The Van de Stadt Legend 34 is a sturdy and seaworthy yacht, built for serious coastal and offshore cruising in all weathers. Duncan Kent sails one off Portland
Quetzal was launched in 1972 and bought by Guy Dickinson in 2006. Prior to then Guy owned a Hunter Sonata and a variety of small plywood cruisers and dinghies. Guy has upgraded Quetzal considerably, including replacing her old Sabb with a new 25hp Beta with a feathering three-bladed prop. He’s also added a new electric windlass, solar panels, upholstery, wiring and instruments. Guy keeps her on a mooring at Castle Cove SC (www.ccsc.org.uk) in Portland Harbour, where she is protected by the long harbour wall. CCSC has a recently built clubhouse overlooking the harbour and a membership of 350 cruisers and racers of all ages. The club also provides a range of training facilities.
It’s always interesting to sail boats from the 1970s, seeing how yacht design has evolved in 40 odd years, how hull shape and interior volume has come on, what remains and
what has been lost. Few design houses have stood the test of time, are so well known or are as prolific as Van de Stadt.
They were famous for such well- known designs as the Trintella, Pionier, Excaliber, Invicta, Wing, Seal, Etap and many more cruising and racing yachts. Producing over 400 designs since 1933, and some 25,000 Van de Stadt-designed yachts were launched.
We joined retired GP Guy Dickinson for a sail aboard his 1972 Legend 34, Quetzal. The Legend 34 was produced from 1969, with the majority built by the Tyler Boat Company in Tunbridge.
A seaworthy masthead sloop, 34 was designed and built for ocean sailing. Despite being heavy by today’s standards, she is predictable and drama-free in her handling and exhibits a thoroughly easy, sea-kindly motion through the steepest of seas, allowing her to make up in overall passage times what she might lose against a modern yacht in lighter airs and flatter seas.
At first we tacked back and forth inside the harbour walls of Portland where the water was flatter, (with a reef in the genoa and full mainsail), making a healthy 6.0-6.5 knots in 16 knots true wind. This increased to 7.1 knots on her best point of sail, a close reach, but dropped a little to 5.6 knots with the wind on her quarter. Running downwind, we unfurled the rest of the genoa and went goose-winged. My guess is that she would most often give average passage speeds of between 5-6 knots with ease, provided the wind didn’t drop below 10 knots.
At the helm
Designed around the IOR racing rules, the Legend has pronounced narrowing forward and aft, which reduces accommodation and narrows the cockpit. She’s easy to helm using her long tiller and bracing your feet against the seat opposite. Most controls fall to hand, which means she can be sailed singlehanded. The mainsheet runs along the bridgedeck and the primaries are beside the helm on the coamings. Guy has yet to install single- line reefing and lead it back to the cockpit, but he’s thinking about it when it’s time to replace her slab-converted roller boom.
Her lines are sweet and her overhangs add to the classic look, as well as increasing her waterline length and consequently her speed when heeled. Her original full-depth skeg-hung rudder means she can suffer a little from weather helm when overpressed, but nothing that reefing the sails can’t sort out. Some have had their skeg shortened by 200mm or so and the rudder extended forward a little to offer some balance to and ease the weight off the helm.
She has a fairly conservative masthead sailplan with the option of a baby stay or removable inner forestay for a storm jib. Her short boom means her mainsail is relatively high-aspect and was originally designed to be furled around the roller boom. She has a 125 percent genoa sheeted to short tracks atop her teak toerails.
Her deck-stepped mast is supported by stout shrouds, including caps and fore-and- aft lowers with a single pair of straight spreaders. Quetzal has a removable inner forestay, which makes tacking the overlapping genoa a bit more difficult.
She has a lazarette locker, which houses two big gas bottles and another seat large enough for all the fenders and lines. To port, a full-depth cockpit locker gobbles up the large stuff like inflatables, warps, fenders etc. and still provides room for a decent battery bank.
Her coachroof is at a constant height, making the long handrails easy to grab, and her side decks are reasonably uncluttered, allowing unhindered access to the foredeck, which is rather narrow, but workable. High teak toerails help considerably going forward when heeled – they also look pretty too. The cleats are stout, as is the bow roller and other static deck gear.
The companionway steps are very steep and the lower one is small, so care needs to be taken when descending. You arrive at a half bulkhead on the edge of the galley to port, where there’s a pole to grab to steady yourself. Headroom is 1.83m (6ft) all the way forward to the heads and handholds each side under the portlights – which are on the small side and don’t open, making it a little dark inside with all the teak joinery. The saloon has a couple of vents in addition to the main hatch.
She has up to six berths if you include the large forepeak V-berth (1.90m long, 2.10m wide at the head and 0.65m at the foot), the saloon double (converted by dropping the table), the single settee to starboard in the saloon and the quarterberth – the latter two making the best sea berths.
The heads is where she compares least favourably to a modern cruiser. There’s no shower and only enough room for a smallcorner basin. A vent above keeps it fresh and there’s a small port for natural light. The heads door closes off the forecabin when fully opened and there’s a second door between it and the saloon for privacy. A hanging locker opposite is useful for stowing oilskins. There is plenty of deep stowage beneath the forepeak bunks, but access isn’t easy and there are no shelves or lockers above the berth.
To starboard by the companionway, the chart table is small (0.75m x 0.54m ) and on Quetzal the corner drops away to allow access to the quarterberth. Instrument space is good, though, and there’s useful stowage in the dedicated nav seat.
The galley is tightly L-shaped with room for a cooker and oven, although having two full-size sinks means there’s no worktop space. Guy has overcome this brilliantly by building a fold-over tabletop on the bulkhead. While there are lockers behind for crockery and a few other things, most food will have to be stored in the saloon lockers. Guy is also converting the aft return of the saloon settee into a top- loading fridge compartment.
The engine is not the easiest to access, although there are side panels in the cockpit locker and under the quarterberth. The top step lifts up for checking and the whole front can be removed for servicing.
OUR VERDICT ON THE BOAT
What’s she like to sail?
The Legend 34 is typical of a lot of IOR-styled boats of the 1970s, but I love the way these classics sail. She’s heavy, yes, but her lines are sleek and her keel not too long. She feels positive, steady and safe under sail, with a reassuring motion in big seas. Her deep-vee bow parts the waves without a hint of slapping and her generous keel keeps her tracking on rails.
Fast for her day, the Legend still has the ability to surprise – her displacement giving good momentum to punch through waves. Although she’s reasonably stiff, her high-aspect main means you need to use her mainsheet track to spill the gusts. She could also do with a decent kicker or flattening reef in strong winds.
Her powerful genoa needs reefing first – we put a roll in when the wind started to blow 20 knots or so over the deck, which isn’t unreasonable. This balanced her out and took some of the weather helm away. In reality she prefers to be reefed at 16 knots true for comfort, although under full sail she coped admirably when we set off out of Portland Harbour in a strong easterly.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
If you like cosy, snug interiors together with a sparse but practical layout, this boat should appeal although, dare I say it, she won’t be to everyone’s taste. The toilet and washing facilities are just one level above utilitarian (functional might be the word), so you might be tempted to stop over in a marina if/when you have company unless they share your simple requirements. Saying that, the forward cabin is the pick of berths, the others are a half- decent size, the saloon double measures 1.90m x 1.10m (6ft 3in x 3ft 7in), and the quarterberth 2.0m x 0.75m (6ft 6in x 2ft 6in).
The cooker would cope with a meal for six hungry sailors, but you’d need to have an extended worktop, or make sink and cooker covers for food preparation. I’d also be tempted to lose one sink and have that as a fridge, rather than disturb seated guests every time they want another cold beer.
Unlike on many modern yachts there is plenty of stowage space – it’s just not all that user-friendly. The saloon lockers are excellent and quite deep, but there’s nowhere for clothes other than under the bunks.
Would she suit you and your crew?
If you like a sturdily-built and classically shaped yacht that looks downright pretty from most angles, then the Legend might be for you. While the design is quite dated, I believe there’s still a place for these delightful boats and I’d certainly be more than happy to chance a well-maintained example over a long ocean passage.
In performance terms she’s not going to win races around the cans any more, but she’ll log some impressive passage times when it blows and your crew will at least be able to sleep, eat and ablute off watch without fear of being bruised from head to toe.
The trick with a boat of this age is to find one that you have to persuade the owner to part with. If he or she is reluctant to sell, or wants to know your life history, then there’s a fair chance she’s been looked after and kept in tip-top condition. Be prepared to keep spending money, though – boats of this era need regular attention and updating to keep them seaworthy.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Guide price £17,500-£25,000
LOA 10.36m (34ft 0in)
LWL 7.86m (25ft 9in)
Beam 3.05m (10ft 0in)
Draught 1.4m (4ft 7in)
Displacement 4,150kg (9,130 lb)
Ballast 1,600kg (3,520 lb)
Ballast ratio 38.5%
Sail area 56.67m2 (610sq ft)
SA/D ratio 22.42
Diesel 40lit (8.8 gal)
Water 275lit (60 gal)
Engine original: 16hp Sabb; now: 25hp
Transmission Shaft drive
Designer E.G. Van de Stadt
Builder Tyler Boat Company (Tunbridge)