If you don’t go you don’t know — Classic San Francisco Bay in late June and the new Hylas H57

Of the many places in the world to sail, San Francisco Bay in the summer has to be one the favorites. Predictably light wind in the mornings and perhaps a little fog. As the day goes on the fog burns off and the Sacramento valley starts to heat up. Inland temperatures are in the late 90s and the cold waters of the Pacific and the bay in the mid 50s. This is the perfect recipe for a steady seabreeze coming under the bridge that can build to over 20kts.
The primary purpose of this sail was to demonstrate the features and benefits of the yacht to a prospective client. The new owner of the SF based yacht was understandably very proud to be showing off the first H57 on the bay and as of right now the first in the US. A little side project was to get a couple of promotional shots with a particular request from our industry partner Selden Mast to try and get something with high energy, powered up and a bone in her teeth for their 2021 calendar.
On deck

The H57 is a Bill Dixon design and one that has been in the works for a couple of years (Here’s a link to a recent webinar we hosted with Bill Dixon). 

The brief from Hylas was to keep some of the Hylas DNA but think hard about usage and improved capabilities that have come from advances in technology, build materials and techniques, systems and sail handling.

The result is a yacht that is just as comfortable day sailing on San Francisco Bay as it will be when the owner is ready to undertake a passage across the Pacific.
Setting out from Sausalito we took advantage of some protection from the wind behind Angel Island to become familiar with the equipment layout. Power winches, power furling and fully equipped dual helm stations made setting sail easy. Heading down wind in lighter air was a perfect opportunity to pull out the reaching genoa “reacher”. Hylas has introduced a solent rig on the 57 which makes the transition between upwind and downwind sailing very easy. There is a little technique involved in gybing the reacher but one that is very easily mastered. Tacking requires the furling and unfurling of the reaching sail if the inner jib “blade” isn’t in use. Of course this is all push button control.
The yacht in San Francisco has the optional german sheeting arrangement so a little thought has to go into which of the primary winches should be used for the mainsheet in the outset. We set sail on starboard tack so the initial set up was genoa on the port side and main on starboard. There are also optional secondary winches that come into their own when introducing a code zero or some form of A sail.
For those familiar with the bay area you will know that from behind Angel Island you can look across to the city with a great view of the water in between. With a flooding tide, which was wind with current on this occasion, it wasn’t hard to tell there was a good breeze once we were out of the lee of Angel Island – Perhaps a good chance to get that action shot Selden was after. 
Still carrying the reacher and full main we started to edge out into the stronger winds. Recognizing the better course of action would have been to shorten sail before getting into the breeze this was a great opportunity to get a feel for the yacht and understand any challenges there may have been once everything was loaded up. The transition from genoa to blade on a close reach was very easy with the Selden hydraulic furling systems.
Still a little overpowered with the full main and blade in winds at 20kts plus and gusting into the late 20s we tried a couple of tacks. The blade running on a self tacking system made very light work of the tacking maneuvers. When a yacht is healing many folks like to stand to brace with legs apart. A small but important item to mention is the reversing helm seats! Of course this is primarily to allow better use of the expansive aft deck for socializing. The mechanism for securing the backrest has been overly engineered to allow the back to double as a “bolster” for the helmsperson if they prefer to stand. The fixed windshield and hardtop combination did a great job of keeping the worst of the spray and chill out of the cockpit.

It was while we were on this windward leg that the prospective new owners took the opportunity to go below to get a sense of the noise and motion of the yacht. We are glad to report that in true Hylas fashion there was only calm and quiet. Hand holds are in all the right places, bracing in the galley is very easy. Although it isn’t very efficient sailing it is great fun to get the occasional peak underwater as the yacht heals to cover the salon topside portlights.

Staying fairly close on the wind we wanted to reduce some of the main. This is easily done from the winch by the companionway. You get a great view of the full length of mast/luff of the main, Hylas has installed additional main furling buttons at this winch and the outhaul is also managed from the same location. To furl away some of the sail it is important to put a little luffing in the leading edge of the main and ease up on the foot. On a close reach this can be done by easing the outhaul without having to adjust the mainsheet. I’m sure at least one of you is thinking “what if I’m the only person on deck, the yacht is overpowered and healing can I rely on the autohelm in those conditions?”. The answer is a resounding yes! There were two key observations. The first was the way the yacht was able to track without rounding up. This is primarily due to the twin rudder arrangement with the leeward rudder digging deep. The hull shape with the broader stern and a rounded but evident chine also helps the yacht track with the beam actually reducing as she heels. When allowing the electronics to steer, even with a good heel, there was never more than 6 degrees of helm showing on the autopilot. The second important observation was the ease with which the driver can transition to the companionway without negotiating a mainsheet or other obstacles.
Optimistic that we may have the shot we were looking for we decided to tuck back into Racoon Strait (Between Angel Island and Tiburon) to do some more leisurely sailing and perhaps get a couple of iconic Golden Gate Bridge shots. The self tacking jib gave the crew some time to relax and take in the beautiful scenery. As the afternoon fog started to roll in we headed back to the dock.
Docking has been made extremely straightforward with the help of bow and stern thrusters. The folding dock cleats are a nice touch. No snagged lines but always available when needed.

Down below 
On the yacht we were sailing the owner has chosen to stay very close to the original interior design that Bill Dixon imagined. If anything the interior look and feel has benefited from the keen eye of an owner who has a background in working with many different fabrics, materials and high end fittings. To help others with their decision making Hylas does offer a Hot Labs package. Hot Labs being a Milan based interior design house that specializes in yachting interiors.

The below deck layout is classic Hylas. A center cockpit sole being above the engine space but in this instance there is enough head room to step down and walk into the engine compartment. A huge help when considering routine maintenance.  
The center cockpit allows for a beautiful walk through galley with plenty of storage and room for those appliances that would compliment anyone’s lifestyle. 
Bill Dixon has done a superb job of managing headroom in the expansive aft master state room with ensuite bathroom. The master boasts 4 oversized portlights to bring plenty of light into the space and 3 overhead hatches. There is a perfect balance between what is happening on deck and the luxurious interior.
The forward VIP with the centerline queen, his and hers cedar lined hanging lockers, plenty of storage space also has great natural lighting from portlights and the integrated overhead window and hatch. There is private access to a forward bathroom with a separate shower stall that would delight any guests.
If there’s crew, kids or grandkids to accommodate the 3rd cabin with hanging locker storage and a bunk bed arrangement is perfect. This cabin is often customized as a work room, office, laundry room or simply additional storage space.
A pressing schedule meant that time didn’t allow for some dockside “apres-sail” but it is important to mention that the Hylas H57 also excels in this area. The social cockpit covered by the hard top could dine 8 easily and can be fully enclosed with clear screening if desired. On days where conditions allow for something a little more alfresco the spacious aft deck is perfect. Set the helm seats to be aft facing, make use of the pushpit seating, close up the deck wings and extend the automated awning out of the hard top. Bring up the signature Hylas stools from down below, that double as cocktail tables, and relax into some dockside people watching. Although you are more likely to be the attraction than the audience on this beautiful yacht.

We expect to have the second Hylas H57 on the east coast by September of this year. We are of course disappointed that the Newport Boat Show has been canceled and are optimistic that Annapolis will be a success. Boat shows aside and for those that prefer the Hylas H57 and Hylas H60 will be available for private viewing and test sails at Riviera Beach, FL when not being used for promotional purposes. Just let us know and we will be happy to set up a viewing. Full Covid-19 precautionary measures are taken before, during and after each visit.

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