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Olympian and 470 world champion Peter Nicholas was looking for a Coastal Cruising solution with his young family, sailing in New Zealand and Europe as a precursor to an Offshore world cruise. The Offshore cruise would start with the ARC Rally across the Atlantic, then through the Panama Canal, Galapagos and back through the Pacific to New Zealand. He was looking looking to sail comfortably and fast. Peter Nicholas shares his story below.

The recent trends in cruising boat designs now embody some of the best advancements made in the Grand Prix racing and dinghy skiff scene - wide sterns, harder chines, dual rudders and performance keel and hull shapes. These advancements present no trade offs in cruising comfort - to the contrary, they produce greater stability and a boat that can go faster in a way that is super easy to control.

After a fair bit of research and attendance at a few boat shows, I settled on the Beneteau Sense 50 as the boat of choice in 2014.

Unfortunately, as with many of the production boats, the standard rig and sail configuration did a poor job of reflecting the performance design of the hull so I reached out to the team at Doyle Sails in Auckland to redesign the sail plan and fit the sails (and upgraded halyards and sheets) in Auckland. Their solution was a game changer which has transformed the performance of the boat and at the same time it made it easier to sail the boat for my family cruising.

The Doyle team presented a Stratis membrane solution which included a leisure furl boom furling fully battened mainsail with additional roach in the mainsail which added significant power to the rig. It was made out of GPC with is suited to the demands of offshore cruising, with added UV protection.

We selected a Stratis self tacking furling jib for ease of handling and added a Furling Staysail running off a removable Doyle cable to use in upper range wind conditions.

The biggest game changer for the performance of the boat was the choice of downwind sails. These new hulls support high performance downwind sails like the code 0 and asymmetrical spinnakers, so we added a Furling Stratis code 0 using the GPX material too, and a Asymmetrical spinnaker with a ATN sock for ease of handling. We are fond of our New Zealand roots, so we had it printed up using the New Zealand flag.

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Pelizeno's New Zealand themed asymmetrical spinnaker

The secret to cruising fast is to sail these boats with larger fast sails using higher sailing angles than in the past. With the Code 0 and the Asymmetrical spinnaker we can sail easily through a range of downwind angles and wind speeds which generally see us sailing at speeds greater than the True wind speed. We topped out at 16+ knots of boat speed with the boat loaded up with our world cruising gear and supplies aboard!

Lifting the boat speed opens up more cruising options - we are regularly covering 200+ miles per day in comfort - making it easier to select weather windows for our next cruising legs - it's easier to predict the weather forecast for 3 days than 6 for example . We can visit areas we otherwise might have missed because it takes us less time to get there.

The boat is beautifully balanced to helm. We have two auto-helms on board, but there are plenty of days that I spend on the helm because it's such a pleasure to sail the boat and surf the waves.

After 4 years of sailing in NZ, Europe and an offshore world cruise almost complete, the sails still look like new!

Knowing the Doyle team extended from Auckland to Palma as well as Martinique and Tahiti was reassuring for us to make sure the sails remained in tip top shape.

What’s next for Pelizeno. Perhaps a cableless code 0 and a bit of Harbour racing next in Auckland with my son.

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Peter Nicholas with son on Pelizeno

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