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Sailing World (issue February 2002)
January 15, 2002
by Tony Bessinger

Billy Black Photo

Billy Black Photo

Leave it to Philippe Kahn, the man who rapidly went from neophyte racer to holder of the Transpac’s Barn Door trophy, to commission the ultimate performance cruiser.

“Philippe wanted a multi-purpose, singlehanded-capable, good performing boat that was easy to sail and safe for the family,” says David Lake, project manager. “The idea was to use race technology to build a cruiser that could win races.”

To achieve this goal, Kahn put together a dream team composed of a few of the top names in the marine industry and told them: “No compromises.” Eric Goetz of Bristol, R.I., and his builders, experts in lightweight boatbuilding, teamed with designer Alan Andrews. Andrews had never designed a boat from scratch for Kahn but had worked with him on other projects. “Philippe is a demanding client and that’s good. It forces us to do a better job,” says Andrews. “With this project, we had the opportunity to combine a top-level performance boat with a great interior and deck arrangement that are both usable and high quality. We really took it to the next level.”

All parties involved were pushed hard to come up with new solutions; Kahn made it clear that he didn’t want everyday answers. “A lot of effort went into making the boat easy to sail,” says Lake. “We worked with North and Harken to make the reefing system not only lead to the cockpit but to be a one-line system.” The decks have only the most essential features; the jib track is buried in the teak deck, and the mainsheet is led under the deck to the cockpit, where it’s controlled by remote-controlled snubbers. The team at Southern Spars were tasked with the construction of the carbon rig, which carries fully-battened main, self-tacking jib, code zero, and a reaching asymmetric chute with a snuffer.

“Our watchword for the whole project was quality,” says Andrews. “That allowed us to do things that might not have been done on other projects. The keel is America’s Cup-level technology, a steel forging machined to shape that includes an integral kelp-cutter.”

In the world of custom boatbuilding, there’s only one customer, and his opinion is the one that matters. “What I like about Pegasus 55,” says Kahn. “Is that we’ve achieved radical simplicity for fast, competitive sailing. I can singlehand Pegasus 55 and race her to the Farallons, or we can stop at the grocery store, get 10 days worth of food and head for Honolulu. She is fast and behaves like a racing boat, is designed to be singlehanded, and yet has a great interior and teak decks.”

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