The coolest yachts in the world: Open 50

We ask top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our time. Ocean racer Nick Moloney names the Open 50.

“I had been intrigued by single-handed or short-handed sailing since the early days of the BOC Challenge (Around Alone 5 Oceans) and was blown away by the wide-beam Finot-Conq designs that began to push the parameters shape stability with incredible wide beams,” recalls Nick Moloney, as he names his favorite Open 50.

“In preparation for our 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race, we were building our yacht Toshiba in Newport, where the Open 50 is also taking place Cray Valley also came to life for Jean-Pierre (JP) Mouligne and his campaign towards the 1998 Around Alone race. I escaped from the sail loft the day Cray Valley first went into the water and watched from afar. I remember thinking to myself “I would give anything to sail this beautiful boat”.

Nick Moloney winner of the 2002 Route du Rhum division aboard the Open 50 Ashfield Healthcare Photos: DPPI/Offshore Challenges

“In 2002, Offshore Challenges entered two boats in the Route du Rhum. Ellen MacArthur would race her beloved Kingfisher Open 60 and Mark Turner found an Open 50 for my campaign. I couldn’t believe it when Mark revealed to me what my boat would be. I knew right away that something special would come out of this relationship.

“Ellen and I won our respective divisions in style, in a storm-torn event that also saw me set a new Open 50 course record, then called Ashfield Healthcare. My memories of sailing this boat solo, at speeds over 20 knots are some that I will never forget.

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“This boat went on to have an even more decorated life with fabulous sailors such as Conrad Humphreys, Paul Larsen and Michael Perham, not to mention JP winning the 1998 Around Alone, the race for which it was ultimately designed and built.

I believe that some boats have a huge heart. It’s one of the biggest boats I’ve ever sailed on.

Open 50 Stats standings:

Top speed: 30+ nodes
LOA: 15.24m
Spear : 1996
Berths: 2
Price: £2,000,000
Adrenaline Factor: 85%

Nick Moloney

Nick Moloney is best known for his solo offshore races, including the 2004 Vendée Globe. He competed in the Whitbread Round the World Race, two America’s Cups and set a Jules Verne Trophy round-the-world record in non-stop crew aboard Orange in 2002. He was also the first to windsurf through Bass Strait. Follow his adventures on

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