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C&C 110

1998 October 7

Racer-cruiser for the millennium

For most people, a cruise over the far horizon to the Caribbean or South Pacific is just a dream. They may dream, but, if truth be told, they would rather race around the buoys at home and enjoy leisurely family cruising come vacation time. The C&C 110 from Tartan Yachts aims at families who have owned one or two boats before and want a high-quality cruiser-racer in the 35-foot range. The 110 combines sparkling performance with thoroughly livable accommodations.

The C&C 110 is the first C&C boat after the sale of the famous C&C name to Fairport Marine Co., the Ohio company that builds Tartan Yachts. Designer Tim Jackett, principal designer of Tartans, drew the lines of a light and agile performance yacht, with rakish, go-fast lines and a sleek cabinhouse, creating a look that is in keeping with the C&C tradition. The 110 is the first boat in the C&C Xpress Series.

The underwater configuration of this 36-footer relies on NASA-developed, high-lift, low-drag foil sections, which provide maximum volume and a bulbed keel to lower the ballast's center of gravity. The hull construction is a vacuum laminate with alternating layers of strand mat and unidirectional E-glass and Kevlar. Both hull and deck use CoreCell, a structural laminate foam encased in a sandwich laminate for stiffness. The combination is both light and strong, resulting in a sail area-to-displacement ratio of 23.4.

The 110 can be configured to suit all kinds of needs. The cruising package provides all the amenities: Adler Barbour refrigeration, AM/FM stereo, a microwave, a 9-inch television and video cassette recorder and an inverter and third battery to run it all. Passionate racers can opt for a carbon fiber mast, low-friction, car-to-mainsail track system for the main and other go-fast features. There is even a package for singlehanders with a carbon fiber mast, electric winches and a self-tacking jib. In practice, the average owner will buy the cruising package, then add one or two of the other goodies, like a hydraulic backstay and spinnaker gear. The combination of options is practically endless.

Under sail
A 12- to 15-knot breeze on a June afternoon in San Diego Bay is unusual and we made the most of it. We hoisted the main, unrolled the 135-percent genoa and took off like a rocket. With the 110 hard on the wind, I perched comfortably to windward with only two fingers on the huge 54-inch wheel. The 48-inch wheel is standard, but given the beamy cockpit, skippers less than 6 feet tall may want to choose the 54-inch option.

We chased the puffs, feathering to windward, accelerating dramatically out of the tacks. I have immediate confidence in a boat that heels quickly, then steadies and goes like a train. Even in the hardest gusts, the 110 was perfectly balanced, so much so that I was able to sail her effortlessly with my right arm in a splint (the result of a most unseamanlike bicycle accident some weeks ago).

The 110 tacked on a dime, gathered way in seconds and was comfortable to sail, making about 8 knots to windward in 15 knots apparent. If you want to take your time, simply tuck in a reef a little early or change jibs and you'll still have an exhilarating ride. We turned on a reach, powering the boat in the puffs with the main. Again, perfect control-the boat sits level and fairly races along as you relax and enjoy the view.

Unfortunately, our test boat did not yet have a spinnaker, but she was as steady as a rock downwind with no perceptible tricks up her sleeve. It was too perfect a sailing day to spend much time under power, but the Volvo 2030 was quiet and unobtrusive, giving us perfect control at close quarters and going astern. The 110 will cruise all day at 7.5 knots at 2,900 rpms, an important consideration for family vacations.

There was enough wind to make me appreciate the careful thought that has gone into the 110's cockpit design and deck layout. On deck the layout is conventional. Up forward is a deep anchor locker; the bow anchor roller is an option, which surprised me. I was told that serious racing skippers don't want anchors on the bow. There are five hatches to provide a good flow of air through the boat at anchor and on calm days at sea.

The triple-spreader spar comes with rod rigging, an important consideration on a performance yacht. All lines are led aft to the cockpit, with an impressive array of stoppers and a pair of Lewmar 30 self-tailers by the companionway. The deck is very clean because C&C has wisely led everything to the cabinhouse under a removable fiberglass cover. The wide, T-shaped cockpit places the helmsperson clear of the action, behind a beautifully engineered Edson steering column with a custom instrument pod for GPS and autopilot. Two Lewmar 48 self-tailing primary winches lie at the aft end of the coamings convenient to the helm.

The engine controls are on either side of the cockpit by the wheel, which is confusing until you get used to the arrangement. The roller-furling jib line is led under the deck and runs back to the port side of the wheel. C&C offers two traveler options, either over the cabinhouse (my preference) or on the bridgedeck. The helm seat opens into two lazarette lockers. The reverse transom boasts a hinged, electrically operated step with folding ladder that opens and closes with the aid of a switch by the aft pulpit.

Down below
With its use of varnished cherry wood and light colors below, the C&C looks like a sailboat instead of a condominium, which makes for a refreshing change in a world where more and more yachts look like floating RVs. The saloon is light and airy, with varnished cherry wood lockers and bulkheads that give a comfortable feel. For a production boat, the finish is exceptional, right down to the beautiful dovetailing in the cabin drawers.

The galley is to starboard at the bottom of the main companionway. A double sink with plastic cutting board lies inboard of the well-constructed icebox or optional refrigerator. A gimbaled two-burner stove with oven forms the other L of the galley. A locker for tableware lies outboard. An optional microwave fits above the icebox. The saloon has a dinette to port and a berth to starboard, with a folding table amidships. The bench seats would make comfortable berths at sea, which is good thinking, since so many boats this length have double berths in the saloon.

The navigation station is at an angle at the aft end of the port berth, with the hinged electrical panel above it and space for electronics close by. Tubed chart stowage is underneath. There is no bookshelf space near the chart table, so you will have to keep tide tables and almanacs in the hinged drawer. An ingenious stainless-steel seat back and cushion that hinge over the bunk give the navigator back support. Ventilated lockers are outboard on both sides above the seats, with space for a small television to starboard.

The 110 has a single head to port at the foot of the companionway ladder, complete with a shower that is enclosed with a Plexiglas door. The aft cabin, with two opening ports into the cockpit, opens off the galley. This cabin features a large athwartships double bunk, a sensible solution on a yacht this size, where a fore-and-aft berth is usually too cramped. A soundproof engine-access cover, sensibly isolated from the bulkheads, is out of the way behind the door. Remove this, open the companionway steps and you have convenient access to the 28-horsepower Volvo diesel for routine maintenance. I admired the switch at the top of the companionway that illuminates night-vision-friendly red floor lighting in the saloon, so you do not have to grope around in the dark.

The forward cabin has a conventional layout with a large V-berth, lockers set high on both sides and a clothes locker to port. C&C cleverly utilizes the space underneath the V-berth by hinging the bunk top with a hydraulic cylinder so it can be raised and lowered without collapsing on your head. Then it installed two large mesh bins in the locker that are the ideal size for weekend provisions, foul weather gear, or anything else you want out of the way most of the time. Why did no one think of this before? I suspect some people may buy this boat on the basis of this feature alone.

With its various packages and many options, the C&C 110 can be tailored to almost any skipper's needs. However, you'll probably fall in love with it because it handles like a dream and is blisteringly fast. A lot of people will make serious mischief around the buoys in this boat-and a whole lot more will savor the unique blend of performance and comfort. This is very much a state-of-the-art 36-footer for the new millennium.