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SAIL – October 2002 Flagships
by Kimball Livingston

While it’s true that this family yacht has teak decks, the teak is there because the owner thinks it’s more fun to win races on a boat with teak decks.

Written between the lines in the design brief for Pegasus 55 was the expectation that this boat would not be “the” Pegasus but “a” Pegasus. It would fit a body of need between the owner’s fleet of high performance Finn dinghies and Melges 24 named Pegasus, on the other hand, and his high performance 76-foot Transpac winner, also called Pegasus, on the other hand.

From the beginning, the Alan Andrews-designed 55-footer — called Pegasus 55 to distinguish it from the rest of the Pegasus fleet — was destined for a special life. The new boat was meant to be a family cruiser and a vacation getaway, providing a comfortable life aboard. The boat would succeed at that, but within a year of launch it would also take line honors in the Single-handed Farallons Race out of San Francisco Bay and would come second over the line in the Double handed Farallons.

To understand Pegasus 55, it helps to understand that it was built for someone who came to the sport in midlife and now sails more days than not. The owner plays the game of yacht racing every way it can be played — part of the time with big boats and professional crew, but just as often taking his lumps racing small boats against people he may never beat, but whose sailing skills he admires enormously. Knowing that the owner trains almost daily in a Finn, the most physically demanding dinghy ever to gain popularity, it’s not surprising that he would commission a 55 foot racer/cruiser without standing headroom in the forward cabin “because we only go there to sleep.” Figure that he can afford to have a sense of humor, and it’s no surprise that he called for teak decks, “because the race guys convinced me it would be more fun to win races with teak decks.” Finally, understand that this particular family boat was built for a fast-track transplant from France who already has a trophy case full of trophies but nevertheless insists, “I have to learn to sail before I die.”

The functional galley has adequate shelf space and excellent cold storage.
Billy Black Photo

Designer Alan Andrews explains the project this way, "Pegasus 55 was built to sail. It's a premium boat but not a showboat. What some people see, as compromises were actually a matter of priorities. The owner wanted a clean deck. Really clean. Nothing to trip on. That’s why we couldn't have a cabin house forward of the mast, which is why we couldn’t have standing headroom in the forward cabin, and that’s how we protected the priority of the deck and the sailing.” Truly, this boat has one of the cleanest decks imaginable. Control lines are led aft to the cockpit, but they run beneath the deck through watertight tubes and channels: halyards; reefing lines; spinnaker tack line; jib furler; continuous furler for the Code 0. The carbon fiber hatches and their integral drainage systems fit flush; so do the hinges. The traveler for the self-tacking jib is recessed into the deck to keep it from becoming an obstacle, Moving about, there’s nothing to trip on but your own two feet.

Stepping into the cockpit is easy; stepping out of the cockpit is easy, and if you think that’s something you can count on in every boat, pay attention at the next boat show. Easy movement is a feature the owner specified early on. He really had not liked the big steps that he had to make, entering and leaving the cockpit of the production 48-footer that previously filled the “cruiser” role in the Pegasus fleet. Throughout, the cockpit is beautifully executed. Lines for the traveler run in a 7:1 purchase under the cockpit sole, emerging at the steering pedestals. Twin wheels enable a central passage through the large cockpit to the open swim step aft. A centrally mounted grinder is in the way, but avoiding that placement would have been an act of magic, not engineering.

Pegasus 55’'s project manager David Lake, notes that the transom is open because the owner likes to swim, but the configuration would also be helpful in recovering someone overboard, or in deploying the life raft. The life raft lives in a port under-floor locker in the step just aft of the helm, and it can be readily moved from there to the transom. “The raft was the first piece of gear I researched,” Lake says. “Its size determined the size of the lockers.” Opening the hatch to the starboard locker offers excellent access to the quadrant, auto pilot ram, keel window, Navtec tank and other equipment. A watertight bulkhead enclosing the compartment is one of three watertight bulkheads contributing to the overall integrity and safety of the hull.

A single multifunction electric winch covers many needs when the boat is not racing, and an array of custom three-speed, belt-drive Lewmars saves space below the cockpit sole — which translates into headroom above the aft bunks. Lake notes, “Lewmar put a lot of effort into making the parts fit the boat rather than letting us fit the boat to the parts”.

Sail and Deck Plan courtesy of Alan Andrews Yacht Design

A prototype carbon Harken furler at the front end fits the high-custom theme, and there is a clear view of the furler from the cockpit, thanks to the absence of a dodger. A low coaming originally built across the cabin forward of the companionway was cut off at the owner’s request, to clear the deck. That deck is part of a total structure built by Goetz Custom Sailboats to be strong and light; no compromises. Designer Alan Andrews describes the boat's construction as “America’s Cup level laminate technology of pre-preg carbon fiber over a combination of nomex honeycomb and SuperLite balsa cores.”

Southern Spars built the triple-spreader mast in its Minden, Nevada facility, using intermediate-modulus carbon fiber, which carries a price premium. The extra cost was justified because intermediate-modulus fibers are stiffer than standard-modulus fibers, so the mast can be lighter while providing equal resistance to expected loads. (High modulus is not appropriate for a mast, because it does not deflect sufficiently before failure.)

The open transom is handy when children are swimming and it makes man-overboard retrieval an easier process. The clutter free deck layout is well illustrated.
Billy Black Photo

The main salon decor is modern and beautifully crafted;
all the handholds and other details are designed to work at sea.

Billy Black Photo

Self-tacking jibs simplify and encourage shorthanded and family sailing. Along with clean decks, self-tacking jibs were one of the owner’s top two priorities. A large mainsail packs most of the power, which makes for lively light-air performance — and a challenge when it comes to reefing. Based on personal experience and preference, the owner called for conventional, single-line reefing rather than a roller system. For efficiency, each element, turning block and pad eye in the system is precisely sized and angled. The result is reefing that can be managed by one person. Efficient reefing was one of the keys to taking line honors in the 57-mile Single-handed Farallons, where the breeze of the day shifted on a passing weather system from southerly to northwesterly, with velocity changes between 11 knots and 26 knots. The main was reefed and unreefed repeatedly. The top reported speed of the day was 19.5 knots, surging off a wave on the return to the Golden Gate, and the owner came home happy.

Sniff around below decks on Pegasus 55, nose into the bilges, finger the lockers, and you soon come to appreciate that this is an art project. The level of fit and finish are more than merely very good. As elsewhere aboard, however, there is a deceptive simplicity achieved through complex thinking and rigorous effort. Just as the owner wanted a clean deck for a combination of practical and aesthetic reasons, he wanted a clean look below for the sake of pure aesthetics. Where the forward bulkhead meets the cabin top, there is no awkward coverboard hiding the seam. Instead, the carbon fiber bulkhead itself is vacuum-bonded into the boat, and a light pear-wood veneer, bonded to a nomex panel, is spot-glued to the bulkhead. All-around, its edges fit with tolerances that make the veneer look flush and integral. Lake says it was “fairly difficult” to do, and we can assume that means it was “fairly difficult” by professional standards. Decorative surfaces below are a mix of pear and mahogany. There are no grab rails protruding from the overhead. However, two stringers running the full length of the cabin top are shaped and sized to the hand. Outboard, sleek wooden fittings that run the full length of the cabin on both sides, beneath the ports (windows) also turn out to be welcoming, well-formed and secure grab rails, whether they look like grab rails or not. And, all fiddles are contoured to act as grab rails. In sum, the clean look was accomplished without compromising a seaman’s view to usability at sea.

The central salon feels generous and open. It’s the heart of the interior, as it should be. There’s the owner’s cabin forward, plus heads fore and aft, and sleeping spaces under the cockpit. All are accomplished with finely-fitted, quality materials simply presented. The wiring and most of the joiner work were installed while the hull was still upside down at Goetz. Finishing touches include a custom-machined latch for the double-box Sea Frost refrigeration system, individual boxes of which can be adjusted to serve as either refrigerator or freezer. The cooler boxes operate off either 12-volt power or dockside power at the flip of a switch. Lake says, “It passes the ice cream test if you run it twice daily for 45-60 minutes.” A timing override prevents accidentally draining the batteries. When young children comprise the passenger list, it’s hard to say whether dead batteries or melted ice cream would pose a larger emergency.

The owner lives in the world of high technology, so it’s natural to find electronic systems including radar, chart plotter, Mini-M, Sat C, a Brookes and Gatehouse sea station, SSB, VHF, deckman, GPS, and Navtex. Even the electronics are mounted so as to seem subtle rather than overwhelming. The clean deck, clean interior, austere luxury, and bang-up sailing qualities were achieved through a process of constant communication among design team, build team, and owner. Most of that communication was electronic, in the best of evolving traditions, including CAD renderings shared for comment and review as the boat and its particulars developed. With the owner working from Northern California, Alan Andrews working from Southern California, and Goetz building the hull in Bristol, Rhode Island with Lake as project manager, Lake says, “The boat was built on 3,500 emails.”

PEGASUS 55 Fact File

PROJECT MANAGEMENT David Lake Yachting Projects
DESIGNER Alan Andrews Yacht Design
INTERIOR ARRANGEMENT Paul Fuchs Naval Architects
BUILDER Goetz Custom Sailboats
INTERIOR JOINERY Jutras Woodworking
ELECTRONICS E 2 Electronics
SAILS North - Ventura
SPARS Southern - Nevada

Andrews 55 Racer/ Cruiser General Dimensions.

  • LOA. 16.75m. 55.0 ft
  • LWL. 14.96 m. 49.10 ft
  • Beam 4.36 m. 14.29 ft
  • Draft 3.05 m. 10.0 ft
  • Displacement 10370 Kg. 22,870 Lbs
  • Ballast 4231 Kg 9328 Lbs
  • Engine Yanmar 4JH3-TE 56 HP
  • Sail Drive Yanmar SD41

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