58 Zephyros — By Alan Harper —
|Windy brings its largest-ever boat to the States. So how does this Norwegian cruiser measure up to American sensibilities?|
In the land of the frozen Norse, yards pride themselves on building boats that take the rough with the smooth. They have to. Per capita boat ownership in Scandinavia is the highest in the world, and boat buyers here are about the pickiest you’ll find anywhere. After all, they’ve got those long, dark winters to dream about boating and just a few short weeks to turn dreams into reality. Their boats had better be up to the job.
Given the rigors of the water and the extremities of the weather, you might imagine that a typical Swedish or Norwegian power cruiser would feature a fully enclosed wheelhouse and a nuclear-powered heating system, but it hasn’t worked out like that. Ever since American engineer Jim Wynne hooked up with Volvo Penta and Coronet 40 years ago, there’s been a stronger tradition of open-topped, deep-V sport cruisers in Scandinavia than anywhere else in Europe.
So although the Windy 58 Zephyros may not be the sort of thing you would expect to emerge from a Norwegian boatyard, the question being asked on its home turf is why it has taken so long for this builder to cross the 50-foot barrier. One of the most experienced outfits in this demanding and sophisticated market, Windy is known in Europe for its sweet handling and great seakeeping. Windys are expensive, but their reputation for quality is such that the company could start building greenhouses and the horticulturalists of Oslo would buy with confidence.
In moving up to 58 feet, though, Windy has ventured into a tougher pond with some big, mean fish in it. A reputation for quality will help, but at this end of the market quality has to be top-notch anyway—anything less, and the British and Italians will have you for breakfast. And being known as the creator of some of the best-handling sportboats in Europe might not be such a great help, either. It raises expectations that your 20-ton, 58-footer will handle like your legendary 25, no simple task.
I caught up with Hull No. 1 of the Zephyros in Lymington, England. Destined for the United States, she’d been sent to the UK dealer after the 2004 London International Boat Show for testing and final finishing. The props had already been changed once, and new, smaller rudders had been fitted. It certainly sounded like Windy was taking the handling part of the equation seriously.
As for quality, the first thing I did was open a mirrored drink locker by the main companionway, just inside the saloon. Down at the bottom, a couple of little blue-lacquered drawers looked intriguing, so I pulled one out and turned it over to have a look. A nice piece of joinery: no scuffs or wear, so obviously a good fit. No metal runners, no tacks or staples, just pure, traditional craftsmanship. I put it back—and heard a hiss as it slid back in. Not just a good fit, but perfect. Then I stooped down to lift a floor panel in the teak sole, and it came up in just one hand: foam-cored, not just for lightness but for insulation as well.
Throughout the interior I found similar evidence of such attention to detail and some neat design solutions. The slim, hidden end unit of the galley was particularly appealing, sliding out complete with its curved front panel to reveal two shelves and a couple of neat little stowage spaces. Less successful were the shower doors, hinged Plexiglas panels in both the owner’s and guest heads that need to be deployed in the right order, unnecessarily complicated.
This article originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.