In the early 1980s, in the wake of the introductions that arose with the end of the previous decade, lines and volumes began to change, more ‘modern’ boats were born, with sleeker hulls and buoyancy closer to the off-beat. These were the years of the IOR (International Offshore Rule) and the general public, years of increasingly high-performance designs made more ‘affordable’ by the spread and refinement of fiberglass machining. In this cauldron of innovation and progress grow and become established shipyards destined to become the ‘greats’ we know today and, among them, Solaris (then Se.Ri.Gi – 1974; Aquileia), which in 1981 will give birth to a safe, resilient, and high quality boat: the Solaris 39′.
Designed by Frans Maas and built by Se.Ri.Gi Shipyards, the Solaris 39′ was a competitive hull on paper, but more set with cruising in mind, a confirmation that is immediately provided by a first glance at the interior furnishings, rich in teak, solid wood and first-rate finishes. At 12.02 meters in length overall, the 39′ in fact boasts a whopping 8 tons in tonnage, including 3400 pounds in ballast, on volumes that are certainly not slow, but nonetheless prone to long pleasure sailing, its main focus.
Solaris 39′ – Design and Construction
Made by the Se.Ri.Gi shipyard in Aquileia (Upper Adriatic), Mass’s Solaris 39′ is a design characterized by extreme structural rigidity, combined with a craftsmanship quality then among the best. Constructed of fiberglass and Airex sandwich on two hull half-molds (average thickness 20 mm), it retains the designer’s characteristic champagne-cup line and also has considerable thicknesses in the deck molding, made of 15 mm of Airex sandwich. The latter solution maintains lightness and insulation equivalent to that of balsa, but offers stronger mechanical properties. The deck, in turn, is covered in solid teak planks, which have been rigorously aged naturally in order to avoid hygroscopic drawbacks.
Below the waterline, the hull maintains a soft, streamlined design with a barely pronounced beam (3.75 m), with lines that emphasize a boat with good passage over the wave and that prefers upwind, dropping in performance instead when the wind is turning. The rudder, equipped with a skeg machined directly into the molding, proves to be particularly strong and safe, and still smooth even upwind in significant winds. Finally, the bulb, ballasted to 3.5 tons of first-cast lead with 4 percent antimony, has 12 24-inch stainless pins to stiffen the structure, thus ensuring, sound sleep.
Deck and Sail Plans
Shifting our attention to the deck, which is very clean and particularly pleasant, we have a layout typical of many of the boats of the period. The cockpit is set back, not particularly deep, but protected from the water by wide shoulders. Here we find the wheel steering and three separate seats, while four winches are mounted on the shoulders, originally two 48 three-speed winches for the headsails, and two 44 winches for the spinnaker. Impeccable in this regard is the layout, which makes every maneuver well accessible without leaving the cockpit, where we also find the mainsail luff and an emergency hand pump, connected in the bilge. Just beyond, a hint of deckhouse leads to the hatch, almost overlooking the interior, while beyond proceeds a very clean, all-teak flush-deck. The deckhouse extends from here, gentle, to beyond the mast foot, where it engages the deck without steps or edges, in total aesthetic cleanliness.
Generally speaking, the deck is particularly clear for the time, except for the forward sail carriages, which engage portions of it aft of the mast. On the mast, or at its foot, we finally find the fixed rigging, while two skylights bring light below deck from the sloping sides of the deckhouse. In the bow, a classic hatchway provides access to the sail cove, designed here more like a cabin, being a boat with a more characteristic cruising trim. The detail, as we shall see for the interior, is manic here, as in the case of the sickle cell entirely designed and made specifically for the 39.
In terms of rigging and sail plan, the Solaris 39′ looks like a classic masthead-rigged sloop and has a good balance between sail and drift centers, although not infrequently the former have been modified, in favor of a larger mast for the benefit of a more sailable boat. It is indeed true that, if in medium and formed winds it would present itself as a fast hull, Maas’ 39′ instead accuses its bulk in less windy conditions, a solution to which precisely many have found a remedy by over-revealing the original plans, to the detriment, however, of the overall balances, which are thus disadvantaged in more difficult conditions.
By design, armed with mainsail, genoa and spinnaker, the Solaris 39′ proved to be a very generous cruising boat. Comfortable and safe, she gave her best when the wind freshened, allowing herself to be well managed at the helm, which was always soft, and originally sailed just the right amount, so that she never found herself in excessive distress, especially in the difficult.
As for the interior, still remembered as among some of the best-finished of its time, the Solaris 39′ features a classic layout, with three total cabins in addition to the dinette. The sleeping places? Five comfortable, but up to seven will fit comfortably.
Starting from the stern we find in fact two cabins, one per tack, the largest of which is on the left. As soon as we are in the dinette, however, we find a chartroom on the starboard side, opposite the galley on the left, and just beyond that a large salon, with a C-shaped sofa served by a table on the left and, opposite, a second sofa with a berth or space for elevated stowage, just beyond. In the bow, of course, is a double cabin, also usable as a sail cove, while between this and the dinette is a full enclosed service. In terms of furnishings, everything is finished down to the smallest detail, teak dominates everywhere, and every lining and upholstery borders on perfection. Ventilation is in turn excellent, as is freedom of movement, with spaces not cramped, but all made safe by supports and handrails immediately at hand.
Solaris 39′ – Market and Considerations
In terms of the market, the Solaris 39 tends to be a difficult boat, not so much because of its price, but because of its availability. Tendency dictates that, whoever has one, also cares to keep it. Probably with good reason. But, conjecture aside, it turns out to be a generous, every-weather boat, a hull to which cruisers and sailors devoted to tradition, to the IOR standard, are loyal. Certainly, if speeds above 10 knots and glide are what you are looking for, absolutely this is not the boat to turn to. In terms of price, on the other hand, when found on the market, the purchase value fluctuates, both in terms of interest and condition and maintenance, keeping, at present, close to 55,000 euros.
Solaris 39′ – Data Sheet