BOAT TEST: MOODY CLASSIC 45
The Moody Classic 45 teams retro chic with modern engineering and practicality with shorthanded performance, reports ALLAN WHITING
The Moody Classic brief to designer Bill Dixon was to produce a fast, easily-handled yacht family, with as many traditional above- and below-deck and cabin touches as possible. In that pursuit, it's safe to say, it has been well met.
Walk along a dock to rendezvous with a Moody Classic 45 and your eye is pleased by a cream-coloured hull with teak-faced cockpit floor, coamings and seats, sweetly curved deck sheer and tucked stern, surmounted by a low coach house with oval, opening ports and cabin-top cowl ventilators on dorade boxes.
Contrasting with these traditional accents are a plumb stem, drop-down swimplatform and a cockpit wide enough to accommodate twin wheels.
Once aboard, the rig and sail handling equipment reveal themselves to be state-of-the-art and, although a self-tacking jib is a traditional feature, its setup is Hanse-modern, not club-footed like the staysails of yesteryear. An option not fitted to the test boat is a second furler for a reaching sail, tacked to the stubby sprit/anchor roller.
Another Hanse influence shows in a pair of leather-clad wheels, between which is a wide walkway. The helmsperson has a choice of fat coaming perches or broad bin-top seats. A teak drop-side table splits the cockpit, doubling as a useful handhold and foot brace, as well as the base for a chartplotter swivel-mount if required.
A metal-framed windscreen isn't a traditional yacht feature, but the Classic 45 sports a beauty that looks like it was filched from a Riva or one of those classic, varnished Venetian water taxis.
Like the Classic 41, the 45 is designed around modern hull lines and construction. Deep, flat, central sections taper to knuckle bows on both boats, but with more hull depth and steeper fore and aft rocker in the 45 than the 41.
Sandwich foam core is used below the waterline and balsa above, including the deck moulding. The gelcoat is isophthalic and the first layer of laminate is vinylester. Under the cabin sole is a massive ladder-frame strengthening structure, with individual pockets for huge keel bolts.
Slip down the narrow companionway, on curved-edge steps with rubber friction pads inset in stainless steel frames, and you enter another world: one reminiscent of the "proper yachts" of yesteryear, with highly-polished, deep-burgundy mahogany timber contrasting against cream leather upholstery.
The dinette can comfortably seat six around a U-shaped table you can see your face in, with two more have individual seats either side of a chart/coffee table. Above the chart table is a wood-screened cupboard that can easily house a flatscreen TV. Walkthrough access on a teak/holly cabin sole leads to forward and aft heads and cabins.
The Moody Classic 45 dinette is similar in arrangement to that in the 41, albeit with a larger table and more beam space, but the additional boat length is employed in a forward cabin that's larger, and in more saloon head and galley space. A forward head is standard in the 45's much roomier forward cabin, where it's a somewhat squeezy option in the 41.
The 45's galley is L-shaped mahogany that my better half wanted to take home, topped with cream Corian tops, including sink infills that effectively increase bench space. Tools include a gimballed three-burner cooktop and oven, plus an optional microwave.
There are six possible layouts in the 41, from two-cabin/one-head to three-cabin/two-head, but the 45 comes with only two layouts, both two-headed: one with dual aft double cabins and one with a queen bed and vast storage space to starboard.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
A low coach house and windscreen allowed great vision and the three-blade folding prop provided excellent response, easing the manoeuvring task. A bowthruster is available, but you'd need a tight berth or tidal influences to warrant one.
Moody has switched to Volvo Penta from Yanmar for the Classic 45 and we were certainly impressed with the lack of noise and vibration under power. Being an owner's boat, we didn't give the 45 WOT testing, but 8kts-plus came up easily, with plenty more lever travel available.
Winch power - Lewmar 50AST halyard manual and 54 AST powered primaries - set the test boat up with serious sail-handling power, so raising the tri-radial, cruise-laminate North main and sheeting it and the unfurled self-tacker was an effortless procedure.
The jib is sheeted, in Hanse fashion, by a line that runs from curved track blocks, up the mast and back to a primary winch. The main is mid-boom sheeted via a German system, with two cabin-top blocks rather than a traveller. Well-placed clutches allow jib and main sheets to be locked, freeing the powered primaries for genoa or spinnaker work.
The single-pull, slab-reefing system uses blocks at both cringles to ease the crew's muscle load. In conjunction with an autopilot the Classic 45 could be a singlehanded boat, where one person could make and shorten sail, in addition to trimming.
THE NEW MOODYS
It's sad to see so much of Britain's manufacturing businesses passing into offshore hands, but given the choice between no more traditional-look Moody Yachts or German-made Moody Yachts the decision is an easy one. Initial scepticism following the Hanse Group takeover of the struggling Moody brand was dispelled by the launch of the Moody Classic 41 and this boat's larger yard-mate, the Classic 45.
England's Moody Yachts has a pedigree that dates back to 1827, through five generations of family ownership at the historic Swanwick, River Hamble site. That lineage, however, ended after an amazing 180 years, when in April 2007 ownership of the famous brand crossed the Channel, into the hands of Hanse Yachts, which almost immediately began producing Moody Yachts in Greifswald, Germany.
To ensure that Moody Yachts' design continuity was preserved Michael Schmidt retained designer Bill Dixon, who has been penning Moody lines since 1981.
An owner explains why
Brian Lidell has owned a few yachts over the years and looked at a number of new yachts for sale before choosing the Moody 45 Classic.
"Having had four new boats in the past - this time we were looking for something different. We wanted something with character, not something white and plasticy looking," said Lidell.
The boat owner says he considered an old classic but didn't have the skill level to maintain one. It was then, that Windcraft's Bob Vinks introduced Lidell to the idea of the Moody 45 Classic.
"When I first stepped onboard I knew the classic look of this yacht was exactly what we wanted," Lidell said.
"I can pretty much sail her singlehanded with the electric winches and setup of the cockpit. The self-tacking headsail is great. We thought it wouldn't be any good but it is absolutely brilliant - not just from an ease-of-use point of view but from a performance point of view as well," he said.
Also impressing Lidell was the Moody's form on the racetrack and her ability to perform in light and heavy winds, reporting to doing well in twilight races, with minimal crew.
"This yacht ticks every box for us," said Lidell. "She's well put together and very well equipped - it's like buying a Lexus where you don't need to sit there with the dealer and tick all the boxes - it just comes so well fitted. It's great." - Team Windcraft
(Facts & figures)
MOODY CLASSIC 45
AT THE HELM
Our test conditions were in typical mid-winter Pittwater westerlies that varied from three-knot lulls to 15-knot puffs. These conditions matched those prevailing at the end our Classic 41 test, so we could make a direct comparison of both boats in self-tacking headsail mode.
The Classic 45 is nearly one-third heavier than the 41, has the same area mainsail and a jib that's only 10 per cent larger, so it was no surprise to find the 45 a tad slower on the wind in light breezes than the 41. With sheets eased, the longer waterline of the 45 came into play and it edged ahead.
Moody's polar diagrams confirmed our findings, with the 41 good for around 6.8kts at 40° true in 10kts of breeze and the 45 around 6.5kts. Both boats are respectable performers, given their cruising vocation, but the more nimble 41 would be our choice for a club racer/cruiser.
PRICE AS TESTED
Teak sidedecks, two rail gates, genoa tracks and cars, windscreen with stainless steel frame, bimini, three-blade folding propeller, chart table TV, leather saloon upholstery, and autopilot
MATERIAL: Foam/balsa cored laminate with isophthalic gelcoat and vinylester first layer
LENGTH OVERALL: 14.03m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 12.2m
DRAFT: 2.2m (standard); 1.85m (optional) iron/lead composite keel
MAST HEIGHT: 16.92m
MAKE/MODEL: Volvo Penta D2-55
RATED HP: 55
A deeper hull with more storage space makes the Moody Classic 45 more of a passagemaker than the 41. The boat is surprisingly fast when two-sail reaching and that performance is combined with the ease of handling provided by a self-tacking jib and mid-sheeted boom.
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