Boat test: Santa Cruz 37

The Santa Cruz 37 has a narrow cord, torpedo bulb keel that provides plenty of stiffness. It also fully retracts with powerful winch or optional hydraulic ram. The bulb comes up nearly flush with the hull to ease trailering (with a big strong truck) and even make launching from a ramp a possibility. Here’s my take-away from a test drive that took place in a building breeze at the mouth of the Sevren River off Annapolis, Maryland.

The breeze steadily built from a glassy 10 knots to a solid 18 as the wind funneled out the Sevren. Perfect. Early on, tacking angles were super narrow (like 75 degrees), helm feel was balanced and responsive, and we sliced to windward at an easy 7 knots. As the wind ratcheted up, so did acceleration. That said, as the big A-sail went up, the wind built to the high teens, and boat speed jumped to the high 9’s and 10’s, the helm and sail trim required a bit more focus. That’ll be the case on any high performance boat and everything was under control, but the wide groove narrowed a bit. We ran out of water quickly at those speeds, and after several gybes, we doused the kite and headed for home. It was at that point, working upwind in about 18 knots of breeze, that the helm felt a bit “funky” under the load. Not overpowered–kind of bound up. The helm would turn with a weird “chunk” at weird times. A crew member was working the traveler in the puffs, and the boat’s designer Tim Kernan was on board, so when we got back to the dock I asked Tim, “Have you noticed anything with the steering?” He responded, “This is hull #1, and we got it to the show, but our supplier sent the wrong bearings for the barrel cassette. We’re all over it, that funkiness will disappear with the new bearings.” These things happen and I have no doubt that the steering will be spot on in the future.

Video interview with Tim Kernan

Deck layout

T he 37 had lots of clever features.including: an easily retractable daggarboard-like rudder (set in cassette), twin carbon helms, an open transom, and dual “sprits” on the bow (a short fixed prod for the Code 0 and a long, retractable carbon pole for a big A-sail), And the go-fast deck layout has a long, easily accessible traveler with plenty of purchase on the sole in front directly in front of the helms, a double ended mainsheet, adjustable jib cars, and dedicated jib-in hauler system led aft. The Harken two speed 40’s primary winches, worked well but I did wonder if they’ll be big enough to handle all the heavy lifting. The cockpit has plenty of elbow room and the lack of back rests makes it that much easier to maneuver crew weight up on the rail. Molded in chocks by the helms make allow for a comfortable driving position as the boat heels.

Down Below

You’re probably not going for a boat like this based on the accommodations plan but, the plan is surprisingly spacious and, comfortable. Wood veneers give the space a warm glow, long fixed cabin house windows let in plenty of light, and it has all the features (comfortable bunks, 6’3” headroom, big galley and nav station) you’ll need to spend a bunch of days aboard. And of course the saloon table fold up to reveal the top of the lifting keel.

Under Power

We didn’t really need the engine to get off the mooring, but the little 29 horse Yanmar (smartly placed in the lowest part of the center of the boat) provided all the oomph we needed to get boat speed up to 6 knots under power. Handling under power was exactly what you’d want and expect.

Conclusion

This is a light, stiff boat that’ll scream if you want it to, and could actually be quite comfortable on a cruise, or even living aboard during regattas. The lifting keel will be a boon to anyone who has dealt with bigger keelboats on trailers or to those of us who sometimes try to cut corners over a shoal, and fail. I’m not all that concerned with the steering issue I encountered. This is part of a new boat’s teething process. As long as they get that cassette/rudder set up dialed, this boat should make waves.

Price: $330,750 (base, FOB East Coast) includes Selden carbon spar, Yanmar engine, tapered Dyneema halyards, PBO backstay, Harken deck hardware

Designer: Tim Kernan

Builder: Santa Cruz Yachts, Green Cove Springs, Florida; www.santacruzyachts.com

Vital stats

LOA 37’

LWL 34’9”

Beam 10’7”

Draft (std/opt) 7’6’/6’

Ballast 3,730 lbs

Displacement 8,662 lbs

Sail area (main and jib) 725 ft

Power 29 hp Yanmar

Fuel/water 19/26

Sail area-displacement ratio 27.5

Displacement-length ratio 92

Ballast-displacement ratio 43%

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