This boat is the nautical equivalent of owning a high-end performance European car — all flashy good looks, shiny finishes, latest technology and Italian style.
- Swivelling chartplotter
- Quality fitout
- Comfortable cruiser
- Spacious below decks
The Elliott 1350 Tourer will be a familiar design to many, with boats such as Fiction, Flyer and designer Greg Elliott’s own Fortuna launched over the past decade. Speedwell is the latest addition to their ranks, a performance-oriented pilothouse cruiser for an owner who had a considerable hand in her creation.
Speedwell is owned by Bob and Kerry Glen and she’s been something of a labour of love over the past few years. Rather than ordering a production boat from overseas and waiting for it to arrive, ready to go, Bob spent many hours at Hutcheson Boatbuilders in Tauranga, alongside Elliott, working on finishing his own boat.
It’s not the first time: Bob built his first boat, a Pied Piper, in his 20s. After owning a Young 88 (which he also helped build) and the first Young 99 in the 1980s, he’s been without a boat for a couple of decades. Now, though he is “not retired – just too busy to go to work”, he decided the time was right to get exactly the boat he wanted.
Bob originally planned to buy a second-hand 1350 but he found their owners tend to hang onto them, so it didn’t take too much arm-twisting before he was signed up to build a new one.
The first 1350 was launched just over 10 years ago – this is the eighth. Hutcheson holds the moulds for the 1350 design, so the hull, deck and interior structure are essentially the same as the earlier boats.
Personal touches are added by the interior furnishings, chosen by Kerry, who runs a textile business and is a passionate quilter. There are several interior layout options; the Glens chose a two-cabin layout with two heads. Another option is a lifting keel, to create a shallower draft for cruising anchorages; the Glens went for the fixed-keel option, which draws 2.3m.
Bringing the design up to date has seen an investment in the latest navigation and electronics technology. All the boat’s electrics are controlled from a single CZone panel (there is no traditional switchboard), and she can basically be sailed from an iPad, including the autohelm.
Elliott says the original design brief came from an owner who had been involved in the construction of a larger pilothouse tourer and wanted something with a similar concept but in a smaller size. Several other Elliott owners, with racers such as the 1050, were also looking for a cruiser which would still give them plenty of performance. The 44-foot 1350 design was born.
Speedwell is a cruiser with a big emphasis on performance, and her pilothouse-style design means plenty of interior volume without having to sacrifice the aesthetics or performance of the hull shape.
“It’s a performance hull and the foils are performance-based,” Elliott says. “On a cruising boat I think it’s really important to have low-drag forms, so you need less power to drive the boat under both power and sail, and make the boat more efficient. OK, you might not get as much interior volume as you would get from much larger hull forms, but with the pilothouse design and the cabin floor being raised, you’re higher up and able to take advantage of maximum beam.”
The 1350 Tourer’s design pedigree has been amply demonstrated by earlier boats which have enjoyed racing success as well as providing a comfortable cruising platform, such as Fiction, Focus and Flyer, and Elliott’s own Fortuna.
As an aside: Speedwell is a departure from the other ‘F’ names in the series, for a good reason. Bob’s grandfather Joe Patrick was a champion sailor and had a C Class keelboat of the same name in the 1930s. Bob’s brother David Glen is currently a partner in the classic Logan A Class cutter Rainbow, also once owned by Patrick, so this is Bob’s contribution to continuing the family tradition.
Elliott says the performance aspect of the design means it attracts owners who want to move into a cruising boat but aren’t quite ready to slow right down. “They want to keep going, keep up that passion. I call it a sailor’s cruising yacht.”
The designer’s goal is for the boat to do 8 knots or around 200 miles a day, under sail or motor, making it easier for long-range cruisers to plan their routes and know they can make good time even if the wind doesn’t co-operate (which proved relevant in Speedwell’s outing in this year’s Coastal Classic).
Speedwell’s 55hp naturally-aspirated Yanmar with sail drive will push her efficient hull at 8 knots at 2,100rpm, burning about 4.5 litres of diesel an hour in good sea conditions.
The deck layout is simple, designed to make her uncomplicated to sail shorthanded, with most controls within easy reach of the helm. On the starboard side are two winches, one powered for hoisting halyards, and a bank of clutches, while on the port side there is a single winch and the B&G chartplotter, on a pivoting arm for easy visibility from both helms. All sheets and control lines run in channels under the deck to keep everything tidy.
When not in use, the mainsail is stacked in lazyjacks on the boom so is easy to hoist and drop, and the jibs are on furlers. Sails on this boat are by local sailmaker Calibre, headed by Bob Glen’s long-time friend Dave Parr (aka Waldo). The main’s made from Dimension Polyant Lite Skin, a carbon scrim with a skin of taffeta, for performance and durability. As well as a furling number one jib, staysail and massive asymmetric runner, the wardrobe also includes a code zero for tighter reaching.
The cockpit’s partially enclosed by a large bimini with clear sides. When not in sailing mode, the cockpit seats have comfortable squabs and there’s plenty of room to stretch out and relax. Instead of teak on the cockpit floor and sidedecks, there’s cork. It doesn’t get too hot, is easy to clean and feels soft underfoot.
Speedwell not only sails like a ‘proper’ yacht – her interior looks like one too. With her elevated pilothouse design the saloon is on almost the same level as the cockpit, so as you move inside that connection is maintained, rather than feeling as though you’re diving down into the hull.
Large windows provide sea views all around and allow plenty of light into the saloon. The galley’s arranged along the port side, with generous seating around a long table to starboard. There’s a three-burner gas stove, large Isotherm under-bench fridge, and extra freezer space tucked away under the day berth forward of the galley.
In this boat there is a day head to port at the aft end of the saloon, and a large double cabin tucked under the cockpit to starboard. The aft space to port (which could be another cabin) is here utilised as a massive locker, accessed from either the cockpit seats or through the day head.
There’s also a large lazarette under the cockpit floor, along with the fuel tanks, while the engine sits neatly – and quietly – under the cabin sole. Heading forward, the second double cabin is in the bow, with its own very large head/shower to starboard.
Sailing Well at Speed
Speedwell lives in the Marsden Cove marina south of Whangarei, not far from the Glens’ home at One Tree Point. The beautiful Whangarei Harbour and Heads, the Hen and Chickens and the sweep of Bream Bay are just a short motor away, even allowing for the vigorous pull of the tide. Sailingbeneath the craggy volcanic peaks of Te Whara/Bream Head on a bright blue-sky day, we could easily have kidded ourselves we were in Tahiti.
A big, lazy leftover swell was rolling in from out at sea but we had perfect breeze for both sailing upwind and then hoisting the big red gennaker for the first time.
On the wind, the boat feels fabulously well-balanced. It’s very light on the helm, stays in the groove beautifully and tacks like a race boat. We sit nicely on around 7 knots at about 35-degrees apparent – stats you wouldn’t get from many cruising boats.
Bearing away and popping up the brand-new gennaker, Speedwell accelerates smoothly and remains a pleasure to helm. I’m constantly tempted to heat it up and push out a bit more speed, but this gennaker’s been designed for flatter running. You can feel her potential for performance, and her tidy little wake’s a beauty to behold.
All in all, it’s fantastic to see a new, New Zealand-designed and built performance cruising yacht hit the water. With Elliott’s pedigree and the owner’s love of racing, we’re sure Speedwell will live up to her name./>