|Elegance And Esprit Sail Well In Harmony|
HARMONY Yachts is a company with strong ideas, but whether it can carry on its successes into a difficult market place where there is no shortage of models to choose from and very little to choose between each, will be determined by much more than simply producing good boats, writes YL racing editor Andi Robertson.
The company has invested more than Ä25m in a state-of Ėthe-art factory in La Rochelle and uses the most modern manufacturing techniques including resin transfer moulding in the hull and the deck.
Globally, Harmony market themselves as trying to package a very different offering, a pragmatic and good looking alternative to the Jeanneau, Bavaria, Beneteau series production lines.
Their aim is to offer a clear sail-away package price including all deck gear and electronics, wind, depth, speed and GPS, but there are two finish levels, Elegance or Esprit, as well as certain custom options for the interior.
We caught up with Muir Andersonís Harmony 42 Swift, one of the key members of the Flamingo Yacht Charters fleet when the boat was still in Largs rather than her normal charter cruising grounds out of Craobh Haven.
Other than the fact that they are Harmony agents for the north of Britain, it is clear why the 42 was chosen as a workhorse for the fleet. It is a spacious, good looking boat which sits neatly between the roomy cruiser and performance continuum with neat lines and an interesting styling.
Indeed that styling might not be to everyoneís taste. The broad swathes of colour certainly invigorate what might be some otherwise anonymous, homogenous shapes. But they are certainly a step up from the average stock jelly-mould hulls, you get these days and the deck line on the 42 is actually quite pleasing.
Both the hull and deck are a mid tech modern build in PVC foam sandwich, providing lightness and stiffness. Kevlar stiffeners enhance the floorplates.
The hull and deck are covered with a five year anti-osmosis and structural warranty, while there is a standard two year warranty on all parts and supplied services.
The hullís shape is modern and moderately powerful with a generous beam and ample power carried aft. Waterline length is fair with a relatively plumb bow while the stern overhang increases the effective waterline length when the boat heels, but at the same time reduces wetted surface for lighter conditions, just such as we had on the day of YLís test off Largs Yacht Haven.
The deck proportions are generous both round the coach roof and the foredeck, while the coach roof itself is large without dominating the design, and you would have to say that in general it is a pleasant looking boat, more so from the forward viewpoint. As for the styling, I would start again. It neither lengthens the boat, nor shortens it, other than give it a distinctive identity, and for me more people would buy a Harmony 42 in spite of rather than because of the styling.
The 8/10ths fractional rig is set with generous double swept back spreaders. With a wide shroud base the rig is well supported with continuous diagonals. The standard Elvstrom Sobstad package main offers a good single line reefing system with three full battens and a well organised stack pack style system, while the standard roller furler genoa was plenty powerful, even for the light breezes we had on the Largs Channel.
The side-decks are bordered by a deep alloy tubed toe rail, while the transom offers opening access including a handrail.
The cockpit is generous and safe with a good wheel pedestal which is integrated with a fold up GRP table. We rather liked the teak trimming around the cockpit and there is excellent instrumentation mounting space and a really generous compass binnacle.
There are two good, deep lockers either side, as well as a rope tails or ancillary shallow locker below the companionway entrance. I am not a huge fan of this type of facility since they tend to collect muck and debris as much as serve a useful purpose.
The winch positioning is good in the cockpit, offering good access to the helm for short-handed sailing, while the main sheet system run has ample purchase, running forward along the boom to a single end at the clutch battery on the aft edge of the coach roof.
Sadly our test sail was quite abbreviated by the lack of wind. Indeed there was a glassy calm when we arrived and left the marina, but we had just enough of a zephyr or two to knit together a couple of reaches, runs and short beats.
It was certainly more than enough to believe that the Harmony 42 sails pleasantly and is responsive even at slow speeds. She built her momentum easily, tracked nicely and positively and left a neat wake.
Ergonomics around the cockpit proved quite acceptable as we did what little work there was to be done.
Best point seemed to be with the wind on the beam, or just forward where the apparent wind built and the boat trundled along pleasingly. Upwind there was not enough to even take on the smallest heel, but the Harmony 42 seemed happy and businesslike under the circumstances. Certainly she could not be faulted on sailing performance nor on the functionality of the layout.
Down below there is quite a subtle blend of the functional and the fresh.
There is plenty of natural light and the wood finishes are generally good. The main saloon table and seating area is to starboard and has good, deep seating. There is a central bench seat which is nicely styled with a deep seat back. The galley kitchen is longitudinal and takes up the port side of the saloon.
The galley is excellent if you like that as a major feature of the boat. There is loads of working space, locker and stowage space and the proportions are pleasing. You can see why charter crews like this living area.
There is a lot of white laminate which adds to the utilitarian feel and look, but it is certainly low maintenance and adds plenty of light and makes the interior feel big and spacious.
The aft cabins are nicely finished both with a full length shelf and a hanging cupboard, a little port window for ventilation and light set into the cockpit side.
Up front I was less keen on the layout of the forward cabin which has an offset double as well as a little settee arrangement, and a mirror at the top of the berth!?! It just felt a little contrived and angular, but had loads of good space and headroom.
Overall Iíd say the Harmony 42 certainly merits attention and is worthy of a closer look. As a workhorse charter boat it is good, perhaps a little unrefined for those used to the more upmarket brands, but it sells on being an excellent package at a really attractive price.