She’s an absolute stunner, but does she sail as well as she looks? And what’s it like to spend the night with her? Graham Snook dodged gales off Falmouth to find out
What’s she like to sail?
The Rustler 33 is surprisingly quiet. With no guardrails, or external halyards, there was little to disturb the wind as it passed unimpeded over the deck. She was also a dry boat, on our test a sprayhood wasn’t needed or missed. Besides, how could you fit one on something so beautiful?
She was a real pleasure to sail, but although she’s a Rustler she’s no offshore cruiser and doesn’t pretend to be. She’s a well- built weekend or coastal cruising yacht that offers easy, fast fun.
Her 34ft-long hull tapers to a 22ft 6in static waterline, but grows considerably as she heels. Pleasing bow and stern waves are constant companions. The 8:1 mainsheet makes easy work of the mainsail, and a well-timed tack reduces the need for the winch handle. The day of our test was chilly, grey and there was drizzle in the air, but the sailing was great. Imagine sailing her on a warm summer’s afternoon: land breezes, sparkly water and a rising tide high enough to get a few hours alongside the pontoons of, say, the Pandora Inn. You don’t need to cross oceans in a bulletproof boat to reach a sailing Shangri-La.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Both the editor and I spent the night on board as a gale raged outside. We had the pubs of my youth to stretch out in, and when we returned to sit below decks, everything in the hinged but unlined lockers behind the seat backs was within reach. It was cosy, heating would have improved matters, but the advantage of a small interior is that it does warm up quickly.
Not being able to stand was only a disadvantage while moving kit about the boat, and quickly forgotten. Using the ‘galley’ is only really done seated. I wasn’t a fan of the white finish on our test boat – looking aft, you could be on any number of small, simple yachts. It is only when I turned around that the swathes of teak came into view. Many interior finishes are available, I’d be ticking the box for wood, and lots of it.
If you’re anchoring, the bow roller would have to be bolted on beforehand. The lead of the anchor warp would have to be made fair to prevent it fouling the forestay en route to the single pop- up forward cleat. She’d be OK to dry out alongside if you need to.
Would she suit you and your crew?
With the vast Fal Estuary just outside, Cornish harbours at daysail intervals along the coast and a keen local club-racing scene, it is not hard to see what inspired Rustler to produce the 33. She can be handled by one person, easily by two.
If cabin space and home comforts are paramount, she’s not for you. Short of fish and chips in the cockpit, I can’t think of any meal I’d want to eat on board and I wouldn’t spend much time below decks. A rainy day at anchor might be too much for some sailors. But she’s light and slender enough to tow behind a car to new cruising grounds, rather than having to sail all the way there.
If you sail as a couple – with close friends or a tolerant partner – you could spend every summer evening, weekend and even the odd week skimming along the coast in this boat, leaving more practical and ‘capable’ cruisers in your oh-so-pretty wake.
If you are lucky enough to be able to look out of your window, see that the sun is out and a breeze is filling in, and can drop whatever it is you’re doing to go sailing, this boat is for you.
You can see Graham Snook’s full report on the Rustler 33 in the May 2014 issue of Yachting Monthly…