Under sail the 41-footer shows a reasonable turn of speed and surprisingly good pointing ability, as well as easy handling
Issue: April 2001
From the oval cockpit to the dual anchor rollers, the raised coachroof to the tip of the backstay-less mast, there is no mistaking a Hunter yacht.
They are perhaps not as svelte as a French yacht, not as traditional as a Brit, nor as homely as their compatriot Catalina. Rather, they stand out in an anchorage as being just a bit different, though not so much as to defy convention.
"Evolutionary innovation" is how builder Hunter Marine describes its design philosophy, which means it takes notes and is not afraid to push the boundaries for the betterment of their boats.
Hunter try to please, not just impress.
The 410 is a prime example of their work. Climb aboard and you immediately appreciate the differences and advantages. It is big, accommodating and friendly.
The cockpit, for example, has been taken right to the gunwales for greatest effect. A real Ocker cockpit, this one. Circular configurations are not only space efficient but sociable; think back to those weddings when you've sat at a round table and chatted to everyone, not just those stuck down one end.
Between the seats is a moulded steering console with fold-out tables, an icebox, holders for drinks and odds'n'ends, and an array of gauges.
The LPG cylinder is conveniently placed under the starboard-side coaming, the rest of the seats have masses of storage under them. Dual transom lockers can swallow scuba gear and an inflatable, while a deck shower is close by. The helmsman seat cleverly flips down to open the transom and offer a step.
Hunter's solution for the traveller, that most necessary of evils, is to mount it on a substantial stainless steel arch above the helmsman. Here it has maximum leverage over the mainsail without compromising cockpit space or putting passengers at risk. I'm assured the metal's integrity can withstand the worst Chinese gybe.
The arch provides a solid mounting point for biminis, with a clear panel incorporated to allow a view of the mainsail and masthead indicator. The test boat also had a dodger.
Winches, another space-waster and potential rib breaker, are kept atop the coachroof, except for a pair of coaming-mounted Lewmar 48s for the MPS/spinnaker. The primaries are Lewmar 48s (electric is optional), the halyard winches are 44s, operating through Spinlock clutches then tailing into dedicated recesses.
There is easy access to the sidedecks, which again are uncluttered. The shroud chainplates are mounted on the gunwale - widening the base and eliminating leak potential - while the lowers and mast struts are inboard near the coachroof. This leaves a clear passage in between. The headsail tracks are on the cabin, closing the sheeting angles.
The genoa has a Profurl roller mounted proud above the deck to help the sail clear the pulpit and lifelines. Beneath is a fair-sized anchor locker with electric windlass (optional but a necessity on a yacht weighing around nine tonnes).
Lazy jacks and a zippered boom bag come as standard for the fully battened mainsail, though the NSW agent's own boat has in-mast furling.
The fractionally rigged Selden mast is supported by a twin heavily-swept spreaders and criss-crossing diagonals, with no backstay or runners. This allows the main to have more roach and the headsail size to be reduced for ease of sail-handling. The penalty comes when running because the boom cannot be fully squared.
The rig system is patented and well proven. Some 3000 are sailing and apparently not one has fallen.
Under sail the 41-footer shows a reasonable turn of speed and surprisingly good pointing ability, as well as easy handling. We had 10-12 knots of breeze for our test sail and the 81sq m of working sail area spirited the Hunter to around five knots on a reach.
One person could manage the gear in these conditions, such was the unhurried nature of the hull. It healed gradually and settled into its work like a honest toiler, gradually nosing into the wind as it should.
I had expected rather more weatherhelm, given the disproportionate main and genoa ratio, but the tuning was well sorted and the helm remained virtually neutral. The optional deep fin keel (drawing 1.93m) kept the boat tracking nicely in the groove; it would be my choice over the shoal draft foil despite a 16in (40cm) draft penalty.
Beamy hulls prefer to be kept on their feet, of course, so it would be advisable to reef the main from 15 knots onwards. Attesting to their deep ocean ability, boats sold to South Africa are delivered from Florida on their own bottoms!
For a cruising-oriented hull the performance was more than acceptable. Step below, though, and the real benefits of the high volume become apparent. Headroom is 1.98m (6'8") in the saloon and there is a nice flow throughout the layout.
At Sydney boat show a gentleman measuring 6'5" came aboard the Hunter bemoaning the fact that he couldn't comfortably stand, or sleep, on other imported yachts in this size range. He had no problems aboard the 410, finding the double berth in the aft stateroom (owner's edition) particularly to his liking.
This berth is bigger than queen-sized but not quite king, stretching more than 2m laterally. There is reasonable height above it, as the cockpit sole is relatively shallow, and ample dressing room. Nine ports and hatches provide light and superb cross-ventilation to the stateroom, while the boat has air-conditioning ducts built in as standard (though the air-con unit itself is a $12,400 option).
Ensuite access is provided to the main bathroom via a double-door system, so you don't interrupt people in the saloon or vice versa. There is a walk-in shower, macerator loo and corner basin, with the compartment benefiting from maximum headroom.
The L-shaped galley is opposite, comprising a three-burner gimballed stove/oven, built-in microwave, refrigerator with both side door and opening top, a corner freezer, twin sink and garbage receptacle beneath the Corian benchtop. A topside port floods the bench with light.
The overall dimensions are a generous 1.9m long by 1.6m wide, but it is still possible for the cook to brace himself or herself when at sea. A raised rack keeps the crockery in place, complementing the under-bench storage.
Immediately forward is the dinette with a glossy table measuring 1.2m in length and thus suitable for four settings. A portside settee stretches 1.8m; long enough to sleep on.
The test boat was upholstered in leather - a $7000+ luxury - and the cushions were sumptuously spongy in a classic American manner, rather than firm. But then the mattresses are 7in-thick inner-sprung, not merely foam.
A compact nav station is built to port, facing forward but with a curved seat to keep the navigator's bum in place. The switch panel and radios are adjacent, while electronics hang from a shelf.
Through the main bulkhead is the main guests cabin. Its 1.9m berth is offset, narrowing from 1.5m wide at the head to 0.8m at the foot; a tad cramped in my book. There's a hanging locker, cupboard and seat opposite, while four drawers are built under the berth.
The ensuite, a fully moulded unit, fills the forepeak with a small vanity, head and shower, the latter extending niftily from a pod. The absence of any sharp corners will make it easy to clean, and the ol' loo roll is kept dry and shy behind the vanity unit's door.
There is still 1.85m headroom in the peak and 1.9m in the for'ard cabin. Red courtesy lights indicate the door sills.
The inventory of standard equipment is extensive. Auspicious Yacht Sales give potential buyers a list to take away and compare with rival brands, confident the person will come back. Included are 240-Volt shorepower, and solar panel, Autohelm gauges, anchor gear, fenders and mooring lines ... right down to bedding and crockery.
It thus makes the sailaway price of $374,000, and $400,000 as tested, very attractive.
Tall people won't be the only ones impressed by the Hunter 410. Think bluewater cruising for four people, think Whitsundays charter, and you'd be flat out finding a more practical proposition.
Story & Photos by Mark Rothfield