Home . Articles . Boats . Perry on Design . Aerodyne 38

Aerodyne 38

1999 January 6


Here's a very interesting boat designed in America and built in South Africa. Rodger Martin brings an eclectic approach to yacht design and seems to excel in very fast, handsome yachts. (After working with Martin for about four years, Steve Koopman has been added to the firm's masthead.) The builder has been active in the aerospace industry and offers extensive experience in high-tech composite construction techniques.

The new 38 is built with epoxy and directional E-glass, vacuum-bagged and cooked at elevated temperatures. All bulkheads are composite panels, and interior structures are all bonded to the hull to increase structural stiffness. The keel fits into a pocket recess in the hull and is then horizontally through-fastened. The displacement of 11,250 pounds on a 38-footer is evidence of the care taken to keep this boat light and strong.

Aesthetically I like the springy sheer of this design. It adds character. The snubbed-off ends are certainly fashionable and produce a boat that's all effective sailing length. You could find plenty of 50-footers that don't have the effective sailing length of this 38-footer. Early race results show the designer's ideas to be working quite well.

The sectional shape of this boat is rounded and soft, very arclike. BWL is narrow and the topsides are gently flared. Just for fun, I put my circle template on the midsection and I can almost make it fit. Then I tried a 60-degree ellipse template and that's almost a perfect match. I like hulls like this. There are no surprises for the water. The heeled hull is nearly as symmetrical as the upright hull. This can produce a boat with beautiful manners and steering characteristics. Cruisers often assume that all race boats are bears to handle, but I've found it's usually the other way around. The broad stern and low-wetted-surface shape of this design will help it surf and scoot past the competition off the wind.

Of course, you need horsepower to get the most out of any hull, and the 38's rig is on the big side for a cruising boat. The SA/D is 30.5. The mast is stepped well aft, and the mainsail shows a lot of roach, clearly overlapping the backstay by almost 2 feet. The spreaders are swept 15 degrees and no runners are carried. This is a three-sail rig; no genoas will be used. The chainplates are out on the deck edge. This is better for sheeting the jib and keeps the side decks clear, while also reducing the loads on the mast. A watertight, retractable, carbon fiber pole will carry the big asymmetrical chute. The jib furling drum is nestled below the foredeck in a well that also holds the anchor.

This is a good interior layout. The berths are not pointed at the toe end. The galley is big and efficiently wrapped around. The nav area is generous. It looks to me like the designers have put just as much attention into the comfort components as they have into the performance components. How can you lose?

This boat is a real hybrid. The hull form is derived from racing types but owes its form to no specific limiting rule. The deck is a real sailor's deck with a big cockpit shaped for both sail-handling efficiency and cruising comfort. One of my old bosses accused me of having "a pink-slip mentality." He's right. I'm always racing. It's the only way I know to sail. Boat speed is fun and it's really fun when you don't have to bust your fanny to get it. The Aerodyne 38 appeals to me.