Imagine a yacht that’s thrillingly fast and fun to sail but isn’t shaped and built according to the constraints of a rulebook.
A responsive, rewarding yacht that sails and handles brilliantly in a wide variety of wind and sea conditions, on all points of sail, and hasn’t been optimised just for windward-leeward courses. One with more than ample space, comfort and contemporary style inside but without any compromises made at the expense of sailing balance or performance. A yacht that can easily handle the wildest weather you’re ever likely to encounter, but also excels at fair-weather family cruising. That’s the design DNA of X-Yachts’ Pure X range.
The new X5⁶, launched into the icy waters of Baltic Denmark in the depths of December for initial sea trials, is designed, engineered and built to take this ongoing evolution of the perfect all-round performance cruiser to a whole new level. Thomas Mielec, X-Yachts’ director of design and engineering, was on board for the sea trials and sent good news back to the yard.
‘We came back not only cold and with homework to do, but also with a really good feeling and a great deal of pride that the entire organisation behind the development of the X5⁶ has definitely succeeded in creating a magnificent performance cruiser well prepared for providing future owners with superior sailing pleasure,’ he wrote. ‘Even though we’ve only been able to test in fairly light to medium wind conditions, X5⁶ hull number one has already provided us with a distinct big-boat feeling of safety and comfort, where almost everything can be operated by the touch of a button if you want.
‘This of course also means that vast amounts of technical equipment need to be tested, adjusted and calibrated to make sure everything works as designed and engineered. The focus for the first tests has been sail handling, sail balance, rig trim, alignment and tuning the twin rudder steering system.’
Yanmar technicians were also aboard to test the yacht’s engine and drivetrain – they promptly approved the installation and choice of propeller. ‘We ourselves were quite happy to see that with the careful selection of engine mounts and thrust bearing installation, the main engine is so well balanced and vibration free that you can safely put your cup of coffee on the top of the engine block while you have a closer look at the engine performing at full cruising speed,’ Mielec noted. You can’t say that about many yachts, of any size and it speaks volumes about the precision with which the X5⁶ has been engineered.
‘The idea behind the X5⁶ is to complete the Pure X range,’ explains Kraen Nielsen, the hands-on chief executive of X-Yachts, who was also on board for the sea trials. ‘There was a real demand for a boat of this size. It offers a lot more space so you get a really big, nice cockpit to work in or to enjoy yourself in. You get very spacious aft cabins, so it’s a boat that delivers something different to the previous boats in the range. We’re convinced that the X5⁶ will exceed our expectations.’
One stand-out feature of the X5⁶ (and indeed all X-Yachts) is epoxy infused hull construction. This technique gives very precise control over the glassfibre laminate, allowing it to be optimised for stiffness and strength while saving weight, and the use of epoxy gives a better end result than the polyester or vinylester resins that most builders use: not just stronger but much less prone to distortion in the topsides over time. The entire hull is then cured and baked in precisely controlled conditions to further optimise its material properties. In the X5⁶, all weight saved by this advanced construction technology is used to increase the yacht’s stability.
While many (some would say most) cruising yacht brands are focused on maximising their appeal to novice sailors, X-Yachts is aimed squarely at connoisseurs.
The Pure X range offers easy handling, of course, but a great deal of emphasis is placed on delivering the best possible sailing experience. Boatspeed and aesthetics are very important but balance, helm response and ergonomics are paramount – and many small, carefully considered details add up to a more enjoyable time on board not just for the helmsman but for the whole crew.
Some of these design details have been gradually evolved and perfected over many years while others are introduced with every model added to the range. A new one on the X5⁶ is the spray hood bay, recessed into the coachroof and covered with a pair of front-hinged doors on gas struts that leave the coachroof totally flush – and the hood completely hidden when not in use, subtly but substantially improving the clean, uncluttered aesthetic of the streamlined, low profile cabin top, which can be beautifully finished in luxurious laid teak.
A large expanse of solar panels can also be recessed into the coachroof, giving enough charging capacity to keep the yacht’s batteries topped up throughout a long-distance ocean passage while preserving the X5⁶’s clean silhouette.
The outboard-mounted wheel pedestals are another nice touch, enhancing the sense of wide-open space in the stern, with integrated foot chocks and elegantly curved teak helm seats. An optional electric mainsheet traveller can be recessed completely below deck, eliminating a trip hazard whilst allowing precise control of mainsail shape. There’s also the option of a two-seater pushpit bench that doubles up as an ideally located life raft stowage bracket.
The coaming-mounted primary and secondary winches (with seven rope clutches on each side) are close enough to the twin helms for easy operation when sailing singlehanded, but with ample elbow room for a trimmer to work comfortably and efficiently when the boat is fully crewed. Capacious rope bins in the aft ends of the cockpit bench seats keep all the rope tails tidy and are almost invisible. Forward of the winches, the whole cockpit is entirely free of ropes and other potential hazards, with plenty of secure, comfortable space for passengers (and off-watch crew) to stretch out and relax.
The stern platform, tender garage and passerelle are also worth a mention. The garage door folds down to give a good-sized bathing platform and a cleverly engineered crane slides out to deploy a three-metre inflatable tender, which can be stowed with its engine mounted and ready to go. The passerelle slides out and unfolds from a small slot in the aft end of the coaming to give easy shore access when moored stern-to, with an integrated handrail.
X-Yachts puts a huge emphasis on designing and refining the sail plans of its boats, believing (and they’re not wrong) that it’s one of the most important design features. The marque’s racing pedigree can be felt as soon as you grab the wheel, but the other key parameter for the sail plan of the X5⁶ and its sisters in the Pure X range is flexibility.
Up to three foresails – 88% self-tacking jib, 100% genoa and huge code zero – can be kept furled and ready to go. The self-tacker sheets to a track neatly recessed into the cabin top to preserve the clean, uncluttered aesthetic. The genoa is sheeted to a pair of longitudinal tracks with its sheets and car adjusters led aft and ducted under the coachroof.
A new bow shape has been developed that allows all three furlers to be located further forward, maximising the J measurement to improve upwind performance. Downwind, the asymmetric kite is flown from the end of the integrated carbon bowsprit, which also keeps the anchor well clear of the stem. An optional in-boom furling system, usually seen on much larger yachts, allows the ideal combination of automatic mainsail furling with a full, powerful roach.
The rig itself is 11/12 fractional on a tapered, triple-spreader mast with discontinuous rod rigging, which is deliberately over-specified – a feature common to all X-Yachts – which makes it extremely stiff as well as super strong, promoting good sail shape and trim while reducing stretch and preventing the mast from pumping whilst sailing upwind into a heavy sea.
Below decks, the clean, timeless design aesthetic that you’d expect in a premium Danish yacht is obvious at a glance. A more careful look reveals excellent ergonomics, lots of well designed stowage throughout, and the fine craftsmanship in all areas that defines the brand.
One important feature is invisible – and indeed imperceptible, but that’s the point. The engine compartment is sound-insulated to superyacht specification using a heavy 8mm solid rubber layer, 50mm of noise-deadening rockwool and covered with perforated aluminium plating. All openings are sealed to eliminate noise.
‘The design team has focused on Nordic interior styling with a lot of attention to detail like the ambient lighting, small pieces of leather, and in general you get a great atmosphere from the daylight that comes into the saloon,’ Nielsen explains. ‘This is for sure a spacious boat but we would never compromise sailing pleasure so every thought goes in the direction of combining good living on board with good sailing capabilities and this boat is absolutely no compromise.’
Click here for more information on X-Yachts