When it comes to the daysailer category, the Rosso 28 is the new kid on the block. This boat is produced in tiny numbers at Chantier des Illeaux, one of the many small yards on the Atlantic coast of France.

rosso 28

The Rosso 28 design comes from Paolo Bua, in Italy. The Sardinian and his not widely known studio Truc Design specialize in small but hot racers that are big on aesthetics and sailing fun, which is ideal for the partnership with Chantier des Illaux.

The company is led by two true enthusiasts: Frédérid Maingret and Alexandre Genoud. Based on Ile de Noirmoutier, these two offer a varied selection of 10 fast daysailers. They all have in common an individualistic touch, small-scale production, and the method of construction: traditional plank-on-frame and/or wood/GRP-composite or strip-planking.

On the Rosso 28, wood strips are fitted to a mold and laminated before the hull is sheathed in glass and epoxy. Stiffened by many frames, the result is a low-maintenance hull that’s resistant to torsion and bulging. This latest offering is an upscale sportboat with no lifelines, little freeboard, a retractable bowsprit, a large cockpit that extends forward nearly to the mast, exquisite teak surfaces on deck and in the cockpit, and a tall rig without runners.

Underwater the Rosso has twin rudders and a swiveling keel. A fixed keel is an option, since it is not a production boat. If the Rosso 28 looks hot and sporty, she also has a corresponding spec sheet. The sail-carrying coefficient of 5.6 is extremely high while the whopping ballast share of 45 percent acts like a very long lever arm. The keel fin is 6’5” deep, when lowered. According to the specifications the boat weighs 3,300 pounds, but the tested vessel was quite a bit heftier due to some reinforcements in the bottom. That’s because the first customer planned to sail it off a mooring buoy in northern Brittany where the boat falls dry twice a day. The rough venue with its strong currents is also the reason for the auxiliary engine, a Yanmar 9HP diesel that’s equipped with a fixed drive shaft.

rosso 28

With its traditional construction and the use of wood, the Rosso 28 weighs in at just 3,300 pounds.

The engine happily hums along, but also is a bit bothersome because it’s hardly isolated, so the propulsion is switched to sail while still inside the harbor. The Technora-Black canvas from a local sail loft, which is on the options list, is hoisted on a carbon mast that’s also optional.

And off we go. In variable winds, the Rosso 28 displays her temperament, accelerates well and remains under control at all heel angles, while responding rapidly and directly to all rudder commands. In light air her speed nearly matches that of the wind while she manages to keep up with larger boats that are designed for more breeze.
Draft2'8" - 6'4"
Sail Area448 sq. ft.
Displacement3,300 lbs
Fuel capacityNA
Fuel capacityNA

Conspicuous on board of the Rosso 28 is the good job the builders did with the ergonomics for the helm and the mainsheet trimmer. Both can brace their feet on massive, triangular wooden pedestals to have their hands free. The helmsperson has all the key trim components within reach: the mainsheet with a 1:6 ratio, the traveler and the backstay pulley, which is exemplary to operate. The helm also can reach back to the deck-mounted winches for the two roller-furling gennaker or the code zero. The small headsail is sheeted to the tracks and the halyard winches on the strip-planked cabin top, which is a sensible solution. However, that’s out of reach for the helmsman, so for singlehanding the installation of an autopilot would be advisable, if not indispensable. Everything else works with minimal friction, which is due to the quality, the dimensions, and the positioning of the hardware.

Without question, the boat is a joy to sail. And for day trips or short cruises in good weather the cockpit could be counted as accommodation, hence a boom tent would be a great idea for this boat. If life on board is limited to the space below, it gets cramped. The V-berth forward suffices for two, and there’s space for two more in the pipe berths, which are long but relatively narrow and flat. Otherwise there’s only a sink, a small wooden table and the keel trunk, which is as disturbing as it is necessary. A cooler could be stashed somewhere but there’s no room for a portable MSD, which should be a solvable issue for a yard that does so much custom work.

rosso 28 cabin

The cabin of the Rosso 28 is minimalist, but well finished.

In summary, the Rosso 28 is an honest boat, decidedly a daysailer with a clear focus on sailing fun, performance, handling, long evenings in the cockpit, and short nights under deck. And don’t forget the powerful, distinct lines, the advantages of small production and the upscale construction method. That also means it will cost you: over $200,000 including auxiliary diesel, teak in the cockpit, an aluminum mast, Dacron sails, and gennaker. For more information, visit Chantier des Ileaux.

yacht-logoThis story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.