IN 2009 the Arcona 430 was voted European Yacht of the Year in the Performance Cruiser division. Now its successor, the Arcona 435 which was launched this year is odds on favourite to with the title for 2019, some ten years on, writes Yachting Life boat test editor Andi Robertson.

In a world in which utilitarian, one size fits all mass production seems to increasingly prevail, Arcona are totally unique in Northern Europe. The cliché would have it that Arcona is run by a very discerning sailor for owners who are just like founder Torgny Jansson, but that is just the way it is. He and his small passionate team develop Arcona yachts on the premise that what works for them will work for the majority of their owners. ‘An Arcona comes from ideas we get, as sailors who sail these yachts.’

And so the Arcona 435 is a step on from the 430 which was a popular best seller for what very much remains a niche brand for the truly discerning owner who is quietly content with a beautifully crafted boat which remains true to its Scandinavian roots. They would rather have 20 owners each year who are 100% happy, than compromise on quality or performance simply to sell more boats.

Unfortunately this is the last design from Stefan Qviberg who died in the middle of November. He designed only for Arcona and it is fair to say the 435 is a fitting swansong. It is more than 200 kilos lighter than the 430 with a slightly lighter keel aligned to a more powerful hull form. The stern sections are slightly wider and a little more squared off and yet the drag is minimal.

Sail area increases slightly too with a bigger mainsail. The preference remains with a narrower, tall 106% overlap jib which is ideal for most situations, but there are a whole host of sail inventory options. Sail area to displacement ratio is 27, which is close to that of the 430.

Arcona have a strong base in the UK now with Alasdair Marshall and Simon Rosier running the office in Hamble. They had a great Southampton Show and showed the 430 at Scotland’s Boat Show. Scotland remains a strong market for Arcona where the performance cruiser-racers are well suited to the sought after mix of fast passage making alternating with regatta racing, inshore and offshore.

LONGER WINDOW

Other than the hull shape, the most obvious new feature is the coachroof line and the bigger, longer window which brings the 435 up to date without losing its distinctive looks. The hull shape remains moderate, smooth and sleek. The cockpit is wide and spacious, blessed with ample floor area, but still everything falls to hand. While there is space for a full crew to race the boat efficiently, even in this form it will be easily sailed by a couple with a reasonable amount of skill and experience.

Besides everything else that there is to appreciate about the new Arcona 435, most of all I enjoyed the fact that everything on our test boat was as per an owner spec’d boat. That meant everything worked as it should with a minimum of fuss and drama.

You could immediately feel this is a boat to sail miles at speed and in comfort with a small crew, we had three aboard for our light winds Solent test, but equally it was easy to see where you would gain a few tenths of a knot more on all points of sail with a race crew on board.

And so our boat was loaded with the full Harken electric winch package, as it should be, and a lovely set of North 3Di sails including a fully battened main, a proper Code Zero, S2 spinnaker and an A3 gennaker. The headsail is sheeted to floating eyes which gives infinite trim options and a narrow sheeting angle. The German A style mainsheet system runs under the deck and is easily controlled with the excellent Harken main track.

But that is the way it should be, and usually is with Arcona. Owners are not, you would suppose, given to scrimping and saving on hardware for what will be their pride and joy. You either want an Arcona or you don’t and if you do then you want it to be as close to perfect that it can be.

Each boat is built to order and so there are many possibilities. At the higher performance end options include a full carbon version, that is with carbon hull and deck at a further £44k and a carbon rig at a further £35k.

We had only the lightest of breezes for our Solent test on what proved to be a grey November afternoon but the Arcona 435 proved to be a delightful, easily sailed and quick package. For sure a few knots more breeze would have been welcomed, but what was immediately obvious is that the new 435 is responsive and slides along easily. Once we had a decent flow over the foils it moved sweetly, happy to sail close winded in a high mode with enough feel on the helm to make little course adjustments. Like we surmised, with a little taper in the back sections there is little or no drag. It was relatively easy to keep the boat powered up and moving.

Setting the Code Zero was relatively straightforward. The deep foredeck locker is large enough to take the flying sails; so the furled zero and the gennaker, as well as the chain and a fender or two. The Code sail took us comfortably over five knots of boat speed in much the same windspeed and as the wind puffed up occasionally so the boat accelerated smoothly giving the chance to sail a slightly lower angle. This was destined to be a gentle day, but on every point the Arcona 435 proved pleasingly smooth and easy to sail.

The interior is simple and beautifully finished. The standard layout is a three cabin version, offering matching symmetrical double aft cabins and a big forecabin with ensuite. It is light and airy thanks to the long coachroof window and a bank of central overhead hatches, but it retains a welcome mix of the traditional with warm coloured khaya mahogany varnished to a high gloss satin finish. All the bulkheads and partial bulkheads are bonded in. It feels like a robust and solid boat but with neat modern touches.

Again there are no compromises or concessions below deck either. The L-shaped galley is large, spacious and well appointed with two top opening refrigerated cool boxes outboard, two large stainless sinks, ample work space and cupboard and drawer space. The U shaped saloon is big enough to properly entertain with a simple, wide fold out table. And, thankfully, there is a proper navigation office space with a big, proper table.

Up front the owner’s cabin has a large central double with drawer storage below, a small seated dressing space, good hanging locker and a full sized, nicely appointed heads and shower room.

Overall the new 435 only serves to enhance the Arcona reputation for designing and building no compromise, quick cruiser racers which really do work well for both requirements. They have worked hard to produce a solid boat but still keep any un-needed weight down. Quality and craftsmanship do come at a price though, but the value is built in.