The Rosso 28 is a new French addition to the already healthy range of European designed daysailer / weekender yachts such as Alphena, Optio, Saffier, Scangaard, or the American builders, Morris or Alerion. Produced in tiny numbers at Chantier des Ileaux, the Rosso 28 is one of 10 seemingly fast daysailer designs available, which all have in common an individualistic touch, a small-scale production and the method of construction: wood/GRP-composite or strip-planked (see How to choose the right daysailer).

Rosso 28 daysailer review

The Rosso 28: Made in France of epoxy sheathed wood.

Which is how the Rosso 28 is made: Wood strips are fitted to a mould and laminated before the hull is sheathed in glass and epoxy. Stiffened by many frames, the result is a low-maintenance hull that is resistant against torsion and bulging. On the outside it is painted, wood is only visible on the inside.


Italian design 

The design comes from the little known Sardinian, Paolo Bua of Truc Design. Truc specialises in small, hot racers that are big on aesthetics and sailing fun, which is ideal for the partnership with Chantier des Ileaux. The latest offering is an upscale sportsboat with no lifelines, little freeboard, a retractable bowsprit, a large cockpit that extends forward nearly to the mast, exquisite teak surfaces on deck and in the cockpit and a tall rig without runners.

Under water the Rosso has twin rudders and a lifting keel. A fixed keel is an option, since it is not a production boat – one of the advantages of a small yard.

Rosso 28 review: Sporty looks

If the Rosso 28 looks hot and sporty, she also has a corresponding spec sheet with plenty of sail area and a whopping ballast share of 45 per cent to keep her upright. The keel fin, when lowered is 1.95m deep (6ft 5in).

According to the specifications the boat weighs 1.5 tons (3,300lb), but the tested vessel was quite a bit heftier due to some reinforcements in the bottom. That’s because the first customer planned to sail it off a mooring buoy in northern Brittany where the boat falls dry twice a day.

The rough venue with its strong currents is also the reason for the auxiliary engine, a Yanmar 9hp diesel that is equipped with a fixed drive shaft.


Speedy like the big boys

The engine happily hums along, but also is a bit bothersome due to the lack of insulation, so we switched to sailing while still inside the harbour. The Technora-Black canvas from a local sail loft, which is on the options list was hoisted on a carbon mast that’s also optional, supplied by AG Plus, a French specialty builder for shorter spars. The carbon stick carries a price tag of 7,000 Euros (£5,600), while the black aramid sails are offered for 2,200 Euros (£1,760).

And off we go. In variable winds, the Rosso 28 accelerated well and remained under control at all heel angles while responding rapidly and directly to all rudder commands. In light air her speed nearly matched that of the wind’s while she managed to keep up with larger boats that are designed for more breeze.

The ergonomics for the helm and the mainsheet trimmer are excellent: both can brace their feet on massive, triangular wooden pedestals to have the hands free for their jobs. The helmsperson has all the key trim components within reach: the mainsheet with a 1:6 ratio, the traveler and the backstay pulley, which is exemplary to operate. The helm also can reach back to the deck-mounted winches for the roller-furling gennaker or the code zero.

The small headsail is sheeted to the tracks and then to the halyard winches on the strip-planked cabin top, which is a sensible solution. However, that’s out of reach for the helmsman, so for singlehanding the installation of an autopilot would be advisable, if not indispensable.

Everything else works with minimal friction, which is due to the quality, the dimensions and the positioning of the hardware. Without question, the boat is a joy to sail. And for day trips or short cruises in good weather, the cockpit could be counted as accommodation, hence a boom tent would be a great idea for this boat.

If life on board is limited to the space below, it would quickly get cramped. The V-berth forward suffices for two, and there’s space for two more in the pipe berths, which are long, but relatively narrow and flat.

Otherwise there’s only a sink, a small wooden table and the keel trunk, which is as disturbing as it is necessary. A cooler could be stashed somewhere, but there’s no room for a portaloo, which should be a solvable issue for a yard that does so much custom work.

Rosso 28 review: below decks

Life down below is far from luxurious: the keelbox is necessary (unless you opt for the fixed keel) and the yard can probably include any creature comforts you specify.


A clear concept

In summary, the Rosso 28 is an honest boat: decidedly a daysailer with a clear focus on sailing fun, performance, handling; designed for long evenings in the cockpit and short nights below – with the added flexibility of variable draught. And not to forget the powerful, distinct lines, the advantages of small production and the upscale construction method.

That also means it will cost you 156,000 Euros (£124,650) including auxiliary diesel, teak in the cockpit, aluminium mast, Dacron sails and gennaker. That is a lot of dough – about the price range of the new Wauquiez Optio, which offers more buildout and better appointment with a pantry and a toilet. It is a difficult call to make in any case.


Rosso 28 Specifications

LOA: 8.50m

Beam: 2.96m

Draft min/max: 0.85 / 1.95m

Displacement: 1,550 kg (3,300lb)

Ballast: 700kg (1,540lb)

Mainsail: 25 sq m (270 sq ft)

Jib: 16.5 sq m (178 sq ft)

Code Zero: 29 sq m (312 sq ft)

Asymmetric spinnaker: 72 sq m (774 sq ft)

Engine: Yanmar 9hp diesel

Construction: Strip planking mahogany/glass/epoxy

Design: Paolo Bua /Truc design

More news and reviews of high-end daysailer and weekender yachts –

How to choose the right daysailer

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Fareast 18 review: Speedy day-sailer