By George Day
X-442 Marks the Spot
X-442 from X-Yachts of Denmark
We were lucky enough to have every sort of weather during the passage from Newport, R.I. to Atlantic City, N.J. — even a good, hard blow — so we had to the opportunity to see what the X- 442 was really all about and how it behaves in a variety of conditions.
The boat, designed by Niels Jeppesen and built in Denmark by X-Yachts, is a light, modern cruiser-racer with distinct Euro styling. Those unfamiliar with the line should place X-Yachts in a group of European builders that includes Baltic, Sweden Yachts and Grand Soleil. Yet, in any selection of production-boat builders, X-Yachts has always had one of the sharpest performance edges. Suffice it to say that X-Yachts designed and built One Tonners and Three-Quarter Tonners have earned nine world championships.
The 422 MK II we sailed carries the performance pedigree of all X-Yachts, but with it’s full accommodations and cruising keel, the emphasis for this boat should be on the cruising half of the racer-cruiser handle.
In the 442, Jeppesen has created a boat that strives to do many things well and appeal to a wide range of sailors. But we should note that the design will appeal most to sailors who really love to sail, because first and foremost the boat is designed to sail well in a wide range of conditions.
The hull is low slung with a flat sheer and a low-profile cabin trunk. The angles of the bow and stern are sharp and businesslike, while the hull has plenty of beam (13′ 6″), which is carried well aft. The reverse transom has a swim platform molded into it, making the boat easy to board from a dinghy and fun to swim from at anchor.
Under the water, the hullform is shallow and broad, which gives the design a minimum of wetted surface with a maximum of initial stability. The rudder is a high-aspect balanced blade that is large enough to add lift while sailing on the wind and to give the helm an extremely positive feel. Two keels are available, one with a 7’6″ draft and a cruising version with a 6-foot draft. Both are high-aspect fins with swept-back bulbs, a design feature that enhances ultimate stability and windward performance while keeping wetted surface and drag to a minimum. A saildrive unit drives the folding propeller.
The triple-spreader masthead rig is moderately tall, yet simple and robust in design. It is stepped on the keel’s support frames, which is a massive metal grid. The mast is a tapered anodized aluminum section, while the rig is set up with discontinuous rod rigging and running backstays for heavy weather sailing. We did not need to use the runners on our trip, although we had plenty of wind.
The deck layout of the 442 is clean and open. The cockpit has room for six adults to sit comfortably, and it works well with four crewmembers trimming sails while tacking or flying downwind sails. Halyards and trim lines are run back from the mast to two winches on either side of the companionway, where they run through line-stoppers. The cabin-top has interior chan-nels molded into it for the lines running aft, keeping the area clear and uncluttered. The model we sailed had teak decks, which were glued in place and sealed with polysulphide, thus eliminating screw holes into the cored interior of the deck molding. The anchor locker on the foredeck has the windlass mounted in a below-deck position, out of the weather and out of the way of deck sweeping jibs. The chain rode locker, forward and beneath the windlass, drains through limberholes in the topsides. During our sail test, we took some green water over the bow, but the anchor locker did not fill and the water that got in drained away quickly.
Down below, the 442 is an attractive, modern cruising boat with twin quarter cabins and a double cabin forward. A four-cabin layout, with two forward doubles, is also available. The chart table and aft head are on either side of the companionway ladder, placing the navigator close to the cockpit and providing a good wet locker for dripping foul weather gear. The galley runs along the starboard side of the saloon in the new style favored in the charter fleets that is becoming increasingly more popular in Europe. The wraparound dinette is opposite to port.
This is a good arrangement for living aboard and cruising because it allows an aft head and two aft cabins to be included in the plan, but having the galley stretch fore-and-aft can make it a challenge to cook in a seaway. This is the first time we have sailed offshore in bumpy conditions with such a galley arrangement and, frankly, we expected it to be more difficult to work in than it was. On the 442, the galley counter is shaped to provide some angles against which to brace a hip while working, and the back of the central dinette bench keeps you from slipping too far from the stove or sink. A galley belt with several attach-ment points would be a boon on long passages.
X-Yachts are built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards and to the new CE standards used in Europe. The hull is laminated of E-glass and triaxial glass around a Divinycell core, with solid glass replacing the core material at the keel. Under the cabin sole, a galvinized steel frame is glassed into the hull. This massive structure creates an extremely rigid and strong backbone that doubles as the mast-step and the anchor for the keel bolts. Crashing through waves off the Jersey Shore, we felt no movement of the bulkheads, nor did we hear the furniture creaking, indicating that the hull is extremely stiff and the parts well joined.
The rudder is laminated of foam-cored triaxial glass-fiber and fitted with an aluminum rudder-post. This rides in two sets of bearings — one on deck and one belowdecks — which keep the post positively aligned and provide a very easy motion. The lead keel and bulb has a cast-iron top which is thru-bolted to the interior steel frame. The whole keel is coated with a layer of fiberglass and then faired.
Over the three days we spent testing the 442, we had the whole gamut of wind conditions, and we had to motor for half a day as well. Under power, with the two-bladed folding prop, the boat moved well and was extremely maneuverable in tight quarters. Although a folding prop is the least efficient prop under power, the boat accelerated reasonably well, maintained seven knots while traveling, and was relatively easy to stop when docking.
In the light air we found on Long Island Sound, the boat sailed like a dream, making five and half knots on a close reach in seven to eight knots of breeze. It is a close-winded boat, sailing at less than 30 degrees apparent wind and tacking through 85 degrees true — this with a big roller furling genoa that was not as flat as we might have liked.
In the 20 to 30 knots of breeze that chased us down the Jersey shore, we found the 442 to be fast and easy to handle with very little sail set. With no main and only 10 feet of genoa rolled out, the boat frolicked along at a happy 10 knots, and it often surged to 12 and more when running down the face of a wave. With a cruising crew aboard, we found the boat liked less rather than more sail, and once we had it settled down, it broad-reached through a slightly crazy sea with real authority — even responding well to the autopilot.
Like all light boats, the 442 has a quick and sometimes jarring motion as it sails over the waves at speed. Yet this seems a small tradeoff for a boat that never wallows off the wind and never hobbyhorses in chop going to windward. And because of the cored construction of the hull, we found the boat to be amazingly quiet and peaceful belowdecks, despite the general roar of wind and sea, rigging, and sail up above.
With a Displacement-Length Ratio of 192, the 442 MKII falls at the light end of the spectrum, the end where the exhilarating performance and great passage times can be found. Yet the boat feels very stiff in a good breeze under a press of sail, and it is comfortable and easy to handle in less-than-ideal conditions. We enjoyed sailing the boat and found it comfortable living aboard. To our minds, the 442 MkII would make a great boat for events like the Marion-Bermuda, Newport-Bermuda, and Annapolis-Newport races, or even the Transpac — events that have always appealed to blue-water sailors who like to race.
But we also think the 442 makes a good couple’s cruising boat — whether for the long haul or for shorter sabbatical cruises. Fuel capacity of only 32 gallons is barely adequate, although this is a boat you will sail while others are motor-ing. Water capacity of 55 gallons means that long-term cruisers will want to add a watermaker. Otherwise, bolt on a windvane, add storm sails, light air sails, and the general safety and sailing equip-ment you need, and the 442 MKII will take you anywhere.
With a flat underbody and a broad transom, the 442 has a lot of reaching power off the wind, and it will really get up and go in a breeze. With a cruising crew aboard, we found the boat liked less rather than more sail and could maintain 10 knots or more in 25 knots of wind with little more than a scrap of genoa rolled out.
X-442 Mk II – Specifications
|Ballast||9,480 lbs.||4,300 kg.|
|Displ.||21,400 lbs.||9,700 kg.|
|Sail area||1030 sq. ft.||110 sq. m.|
|Water||55 gals.||220 l.|
|Fuel||32 gals.||129 l.|