The Vision 36 by Hunter is a good study in a yacht builder pursuing the market at breakneck speed. This begs the question "What do the consumers want?" Obvious things come to mind: comfort, ease-of-handling and Euro styling.

The Hunter Vision 36.

The Hunter Vision 36.

Let's look at comfort. Hunter has done a masterful job of arranging this beamy (length to beam ratio 2.85) 36-footer. Just for fun, compare it with the Deerfoot 50. Entering the boat, you are struck by the wide open and handsomely finished main cabin with its wraparound settee and large dining table. The windows in the house let in a lot of light, enhancing the feeling of space. There are double berths forward and aft with one centrally located head. This is a comfortable layout by any standard. Some of you might say, "It's a condo afloat," and maybe it is, but pull into that harbor and drop the hook. When life settles down from the day's sail it will be comfortable, with room for two couples or a family of four to function without tripping over each other.

How about the styling? Hunter's designers have looked at the European boats and come away with their own approach using, to my eye, better definitions of shapes with more crispness to the deck lines. The proportions are modest and eye-pleasing, blending the house with a hull that has ample freeboard. The wedge-like look to the trunk cabin gives the 36 a look of speed and style.

The hull form has short ends and is very definitely aimed at maximizing interior volume. I can just hear the marketing group telling the designers, "Give us volume." So what price do you pay for a beamy, voluminous boat? You sure won't beat J/35s to weather or to the leeward mark. But you didn't expect that when you brought this boat. The draft of 4 feet 8 inches puts the 36 out of the J/35's performance class from the start. Even a fin with a winged bulb won't work like a deep, simple and clean fin if you restrict the draft to less than five feet. But shoal draft is a convenience, and perhaps even a safety feature, to a lot of cruising sailors. The midsection is arc-like with a relatively deep bilge area. The D/L is 210. The stern is particularly broad on this design. This is good for interior volume and cockpit space but can push the bow down as the boat heels when all that volume aft is immersed.

Ease-of-handling is an overused and subjective term; but are we entering a time when we want to remove the skill factor from performance? If we are, we have a long way to go. I don't care if you have one, two or three sails, you still have to learn to trim them and when to reef and when to flatten. If we walk through the marina, and I give you a dollar for every sailor who can accurately describe what the vang does, and you give me a dollar for every sailor who can't, I guarantee I'll end up with a pocket full of dollar bills and you'll end up broke. Performance to a high and safe level of anything requires skill, and skill comes from training and practice, from not brochures. I urge all cruising sailors to get some experience racing. Life under sail will see much more ease-of-handling when you put to use the skills you learn racing with regards to sail trim and handling.

I think a lot of sailors could improve the ease-of-handling of their boats if they spent some time reworking their deck layout. The designer draws what he thinks will work best, and the builder builds it. Often improvements can easily be made, but the builder is not interested in changing anything except to downsize the primary winches in order to save money. You need to crawl around on the deck plug for a couple of days in order to optimize the hardware layout of a new design.

Hunter's designers have pursued ease of handling by going to a free-standing spar with a big main and a little jib. This rig is far from new. You can find it on catboats going back 50 years. The 36's jib is roller furling and, while not self-tacking, it has so little overlap that it will be effortless to sheet. The spar is spun tapered aluminum and fitted with lazyjacks to capture the fully battened main.

However, you do pay a price for this rig. When the wind gets light you cannot put a bigger genoa up. The Vision 36 has very low SA/D ratio of 18.62 so light air performance will be limited. Perhaps the tall main will offset the lack of total sail area without an overlapping genoa to go to. There you have it. When you start talking overlapping genoas you are into an area that many sailors do not associate with ease-of-handling. If you are one of these, the Hunter Vision 36 may be the ticket.

The 36 has a Yanmar 36 horsepower diesel with 35 gallons of fuel tankage. There is tankage for 75 gallons of water.

Hunter Marine is not new at serving the sailing market. You can be sure that this new model is the product of long meetings between designers and the sales department walking the fine line between sailing performance and sales performance. I want to see people out in sailing boats. If Hunter's approach results in attracting people away from power yachts and getting them into sailing, they have my full support.

Boat Specifications
Displacement15500 lbs.
Ballast5900 lbs.
Sail Area677 sq. ft.
AuxiliaryYanmar 35 hp
Fuel35 gals.
Water75 gals.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.