From a yard that’s still relatively unknown in the UK, the Salona 380 looks set to present the established performance cruisers in this size range with some serious competition, says David Harding

Product Overview

Pros:

  • Good performance
  • Easy to sail short-handed
  • Uncluttered deck layout

Cons:

  • Flying bow is a mixed blessing under power
  • More non-slip needed on deck
  • No stowage for books at chart table

Product:

Salona 380: the 38 footer which has a lot to offer
This product is featured in: Salona 46: ‘Tough, sporty and fighting fit’.

If any sector of the new-boat market is tough to break into, it’s the one for the 38ft performance cruiser.

Look at the builders who are there already: Dehler with the 38 and Elan with the 380/E5, for example.

Then we have the Arcona 380, the slightly more cruisy Xc38 and, arguably with a little less of a sporty tilt, Hanse’s 388.

Given the availability of these, you might wonder why anyone looking for a sporty not-quite-forty should consider a boat from a Croatian builder that relatively few people in the UK have heard of.

Salona 380

The flying bow, with the knuckle clear of the water, becomes immersed to lengthen the waterline under way. Credit: David Harding

The reason is simple: the Salona 380 claims to offer pretty well everything its competitors offer and more.

The builders are keen to stress the relatively low volume of production (around 35 boats per year across the range), the attention to detail and scope for customisation, the structural integrity (including the stainless steel frame in the hull to distribute the loads from the rig and keel), the uncluttered deck layout and, not insignificantly, the fact that you get a lot of boat for your money.

What’s more, despite its lack of recognition in the UK, Salona is not an unknown quantity.

The yard has been building boats since 2002 and has established a strong following in the Adriatic and eastern Mediterranean, where many British sailors will have met Salonas on charter holidays.

Dealers have also been active in Holland, Sweden, Germany, France and Spain but, although Salona has been represented on and off in Britain since 2004, it has yet to become a well-known name on these shores.

Saloon on the Salona 380

Interior joinery is light oak and all made at the yard. Drawers are in wood throughout and frames and fiddles are solid. Credit: David Harding

That’s all the more surprising given that the 35 had just won its class in the 2012 Hamble Winter Series when I tested it back in 2013.

I joined the 35 for one of the races.

Before that I had tested the 45 in 2004, followed by the 37 and 40, looked at various other models in Trieste and visited the yard in Split, where I sailed another 45.

I thought they all had a lot to offer.

THE TEST VERDICT

There’s much to like about the Salona 380, from the performance and handling to the level of specification and the reassuring construction.

As well as being stiffened by the steel frame, the vacuum-infused hull with its PVC-cored topsides is laid up with vinylester resin and, as an extra precaution that’s rarely seen these days, clear gelcoat beneath the waterline.

Until recently, the performance and structural integrity of Salonas was not matched by the interior finish or, in some respects, the attention to detail.

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The 380 reflects a substantial improvement in these areas and she has to be seen as a serious competitor to boats of similar size and nature from the better-known yards.

She’s fast, responsive, fun to sail, nicely finished, well thought-out and equipped to a good standard.

WOULD SHE SUIT YOU AND YOUR CREW?

If you’re looking for a performance cruiser in this size range, there are good reasons to include the Salona 380 on your list of possibles.

Whereas the credibility of Salona as a company might once have been questioned by some in the UK, things have changed.

The yard has now been building boats for nearly 20 years.

It’s owned (as it always has been) by AD Plastics, a leading European supplier of automotive parts, which in turn is part of the ASA prevent Group.

Salona 380

The Salona 380’s deck and cockpit layout make the boat well suited to short-handed sailing. Credit: David Harding

The new UK dealer will be familiar to many, too –Russell Hodgson, who formerly handled X-Yachts and later Dehler in the UK, and has already covered several thousand miles on the Salona 380.

These recent developments and improvements can only increase Salona’s appeal to prospective British buyers.

If you’re tempted by the boat you will probably also be tempted by the Limited Edition package of extras and upgrades that takes the specification to step-aboard-and-go level.

It could see you sailing a sleek and sporty 38 for what, in relative terms, is a pretty reasonable amount of money.