Review: Solaris ONE 42
A cruiser-racer with the credentials to be enjoyable on and off the race track makes the Solaris ONE 42 sail boat an interesting new boat.
Italian sailing boats builder Solaris has 35-years of experience constructing sailing yachts from 36 to 76-foot that are traditionally built to a high custom finish. But in recent years the Venice-based yard has changed up a gear to produce mid-sized production cruiser-racers that look elegant as well as lavish inside.
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The 2012-designed Solaris ONE 42 sail boat comes with plenty of pedigree – something that attracted Peter Hrones of Windcraft Australia to distribute this premium brand alongside his mainstay Hanse cruisers – so with the arrival of the first yacht in Australia, hull #7, I was keen to take it for a sail.
The statistics on the Solaris ONE 42 sailboat should entice the performance sailor who could also be a family man because the key ingredients are there: a good ballast ratio thanks to a deep lead bulb, keel-stepped mast and a relatively modest beam in the vacuum-infused hull which should give good windward performance. Yet the three-cabin layout is more than comfortable so there’s plenty of features fitted in between the plumb bow and open transom.
On deck the teak cladding and hidden halyards along with sleek Solimar hatches give that Swan-like flavour while the wide and open cockpit is functional with twin alloy binnacles.
In front, the mainsheet track and two sets of Harken 46.2 winches take care of the foresails and gennaker. Our test boat came with an electric Harken 40.2 on the starboard corner of the coachroof with a manual one opposite, for easy halyard hoists. Usefully, a spray dodger fits neatly into the coachroof recess and would be welcome offshore in this relatively shallow cockpit.
Another plus point on the Solaris ONE 42 sailing boat is the high lip to the main hatch where traditional wooden washboards give a very seaworthy finish.
Other good details included the German mainsheet, that emerges out of a chromed recess at exactly the right angle for the winch; and the main track jammers which allow for both a dedicated trimmer or the steerer to reach.
Further quality touches included the Jefa alloy binnacles, solidly bolted and glassed into the hull, and the carbon Jefa steering wheels, which add to the stylish feel of the Solaris ONE 42. The binnacles are unadorned, with instrumentation – B&G Triton T7 plotters – integrated into the cockpit combings with B&G wind instruments and compass sitting across the main companionway.
Locker space is good in the cockpit with bench storage on both sides and an aft lazarette for the fenders. The open transom leads to the hydraulic teak clad swimplatform which drops to nearly sea level.
Good points to note include folding cleats all round, including midships and a squared toerail that helps the foredeckie when heeled, although not so comfy for hiking. A comprehensive anchor setup includes a vertical Lewmar windlass, deep chain locker and chromed roller with the anchor neatly housed inside the locker to comply with race requirements. Also excellent is a sturdy gas strut on the hatch.
Looking at the rig, the Furlex 300 roller reefer holds the high-specification North 3Di genoa to the alloy Sparcraft painted mast. The 3Di moulded sails – made of nearly rigid aramid/dyneema/spectra – can hold their shape in higher winds and so bring extra loads, which is major reason for using oversized deck fittings.
Elsewhere on the Solaris plenty of versatility is inbuilt thanks to a self-tacking track for a small headsail, ideal for those short-handed voyages, while a solid vang controls the boom and all lines run underdeck to Spinlock XTS jammers. Surprisingly no adjuster is on the Y-shaped backstay but that can be easily fitted.
Down below, the three-cabin layout has the en suite owner’s forward with two twins or a single berth aft (the second cabin becomes a large locker) and there’s a second bathroom here as well.
A choice of finishes include matching grain oak with semi-gloss, available around the U-shaped couch. The lounge is opposite to port, which usefully has a cocktail-cum-chart table. The tables are solid wood with large moulded handholds and rounded corners. The chart table is forward facing and has the B&G Triton plotter neatly embedded in the composite bulkhead – so effective yet unobtrusive for when the area is used for cocktails.
Behind, the L-shaped galley is well equipped with a three-burner stove/oven, chest fridge and front-opening one while dual sinks finish off this excellent area.
The accommodation on our test boat comprised the three double-cabin option. The owner’s cabin features an island bed surrounded by overhead lockers and tall clothes lockers – an excellent cruising berth.
The en suite on this craft has an upgraded electric head while the shower splashback is limited thanks to a dividing perspex door. Stylish touches included the deep oval ceramic sink and composite drainage grates underfoot.
Moving aft, the two double cabins offer fairly conventional berths but come with useful details, such as the wet locker with drainage in the port cabin, and sufficient hatch space to avoid that dreaded claustrophobic feel.
Windcraft were understandably keen to point out that these boats have a five-month build, which differentiates them significantly from the high-volume, mass production ranks, and this longer attention to detail is reflected in the overall build; while of course influencing the premium price tag as well.
Structurally this looks to be a very stiff boat thanks to the main bulkheads being bonded to the hull and deck, and its composite sandwich construction. The hull and deck are of vacuumed (PVC Airex Core) in E-fibreglass and the keel-stepped mast connects to a steel base bedded on a GRP support which is connected to the longitudinals then bolted to the hull.
As I found when lifting the floorboards, the keel bolts are oversize and the structural GRP grid substantial. Stiffness is further enhanced by the deep lead bulbed keel, which should support a sizable racing sail wardrobe.
Steering gear uses quality Jefa linkages attached to a balanced GRP foam-cored spade rudder – so the Solaris should be a performer and classy cruiser.
The Solaris ONE 42 was designed primarily with ORC racing rules in mind. I also note that sistership Unica has an IRC rating of 1.095 TCC, which is similar to some of the First 45s.
LIGHT WIND SAIL
With genoa set and the flat 3Di mainsail centred, I chased the zephyrs of pressure that caressed the sheltered Pittwater, managing to find 8.6 knots of wind in the gap at Scotland Island which pushed us along at an impressive 7kts while pointing at 42 degrees.
Sitting on the helm with nimble carbon Jefa wheel in hand, I felt very much at home on the Solaris as the Triton plotter showed our progress towards the island. The rising pressure in the channel heeled us over, requiring my feet to search for support that wasn’t there; so a couple of teak chocks would be nice. Calling a tack, the Solaris spun round neatly, the deep spade rudder commanding the hull through the tack while I walked unimpeded to the high side over the grippy teak.
The light conditions gave us a good chance to hoist the gennaker for the very first time without any fear of damage so the bright pink foresail was deployed in its snuffer bag and the tack clipped to the pulpit with a strop to give it clearance, before it was peeled open. The sheets ran cleanly through single blocks and onto the aft Harken winches. The modest-sized gennaker allowed us to maintain good boat speed – 6.7kts on a beam reach ¬– in the 7.6kt breeze, no doubt helped by the minimised wetted area that designer Acebal has penned for this by no means lightweight hull (at 8.8t).
With our bow nearing the Avalon shore, crewman Rick walked the big pink sail around the forestay while in the cockpit Peter wound in the lazy sheet to send us on our way east towards the bushy skyline of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
With our afternoon coming to a close, the snuffer was pulled down on the gennaker, the sail dropped and stored in the spacious transom lazarette, while lazy jacks allowed the mainsail to be easily handled.
It was all done effortlessly – like most activities on this sleek Italian yacht, which has a style reminiscent of my Alfa Romeo car.
With power in mind, the upgraded 55hp felt a bit like overkill as it raised our bow under maximum revs (3000rpm) to push us along speedily at 8.2 knots – so you’re very likely to be first back at the yacht club bar as well as over the finish line.
- See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #455, July / August 2014. Why not subscribe today?
• Stylish and practical cruiser-racer
• Good ergonomics in cockpit
• Premium quality finish throughout
• Fuel cut-off switch prone to inadvertent use
• Lack of window blinds
SOLARIS ONE 42 SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
Solaris ONE 42 price: $790,500
Upgraded 55hp engine, North 3Di laminated sail wardrobe and gennaker, bowthruster, sprayhood, electric Harken 40, teak decks, second fridge, electric Tecma toilet, Flexofold propeller, B&G electronics, and Jefa carbon steering wheels
TYPE Keelboat sailing boat
DRAFT 2.25m; 2.5m
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6
MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta diesel
TYPE Saildrive engine
RATED HP 40 standard; 55 optional
GENOA 45m² (108%)
Bayview Anchorage Marina
1714 Pittwater Road
Bayview, NSW, 2104
PHONE +61 2 9979 1709
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