On January 25 I joined Phil Lambert of Outbound Yachts aboard hull number one of his new Tim Kernan-designed Outbound 52 in Norfolk, Virginia. Planning to be at February’s Miami Strictly Sail boat show, Phil needed to get the boat south. With only three short trial sails on Chesapeake Bay under the 52's keel, this was to be the first real offshore test for this new design, which is the big sister to the Outbound 44 and 46. Also aboard were Skip Pond and Tom Brinkley, Outbound Yachts East Coast representatives.


Passages around Cape Hatteras during winter are never to be taken lightly. It was a brilliant, sunny, yet cold afternoon as we cleared Little Creek harbor and sailed around Cape Henry in a 15-knot northwesterly wind. After rounding Cape Hatteras, we opted for the coastal route south, which kept us well inside the north-flowing Gulf Stream current. Strong southerlies forecast in the Florida Straits on the 29th encouraged us to make time, so we agreed to motorsail anytime boat speed fell below seven knots. Our trip took exactly four days and we logged 780 miles at an average speed of 8.2 knots.

With an in-mast furling mainsail, roller furlers on the staysail and headsail, electric winches, and all lines led to the cockpit, this boat is easy and fun to sail. Modern high volume hulls with high aspect rigs reward active sail handling. Controlling heel angle and balance results in fast, relatively level sailing.

I am delighted to report that performance has not been paid for by sacrificing livability and comfort. Close hauled under main and genoa in 14 knots of true wind, boat speed exceeded 8 knots. Approaching Cape Fear on our second night out, we furled the genoa, unfurled the staysail and reefed in two battens of mainsail as westerly winds gusted into the high twenties. For eight hours we gave the boat a nice wash down test while beating into short, steep seas. The boat handled the seas solidly and with an easy motion.

More, courtesy of Bluewater Sailing