This innovative wishbone cat ketch became popular in the 1980s for her speed, agility and ease of handling. Duncan Kent climbs aboard to see what makes her so different
USED BOAT: Freedom 35
Freedom 35 review
See the May 2016 issue of Yachting Monthly for the full test
What’s she like to sail?
If you’ve never sailed a Freedom, it’s a little daunting looking at all the lines running aft, but once you’ve seen someone who knows how it’s done you begin to realise that it’s actually quite straightforward. The first thing you notice is that nothing is straining, creaking or groaning under massive tension or compression. The wishbone booms are light, quiet and act as a mere sail guide, rather than a device to tame the sail. The two-ply, wrap-around sails come down low, below the booms.No kicker is needed as the sail seems to naturally form the ideal aerodynamic shape without being forced.
The sails are self-tacking, on long tracks and each has a 3:1 sheet tackle, which is more than enough to allow them to be handled manually, without a winch. Although there are 14 rope clutches in the cockpit, you quickly realise that it’s just seven control lines for each sail, duplicated.
The toughest part of our daysail was hauling up the heavy ballasted centreplate once back on the mooring. Requiring 120 turns of the winch and using only a simple rope tackle means it’s a hard job at the end of the day.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
She’s not the biggest 33-footer on the market and, like her unusual rig, the layout below takes a little getting used to. The saloon is dominated by the centreboard box. In accommodation terms I would class her as a 2+2 boat. That is, she’s ideal for a couple who might occasionally have another couple staying on board for short periods. Her galley is up to cooking for more and there’s plenty of space to entertain folks for a drink, but when it comes to bedding down, abluting and general living aboard under way, she can be a little cramped.
In the cockpit, the U-shape seating doesn’t lend itself to socialising; one side has to be kept free for access below. Then there’s the large lump of extended coachroof in the middle, with the binnacle and wheel behind, further restricting movement and reducing possible entertainment space to a minimum.
Would she suit you and your crew?
If you believe the majority of yachts made today are Bermudian-rigged because the designers must be right, you really should try a Freedom-rigged boat. You might hate it (although there’s really very little to hate) or you might come away thinking ‘why aren’t all yachts made like this?’ Just don’t criticise it before you’ve even tried it. ‘It just doesn’t look right’ is a commonly heard comment, and ‘I just wouldn’t trust the masts not to fall down’ another. But, as designer Garry Hoyt rightly stated in the original sales brochure ‘If a plane can support a 100ft-long unstayed wing in 700mph winds without it breaking off, why not a yacht?’ I can’t recall a Freedom rig ever being lost, even in extreme conditions.
If, like me, you’re getting weaker as you age, and are looking for a boat that doesn’t need the muscles of a gorilla to operate, or if you only hoist the spinnaker when you have extra crew on board, here’s your answer. Lessening the load is a healthier solution than increasing the power needed to sail by installing Watt-hungry electric winches.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Guide price £25,000-£35,000
LOA 10.59m (34ft 9in)
LOD 10.05m (33ft 0in)
LWL 9.14m (30ft 0in)
Beam 3.35m (11ft 0in)
Draught 1.06-1.83m (3ft 6in-6ft 0in)
Displacement 5,454kg (12,000 lb)
D/LWL ratio 198.4
Ballast 1,727kg (3,800 lb)
Ballast ratio 31%
Sail area 60.64m2 (620 sq ft)
SA/D ratio 18.99
Diesel 100 lit (22 gal)
Water 200 lit (44 gal)
Engine 29hp Perkins Perama diesel
Transmission Shaft drive
RCD category A (Ocean)
Designer Garry Hoyt
Builder Western Yachts, Penryn
Owners Assoc. www.freedomyachts.org