Grand Soleil 39 Review
Grand Soleil 39: Charming and Fast
By Michael Good
Sporty, elegant, and full of good ideas, the new Grand Soleil 39 exhibits qualities of a modern performance cruiser that set it apart from common cruising yachts.
Whenever the cold northerlies sweep through the Gulf of Genoa, it feels like getting hit on the back of the head in an ambush. It happens so quickly and unexpectedly, there’s hardly any time to react. While testing the new Grand Soleil 39 at Lavagna, the YACHT’s test crew was caught off-guard by such an assault. Within minutes, the offshore breeze jumped from 15 to 30 knots and more. One moment it was relaxed reaching under a code zero, then the large and fragile headsail had to be rolled up in a hurry to keep it from getting blown to shreds. At the time, the speedo showed 13 knots through the water.
On the way in, sailing hard on the breeze, it was clear that the aluminum stick was not tuned for the prototype. There wasn’t enough rig tension, the leeward shrouds were sagging badly, and the mast showed a nearly frightening amount of flex. Quickly the brand-new laminated main came down and was secured, as there was no chance to continue in a breeze that continued to freshen. Slowly, the auxiliary Volvo-Penta diesel pushed the boat home through choppy waters.