Search Magazine took the Arcona 385 out for a test in autumn 2021. Read what they thought about the latest Arcona model to hit the water:
Ready to race out of the box
Back in the day, when you wanted to experience 7+ knots of upwind speed, you needed a one tonner racing yacht with a well-polished hull, four sets of jibs, a couple of spinnakers and a crew of at least eight. That yacht was also ridiculously impractical and expensive to run. Today it’s different, and I think we may have found quite a simple solution that performs at the same speed, or at least that’s what we are aiming to find out.
We’re talking about the new Arcona 385. With a couple of new lockers in the cockpit and a side window face lift, there sits the Arcona 380, a well proven racing machine, in which you can spend the holiday in comfort with your family and friends cruising the archipelago, but when trimming the sails, you can achieve race boat speeds.
It all began when the late Stefan Qviberg came up with the new Arcona 340, and it turned out to be a fast boat. Arcona translated what was learned from the design of the Arcona 410 and moved this knowledge to all the models including the 380 in 2013, which proved to be fast and easy to sail, out of the box. Which brings us to today where we are looking at the new and refined Arcona 385.
We went to the Arcona Yachts yard in Uddevalla to test their brand-new family performance cruiser, the Arcona 385. It was a lovely, crisp autumn day offering winds up to 16 knots in the gusts and flat to choppy waves, pretty much perfect conditions for a first date. With us were Arcona’s CEO Urban Lagnéus and Sales Manager Magnus Lundgren, both experienced and keen sailors. The two go all the way back to the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992 where they competed together in the 470 class.
The hull and deck are vinylester vacuum infused sandwich construction of multiaxial fibreglass reinforced with a core of Divinycell. Rudder, engine bed, keel attachment and through-hull fittings are all monolithic laminates. The galvanised steel cradle is bolted to laminated stringers in the hull and bonded to the chain plates taking all the dynamic loads of the rig, mast and keel, giving the boat exceptional stiffness.
A Maxguard gelcoat keeps the colour stable and boat shiny over the years.
Underwater configuration is an L bulb keel to get easier consistent speed and to keep seaweed off the keel blade, also a single rudder aft.
Electric motor, the good and the bad
Arcona is one of the first brands with electric motors as standard. I think the boat is perfect to head electric and the reason is simply speed. The boat is light and fast so it’s more likely that you will use the sails most of the time anyway. When windier you’ll also recharge the batteries while sailing. There is no difference in handling. For a weekend and holiday sailor this option is perfect, on top of that you’ll gain some points in the eyes of your teenager at home. On the other hand, having a heater onboard makes it a bit more complicated. Also, not for people with range anxiety. One thing is for sure, we’re heading into an electric future, and we probably should focus on the positives of choosing electric and work around the disadvantages.
Walking inside the boat you’ll see the Arcona quality and thinking everywhere, well finished woodwork and a clean design. The galley to port is large with a double top door fridge, double sink with board and plenty of lockers for storage. You find the toilet and shower just opposite, large enough to cure your claustrophobic fears. Looking forward, a spacious forward cabin with head room, double bed and plenty of storage.
A bright saloon with a flip table with a comfortable sofa either side. I really appreciated the navigation station’s versatility. When racing you have a proper nav station facing forward, but when cruising you push the table towards the toilet and it becomes a sofa. Aft, you have two double bed cabins. Considering the size of the boat, the engine room is a dream with access from all around.
On deck, rig and sails
Swept spreader rig for maintenance free sailing and sails from UK that worked really well. On deck, as previously mentioned, the face lift works, with a large locker for extra storage easily accessed by two new hatches in the aft cockpit and a large functional cockpit to race in comfort or add the table and dine with your friends and family.
Here comes the pretty part. She is fast. The feel on the rudder is just perfect for me, just enough feedback to know where you are, but not heavy or draggy. Close to the wind we were sailing 7+ knots in 13-16 knots of wind. On the run with a small kite we touched 9 knots on flat water and that is fast, really fast, for a 38 foot family cruiser-racer. Also, very controlled handling at steep angles downwind. I think the key to it is its lightness; add sails, fast in light air then, reef and quick in the high winds.
In summary the 385 does what all Arconas do, sails well in all wind conditions with great comfort and speed, straight out of the box. The boats are usually owned by passionate sailors and hold their value over the years. The 385 is like her predecessor and you could argue that a second hand 380 would come with a discount, but they are not that easy to find. At the time of the test there were no 380s on the market so you are kind of “stuck” with the option of a brand-new boat. And the updated look and features add to complete the picture. I think this makes the Arcona 385 the perfect family performance cruiser hopefully with more and more sailors choosing to go electric too.
Test: Danny Inkyov, Search Magazine
Text: Anna-Lena Elled, Search Magazine
Photos: Search Magazine