Blending quality and performance with a lower price tag than you might expect, the Saare 38 challenges the established order, says David Harding
Scandinavian boatbuilding has a reputation.
Yachts from this part of the world have traditionally been built to a standard by which other yachts are judged: think of Hallberg-Rassy, Najad, Nauticat and Malö.
And then we have the sportier Scandis, such as Arcona, X-Yachts, Faurby, Baltic and Sweden Yachts, known for combining performance with the sort of finish that is rarely associated with such slippery hulls.
Not all these boats have been built within Scandinavia, however. Finngulfs came from a yard in Estonia, which has been producing its own range under the Saare name.
The designs are by Karl-Johan Stråhlmann, who was responsible for most of the later Finngulfs.
Saare’s aim is to offer affordable Scandinavian build quality and performance – and the smallest model, the 38, looks the business.
THE TEST VERDICT
If you’re looking for a fast, comfortable and sea-kindly 38-footer that boasts the sort of finish and attention to detail for which Scandinavian yards are known, this one should be on your shortlist.
Although the Saare name is still relatively new, the Finngulf connections count for a great deal: the yard built Finngulfs for years, the designer drew some outstanding Finngulfs and Saare’s co-founder is the selfsame man who started Finngulf, Stig Nordblad.
Having sailed the Saare 41 in 2012, I found the 38 to be everything a little sister should be.
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In fact, she seemed better balanced than the 41, though that might have been down to how the two boats were set up.
The Saare 38 proves that a modern cruiser doesn’t have to have chines, an ultra-wide transom and twin rudders.
Moderate, tasteful and well-designed can do just as well, or perhaps even better.
WOULD SHE SUIT YOU AND YOUR CREW?
Interest in the Saare 38 has notably come from owners of other Scandinavian yachts as well as British designs such as Westerlys and Moodys.
I met a couple on board at the Southampton Boat Show who had a Starlight 35.
In many ways, the Saare is a modern Starlight, adhering to the same fundamental principles that simply don’t date.
People moving up from smaller, older yachts such as Contessa 32s are often attracted to Scandinavian designs because they embody many of the features they’re looking for and have difficulty finding elsewhere.
The Saare will look after the shorthanded sailor and family crew alike, getting you where you want to go comfortably and efficiently.
If this is the sort of boat you want, you’re unlikely to find much to take issue with.
A boat on test can only be assessed in the conditions on the day, but it’s not often you come away struggling to find anything to criticise. This was one of those very rare occasions.
PRICE FROM £270,500 inc VAT
DESIGNER Karl-Johan Stråhlmann
BUILDER Saare Yachts