BOAT TEST: DRAGONFLY 35
If you’re looking for a mile-eating performance with no quality compromises turn to the Danish-built Dragonfly 35, says ALLAN WHITING
Now before we get too excited about the abilities of this beautifully designed and crafted trimaran let's reflect on one of the harsh realities of multihulls: you're paying for two to three times as many mouldings as a monohull and that pushes up building costs. To make that work in a value-for-money equation you really need to exploit the advantages of a tri over a mono.
The best vocations we can think of for the Dragonfly 35 are fun daysailing with a mob, club racing short-handed and passagemaking in waters where shoal draft is desirable, such as along the Queensland coast. In shallow waters, where monos need careful timing of tidal movements, a reaching, running or motoring Dragonfly - with dagger board raised - can go unfettered. And while the mono may need to search for a good anchorage, the tri can rest comfortably on a drying-out beach or mudflat.
In a comparison between this trimaran and most similar-length cruising catamarans the Dragonfly loses out on bridge deck space, but compensates with large trampoline areas and better passagemaking speed. It also has a distinct berthing advantage, with folding floats that swing inwards to reduce beam to 3.9m, allowing the Dragonfly 35 to fit into a monohull's marina pen.
THE 35 CLOSE UP
This model was released in 2008 and promptly picked up a European Yacht of the Year Award in the multihull class. The Dragonfly 35 comes as a Touring version and an Ultimate, with the only major difference being the mast and sails. Both boats have carbon sticks, produced in-house, but the Ultimate scores a 1.5m-taller mast and a 10 per cent increase in sail area.
The Dragonfly 35 hull and floats are formed of handlaid, foam cored sandwich FRP and the wing struts and structural bulkheads are made from unidirectional and biaxial fibres in tempered vinylester resin. Main hull and float shaping incorporates a fair amount of rocker from amidships aft, so the boat can take the bottom while keeping the saildrive leg clear of the hard stuff. The FRP centreboard and epoxy rudder don't get in the way, because both are kick-up designs with downhauls. An optional aft hatch in the starboard float allows a kayak or windsurfer and mast to be slid inside.
Standing rigging befits a boat that doesn't heel readily to spill puff pressure: a carbon mast with twin triangulated spreaders strung with shrouds and diamonds in Dyform wire, backed-up by tackle-adjusted running backstays rigged to the floats. Sail-handling equipment is all top shelf, headed by Andersen winches.
The patented Dragonfly Swing Wing system has been used on all Quorning Boats (see profile in sidebar hereabouts) since 1989 and offers simple float folding, using the boat's winches. Each wing strut pivots on a massive hinge and is locked in place, with backup from 14mm Dyform wire stays between main hull and floats.
Stepping aboard the berthed Dragonfly 35 is easy, because the folded floats form natural steps to the main hull and there are no lifelines to clamber over: who needs lifelines when the floats are extended, providing trampolines to fall into! Security at the aft end of the cockpit is afforded by a curved FRP bar that hinges forward to become a bimini hoop.
With a slimmer main hull than a 35-foot monohull the Dragonfly 35 has a narrow cockpit, but there's ample seating space for six to eight people, with the trampolines offering a lounging alternative. When racing with a spinnaker up, the cockpit can become something of a rope fest, but when cruising rope tails drop into bins and the cockpit is quite tidy.
The companionway is also narrower than you'd find on most 35-foot monos, but opens into a deep and roomy saloon. Main hull volume is compromised by the need for recesses to accommodate the folding floats, but clever positioning of the high-set dinette seats lets eight people sit around a drop-side centre table.
The test boat was fitted with an optional Classic interior, which replaces the full-saloon-length starboardside walkthrough galley with a smaller portside one aft, and provides seating on both sides of the dining table. A raised cabin-sole section on the port side forms a footrest for diners and a false sole on the opposite side is a footrest for those who are seated and folds away when not in use, allowing walkthrough access to the head and the forward cabin. The dinette folds into a ¾-bed.
The head/shower is the full width of the boat, separated from the saloon by a bulkhead door and from the forward vee-berth cabin by a sliding door. A drop-down wooden seat covers the toilet.
Ventilation may be an issue in the Dragonfly 35, because the head is the only area with cross-flow venting, via small opening side ports and a hatch. The forward cabin and saloon have hatch-only ventilation and the aft cabin has a tiny side-opening port.
The overriding impression of the Dragonfly 35 is quality and there are no signs of shortcuts. The mast and rig are beautifully made, the sail-handling equipment is first class and the fitout below decks is beautifully crafted.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Windcraft's Dragonfly expert, David Stiles, showed off the boat's Swing Wing system by extending the portside float into a vacant berth. Had the berth been occupied, the Dragonfly 35 is quite able to motor out of its pen with both floats folded in. The second float was extended as we motored into the channel, using concealed clutches and a powered cabin-top winch.
With the floats extended, we tensioned the running backstays and then the main went up via the powered halyard winch. A slightly overlapping cruising jib unfurled and it was time to shutdown the engine.
Test conditions on Pittwater were typical winter pattern, with a fluky westerly varying in direction and in strength from 5kts to puffs up to 15kts. My initial impression was disappointment, because we're all conditioned to expect a multihull to fly in a zephyr. Cruising multihulls aren't like that.
With the wind under 10kts and the jib barber hauled the Dragonfly 35 went to windward at 40 to 45 degrees at a little better than half windspeed, but when the puffs hit it fairly rocketed away, making 7 to 9kts in no time. Eased off to a broad reach the Dragonfly 35 was good for 10kts-plus in 15kts of breeze. With the jib furled and the asymmetric trimmed the speed went up a couple of knots. (The Quorning Boats website shows a Dragonfly 35 Ultimate hitting 23kts in a stiff breeze, justifying the company's claim to make the fastest cruising yachts in the world.)
Multihull sailors are spoilt when it comes to setting and trimming extras, because there's a whole trampoline on which to sit the spinnaker bag and about twice a monohull's beam for sheeting angle. As well, the kite trimmer can sit miles out to windward, for a great view of the sail. Gybing is also a doddle, with a big, roachy main blanketing the kite until the sheet hand crosses from one comfy perch to the other and no boat-death-roll issues to complicate matters.
The helmsperson has transom and coaming seating options, all with the comfort and security of that curved bar for back support: a much better choice than wire lifelines or pushpit bars. The wheel is light and precise, but purists can opt for a tiller.
We had a ball pushing the Dragonfly 35, but we were also impressed with its docility when cruising short-handed under white sails alone. The mainsheet traveller and winches are in easy reach of the helmsperson and with an autopilot option installed the Dragonfly 35 becomes a one-person sailing proposition.
A beautifully crafted trimaran with folding wings and ample room for eight people daysailing or four cruising - six with kids included - the Dragonfly 35 is a fast passagemaker with the advantages of trampoline space for lounging, almost level boat attitude, even when sailing fast, and the ability to moor in shallow waters or nudge up to a sandy beach.
QUORNING BOATS OF DENMARK
The company was founded on 1967 by Borge Quorning, with the mission to produce fast, safe, high-quality trimarans. Since that time, the company has produced more than 1000 boats, with lengths from five to 16 metres.
Since 1981, Quorning Boats has produced the Dragonfly range that began with the Dragonfly 25 Mk I.
In 1988/89 Borge and second-generation Quorning, Jens, designed the Swing Wing system that was introduced on the Dragonfly 800 and since then, every Dragonfly has featured this innovation. Beam is reduced by around half, by one person, using no tools and working from the cockpit.
Quorning Boats has won many design awards over the years, including Boat of the Year in the USA three times and European Yacht of the Year in 2004 and 2008 for the Dragonfly 35.
Although its heritage is steeped in the past, Quorning Boats employs the latest computer-aided design and construction techniques, including 3D finite-element analysis and a five-axis CNC machine for producing master plugs.
AT THE HELM
The Dragonfly 35 is a high-performance cruising multihull, with the ability to berth in the space reserved for a monohull. It's faster than a cruiser/racer mono of the same length and much easier to sail at speed than a mono. The drawback is a much higher purchase price.
PRICE AS TESTED
$632,404 (inc. GST)
Classic interior with aft galley, epoxy primer and antifoul, non-skid deck coating, teak on cockpit seats, teak and holly cabin sole, spray dodger, hot-water system, shower in head and cockpit, galley fridge, water-tank gauge, cockpit floor lights, additional 220V and 12V sockets, cabin-top and float solar panels, tricolour masthead light, deck light, masthead VHF antenna, Raymarine ST-60 and autopilot, cockpit speakers, additional cabin ports, hatch blinds and netting, ST46 powered cabin opt winch upgrade, additional cockpit winches, barber hauler, boom preventer, carbon bowsprit, carbon spinnaker and handling gear, Code 0, mainsail boom cover, anchor, warp, bowroller and powered windlass, fenders, winch handle pockets, starboard float canoe hatch, and lifting eyes and straps
$529,000 (subject to exchange rate)
MATERIAL: Foam-cored laminate hulls with unidirectional and biaxial fibre reinforced bulkheads in vinylester
LENGTH OVERALL: 10.68m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 10.5m
BEAM: 8.2m (3.90 with floats folded)
DRAFT: 1.9m (centreboard down); 0.55m (centreboard up)
MAST HEIGHT: 18m (Touring); 19.5m (Ultimate)
BERTHS: Two double cabins and dinette ¾-berth
HOLDING TANK: 60lt
MAIN: 54m²; 65m² (Ultimate)
JIB: 30m²; 35m² (Ultimate)
GENOA: 50m²; 55m² (Ultimate)
ASYMMETRIC: 95m²; 115m² (Ultimate)
MAKE/MODEL: Volvo D1-30
TYPE: Saildrive with two-blade folding propeller
RATED HP: 30
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