Yacht Class n°21 (june-july-august 2020)
Over the last decade, the Italian yard Solaris Yachts has developed a range of refined and high-performance sailboats, of which the Solaris 64 RS presents a beautiful symbiosis : there, the pleasures of sailing are only equaled by the comfort of life on board.
Written by Christophe Varène – Photos : All Rights reserved
The Northeast coast of Sardinia is certainly one of the most beautiful playgrounds for lovers of sunny sailing and for keen racers. The choice of Solaris to organize its annual shipowners gathering there to compete in technical and tactical coastal races reflects the same high standards as the construction of its sailing yachts – and recently also of its motor boats. Last year, the Solaris Days, during which the Solaris Cup is raced, brought together nearly forty sailing boats, including the very recent Solaris 64 RS. A superb opportunity to embark on a round of this friendly and competitive competition. The owner of this first hull of the series – the yard has already received five orders since its presentation early 2019 in Düsseldorf – knows Solaris well, having already owned a smaller model. With 10 knots established, the weather was reasonable for this first outing with a crew of 14 from multiples origins, who knew each other slightly.
8.5 knots upwind in 10 knots of wind
The start, with a high density of competitors, allowed us to immediately assess the velocity of the Solaris 64 RS. The powerful sail plan, with Banks Sails’ iRevolution (dyneema and carbon mix) membranes, features a 120 m2 mainsail combined with a 102 m2 genoa that propelled the sailboat at 8.5 knots at 30 degrees from the apparent wind. Equipped with a lifting keel for a draft between 2.60 and 3.75 m, this sailboat is quite stiff to the canvas. During the nearly 30-mile course, we were able to assess her seaworthiness and the crew to gradually refine their maneuvers by successively hoisting the Code 0 and the gennaker, the latter being on roller in the absence of bowsprit. The foredeck with flush-deck hatches facilitates movement while the titanium stanchions and pulpit provide a strong feeling of security. The cockpit accommodates five electric winches (the central one for the mainsail) providing invaluable assistance for the trimming of the sails, while a two-position hydraulic adjuster controls the tension of the backstay and boom vang. From the two steering stations, the skipper controls the sail furling gears, but also the tender garage hatch, the bow and stern thrusters that can be operated by a single joystick, the telescopic cockpit table, the keel and the lights.
This precise and functional design proves the know-how of this shipyard that, although it has only existed for about ten years as Solaris Yachts, has nevertheless a long history that began more than forty years ago in Aquileia, near Venice. This long time specialist in the construction of one-off sailing boats of up to 80 feet was taken over by former Grand Soleil managers who developed the Solaris range that now boasts ten models from 44 to 111 foot. The shipyard often collaborates with the Argentinian architect Javier Soto Acebal who created this Solaris 64 RS. With more than 30 boats built each year, the shipyard undertook, in 2017, an expansion of its infrastructures to double its annual production. The Solaris family continues to grow – and to get longer – with the ongoing production of 80 and even 111-foot.
The salon combines brightness, warmth and conviviality
After a good day of sailing that allowed us appreciate the sailing behaviour, we took advantage of the return journey to study her layout, designed for the comfort of passengers. The 64 has a higher freeboard than her big sister, the Solaris 68, which allowed a more spacious tender garage at the stern and also suggests increased interior volumes. The deck plan at the cockpit level has a fair distribution between the life at sea, with clear spaces for maneuvers, and relaxing times at anchor, with an off-set passageway leading the companionway so as not to bother the passengers around the table or lying on the sundeck. Everywhere teak slats offer softness under the feet and elegance to the eyes.
Walking down the companionway – quite vertical but with handrails on both sides – only confirmed the sensation of volume pictured from outside. At the bottom of the six steps, the saloon combines a generous and luminous space with a warm and convivial dimension. The deckhouse windows provide a view of the sails and the sea. The extensive woodwork allows to appreciate the finishing quality and successfully combines tradition with contemporaneity. On starboard, the salon has a chart table, with all the equipment to follow and plan the navigation route, plus a sofa, while the other side accommodates a large table with a U-shaped settee for eight. The fully equipped galley is located slightly below forward and enjoys a compact design comfortable at sea. The master cabin is located in the forward part of the Solaris 64 RS and can accommodate either a standard outboard double bed or an island one, like on our test boat. Warm-coloured wood dominates on the floor, in the fittings and on the front bulkhead, creating an enveloping atmosphere. Note that a navigational data repeater is located right next to the bed to visualize in the blink of an eye the smooth running of the yacht. A spacious bathroom with shower compartment completes this private area. Two guest cabins are accessible via the door next to the companionway. Both have two single beds that can be joined together and a private bathroom. The Solaris 64 RS offers great sailing performance but also accessible fast cruising in uncompromising comfort. An ode to the “dolce vita”.