By Sam Jefferson for Sailing Today
Has Najad kept its reputation for world-travelling yachts with ‘front-room’ comfort in its latest offering? Sam Jefferson finds out
When it comes to boatbuilding, you’d have to say the Swedes have really had an important influence. Aside from introducing the incomparable Folkboat, they have set the benchmark over the years when it comes to building solid, high-quality, bluewater cruisers. Hallberg-Rassy, Malö, Najad; these brands resonate with quality and seaworthiness.
One glance at the Najad 450 CC and you can see from her elegant understated lines that she’s a serious cruiser and there are other unmistakeable hallmarks of a Najad: the centre cockpit, the smart maroon and white livery and, above all, the feeling of almost overwhelming workmanship and solidity as you step aboard.
The yacht is designed by Germany-based designers du jour, judel/vrolijk. The hull has a relatively narrow shape married with plenty of taper aft and a useful amount of rake to the stem.
Below the waterline gone is the skeg-hung rudder in favour of a modern spade rudder, while the keel is also deeper, with a slightly narrower chord width than you’ would usually expect.
The lovely centre cockpit is the focal point of the yacht and is roomy enough to feel comfortable but also small enough that you feel nicely enclosed and safe. The four winches are all just outboard of the cockpit and within reach of the single helming position, not that this really matters because there is a control panel on the steering pedestal to operate the winches electrically. The deck aft of the cockpit is also a pleasant space, with substantial storage in the twin lazarettes and two nice seats built into the pulpit.
The sail plan is generous – as it needs to be to push a heavy yacht along. The main driving sail is the main, which is complemented by a 108 per cent genoa.
The layout down below is sensible and no nonsense. The beauty of the central cockpit is that you end up with excellent engine access and palatial owner’s quarters aft with en suite. There is a second decently proportioned double forward, also with an en suite, a longitudinal galley running down the port side and a really substantial chart table.
The 450 weighs 14t, so she’s not exactly a lightweight flier. Under power she had already excelled as she was nice and manoeuvrable, with bow- and stern-thrusters. Once she had a bit of momentum on her, she bowled along in a manner I was not expecting (7kt was the best we got out of her, but given the light conditions, I was impressed). The boat was also extremely forgiving, tracked very well and tacked readily, too, while all the time feeling absolutely solid as a rock.
LOA: 44ft 3in (13.5m)
LWL: 40ft 0in (12.2m)
Beam: 13ft 3in (4.0m)
Draught: 6ft 11in (2.1m)
Displacement: 14,000kg (30,865 lb)
Ballast: 4,800kg (10,582 lb)
Sail area: 95m2 (1,022 sq ft)
Sail area/Displacement ratio: 16.6
LWL/Displacement ratio: 214.9
Ballast ratio: 34.3%
As tested: c£427,000
There is a lot to like about the
Najad: the supreme build quality for one, plus the fact she evidently sails well and looks handsome on the water. She’s a sensible size for a couple to handle and comfortable down below.
If money were no object this would be my choice for serious bluewater cruising – certainly she would be an ideal boat for living aboard for long periods of time.
Some traditionalists will point sadly to the move away from skeg-hung rudders to, in this design, a deep centreline spade, but Najad has evidently decided it must evolve as a brand. Nonetheless, the relatively narrow hull with taper aft and raked stem has been retained and certainly should look after you in heavy weather.
Inevitably, quality comes at a price and there’s no escaping that in the case of the Najad, but if you’re after a serious bluewater cruiser, then this is a serious option.