A quality yacht designed to combine comfortable accommodation with excellent performance and good handling characteristics. Take a look for yourself with the boats.com Grand Soleil 50 First Look Video filmed at Southampton Boat Show 2015.
The latest model from Cantiere del Pardo, Italy’s largest boat builder is a 50 footer that has been completely remodelled by the Botin and Carkeek design teams. The result is a distinctive and up to date design that retains the brand’s key features of performance allied to comfort and reliability.
Changes from the previous 50ft model include a new hull and deck design, with a composite carbon and fibreglass structural frame to spread the keel loads. This replaces the steel frame used in the previous generation of Grand Soleil 50. On deck there’s now a much cleaner appearance, with flatter decks, concealed lines and an open transom with a fold-down bathing platform. However, the biggest changes are below decks – the galley is located at the front of the saloon.
The builder has made a significant effort to improve the quality of the interior joinery in this boat compared to earlier models. The most striking aspects of this boat’s layout are the big navigation station to starboard at the foot of the companionway – it’s large enough to be used as a floating office – and the galley located forward of this, adjacent to the main bulkhead. This is of an impressive size and is well equipped, including a four burner cooker, double stainless steel sink and a top-accessed fridge. There’s plenty of stowage here and in general fiddles are commendably deep.
Opposite on the port side is further stowage and another area that could be used for food preparation or serving drinks. The remainder of the saloon, which takes up most of the port side of this part of the boat, is given over to a long L-shape settee, around a large folding table.
The owner’s cabin occupies the whole of the forward part of the boat, ahead of the main bulkhead, and has a spacious feel, with ample room to move around. A number of configurations are possible here, including twin beds or a peninsula double, both with luxury heads and top-notch shower compartments.
Both the mirror-image aft cabins are of a decent size and don’t share a common bulkhead, which adds to privacy and helps with sound insulation between the cabins. These both share the aft day heads, which again is well appointed, including a separate shower stall.
On deck and performance
Grand Soleil has a long history of producing boats that are easy to sail fast. This one is no exception, with the mainsheet, traveller and primary winches all within easy reach of the helm stations. The expansive deck areas forward are complemented by a fold-down aft bathing platform. This both works well for boats sailing in warmer climes and makes boarding from a tender both easier and safer. There’s good stowage on deck, including a huge sail locker forward that can be fitted out as a skipper’s cabin if required.
As with earlier designs in the series, the bulwarks and outer edge of the deck are still incorporated in the hull moulding, while all bulkheads are laminated to the hull to increase stiffness. The effect is to massively increase the stiffness of the structure.
Under the water is a racing-style keel with an iron fin from which a lead T-bulb is hung. Three different keels are offered – the standard 2.60m draught option, a 2.90m deep fin and a 2.20m shallow draught alternative. There’s also a race version that has around six per cent more sail area.
Equipment and options
A generally high level of equipment is provided as standard, including items such as four AGM batteries, a 60 amp charger and a 230V wiring system. As standard the woodwork is in oak, with teak as an option. Other options below decks include cabin heating and a freezer in the galley. On deck there are the usual wide range of options for upgrading the sail inventory and for instrumentation.
What it does best
This design clearly achieves its aim of providing a stylish and easily handled fast cruiser and combines this with the welcome option of a different saloon layout that may widen the boat’s appeal. There has been no attempt to shoehorn in as many small cabins as possible, with the result that all areas are of a generous size, both internally and on deck.
While most examples are likely to spend the bulk of their lives as fast cruising yachts, as with other Grand Soleil models in the past, some examples of this boat are also very likely to be found on race courses around the world. Past results tell us the new 50 footer has every chance of success in this sphere as well, whether racing inshore or offshore.
On the other hand, not everyone will like the saloon layout – being further forward in the boat there will be a little more motion here at sea than with a conventionally positioned galley. Also the arrangement means there’s no viable sea berth on the starboard side of the saloon.
Other models in the range
The current Grand Soleil range encompasses six performance cruising yachts from 39 to 54ft (see: Grand Soleil 43 review and Grand Soleil 39 review on boats.com. All are Botin and Carkeek designs since 2011, apart from the 54, which was by Luca Brenta in 2007. They will be joined in January 2016 by a 58ft model designed in collaboration with Felci Yachts and Nauta design. In early 2015 the company also introduced its first model aimed solely at the long-distance cruising market, the 46 LC (or Long Cruise).
Other quality performance yachts in this part of the market include the Xp-50, and the Solaris 50, another Italian design that dates from late 2014. For a more cruising oriented alternative, the Xc-50 is an obvious contender, with the Impression 50 another worthy option.
Grand Soleil 50: Specifications
Hull length: 15.15m
Draught: 2.20m, 2.60m or 2.90m
Sail area: 139 or 148sq m
Fuel tank: 310 litres
Water tank: 520 litres
Engine Yanmar: 75hp sail drive
www.grandsoleil.net or www.keyyachting.co.uk