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Synergy 1000

2008 November 10

One-design with an intriguing blend of performance and simplicity

The motto of this new one-design sport boat is "no speed limits." This aptly describes the Synergy 1000. The 32-footer is an intriguing project by Timeless Marine Inc., a Seattle, Washington, company that specializes in custom construction and large renovation projects. Designed by Carl Schumacher, this boat combines great performance with relative ease of handling.

While there is no denying that the Synergy 1000 was developed to win races, it is also a versatile boat that can be readily set up for daysailing, or as the builder calls it, "backpack cruising." The primary objective of Timeless Marine is to establish a nationwide, one-design fleet, and it is off to a good start in the Seattle area. In spite of capricious Chesapeake Bay breezes during a recent test sail, I was treated to an occasional taste of the exhilarating sailing this boat promises.

The Synergy 1000 appears sleek and austere at first glance, yet a closer look reveals the grace and simplicity of its design. The bow is nearly vertical, the entry hollow, and the reverse transom extends the LWL to 29 feet, 2 inches, or roughly 90 percent of the LOA. When viewed in profile, the reverse sheer is obvious. This is something that either turns you on or off, depending upon your politics. Designer Bob Perry has noted that there may be added strength to the reverse sheer, as it opposes the hull's fore and aft bending loads. Schumacher has a lot of experience with this concept. There is a nice flare to the forward sections.

The details Speed and low weight are synonymous with sport boats; you can't have enough of the one if you don't have the other. The Synergy 1000 displaces just 4,400 pounds, with 1,850 pounds in ballast, placing it pound for pound somewhere between the J/90 and J/105.

The hull and deck are cold-molded composite construction, with the outer skin composed of vacuum-bagged carbon fiber. This technique uses a male mold and allows for a seamless hull-and-deck joint, which is both strong and adds to the sleek appearance. Carbon fiber is used throughout the boat, including the spar, the bowsprit, the rudder, rudder stock and the tiller assembly. The Mars Metals' deep-fin keel is a hollow steel section with the lead molded into a bulb on the bottom. Draft is 7 feet, which we discovered is a bit deep for one particular channel near Annapolis, Maryland, during our sail. The keel can be easily removed for trailering.

My assistant, Carol Dean, and I joined the boat on Back Creek and hastily powered into the bay. Auxiliary power is provided by a small, 12.5-horsepower Honda four-stroke gasoline engine, fitted with a saildrive unit. The all-in weight of this clever arrangement is around 100 pounds, and the boat moved smartly through the water. The only drawback is that the noise level was a bit more than expected, although I suspect a little more insulation would eliminate the problem.

On deck The large cockpit is the heart of the boat. The mainsheet traveler is behind the tiller, but there is still enough room for the trimmer to sit behind the driver and be in a good position to call tactics. The cockpit seats are slightly contoured and comfortable, and with a tiller extension, the helmsperson can position herself anywhere she needs to be. The deck edge is flush aft, making it easy on the railriders.

The Harken primary sheet winches are set rather far forward because the Synergy 1000 develops plenty of horsepower without the need for overlapping headsails. This makes for an efficient trimming position. Nearly all sail controls are also led aft along the coachroof. All deck hardware, including the adjustable headsail leads, is from Harken.

The nonskid pattern on deck provides secure footing, and the stanchion bases are well supported. The retractable bowsprit is carbon fiber and, like the mast and boom, made by Hi-Tech Composites.

The Synergy 1000 headsail leads are set well inboard, allowing for incredibly tight sheeting angles that result in almost obscene pointing ability. The double-spreader rig supports a generous amount of sail area, most of it consumed by the large, roachy, full-batten main. The spar is fractionally rigged, which again suits the small working headsails. The Synergy 1000 can be kicked into overdrive by deploying the sprit and flying a masthead chute. I suspect that few boats will be able to keep up with the Synergy 1000 while reaching before a fresh breeze in moderate seas. There is no doubt this boat was designed for the light-and-fluky summer breezes that dominate Puget Sound.

Down below
There is not much to say about the interior, although it is bright and, like the rest of the boat, well done. The layout is conventional with a V-berth forward. A port-a-potty eliminates the need for any head plumbing and keeps the Coast Guard happy. There is a small sink to starboard. A good-size chart table is opposite, which is probably the most important interior appointment of a small performance boat.

Two quarter berths are aft, the likely home of miscellaneous gear. The real purpose of the interior, which has only sitting headroom, is to provide a place for crew to sleep when you are either en route to a race or are away for a weekend regatta.

Under sail
Back on the bay, the winds were frustratingly light. We worked our way into the mouth of the Severn River looking for wind and were rewarded with a nice, albeit short-lived, breeze. The Synergy 1000 responded immediately-the acceleration was impressive. We shot forward, and then began a series of close tacks between several Naval Academy workboats.

The advantage of a large main and small headsails is obvious when coming about in light air. As the wind lagged, I was impressed as we effortlessly tacked through head-to-wind without any hint of stalling, despite a true wind that was no more than 4 or 6 knots. Unfortunately, we didn't have a chute aboard. I think this boat could easily pop up on a plane in as little as 10 knots. A decent breeze finally emerged out of the northwest just before sunset, and easing onto a close reach, the Synergy 1000 found her stride as we bounded toward Back Creek. In 10 knots true, with four people aboard, the boat sails relatively flat and on her lines. And she is fast. We shot up to 6 knots and began to blow by the many other boats clogging up the bay after the boat show. We simply vanquished a large catamaran that we will leave thankfully unidentified.

The flared forward section deflected the spray that I was certain would drench us when an inconsiderate motorcruiser steamed across our bow. The Synergy 1000 slowed quickly when it hit the wake, but it was like stepping on the gas as the wind filled the main, the water settled down and we blasted forward.

We hardened up to avoid the shoal we had discovered earlier, and I was really quite amazed at how high we could point and still maintain speed. Like other, larger one-designs I have sailed recently, the Synergy began to create her own apparent wind.

Although we didn't have enough wind to really put the boat to the test, I was also impressed by how light the helm was. The boat has a very balanced feel in the water, which is not always the case with mainsail-dominated rigs. The keel is set rather far aft, which helps balance the loads generated by the big main.

The Synergy 1000 is clearly designed to meet the needs of what I sense is a significant change in the way most of us sail today and will sail in the future. This boat, like many other sport boats, is designed for exhilarating sailing while being strikingly easy to handle. I suspect that ease of handling-from nonoverlapping headsails to a poleless chute that sets simply off a retractable sprit-were critical design features, as important in fact, as the ultimate performance parameters.

The Synergy 1000 is a logical boat for today's demanding, hard running sailors who expect top performance in everything they own, even if they have a limited amount of time to use it.