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The high-tech Italian Sly Yachts brand is now available in Australia through Vicsail and we got to test the first model to arrive Down Under.

The Sly 43 sailing yacht makes an ideal performance cruiser that should be very handy around the twilight cans. Kitted with some race gear it could be right up with the competition, and the cockpit and saloon layouts make it a brilliant entertainer as well.




Sly Yachts has been in business since only 2005 and combines the skills of a team of specialist designers and builders put together by successful businessman Sandro Franchini. Strong financial backing saw the company glide through the GFC, and while orders dropped dramatically, new-model planning continued and all seems set for plain sailing from here onwards.




Vicsail’s Brendan Hunt chose the 43 for Sly Yachts’ introduction Down Under and the first boat to arrive was the actual 2013 Genoa Boat Show vessel, complete with stunning paintwork and co-ordinated teak decking.

Replacing a Yacht of the Year can be a tricky business, so Sly Yachts sought the services of Nauta Design to develop the interior of the 2013 Sly 43 model. The most obvious difference is the saloon layout, where the 43 has a multi-adjustable dinette table and seating arrangement that offers more flexibility than the 42’s.

Nauta Design’s interior is built by Tecnoform, which also provides Bertram, Pershing and Ferretti with fittings and furniture.

Standard construction is in resin-infused, moulded PVC foam sandwich with multi-axial E-glass, and the bottom of the hull has bonded semi-structural composite floor members. Optional construction additions are carbon fibre reinforcing laterally and longitudinally, and epoxy-vinylester resin.

The hull-deck join is glued and fastened, and the deck and cockpit surfaces are faced with a quartz-powder anti-slip coating. A teak toerail is glued and screwed to the deck.




The race-option keel is high-tensile steel, fixed to the hull by stainless steel bolts and an interior backing plate. The bulb is cast antimony-alloy lead and contains inner caging in high-tensile steel, while the cruising keel is shallow draft and made from cast steel.

Rigging is conventional for a 9/10 sailplan, employing aluminium mast and boom, rod vang and a German mainsheet system. Four Harken or Antal cockpit winches control halyards and sheets.

The test boat was aimed at the performance cruising market, rather than IRC or IOR racing, so it had One Sail Pentex white sails, a fixed-blade prop, aluminium spars and no spinnaker pole and mast track. However, it did have race keel, rod rigging, hydraulic backstay and a carbon-fibre rudder stock.

Other options to race-orient the Sly 43 include carbon mast and boom, hydraulic vang, mast-display instruments, mast-step jack, spinnaker kit with carbon pole or telescopic carbon bowsprit and a folding propeller.




The colour scheme made the Sly 43 difficult to miss as I approached its berth at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Pittwater (Sydney). Stepping aboard onto its cockpit via an open transom, between twin wheels, was easy. Although the mainsheet traveller runs across the full cockpit width, it can be cleated to port or starboard behind either wheel pedestal and so the sheet fall is out of the way.

The starboard wheel pedestal was fitted with a removable plotter that could be disconnected and stowed out of harm’s way for regatta sailing, eliminating the chance of damage by a slack mainsheet during a gybe. Simple, easy-to-activate engine controls were positioned beside the starboard wheel.

The test boat was fitted with an optional folding table that dropped into a recess in the cockpit sole, thus the table top doubled as part of the deck surface. When raised, the table opened up revealing a carbon-fibre work surface. Unfortunately, the carbon panels didn’t fit as snugly into the wooden frame as they should have.

At the pointy end the test boat sported an FRP bowsprit with gennaker or Code 0 tack and an anchor roller. A telescopic carbon bowsprit is optional.

A steepish companionway led below through a Dehler-style dropdown door which needed some attention to a locking mechanism that jammed easily – no fun in a blow.




The saloon is beautifully designed and finished with ample light through deck hatches, coach-house ports and hull ports. However, I did expect more opening ports for flow-through ventilation. Fresh air ventilation at anchor shouldn’t be an issue but airflow in a cross-breeze marina berth might be marginal.

Nauta Design has delivered a clean, stylish fitout in the cabins and saloon. The three cabins have double beds in each and there are two completely different saloon layouts available: one resembles the outgoing Sly 42’s layout, with an L-shaped galley to port, abaft a U-shaped settee that’s opposite a starboard lounge; the other layout has a straight, starboard-side galley in place of the lounge and a chart table instead of the L-shaped galley.

The test boat had the latter new layout and with the stove cover in place and the fridge lids shut the galley imitated a household buffet unit. I liked the way the dinette worked, with a movable bench seat and a table that could easily be doubled in size. The electrical panel above the chart table was beautifully laid out.

Both interior layouts have two heads with showers: one in the forward cabin and the other beside the companionway. Sly has solved the shower screen issue in a novel way, employing Mylar-laminate sail material that folds up when not required.




We were blessed with a sunny Pittwater day and a 10 to 15-knot nor’easter for this yacht’s first sea trial. The Sly 43 motored out of its berth without issue and hummed along at six-plus-knots once the donk warmed up.

A 2:1 mainsail halyard and below-deck furler soon had both white sails working and I was impressed with the yacht’s upwind speed. The GPS showed us powering over 7kts in slack water at around 30 degrees. If optimised for racing with some black sails, the Vicsail boys expect 7.4 to 7.5kts in similar conditions.

The helm feel was excellent, with accurate rudder control and no ‘dead’ zone. When cruising it would be easy for the helmsperson to steer and play the mainsheet and traveller, while for racing the steerer is very close to the mainsheet trimmer, making trim commands audible at all times.

Lift-up foot supports allowed the helmsperson to have a firm stance when the boat heeled. When racing, the mainsheet trimmer can brace a foot against the wheel pedestals.

Off the breeze the Sly 43 leapt to 9kts-plus and proved easy to gybe, provided the mainsheet was eased promptly – it’s a relatively large sailplan for a boat of this weight and waterline length.

I worked the headsail and main sheet winches to get a feel for the Antal aluminium self-tailers and found their sheet grip and winding action very light and positive. The winch gearing was powerful and could probably handle slightly more sail area without the need to upsize.

Jammers that were well-placed allowed simple changes between the halyard and sheet functions of the forward winches.

The optional below-deck furler line ran through turning blocks that added considerable friction to the action – tolerable for racing but not ideal for cruising. An above-deck furler would be a better cruising option.




  • Wow factor
  • Sailing performance
  • Clean, uncluttered design above and below decks



  • Some minor fit and finish issues
  • Sly 43 specifications









Epoxy resin, mast and boom paint, race keel, folding cockpit table, helm foot chocks, folding cleats, jib furler and tracks, rod rigging, Raymarine nav and instrument package, sound system with waterproof speakers, lightweight cabin and saloon furniture, electric-flush heads, stainless steel galley worktop, saltwater galley foot pump, mainsail bag and lazy jacks, 220V shorepower and outlets, and anchoring and mooring kit






MATERIAL FRP sandwich hull and deck (epoxy resin optional)

TYPE Keelboat

LENGTH 12.97m overall; 11.21m waterline

BEAM 3.95m

DRAFT 2.25m (2.5m bulb optional)

WEIGHT 7800kg



BERTHS 3 doubles + settee berth

FUEL 215lt

WATER 434lt




MAINSAIL 59.73m²

HEADSAIL 51.74m²

SPINNAKER 180 to 220m²



MAKE/MODEL Lombardini diesel

TYPE Saildrive


PROP Three-blade fixed (folding optional)



Vicsail Sydney,

d’Albora Marinas,

New Beach Road,

Rushcutters Bay, NSW, 2011

Phone (02) 9327 2088

Fax (02) 9362 4516



See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #450, March / April 2014. Why not subscribe today?


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