather window. The trip from FL to Cape May, NJ can be accomplished in as little as 4 days, or 6 days back to Norwalk. I did exactly that when I brought our Pearson 37 Matinicus up from Ft Laderdale, FL in 2002.

Return VAr 37   If there is no interest in Members using the VAr down south, then she will head north on Monday night or Tuesday from Annapolis




VAr Upgrades.  Obviously the VAr 37 has been a great fit into SSC, and I know all the members who have sailed her are very pleased with her. Remaining upgrades to be accomplished include a jib furler (will be done this week), a bimini (after the shows), an upgraded mainsail handling / covering system (the SailCase R) and possibly an electric winch system which can also handle the anchor, both of which will probably be done before the Annapolis show. We will have an inflatable dingy on board for the trip south.



VAr Sale into the fleet   I suspect there may be some SSC members who can make better use of the tax advantages of owning the VAr than I can. There are two basic strategies which yield significant tax benefits. By far the more attractive strategy is to purchase the VAr as a business inventment, with SSC managing the project. This is how most charter boats are owned, and you can contact a charter operation like the Moorings or Sunsail to get details of how their program works. Of course, investment tax credits and depreciation can be used to reduce your current tax liabilities. Since we Note that conventional boat finacing does not allow the use of a vessel for commercial uses, so this would need to be a cash deal or financed via a home equity loan or similar.

I can provide pricing info and a sample contract if this is of interest.



Time to pick a name for our VAr! Of course, if you buy her, you get to pick the name!

My initial idea’s are;

– Vast

– Varv (Norse – to change or to turn)

– Varoom

– Vroom