As a former dinghy racer, I can be hard to please when it comes to “bigger boats.” And while the 27ft Saffier SE 27 Leisure is hardly “big,” I’m always skeptical the freedom and performance that made me fall in love with sailing will still be there in any boat that weighs more than my car. However, the Dutch-built Saffier SE 27 was an absolute joy to sail and will give a Laser a run for its money when it comes to responsiveness, while at the same time keeping its crew a whole lot drier.
We tested the Saffier SE 27 on a crisp, blustery day, one of the last perfect September sailing days in Newport, Rhode Island. There was enough wind that a lesser boat might have been overpowered, but not so with this one; at all times it felt smooth and under control, and will be easy to helm by anyone regardless of their strength, especially if you opt for wheel steering as was the case on our test boat. In fact, my only genuine critique of the boat’s sailing capabilities is that it may have been almost too well balanced—it was so light on the helm I sometimes found myself wanting just a touch more feedback. The boat is also available with a tiller, a configuration I suspect would absolve all of my concerns.
The Saffier SE 27 is undeniably a head-turner, with easy, graceful lines. The sailplan is perfectly manageable while still making for an exciting ride, with the choice of an overlapping or self-tacking jib and a sprit from which either a gennaker or Code 0 can be flown. A nifty little windscreen helps keep water out of the cockpit and can easily be stowed when necessary. All controls are led aft to four winches in the cockpit. Behind the wheel there was a surprisingly large open space bisected by the mainsheet track. Great for lounging, it also made for an ideal loading platform when transitioning things (and people) on and off the dock.
The cockpit is spacious, with room for up to eight people, though realistically if they’re full-sized adults I’d probably keep it to six. A cleverly designed stowaway table will be great for picnicking and disappears seamlessly, quickly returning the cockpit to sailing, or even racing mode. In fact, everything about this boat struck me as being designed to get a sailor from slip to beam reach in as little time as possible—and look good doing it.
Belowdecks, I was surprised to find basic accommodations aboard this apparent “daysailer,” with two single berths (technically four with the V-berth, but it’ll be a squeeze), a small isotherm fridge locker and a head nestled below the V-berth, right in the center of the cabin.
The standard version of the boat is fitted out with a 4 Kw Torqeedo motor and a folding prop, resulting in a light, unobtrusive propulsion system that won’t detract from the pure sailing experience. Twin rudders are available as an option as is a shallow-draft keel. The hull is vacuum-bagged with a foam core.
Despite being a billed as a “leisure” boat, the owner of the boat that we sailed had also been racing it with a small crew—a testament to its versatility. I couldn’t imagine owning this boat and not wanting to push it for performance, but I also kept thinking it was so manageable that kids and grandparents would easily enjoy it as well. It’s difficult to find a boat that does it all, but the Saffier SE 27 comes close, punching well above its weight, both as a daysailer and a performance boat. If you’re looking for pure and simple great sailing, look no further.
LOA 26ft 10in
Beam 7ft 5in
Ballast 1,980lb (std.) 1,650lb (shallow)
Draft 5ft 5in (std.); 3ft 9in (shallow)
Sail Area 452ft2
SA/D Ratio 26
D/L Ratio 96
Ballast Ratio 47
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
Builder Saffier Yachts, IJmuiden, The Netherlands, saffieryachts.com
U.S. Distributor Bluenose Yachts, Newport, Rhode Island, bluenoseyachts.com
Base Price $180,000