Etap 28s

2007 February 5
February 2007

Coastal cruiser

I have always liked the Etap series. There's a certain excitement to its boats. The company does it its own way and its boats are as far from generic as possible. If the Wauquiez styling is bold then the Etap's styling is just plain brash. Here is designer Von Ahlen's attempt at designing a boat that is totally unique in its overall style while staying in tune with the rest of the Etap series. So if you want to blend in with the crowd and not draw attention to yourself the Etap 28s may not be the right boat for you. But if you like strong and confident styling statements maybe the Etap will be a good fit. Like it or not, it's clear to me that this designer had a lot of fun putting this design together and he had a client that gave him free rein.

The hull form shows an exceptionally wide stern, broad BWL, minimal overhangs and a hard turn of the bilge for good initial stability. The deepest part of the rocker is well aft of the keel. The freeboard to LOA percentage in this design is 12.7 percent. Where you have a designer trying to work accommodations into a limited LOA you are going to find high freeboard. You can have the shoal, inverted planform tandem keels with 3 feet, 7 inches of draft or the more conventional keel with 5 feet, 8 inches of draft. If you leave your boat on a mooring where it sits high and dry in the mud at low tide this tandem keel arrangement will work great for you. The D/L is 177 and the L/B is 2.69. This indicates a very beamy boat. I'm sure this boat will not be a rocket. It's just too beamy for that and it has too much beam at the transom. But, given the current levels of accepted L/Bs and transom beam I'm sure this boat will perform right alongside its competition.

It's amazing what you can do in 28 feet, 2 inches today. Italian designer Stile Bertone created this interior. I can almost see this little 28-footer being a comfortable liveaboard boat for a single, compact lifestyle fellow or gal. There is a large double berth aft, a compact but reasonable galley to port and a wide, open saloon. The settee extends forward of the forward bulkhead. I'm not sure what the idea is there unless it's to provide short berths for short kids. It's a clever layout done in attractive light wood veneer with stainless steel pipe rail accents. I'm not sure how easy it would be for me to squeeze myself into that aft berth and it makes me chuckle (stop that!) to think of the person sleeping aft having to get out during the night.

The rig is different too. There is one set of swept spreaders on a deck-stepped mast. The jib is self-tacking with a track directly forward of the mast. The mainsheet is led to a very short track on the cockpit sole, if I am reading the tiny drawings correctly. If you go for the tiller steering option the mainsheet is led to a track aft of the tiller head I presume. There is marked stive to the boom. I use the term "stive" to indicate the rise to the boom. I don't have rig dimensions for this boat but I'm willing to guess the SA/D is around 18.463. Note the unusual diamond stay that goes from the hounds, over the spreaders and back to the mast. This helps support the masthead without increasing compression loads on the mast support post below. I have the same setup on my own boat.

The deck plan drawing is so small I just can't make out any of the details but I do have some good photos of the boat. The deck design is clever and combines comfort features with practical features. It's radical looking with the rounded house profile blending into the rounded coaming sections. There is a big window right in the font of the house. The halyards lead aft to winches adjacent to the companionway the way almost every boat is rigged today. Teak decking is inset into the molded GRP deck to add to the distinct deck lines. A subtle styling trick that also makes manufacturing easier is to stop the bootstripes short of the centerline, at the bow. In this case the designer has stopped the upper bootstripe slightly farther aft than the wider, lower bootstripe. It's good to see a designer having fun with these little, subtle touches.

Etaps are advertised as being unsinkable. They have a hull liner and they inject foam into the cavity between the hull and the liner to provide the required buoyancy to make the boat unsinkable. This double-skinned construction also gives the Etaps durability and hull stiffness while adding insulation to reduce condensation.