Danish delights: Inside the first X-Yachts X6^5
by Sam Fortescue
Lying alongside a blustery pontoon on the UK’s River Hamble, the first X6^5 presents an obvious step up for her Danish builder. Literally, in the sense of the boat’s imposing two metre high topsides, and figuratively, for a solid yard whose forte has been production cruising yachts with a turn of pace. The X6^5 promises fast passage times with the same lean, pretty lines as her smaller sisters, but she has a more muscular look consistent with her “mini superyacht” status.
That status rests in part on her size — at 20.1 metres LOA she is X-Yachts’ biggest model to date — but also in the way she is designed and equipped: tender garage, hardtop bimini, generous hull windows, a flexible rig and endless options for customisation. She can be fitted out below to suit a couple with occasional guests, or for a crew.
Semi-custom can often be a casually applied description but in the case of the X6^5 it is a well-deserved epithet. Just look at her stunning carbon fibre wheel pedestals, cantilevered off the cockpit coaming; or the gorgeous laminated wooden wheel with its carbon fibre spokes. This theme is repeated throughout the boat, with carbon rig and bimini, custom moulded carbon fibre handholds and interior doors, which by themselves cost as much as a brand new performance skiff. None of these is a standard item.
“I am delighted with the way she looks,” says the owner of the first X6^5, “and I think the carbon internally mirrors the rig and the bimini, which are purely practical solutions to weight and strength.”
Yes, the hull comes out of a series mould but almost everything after that is up for discussion, from the finish to the configuration below decks. So, although hull No 1 was conceived with a large owner’s cabin forward, a double aft to starboard and two twin bunk cabins, hull No 4 will have a huge owner’s suite aft across the full width of the stern.
This meant building a new module for the deck mould and is part of what brought the bill for this boat to around €3.2 million ex VAT —compared to a standard €2.5 million. Niels Jeppesen, X-Yachts’ managing director and head designer, explains: “We raised the height of the cockpit above, creating a sort of bridge deck that gives a working and a guest cockpit.”
Similarly, this first boat’s snazzy carbon hardtop was built to the owner’s spec using bespoke tooling. This feature alone seals her credentials as a serious offshore cruiser: the bimini is studded with a dozen 110-watt solar panels — enough to supply 95 per cent of the boat’s hotel loads.
She is also cleverly fitted with concealed roller awnings, and you can choose between a capacious sprayhood that folds invisibly away beneath the coachroof teak or a fixed windscreen in the Scandinavian style. This is a boat that can make the most of a Med summer, but hungers for the challenge of an ocean crossing.
That Scandi feel continues below, where the finish is all walnut underfoot and pale nubuck leather from Sørensen. It has a chic, modern feel, with lots of natural light, white panelling, subtle indirect lighting and fine stainless steel work. There’s lots of room here, but don’t be fooled — there are unostentatious handholds exactly where they are required to get around when the boat is heeling under sail.
In the well equipped galley, the owner insisted on a snappy stainless steel worktop — seamless 6mm solid metal with a careful matt finish that almost seems to float. Naturally, there are all mod cons here and X-Yachts has fitted custom cupboard interiors to suit the owner’s crockery.
Jeppesen says that 95 per cent of clients opt for oak or teak joinery, but adds “we’re happy to deliver any sort of finish”. The Hamble-based design team will even produce a detailed 3D rendering of the interior to showcase your finish. “We’re willing to do what it takes to ensure the boat is precisely what the client wants,” he adds. Designers Guild is a key fabric supplier but it could be Loro Piana or Gucci if the owner so wishes.
After a night of 40 knot winds and biblical rain, our test day dawns bright and blustery. Beating into 16 knots blowing up the western Solent, the X6^5 makes an effortless 7 knots under just reefed main — a sublime North 3Di sail. Adding the inner jib, boat speed jumps to 8.5 knots and we hit 11 knots on a reach as the wind gusts up off Calshot Spit.
Sail controls are all handled via four electric Harken winches by the steering pedestals, and the below deck furlers are electrically controlled too, for true push-button sailing. The main is on a custom FurlerBoom, with more than a hint of Park Avenue to it. There is automatic boom levelling to ensure the sail rolls up smoothly, and horizontal battens to give the sail better shape for faster sailing.
Her semi-balanced twin rudders make for good handling, even as 30 knots bend her over on her ear. Stiffness is assured by X-Yachts’ trademark steel frame in the bilges, which also provides a very secure attachment point for the keel.
The rig is supremely tunable, thanks to the hydraulic backstay and forestay tensioners. The inner forestay and the gennaker can both be easily detached and lowered directly into the sail locker, and the mainsheet is fastened out of the way on the carbon arch over the cockpit. “I would sail solo and certainly the furling main helps with that,” the owner explains. “However, I opted not to put a self tacking track on the inner jib so it makes it harder alone!”
Though it gusts more than 30 knots at times, and the ride is exhilarating as we beat into the short Solent chop, the cockpit remains as dry as a bone. After the boat has walked sideways on to the pontoon using its bow and stern thrusters, I step back down to earth with only a light dusting of salt on my sunglasses.
First published in the August edition of Boat International