The Bluewater Sailboat Tartan 41 was built from 1972 to 1976, with a production run of 86 boats. The 41 was designed as a flat-out racing boat under the IOR rule and closely resembled the Nautor Swan 43 by S&S, with a flush deck and small deckhouse, good freeboard and moderate ends. The second series of Tartan 41’s were stretched to 42 feet and reintroduced from 1980 to 1984 with a shoal keel, heavier cruising interior, and new larger deck structure, losing some of the good looks in the process.
The Bluewater Sailboat Tartan 41 is ruggedly built, and in 1972, GRP construction was not extremely sophisticated. Heavy laminations, similar to the early Halmatic hulls, resulted in the boat weighing 3,000 pounds more than designed. Efforts were made during the production run to reduce weight, with later sailboats having changes to the hull layup to save weight. Seven stretched versions of this boat, known as the Tartan 44, were built with 20% lighter hulls and a longer waterline, resulting in a faster boat downwind. There are actually three hull configurations for the Tartan 41: the original tooling was for a 43-footer with a conventional transom, but most were built with a reverse transom to 41 feet, and an extension on the back of the hull resulted in the 44. Despite being 25 years old, most Tartan 41s show no structural problems, thanks to their well-built construction.
She is no longer as fast as a more modern IOR boat such as the C&C 41. Although these designs have similar wetted surface and sail areas, the Tartan is much heavier. The design specifications called for 17,850 pounds on a waterline length of 32’5″ (the C&C is 2,500 pounds lighter), but the Tartan is still a fast boat with a PHRF rating as low as 96. In 1972, the Tartan 41 was cutting edge. A few years earlier, S&S had begun separating the rudder from the back of the keel, cutting wetted area and increasing the lever arm of the aft-mounted rudder while at the same time reducing keel size, making them smaller, deeper and more efficient.
However, the early rudder and keel of the Tartan 41 were very small and on a close reach the boat was slightly tender and the rudder was hard-pressed to generate sufficient turning moment, particularly in a puff. Several of the earliest boats were re-equipped by S&S with a lead shoe at the bottom of the keel, increasing the draught by 6% and the righting moment by 8%. In 1974, S&S designed a new keel for the boat, which fitted onto the old bolt pattern, making the draught 7 inches deeper and the boat 700 pounds heavier.
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The rig remained unaltered, with a big, heavy bullet-proof mast and single spreader, as favored by S&S at the time, with single lower in-line shrouds. The size and weight of the rig is the equivalent to that of a 50-footer today and it was designed to be raced extremely hard.
The sailboat is well-equipped for the standards of the day, with Barient 32 primaries, Barient reel halyard winches; most have subsequently been updated with new booms and roller furling. It is important for a prospective purchaser to track the history of a boat, as the differences are subtle.
Although the Tartans’ hulls were toughly constructed to a similar standard as the Swans’, they lack the latter’s renowned exquisite on-deck and below-deck woodwork. The winches and hardware are of an appropriate size, and the deck layouts are typical of S&S operation. All the leads are also correctly positioned. Nothing appears to be lightweight or likely to fall way under pressure.
The original 41s’ interiors were plain and not very opulent; as a result, they might greatly benefit from a quick upgrade. The interior has ample headroom, with 6’2″ even in the forward cabin. The original water tank, which has a pressure water system and a 60 gallon capacity, has typically been expanded.
Most boats have plywood with a teak veneer on the main bulkheads, and the furniture is plywood with a teak veneer on the top and bottom. There is 6’7″ of headroom in the bubble-shaped deckhouse, which takes up half of the main cabin, and 6’4″ in the galley and nav station. On most boats, the aft end of the deckhouse has an additional opening hatch installed. A room with the derogatory name “aft state-room” is located behind the galley and navigation station. On most boats, this area—which resembles a “hole”—is utilised for storing sails when racing. The interior of the boat is thoughtfully constructed for its primary use in racing. There is a lot of volume and headroom, excluding the quarter-berth compartment, which resembles a coffin. Despite having a comparable floor concept, the Tartan 42 offers significantly more space thanks to updated deck moulding.
A major plus while racing or cruising, the sailboat’s deep sections and somewhat heavy displacement produce an incredibly sea-friendly action. Look for vintage, possibly heavily worn motors, sails, and rigging while searching for a Tartan 41. Due to the size of the fore triangle and the high cost of a new Genoa, cruising would be best with a fully battened main.
The Tartan 41 is a well-performing sailboat, with a 124 degree limit of positive stability, well above the minimum. The revised keel, tall sail plan and heavy rig contribute to its stability and stiffness, even by contemporary standards. Despite being slightly tender, the Tartan tacks through 84 degrees, according to IMS predictions, which is comparable to the C&C 41. However, its VMG is roughly a third of a knot slower than the lighter C&C. The original engine was a 20 hp Westerbeke diesel, which was later changed to a Farymann. Many have since been replaced with larger engines, which can be easily achieved as the machinery sits directly under the companionway. The original aluminum fuel tank is relatively small at 26 gallons.
The origin of a specific boat is important; consulting the factory may be advised. This is because different building methods and keel or rudder moulds were used on the boats throughout their history. The 27, 30, 34, and 37 are just a few of the well-respected boats that Tartan and S&S have built together, but the 41 stands out as being the most thrilling and will likely continue to be manufactured long after the current generation of “hot” ultra-light-build boats has started to falter.
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