Boat Reviews, Tests & News - Ringle 39

Tue, 07/10/2012 - 14:59 -- fvadmin
By Kevin Green (April 25, 2012)
The Ringle 39 is a thoroughly modern Andy Dovell-designed yacht with acknowledged influences from classic Herreshoffs

- Alchemy of retro and modern technologies
- Performance
- Quality build

- Cabin ventilation
- Cockpit drainage
- Quite expensive
- Lack of headroom below

- It's all about aesthetics
Standing out from the flotillas of GRP bubble wraps is what the retro style Ringle 39 is all about. An elegant profile hides a wolfish boat that is guaranteed to gorge on the opposition at twilight races while wooing the marina crowd when alongside.

With a nimbleness that should reward even the Etchell sailor, yet with enough seriously good technology -- carbon Selden rig, hydraulic controls and electric winches -- the Ringle 39 ticks most of the boxes that the discerning sailor would like. Built purely as a labour of love in a Burmese yard, the Ringle 39 is the product of a collaboration with Sydney Harbour Boatbuilders and entrepreneuring yachtsman Tim Wilson.

After establishing a refit yard in Burma in 2004 with his nephew Alistair Mackay, former Sydneysider Wilson wanted to realise a long-held ambition to build a pure sailing yacht, as he explained to BoatPoint: "The guiding principle in this boat is the ascetics," he said. To realise his dream, Andy Dovell was tasked with penning a yacht with long overhangs, modest freeboard yet with enough volume to ensure a comfortable saloon; and it had to go as well as it looked.

-- Big sticker price but some clever touches
The base boat sells for $355,000 delivered in Sydney without sails, nav gear or leather interior. Not cheap but you are getting a quality hand-built yacht with state-of-the-art gear. Our review boat costs $400,000, complete with carbon sails, nav gear, hydraulic boom vang and leather interior.

The Ringle 39 is dominated by the elongated teak cockpit -- the wood was recycled from old Burmese houses says yard manager Alistair Mackay -- while the long, laminated-teak tiller allows plenty of leverage for the steerer. The steerer can easily control all winches, with centralised Andersen 40ST mainsheet winch and a pair of 40ST primaries to hand as well.

The mainsheet winch is electric and will have a footplate button on the next boat, advises our skipper for the day, professional sailor Simon Blundell. Cleverly, hidden underdeck are controls for the running rigging -- main outhaul, Cunningham and furler line. Cockpit drainage is a bit limited to two scuppers, but can be increased for those inshore races that this boat should excel at.

Navigation is taken care of with triple Nexus NX2 mast jumbos and bulkhead readout while engine controls share the mainsheet pillar so are right at hand; and the 20hp Volvo can be quickly accessed from a hatch at the cockpit sole. The Volvo D120 20hp saildrive is fed from a 50-litre stainless tank with similar-sized waste tank and 70-litre water storage. Propulsion is via a two-blade folding propeller which showed plenty of bite as we motored out onto Sydney Harbour.

- Lovely teakbut fairly Spartan
Without linings and bulkheads, below decks is simplicity itself with nothing but the Burmese hand-finished wood to complete the air of tranquillity that surrounds this beautiful day sailor.

Italian leather upholstery covers the two bunks while the low-profile cabin restricts headroom. However a functional layout is apparent with navigation station portside. Here a Fusion radio, switchboard and engine controls are neatly laid out and there’s even bulkhead space to fix a plotter if you so desired.

Beneath the nav table hides the Waeco CDF35 fridge and assorted teak drawers. Opposite is the galley, housing a two-burner Origo spirit stove that neatly slides out for cooking above the stainless sink. All beautifully encased in teak cabinetry.

The teak touch continues to the cabin sole where handcrafted grating gives that classic look and is, of course, extremely hard wearing. Moving forward, the open forepeak houses the electric Tecma carbon head which sits across the centreline, protected by a wooden canopy for privacy. Stored power is via two house AGM 100D batteries plus similar engine battery.

- Powerful rig and plenty of ballast
The rig comprises of a two-piece carbon Selden mast with accompanying slim carbon boom which complements the removable keel for easy transit. The keel-stepped mast comes with a custom hydraulic jack with shimming -- important for attaining the high tensions required for a rig without a backstay. Halyards run to the mastfoot only, so an Andresen winch is attached near the gooseneck.

A high aspect rig with swept back 6mm stainless rod rigging (and no backstay) allows for a big-roached mainsail -- the review boat came with a nice suite of D4 Aramid Sails supplied by Ian MacDiarmid -- while a hydraulic Navtec vang ensures the mainsail is optimally tuned. Standard slab reefing is used on the carbon mainsail.

The genoa is controlled from an underdeck furler which nicely cleans up the pulpit while the furler line runs through the cabin, housed in its own wooden conduit. The teak decks are clear thanks to outboard shrouds and the inboard genoa track. Since there are no lifelines to spoil the aesthetics, the Ringle’s topsides are unadorned in classic fashion.

The hull echoes the great era of the America’s Cup 12 metre boats with flattened topsides yet with enough subtlety to give some sheerline and a squared transom for volume and buoyancy. Constructed of strip planked Thynkado -- a variety of lightweight Mahogany -- impregnated with GRP in a treatment similar to the West System, the hull is strengthened with carbon-clad wooden ribs.

On deck, foam-cored Airex is clad in 9mm Burmese teak, sunk low enough to allow for traditional bulwarks. The cabin sides again are teak and nicely finished off with elliptical portholes which are fixed shut, ventilation being limited to the foreward hatch and main hatch.

The deep (2.65m) T-keel is lead with an alloy fin which means plenty of stability to hold the powerful carbon rig with its 70 square metre sail area, while a deep carbon spade rudder is intended to give plenty of grip to windward.

Throughout, hand crafted stainless fittings, including pop-up deck cleats, polished stainless fairleads and sunken eyelits finish off an elegant deck.

- Stylish, quick and simple
The Ringle is a modern classic but very much handles like any other production boat under power; a good thing in crowded marinas like D’Albora in Rushcutters. So we motored astern as straight as a die while the tiller gave plenty of feedback from the spade rudder.

Out on the harbour the mainsail was unzipped from its boom bag and lay nicely in the lazy jacks before the halyard was wrapped around the mast winch by Simon while I controlled the mainsheet from the helm. After a couple of pumps on the hydraulic lever to tension the vang, we were sailing. A brief tug on the genoa sheet had us moving along under sail. The helm felt beautifully balanced with little need to correct.

Seated inboard, I was just able to see the telltales while I laid one foot near the button-controlled Dyneema mainsheet. Thanks to the flat-cut sails and rod rigging, combined with very lean hull, the Ringle pointed beautifully high -- about 28 degrees true -- with 5.1 knots of boatspeed despite the iffy breeze that maxed out at 6.2knots.

This yacht certainly could upset a few fancied boats in twilight racing and you’d be doing it in effortless style, without a protruding fibreglass bulkhead in sight. Of course the retro minimalist approach has its limitations. With no guard rails, moving forward to take a few photos meant that I did so gingerly, grabbing the shrouds while semi-prone with one hand on the cabin top.

Back at the tiller, tacking was a lightning fast experience without fuss, thanks to plenty of room for the crew to trim the primaries while a brief pump of the hydraulic lever, which shares the mainsheet pedestal, flattened out the main a touch more. The Ringle epitomises sailing at its purest, with little to get in the way, while up forward the Nexus jumbos gave all the info needed. With nimble handling that made me feel more and more like an Etchell skipper I sought out some competition on the harbour but with only a cruising boat, which was quickly passed, I contented myself with just enjoying this unique yacht, something that many discerning sailors should do.

Overall rating: 4.8/5.0
Mechanicals/Equipment/Rig, etc: 4.9/5.0
Packaging and Practicality: 4.5/5.0
On the water performance: 4.8 /5.0
Value for money: 4.5/5.0
X-factor: 4.8/5.0

Comparable boats
Sparkman&Stephens 30 – Reincarnation of S&S winning boat Babe from 1935, but now being built with modern construction and delivered by Bluenose Yachts, USA.

Scandinavian Cruiser 40 – Built in the tradition of the sail plan dominating the design, the SC40 is a modern classic with large sail area and clean decks.
Alerion 26 – Original Herreshoff design with long keel, offset propeller shaft and open plan saloon. Now being built in fibreglass by Proper Yachts, USA.

Price: $355,000 (base boat minus sails and nav gear)
Price: $400,000 (review boat)
LOA:  11.96m (39’4”)
Beam: 2.56m
Draft: 2.65m
Displacement: 4,750kg
Sail Area: 70sqm
Engine: 20hp Volvo saildrive
Designer: Andy Dovell
Builder: SHBB/Burma Ship Yard

Australian distributor:
Vicsail, D’Albora Marina, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney
Tel: 612 9327 2088