This is my take on the new Amel 50:
I am yet to read the article in Yachting World but would agree very much with everything Pip Hare is reported to have said. She is an extremely competent and courageous sailor but, unfortunately, she is not the right person to assess a cruising boat.
As to my credentials: over the years I have owned 4 boats, two of them bought new from Amel, a Maramu in October 1981 and a SM in July 1998. Both were the best boats I ever owned or sailed on and I am a great fan of the Amel philosophy. The basic tenet of this philosophy is that a boat should take good care of whoever is on board. This breaks down into two components, at sea, be safe and reasonably comfortable, at anchor, be comfortable and relatively easy to maintain and, in both situations be, as much as possible, not dependent on shore facilities.
Now, twice I went to La Rochelle to be given a tour of the new 50 and I came out saying to the yard management that I would not buy one. I agree that she is very well built, like all past Amels, and she is more “modern” in many respects than her predecessors, but, in reality, she is a luxurious Beneteau, good for extended week-end sailing but not much more. Why? Here are my gripes:
1) Rig: she is a singlesticker, not a good choice for any cruising boat over 45 feet.. One loses too much in terms of versatility of sail combinations. On top of it she has a self-tacking staysail. Ridiculous!
2) Cockpit: not one single locker in the cockpit, where the SM had 3. When at sea if one needs a rope, a shackle, a bucket, a block, anything, one has to fetch them from the lazarette. Unacceptable! Henri Amel was adamant that anyone could sail his boats without ever having to leave the safety of the cockpit.
3) Hull shape: in line with current architects thinking (could it be a fad?), the 50 has a very wide stern and two side rudders. No skegs, very exposed both to flotsam and to submerged lines particularly in Med style marina moorings. Also, maneuverability in reverse suffers considerably even with a bow-thruster.
- Cabins: too many of them, on a 50 footer you don’t need 3 cabins and you certainly do not need two of them with centerline berths. Here again, Henri Amel considered that his boats should not be dormitories but should accommodate, on any tack, about 3 people sleeping plus one on watch. On the 50, at sea, only the rear cabin center berth can realistically be used. Do you want to have to sleep there with anyone else than your wife or girl friend?
- Saloon: wide and beautiful at anchor, wide and treacherous at sea. Not one single handhold to help you keep your balance.
- Kitchen: now located in the passageway to the rear cabin. This does away with the most comfortable berth at sea, puts the cook in a hot and stuffy area at a distance from the cockpit and makes for an athwart-ships drawer-fridge that will not open on port tack and will spill all of its contents on starboard tack.
- Sump: was unpleasant but relatively easy to access on Maramu’s and SM’s, became more awkward on the 54 and is well nigh impossible on the 50. Quite a few issues looming down there in the dark!
OK, so I am an old curmudgeon, but I loved my Amel’s, admired the yard and made friends with many terrific people there . Over the past 10 years, starting with the 55, sadly I have seen the yard drifting away from the principles established by Henri Amel. I consider this a terrible loss to the cruising community as I do not know of any other yard in the world building any boat coming close to the concept ant the quality of the Amel’s of the past.
Requiescat in pace,
There is a great review of the Amel 50 in April's Yachting World--she's on the front cover as well.
The reviewer is Pip Hare. We first met Pip in Piriapolis , Uruguay, where she had sailed two handed in The Shed, an Oyster 37 which had seen better days. She decided to do the OSTAR, the single-handed transatlantic race, so she sailed back singlehanded from Uruguay to UK and set off on the race. Somewhere to the west of Ireland a lower shroud parted. Mast swaying, she nursed the boat back to a bay on the south cost of Ireland where her father rowed out to her with a new stay. She wasn't allowed shore assistance beyond that ,so she had to rerig the boat herself .. She set off in pursuit of her class who by now had 2-3 days lead on her. She overhauled most of them.
Pip went on to compete successfully in those crazy 30 footers which the French love, on races like the Route du Rhum and is probably at her happiest single handed in mid-Atlantic up to her waist in cold sea water, in the dark, in the cockpit having just broached while trying to maintain 17 knots when her competitors have eased back to 10.
So, you might wonder what on earth she would make of the Amel 50. It was December, dark, wet and windy off La Rochelle. She confesses that did feel overdressed sitting in the cockpit in her salopettes and seaboots ( remember them ?) with warmth rising from the saloon together with the aroma of bread and fresh coffee...
Her conclusion: " I can't sit on the fence about the Amel 50; it's a brilliant boat.........I arrived with some heavy preconceptions, perhaps about as much as the kind of sailor I am as the kind of boat I would be sailing. I was treated to the full Amel experience.... but if you take away the fine food, endless expressos and crisp white bed linen, the Amel still shines. It sails well, it is beautifully built and it made me smile. I left surprised and ever so slightly in love "
Praise indeed ! I think the La Rochelle yard is going to be very busy.
Ian and Judy,
Pen Azen, SM 302, Preveza, Greece