INTERVIEW. David Cherubini: “To build a sailboat is… a family matter”

Members of the Cherubini family have been creating classic yacht designs and bringing them to life with unrivaled craftsmanship since the 1920s. David Cherubini has owned Cherubini Yachts since 2004. He grew up rebuilding pianos with his father, Richard Cherubini, and building yachts with his uncles, brothers and cousins in New Jersey, USA. We met him.

What does it mean for you to lead a “family” yard?

It means a sense of honor to be able to do this.  It’s not always easy, but I feel as if I am doing my part to preserve our family’s legacy. When the crew and I build a Cherubini 44 or 48, there’s just nothing like it – especially watching a new family sail away on her.

It’s a beautiful feeling, knowing it’s real and right – and a family will enjoy her and be safe. I want to express how grateful I am for my family’s commitment and shared knowledge enabling me to preserve our heritage. Upon stepping ashore after a long passage, my crew and I always feel well cared for. I thank Uncle John, Uncle Frit and other family members and staff for this.

Your sailboats have a great “Motion Comfort” index: how do you get it?

That is a gift from the Gods! My Uncle John Cherubini Sr. was a true master of boat design – sweet lines, long center of lateral resistance, soft hollow curves, strong tumblehome, proper beam to length ratio, lead ballast and a long, powerful keel.

The settees and berths are below waterline level, putting our bodies through the water and not on top of it. A 40-foot waterline is imperative to be comfortable in respect to the average crest-to-crest waves of an ocean. Having a low freeboard and sweeping sheer reduces weather exposure and windage where you do not want it.

At the helm, the captain easily sees over the coach roof and under the sails without having to stand up constantly. Her hull is balanced beautifully.

Long keel is one of your distinguishing marks: what are the advantages?

Stability and comfort in any seaway. Positive directional stability and drive to windward as tight as 34 degrees without losing hull speed. Extra waterline. Shallow draft. And a very powerful driven hull – you can carry a lot of sail area or as little as necessary to be comfortable, maintaining hull speed – for the most part.

How do you combine classic design and modern materials?

We use both to the best of their advantages, assuring safety, comfort, reliability, longevity and that oh, so sumptuous feeling of a true classic yacht of a bygone era.

Only the best materials are used in the manufacturing of our boats. The hull is laid up solid, with no core. We use vinyl ester resin instead of the commonplace isotropic polyester resin.

Unlike the previous Cherubini sailboats constructed of wooden decks, cabin sides, coachroofs, and bulwarks, our latest sailboats have a single piece fiberglass part to replace all of that wood. Taking advantage of today’s technology provides an owner with confidence of durability and longevity, giving them a classic yacht with low maintenance.

Our cockpit and cockpit combings also are solid fiberglass. On the interior, we still build a super structure of gorgeous, solid Honduran mahogany, which includes deck beams, carlings, cabin sides and gutters.

Regarding systems, our last build included only state-of-the-art technologies. This was the first pleasure craft installation of the Yanmar 80hp smokeless commonrail turbo diesel. The 24 volt lithium ion house battery bank provides 1100 amp hours. Its Mastervolt system performs heavenly, quickly charging batteries back to full capacity. The NMEA 2000 electronic systems initially were a bit challenging. Now her owner fully understands this system and what a joy it is! 

Her steering control system is second to none. Her rudder post is made of a 3-inch extruded stainless steel tube, bent aft and flattened toward the bottom.

This provides a seamless, 100 percent fail-safe steerage system. There are no welded flags to corrode. From the bottom up, our Cherubini solid bronze heel casting seats a super strong independent oilite bronze bushing. This provides enormous strength and flawless reliability. In all the years of the Cherubini 44 and 48 on the water, none have ever lost their steering. This helps me rest at night.

The new Cherubini 44 is the only sailing yacht known today to commonly exceed more than 1.5 times her designed hull speed of 8.6 knots.

In my opinion, this is the perfect retirement vessel. Because of her long waterline, 4 foot 10 inch shallow draft, she can reach destinations other yachts of this size cannot even dream of. Her split rig offers many sail plan options to accommodate any weather scenario. For ease of handling and safety, all sheets and halyards are fairlead back to the cockpit with single-line slab reefing and electric winches.

Her classic hull is easily driven in light air. At 10 knots of breeze, it is not uncommon to sail 6.8 knots of hull speed.  As the weather builds, you will feel the confidence and gracefulness of the Cherubini 44.  There are only 35 Cherubini 44s ever built and eight Cherubini 48 schooners.

Ferenc Matte has written about the Cherubini 44 and 48 in “The World’s Best Sailboats“, and in “From a Bare Hull,” he says: “The construction is truly first class and the thought and engineering behind nearly every piece is close to remarkable. Perhaps these are today’s ultimate yachts.

Its because of her technology and classic design that she is a forever beautiful yacht.

I believe this was written by my Uncle Frit, and I think he nailed it on the head: “She is a romantic yacht, designed to comply with the timeless laws of Neptune, not the fickle racing rules of today. The sweep of her sheer, low freeboard and rake of her spars echo the great clippers and schooners of yesteryear. And on board, every detail is planned and crafted with love and a deep respect for the tradition of the sea. Yet, this is a yacht for today. The latest underbody technology, combined with a powerful and easily handled sail plan, result in a fast, comfortable performance in heavy weather or the lightest summer breezes.

What do you think about “modern” sailboat?

I appreciate their designs and executions for each for each use purpose they provide.  I’ve never really been comfortable during a passage on a modern boat. Their moments just feel unnatural to me. Many modern boats have a tendency to be very beamy and commodious below decks. The large, cavernous cabins and centerline berths are great – dockside; however, in a real sea, and in real life sailing, they have proven dangerous with these large, open spaces.

My feeling is, for what little I know, to stay competitive, modern sailboat manufacturers have had to skinny up on material and sharpen up on technology to create efficiency. Call me old school, but I prefer a lead sled.

Last but not least, our classic final question: what does mean “sailing” for you”?

“Sailing” means arriving at my destination: My Cherubini 44. Everything else automatically has been left behind. Only opportunity, enchantment and adventure await.

One Comment

  1. Isn’t this the same person? I wanted to read about upstanding sailors/business people/boat builders instead, please.

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