C&C 99

With the accent on "racer", C&C Yachts, named for co-founders George Cuthbertson and George Cassian, may not have coined the term "racer/cruiser" but they certainly set the standard for it. Now part of Fairport Marine, who also builds Tartan yachts, C&C is once again setting the standard for this genre. I have little doubt that the two Georges, if they were still with us today, would wholeheartedly approve of the C&C 99.

Designed by Tim Jackett, Fairport Marine&s chief designer as well as chief operating officer, the C&C 99 was introduced in late 2001 and hull number 88 was on display at the 2006 United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis. Why C&C 99 you might ask? Well, because it&s shorter than C&C 9.906M which is the metric equivalent of 32' 6" the overall length of this model.

Originally the C&C 99 was offered with deep or shoal draft keel configurations drawing 6' 6" or 5' 5". However, in order to encourage and promote one-design sailing, the 5' 5" draft model has been agreed upon as standard and currently is the only version offered. To further encourage and help build one-design fleets, C&C offered owners of deep draft models the option of converting to the shallower draft keel at minimum cost.

Since its inception, C&C has been at the forefront of production boatbuilding technology; a tradition that is carried on with the newest C&C models. While not as high-tech as the current crop of custom offshore racers or Americas Cup contenders, the C&C 99 utilizes the most advanced materials and techniques you are likely to find in an off-the-shelf production sailboat. Hulls are composite constructed with unidirectional "E" glass fiber cloth, CoreCell foam and epoxy resin. They are vacuum bagged and post-cured to 145 degrees. This all sounds a little techie but what it all boils down to are composites that are more stable and pound-for-pound 10 times stronger than conventionally constructed composites. The result is hulls that are not necessarily 10 times stronger because they are half the weight of conventional construction. The hull of the C&C 99 weighs a mere 780 pounds. But C&C is so confident of their product that they offer a 15-year transferable warranty.

The only downside to this high-tech construction could be that repairs, if necessitated by a mishap, will be more expensive and will require repairers who have the facilities and experience to work with these materials.

In 2003, C&C decided to make carbon fiber masts standard equipment on all their models. And, as they were with the keel changes, owners of boats with aluminum masts were offered an upgrade to a carbon fiber mast at bargain basement prices, according to Mike Titgemyer of Tartan C&C Yachts of Annapolis. Titgemyer estimates that perhaps as many as 20 of the 88 boats built to date have aluminum masts.

Although a bit cramped for a full racing crew, the cockpit of the C&C 99 provides a balanced, convenient layout for racing or cruising. The helmsman can easily reach the 40-inch wheel even when seated all the way outboard either to weather or leeward. The mainsheet, traveler and self-tailing primary winches are all located within easy reach of the helmsman without leaving the wheel. All halyards are led to two self-tailing winches on the cabin top each side of the companionway.

The helm seat is hinged and lifts out of the way for unobstructed access to the transom swim deck and there are two cockpit storage lockers with a third for propane tanks. A molded locker on foredeck provides for anchor storage.

Unlike some racer/cruisers, the C&C 99 has what I consider sensible cruising accommodations for her size. The C&C 99 offers 6' 2" headroom, a suitable galley, a large head with shower and adequate storage. There are sleeping accommodations for six with a V-berth forward, opposing settees in the main saloon and a double berth tucked in under the cockpit. That said, not many would want to share this space with five of their best friends for very long. And, most are likely to find the double berth under the cockpit a bit confining for two adults. Auxiliary power is provided by a 19-hp diesel Volvo Saildrive beneath the companionway steps. This is a proven and dependable power package for boats of this size and access for routine maintenance and service is acceptable.

With a sail area/displacement ratio of 21.5 and a displacement/length ratio of 167, the C&C 99 will not offer the exhilarating performance of a sport boat but these are very sensible numbers for a racer/cruiser. Although she has a rather shallow draft, the combination of bulb keel, light hull and carbon fiber mast result in an unusually low center of gravity. The C&C 99 has enough sail area for good performance in light air and enough stability to stand up to a blow. She is easily balanced and has a large rudder for responsive steering.

So what's not to like about this boat? Well, nothing really, but the construction methods and materials clearly cost more. This is a lot of boat for the money from a company that has survived a fickle sailboat market for the past 50 years.

Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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