Pop 25 Solaris finally went sailing

The Pop 25 builders’ community is increasing in numbers at a fast pace. Our clients are making their boats investing the most of their wits and stamina to complete their accomplishments. Among them there are many who are reaching the final stages of construction. However since the project is relatively recent, only now, along the first half of 2014, the first boats of the class are beginning to be launched.

Roberto Barros, from B & G Yacht Design, shaking hands with Fernando Santos (in white T-shirt) when Solaris arrived at “Marina da Gloria”, Rio de Janeiro, after being launched in the yard where she was built, some five miles away. Photo: Murilo Almeida.

When we took the decision of developing the Pop 25 project we had in mind accomplishing something innovative in terms of low cost offshore cruising sailboat design, with important simplifications to make it “builder’s friendly” for the inexperienced amateur. Nowadays, to create something really new isn’t easy. Most probably the idea will not work as expected and the innovation doesn’t become a breakthrough. However we were between a rock and a hard place. B & G Yacht Design office had moved from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Perth, Western Australia, and at that time we were strangers in the new country. If we made a new project based in a more conservative way of thinking, this new boat would be one more among many others and wouldn’t help much in getting known locally.

This pic shows clearly how spacious the Pop 25 is. Solaris is tucked between a thirty-two and a thirty-six footer, however the difference in volume among the three boats seems to be negligible. Photo: Roberto Barros.

It was then that we decide to take some risks and go for something unique, an offshore twenty-five foot cruising sailboat accessible for amateur construction, potentially capable of sailing overseas, a rarity in the nautical market in this size of craft. That was how the Pop 25 project was born. Presently we have almost sixty builders in different countries, and now with the first boats already sailing and knowing they are good performers, even surpassing optimistic expectations, we are pretty confident that the class will boost up in the near future.

Fernando’s daughter came to visit Solaris on the very day she arrived in the Marina. Photo: Murilo Almeida.

We have good news about Solaris first Trial. The Pop 25 is much better and more surprising than we dared to dream about. She is a fast cruising sail boat in all conditions; she sails close hauled efficiently and steers effortlessly with good sensitivity at the tiller. She sailed very well in very light winds and when the expected afternoon sea breeze started to blow at force 5 in the Beaufort scale, the boat speed, checked by the GPS, reached 6.3 knots with the wind on the nose. We learned that she tacks pivoting on her axel with mainsail alone, tacks faster yet with main and jib, and to our delight, she also tacks with no difficulty sailing with main and gennaker, going from beam reach to beam reach in a matter of seconds, a virtue we didn’t suspect she had. That was the definitive proof that the boat’s speed is good indeed. It will be exciting to compare Solaris performance with other boats of about the same water line, since we believe she will not leave a bad impression. We also discovered that we could leave the tiller unattended and the boat would keep sailing in a straight line as an arrow, maintaining its course indefinitely with no noticeable leeway.

Another astonishing characteristic of the Pop 25 is its superb initial stability, something to be expected only in multi-hulls. Fernando offered beer to the crew giving a glass to each of us. After toasting the glorious sailing we sipped half the contents and left the half-full glasses resting on the cockpit seats. The glasses stayed there unattended for the duration of the trip without spilling a sole drop, even though they were being regularly replenished. I had never seen it before in a mono-hull sailing close-hauled.

The jib sheet turning block and the fore-sails sheet winch. The built-in stool attached to the pushpit was Fernando’s idea and it was highly appreciated by the helmsman. Photo: Roberto Barros.

The inclinometer showed an angle of 2° heel in average, reaching 5° maximum. This is hard to believe, but whoever sails Solaris will discover this is not balloony.    

Solaris sailing close-hauled in light winds. When the sea breeze started to blow harder, the boat reached 6.3 knots in force five winds almost without heeling, what is excellent for a twenty-five foot cruising sailboat. Photo: Roberto Barros.

We are very pleased with the result of our work. It was quite a challenge to go for something different in the twenty-first century. The feeling we had was that if we went for something really unique, probably that idea had already been tested by somebody else. Notwithstanding, the exact concept of the Pop 25 is not to be found in another boat. Now we need to gauge with precision the result of our trial so we can add to our knowledge the lessons the project is teaching us. The flat bottom cross section with small bilge panels and the fact that we placed the twin keels quite apart worked beautifully. Actually it is unnoticeable the difference of behaviour from a sailboat with one keel only. Besides, the angle of 12° the keels make with the vertical, and also being well apart one from the other ensures excellent stability when grounded for maintenance, be it in a yard, or in a secluded beach, profiting from the tide range, this being bliss in these times of skyrocketing cost of labour.

In our day-sail we tacked only once in the open sea. It was blowing a force five sea breeze with the tide against us. The boat changed tacks at 100°, but I believe any other sailboat would do about the same. It is going to be interesting to compare Solaris with similar boats in a club race. This we hope will happen soon. But we already have plenty of reasons to commemorate for the time being.

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However this was not the only breaking news about the Pop 25 class. Simultaneously with Solaris first sail, it had been launched Hayal, a Pop 25 made in Turkey by Selim Karahan with the assistance of his father. This boat boasts an exquisite finishing, having the deck been kept as bright-work.

The result is very appealing and the boat is outstanding in looks. We imagine they have added any sort of anti-skid material so the surface is not too slippery.

One of the smart solutions we saw in this Pop 25 was placing an elliptical opening porthole installed in the thick-plated cabin trunk smoked Plexiglas window. This gave a touch of class to the finishing, while at the same time enhanced ventilation.

Now we are anxious to learn what had been Selim’s impression about the performance of Hayal. Since the boat is built strictly according the plans, she must behave in the same manner as Solaris. We are curious about what the Turks will say about the amazing stability of the model. This is going to be the highlight in comments wherever a Pop 25 will be sailing, we believe.

Our Turkish clients are very friendly. Selim placed a sticker with the name of the project on the topside close to the transom.
Since there are others being built in that country, soon we expect to have a small fleet of the class in the Marmar Sea and in the Mediterranean.

The third boat of the Pop 25 class is already sailing. This one was built in Turkey by Selim Karahan, with the assistance of his father. The boat is awesome. Photo: Selim Karahan.

Click here to learn more about the Pop 25