Schuchter Sportboats, the Swiss manufacturers of the Esse boat line including the Esse 850 and the Esse 990, has introduced the Esse 990R.
This new model builds on the successful hull design by Felci Yacht Design for the Esse 990 daysailer and taking it to a new, higher level of performance. The Esse 990 is an expression of style, performance and build excellence.
The Esse 990R is a lighter and faster version intended for Grand Prix racing. The Esse 990R shares the hull design of the Esse 990, but has the hull, deck, mast, boom and gennaker boom all manufactured in carbon fibre. The weight saved by removing the teak decks and changing from the epoxy/e-glass closed cell foam laminate hull and deck construction of the Esse 990 to a carbon fibre/closed cell foam laminate in the Esse 990R has been transferred to the keel bulb for increased stability, righting moment and higher upwind boat speeds.
Felci Yacht Design's total focus on designing a boat that is easy to sail with a reduced crew did not make any compromises in order to improve the performance of the Esse 990R. The performance of the Esse 990R is exceptional and can be favourably compared to such iconic one design sportsboats such as the Melges 32. The speeds and VMG that the Esse 990R is capable of is very much in the same range as the Melges 32:
The Esse 990R is not positioned as a competitor to the one-design Melges 32, it is designed as an alternative for the racing yachtsman desiring a high performance racing yacht with an interior and a diesel inboard engine requiring minimal crew. The design combines speed, handling and civility in a package assembled with legendary Swiss attention to detail.
The working sail plan of the Esse 990R is generous, with a square top main of 454sqft, a working jib of 254sqft and a large gennaker of 1,415sqft. Stability is enhanced with a keel bulb of 2,200lb and a draft of 6.9ft and with the overall weight of 4,000lb has a ballast to displacement ratio of 55%.
The keel is a high-aspect ratio foil with high lift/low drag characteristics optimised for the exceptional speeds the design is capable of achieving. The rudder is a deep carbon fibre foil with a high aspect ratio and moderate sweepback and is very resistant to stall.
The hull of the Esse 990R is a high aspect ratio design with an overall length is 32.2 feet and a maximum beam of 8.6ft and LWL of 30.6ft. The hull shape is a synthesis of style and function with a plumb bow and rounded forebody that pierces on-coming waves without slowing down. As the hull transitions aft, the cross sectional shape is smoothly rounded, giving the Esse 990R a very smooth ride. In conditions that cause other boats to pound from crest to trough the Esse 990R hull smoothly and gracefully transitions between waves. Further aft, the hull shape becomes flatter to maximise lift when planing. With gently curved chines the hull does not throw large amounts of spray aside when planing and the Esse 990R planes effortlessly, even in moderate wind conditions. As an Esse 990R begins to plane there is only a slight bow-high attitude and the Esse 990R remains almost level at any speed downwind.
Upwind, the Esse 990R has narrow tacking angles: 84 degrees at 6 knots of true wind speed and 68 degrees at 25 knots TWS. Upwind VMG is 4.22 knots at 6 knots TWS and 5.8 knots at 25 knots TWS. The corresponding boat speeds at the best VMG angles are 5.7 knots and 7 knots. Heel angles are moderate and the Esse 990R is very stiff and gust response is a slight increase in heel and rapid acceleration.
Downwind, the Esse 990R benefits from the large gennaker and the inherent stability of the design. Gybing angles range from 80 degrees at 6 knots TWS to 50 degrees at 25 knots TWS. Downwind VMG of the Esse 990R is 4.7 knots at 6 knots TWS and 14.6 knots at 25 knots TWS. The corresponding boat speeds at the best VMG angles are 6 knots and 16 knots. The combination of the high ballast to displacement ratio, the narrow beam and the shape of the after end of the hull means that the Esse 990R tracks easily when either on or off the plane and it is stable enough to walk around in the cockpit while it is planing.
The Esse 990R has very linear response when helming. The helm maintains a constant feel through the entire speed range and does not load up or get light at high speeds. Particular attention was paid to designing the Esse 990R with a very balanced feel. Steering upwind the balance of the 990R is immediately obvious, carrying only small amounts of weather helm and with low loads on the tiller. Downwind, even novice helmsmen can steer the Esse 990R while it is planing.
Deck layout and controls follow the Esse characteristic of control lines being buried in the deck and led aft to control consoles for a clean, easy to use design. The 990R is optimised for racing with a crew of four, which is possible with the ergonomics of the cockpit layout, with no one required to go forward of the cockpit: there is a self tacking jib for quick manoeuvring, the jib tacked to a below-the deck roller furler. The gennaker pole controls are led aft to the cockpit as are the halyards, vang and reefing lines. Mainsail controls are positioned on a mid-ships cockpit floor console with double ends so that the controls are always on the weather side on either tack. A hydraulic mast jack is fitted as standard equipment, as is a hydraulic keel lift for berthing in shallow water or trailering.
The interior of the Esse 990R can be specified as a minimalist, modern Euro design or a complete IMS racing interior with pipe berths. Auxiliary power is provided by a Yamaha 15 HP diesel Sail-drive.