French and spaced out
The cockpit itself is a very open affair that leaves a lot of space for the crew to maneuver and you often have to remind yourself that you are on a 35-foot racing boat and not a bigger one. As with so many boats though, the primary winch position needs somewhere for the trimmer to brace his trailing foot to gain leverage on the leeward winch. In conditions such as the ones we sailed in when there was a need for trim, a lot of time was taken up by the trimmer losing his footing and trying to find the best position to get over the winch. The fittings on all parts of the boat come as little surprise and feature the usual suspects of Lewmar, Ronstan, Spinlock and the like. When the fittings are solid it is a good bet that the rest of the boat will be too.
The cockpit layout when configured with the wheel looks like it will lose a lot of the open plan benefits and segregate the back of the bus from the front. With classes such as the TP52 adopting more and more tiller set ups it makes you wonder why someone would want a wheel on a boat of this size, unless cruising is the main focus.
Down below, the French design once again comes through and space management is spot on. The first thing you notice, especially if you are 6’ tall, is the massive headroom you have. To be able to stand up in a 35 footer is a true positive – whether for kite packers during racing or when cooking and dining with family. All the wood is a pleasant mahogany colour with white vinyl lined ceilings. Combined with the large windows and hatches, this gives a real feeling of space and reduces any feelings of seasickness down below.
The designers, Joubert-Nivelt, are not in the upper echelons of boat design, but they have some very impressive designs under their belts and cross the divide between monohull, catamaran and classic poweryacht seamlessly. As well as designing for Archambault, they have production boats in the form of the Bahia 51 and Tahiti 75, both catamarans, and poweryachts for Beneteau and Cumberland. These are in addition to various one-off projects that include 26-metre racing yachts.
On the return run
With plenty of big waves and big gusts we finally decided to bear away and go for a kite hoist and make the best of the wind and waves. Although the Archambault has relatively low freeboard, the crew had stayed impressively dry and there had been no intake of water through the prodder entry.
As often happens in these scenarios, as we bore away the wind dropped slightly and we found ourselves slightly in the lee of the high rocks to the south of Hong Kong Island. Although we didn’t get the fun ride we had hoped, we did
get a chance to experience the sportsboat-like acceleration as gusts of wind hit us through the outcrops.
This A35 carries a large asymmetric spinnaker of 92 square metres, but there is an option of a symmetric set up with a smaller, 82-square metre kite. Although offering less power, the symmetric kite gives crews the option of running deep instead of finding angles, which may aid it in being the IRC killer it is rated as, especially if it is grouped with significantly larger boats. With the asymmetric, the total sail area reaches 163 square metres with the genoa up, which gives a very high power to weight ratio on a keel weight of 1990 kilogrammes and a total displacement of 4450 kilogrammes. The boat felt very much like a TP52 going downwind, with the wider transom and reactive rudder. On a tight reach, the rudder was much less prone to cavitating, which shows the effectiveness of the swept back keel below the waterline.
On the approach to the pontoons it quickly became apparent that the A35 is highly maneuverable and the boat will spin in its own length, something that can come in very handy in a congested marina or at one of the seafront restaurants you are bound to want to visit to show off your new boat.
One of the most impressive aspects of the A35, especially in the current financial situation, is the cost. Getting a race ready A35 delivered and commissioned in Hong Kong, complete with Doyle Stratis* sails, will set you back much less than you might expect – a French fancy for sure.
Technical specifications – Archambault 35
Max Beam 3.55m
Symetrical spinnaker 82m2
Asymetrical spinnaker 95m2
Naval architects Joubert/Nivelt
Auxiliary diesel engine – 21 hp
CE approvals: A for 6 pax; B 8 pax; and C for 10
Hull construction – PVC Sandwich resin infusion system
Steering wheel 1.6m