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Grand Soleil 44: First Sea Trials With The Hull Designer

grand soleil 44
Photo Carlo Borlenghi

Grand Soleil 44 is the new challenge of Cantiere del Pardo facing the performance world. To rise to this challenge, Cantiere del Pardo has turned to the designer who, in recent years, more than anyone has known how to interpret the concept of performing hull: Matteo Polli.

Many call him the “Wizard of ORC” thanks to the numerous titles won in recent years with the boats he has designed: three world championships and two Italian championships in the ORC category from 2015 to date, as well as finishing on the podium in many other important European regattas. 

One model, two souls

This new 44-footer completes the Grand Soleil Yachts Performance range dedicated to the more sporty owners in search of a boat that offers high performance able to give results also in regattas, inserting itself among the GS 34, GS 48 and GS 58.

As already seen on board the Grand Soleil 48, the GS 44 will also be available in a double version: one layout will be more indicated for cruising, with a different sail plan set-up and deck to simplify manoeuvres, the other will be more suited to racing to give the best in regattas. Style and elegance complete the DNA of this new 44-footer which resumes the family feeling of the other models of the range. 

Massimo Gino of Nauta Design speaks of this new Grand Soleil 44 Performance as follows: “The collaboration between Nauta (Exterior and Interior Design), the Technical Department of Cantiere del Pardo and Matteo Polli (Naval Architecture) has led to the development of the 44 Performance, the most performance oriented model of the entire Grand Soleil range.

Grand Soleil 44
Photo Carlo Borlenghi

The deck, with resumes the family feeling of the big sisters is, if possible, even more streamlined and sporty with the addition of several important new touches of styles on the geometries of the deckhouse, on the sheer line and on the transom. Despite a light and sporty hull, the interior liveability is astounding for the volume that can be used and perceived. Following the trend of the latest Grand Soleil Performance models, the on-deck space available on the 44’ to race in a regatta and to enjoy the boat in cruise mode is truly remarkable, with cockpit dimensions that have been increased significantly, compared to previous models“. 

The first sea trials

After the World Premiere at the 2020 Genoa Boat Show, the new 44-footer exceeded the expectations during its first trials at sea. Portofino and the Gulf of Tigullio (in the North of Italy) saw the first nautical miles of GS 44. Matteo Polli, the lead designer responsible for redefining Grand Soleil 44’s hull geometries, took turns on board and at the helm, with Enrico Zennaro, an established competitor at the palmarès including 8 World titles, 7 European titles and 12 Italian titles. 

The two professionals gave insights as to what it felt like aboard, regarding sensations, navigation, build quality, flexibility of use, and the feeling at the helm. 

With the helm in my hands, I was able to savor the characteristics of the boat in different wind conditions,” explains Matteo Polli. “The GS 44 sailed well at all speeds, both upwind and downwind, confirming my expectations as a pleasant and fun hull to be at sea with, especially thanks to the ability to make careful and precise adjustments on the sails and the well-designed deck layout.

Grand Soleil 44
Photo Carlo Borlenghi

Even in windier conditions, with close points to the wind and high skidding, the helm responds well. You can even afford some handling errors: her stability allows you to use the sail plan even in strong winds, an interesting aspect for a boat that does not necessarily rely on having a crew on the gunwale. The 44 stems from a specific request from Cantiere del Pardo: bring to the sea a boat built to win races, but at the same time being an easy cruising solution manageable by a small crew. We will soon see the results on the racing fields and the market response, which I am sure will not disappoint“. 

«It is a well-balanced boat, spacious on the deck where we find the generous walkway towards the bow, the ergonomically-designed cockpit, and wide stern lines, all adding an extra advantage when cruising“, says Enrico Zennaro “On the racing side, the hull with its narrow waterline runs off very well with little air, a feature also confirmed by the upwind angles and acceleration in the restarts. After the first few manoeuvres, you realize that everything is very balanced. The presence of B&G instrumentation, a leading brand in the sailing sector since 1956, offers even more guarantees in navigation“. 

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