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Alerion Express 28, Originally reviewed July 1992

2011 September 21

Coastal cruiser

As I look back through all the volumes of SAILING Designs one of the thoughts that strikes me is where are all these designers today? Some, like my old drinking buddy Gary Mull, are dead. I didn't know Carl Schumacher well but I knew him and I was saddened when I heard he had died at such a young age. Carl had a good eye and he knew how to draw a fine sailing boat. His Express 37 remains one of my all-time favorite boats. I have no idea where some of the other designers went. I know where German Frers went. It seems that many of those confident yacht designers that were going to set the world on fire and show us how it's really done have just gone quietly away. Maybe they found real jobs.

In the mid-1990s the typical small family cruiser-racer or racer-cruiser had become a complex boat. Vendors were convincing sailors that they had to have everything in order to be happy and enjoy sailing. Ralph Schacter had another idea. He knew that most sailors went out for a day, sometimes just an afternoon or evening, and did not need things like shower stalls, refrigeration, windlasses with all-chain rode and hot-and-cold running water. But they did need a head and a place to sleep on weekend overnighters. Picking the name of Nate Herreshoff's own daysailer, Alerion, the Alerion Express was born with pretty hull lines drawn by Carl Schumacher. The era of the big, comfy daysailer had begun. I say "big" because at that time my own idea of a daysailer was a Thistle class or any number of small dinghy one-designs. Schacter's idea was that these new daysailers would be big enough to be keelboats with near the level of comfort found on the majority of production cruiser/racer types.

The look of the new daysailer would be traditional, with low freeboard, some overhangs, a svelte cabintrunk that gave slightly less than full standing headroom and a long cockpit. But below the DWL this traditional appearing boat would be modern with flat rocker, a moderate aspect ratio fin keel and a partially balanced spade rudder. The D/L of the Alerion Express 28 is 168 and the L/B is 3.46, putting it on the narrow side of "medium."

The focus on this design was the cockpit and the laying out of the running rigging so that one person could easily sail the boat. There is nothing revolutionary here except the fact that most cruiser/racer types put more emphasis on interior comfort and this resulted usually in tight, cramped cockpits. The Alerion would be tiller steered with the mainsheet led to a barney post in the center of the cockpit.

The rig is fractional with swept spreaders and a self-tacking jib. In 1994 Garry Hoyt became involved with the project at the invitation of Everett Pearson, president of TPI. Hoyt worked to refine the boat, adding his Hoyt jib boom. I really like the Hoyt boom. It is a huge improvement over the self-tacking track just so long as you don't mind this big pipe living on your foredeck. I could live with it. The SA/D is 20.97 and that's enough to keep you ghosting along in the light stuff. Hoyt also changed the keel to a fin and bulb.

I couldn't begin to tell you the boats that this design inspired. In fact, I think the Alerion Express gave birth to a type-daysailers-that today is well established and does not mean what it meant 30 years ago.

Read the original review at: http://www.sailingmagazine.net/component/content/article/3-perry-on-design/1097-alerion-express?directory=138

LOA 28'3"; LWL 22'10"; Beam 8'2"; Drat 4'6"; Ballast 2,000 lbs.; Sail area 352 sq. ft.

Original sailaway price $60,000