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Hunter 18

2011 July 19


We seem to live in a sailing world where the emphasis is on the extreme. I'm not complaining. I love to watch the videos of those AC45 cats screaming across the bay. High-powered sprit boats rule the monohull one-design classes, providing planing speeds and exciting upwind rides dependent upon a skilled crew and skipper. The boat that is neglected today is the good old "utility" daysailer, designed for a fun afternoon where no one will wind up going swimming.

Hunter's solution to the daysailer dilemma is this new 18-footer. It has an interesting hull shape with a chine that starts at the bow. This chine makes the 18 quite initially stiff. Stability is also helped by the wide beam of the hull, which has an L/B of 2.56. Maximum crew weight is 712 pounds, and that equates to four good-sized adults. The high-aspect-ratio centerboard gives a board-down draft of 4 feet, 4 inches, and a board-up draft of only 6 inches. This will make the 18 perfect for sailing off the beach. The rudder is a kick-up type. The freeboard is a bit high for an 18-footer but this works in the boat's favor when it comes to the layout and the ergonomics of the cockpit, and keeping the crew dry.

The cockpit and deck layout is interesting, with relatively deep seat backs for security and a self-bailing cockpit with an open transom. You can brace your feet on the leeward seat face when heeled but there is also a bump running the entire length of the cockpit on centerline that will work well for people with shorter legs.
This longitudinal bump also houses the top of the centerboard trunk. Forward of the cockpit there is a cuddy cabin just big enough for stowage and a cooler. 

The rig is very simple with swept spreaders and no backstay. My guess is that you can get this boat rigged and launched in 15 minutes once you've learned the drill. The jib leads to a fixed block forward on the coaming. I would prefer to see some way of changing the jib lead for different conditions. The loose-footed mainsail sheets to a block on the centerline bump. There is no traveler but the angle of the vang is steep enough that it should work just fine to keep the main flat when you need it. There is a spinnaker package option. This includes a short bowsprit but I don't think it retracts into the hull.

I think this would be an ideal boat to use to teach kids how to sail. It has the look of a modern sport boat with its plumb stem and open transom. With the spinnaker option you should be able to get good performance out of the boat and kids can learn the full range of basic sailing skills in a boat that won't overpower them.

LOA 18'4"; LWL 16'6"; Beam 7'2"; Draft 6" (board up), 4'4" (board down); Weight 836 lbs.; Sail area 170 sq. ft.; SA/D 30.65; D/L 83.08; L/B 2.56.

Hunter Marine
Route 441, PO Box 1030, Alachua, FL 32615
(800) 771-5556

Our Best Estimate of the sail-away price
o.b.e. $8,900