Express 30

Express30250Nov2By Carol Nickel and Bryan Gooderham

The Express 30 was designed by Steve Killing as a “30-foot boat that would have performance, comfort and grace”. Not unexpectedly, the Express 30 has a keen emphasis on performance, and its uncluttered interior accented with the warmth of oiled teak does indeed provide a clean, functional air of comfort and grace.

Killing has brought his experience as a high performance IOR yacht designer to bear on the Express 30. His computer-assisted design includes a relatively deep fin keel (to a five foot, six inch draft), a good-sized spade rudder and a fine bow flaring to full aft sections with a flattish bilge. The 41-foot masthead rig has double spreaders to improve upwind performance.

The Express 30 was originally designed by Killing for Goman Boat in November, 1981, and since June 1982 Express Yachting has produced the yachts in its Midland, Ont. plant. Express Yachting has 27 employees at the plant located on the shores of Georgian Bay, manufacturing the full range of Killing-designed Express yachts — the 20, the 30, 30M and the recently designed 35. Since 1981, approximately 60 Express 30 hulls have been completed.

Express 30 - performs well to weatherWe took the Express 30 out on Lake Ontario on a blustery day in late September with winds of about 18 knots gusting to 25 knots and a moderate two-to four-foot chop. With a single-reefed mainsail and a number three jib we found it to be an all-round good performer. The Express is well-balanced and relatively stable on all points of sail. Working to weather, we were impressed by its performance as it pointed well and handled the chop easily. The relatively high free-board makes for comfortably dry ride. A less experienced helmsman might have shortened sail a little more to avoid a tendency to heel over and round up in the stronger gusts. However, with a sensitive touch on the helm and adjustments to the mainsheet and traveler it could be kept on its feet and moving quickly.

Construction is fiberglass over a full balsa core hull and deck. The hull-deck joint has a through-bolted toe-rail over a special vinyl extrusion to produce a strong and watertight connection. The 3,500 pound lead keel is stoutly fastened with six large keel bolts to floor members reinforced with unidirectional fibreglass roving. The chainplates are unobtrusively but solidly through-bolted behind the settee cushions to a plywood and fiberglass bulkhead.

Express 30 - InteriorThe Express 30 mast is a French-manufactured aluminum extrusion that is completed here in Canada. It seemed nicely finished with halyard exists at convenient locations. Stainless steel rod rigging is standard. We found the mast suitably flexible, so that sail shape can be adjusted to wind conditions by altering tension on the backstay and jackstay. The unwary should be careful, however, as during one tack the cleat on the jackstay adjustment tackle released, leading to a momentary inversion of the mast. We hastily tied the jackstay down more securely.

The model we sailed was equipped with the optional performance package that includes rigging and tackle for adjusting the backstay, jackstay and boom vang. At an added cost of $2,000, the performance package would be a must for any but the most casual of racers. In addition, our boat was rigged with a Head Foil II double-groove forestay that permits the new headsail to be raised before the old one is lowered when changing jibs.

Going downwind, the boat steered easily and accelerated quickly with puffs of wind or surfing down waves. Our boat was equipped with the 36-inch wheel steering option, which was sensitive and comfortable to use. A tiller is standard and would be more familiar to those trading up from smaller yachts.

Express 30 - Main SaloonThe quality of the Express deck hardware is very high, featuring brand names renowned for their racing pedigrees. We were particularly impressed with the tidy and easy-to-use mainsheet system, with a six-to-one ratio for fine-tuning under heavy load and a three-to-one ratio for macro adjustments. With the number three sheeted well forward, we judged the angle from jib lead to winch a little awkward, and considered that a turning block aft might be a good idea. Halyards are all internal, lead aft from the base of the mast toward the cockpit under a covered portion of the deck and secured on the cabintop with Easylock stoppers.

For racing, a crew of at least four or five is recommended. If racing conditions are competitive, with lots of close action, plenty of spinnaker work and sail changes, five will probably be needed; otherwise the helmsman would likely have to handle the mainsail while trying to concentrate on steering. Some Express 30s are racing with six or even seven crew as they find the extra weight on the rail is helpful in heavier air. Nonetheless, for cruising the boat should be easily handled by two, since halyards are all led aft and the abundance of cleats and stoppers means fewer hands are needed. This assumes of course, that you don’t normally cruise with a spinnaker!

Express 30 - Optional 36-inch wheelReturning to the dock under power we discovered that the optional Martec folding propeller, as is usually the case, works better in forward than reverse. The advantage of reversed drag while sailing on the race course must be balanced against reduced maneuverability in tight corners under motor. Otherwise we thought that the Express 30 responded well under motor and had good speed in forward gear.

The interior of the Express 30 is open and uncluttered. The galley is aft of a spacious main saloon with a fixed table. The head is forward of the main bulkhead on the starboard side with a good-sized hanging locker opposite. The V berth forward is comfortably roomy at six feet, six inches, but is not closed off from the head compartment. Easily accessible storage in the forward area and in the head is limited, with two shelves along the sides of the “V” and one tiny cabinet in the head. The latter surprised us since there appears to be room behind the panel for a somewhat larger storage area. However, removing the V-berth cushions opens a good-sized locker suitable for storing supplies and a spare anchor.

In addition to the normal settee berths in the main saloon (the port side expands to a double), there is a short, narrow pilot berth above the starboard settee berth. We think that six people aboard a 30-footer is too high a population density under any reasonable circumstances, so we would prefer to see this area given over to cabinets or to other storage. There is a storage shelf behind the port settee, and all the berths (including the pilot berth) have large lockers underneath them. However, aside from bottle storage in the middle of the table we noticed a shortage of compartmentalized or structured stowage such as book shelves, cabinets with doors and slots to hold bottles or glasses.

Express 30 - DeckThe interior of the Express 30 we sailed was light colored with teak cabin sole and trim accented by clean, modern blue-and-white check cushion covers. All cushions are a comfortable four inches of high-density foam, and the sidewalls of the V berth are finished in a light tweed fabric-a warm, comfy touch. The table has ample space for four and has drop leaves on both sides for greater freedom of movement.

The galley has good work space and is sensibly laid out in the aft part of the cabin with the sink and stove to port and the icebox to starboard. The top of the icebox doubles as a chart table. Our boat was fitted with an impressive propane stove and oven (a $1,100 option) instead of the regular alcohol stove. Since we view a properly installed propane stove as safer than and greatly superior to alcohol for cooking, we would prefer the propane stove for extended cruising or living aboard. Propane is stored in two hinged-lid compartments at the stern of the cockpit-also convenient for stowing the binoculars or a jacket.

Overall, the interior of the Express 30 gives a clean, airy impression of functional design. There are an adequate number of light fixtures, and the windows are above-average sizes. The Plexiglass main hatch and forward hatch provide ventilation and add to brightness, as does the optional mid-main cabin hatch. This boat should be easy to maintain, both inside and out. The exterior has a minimum of exposed teak and avoids awkward nooks and crannies. Inside it is clean and uncluttered, again with a minimum of nooks and crannies. There is good access to the engine through the cockpit lockers and from the interior of the cabin by removing the companionway steps. The light fixture in the engine compartment is a thoughtful touch. Batteries are also handily located beside the engine.

Express 30MThe yacht’s electric panel is sensibly located aft on the starboard side, has a couple of spare positions, and is equipped with breakers instead of fuses-both pluses. However, the back of the panel seems unnecessarily exposed, with wiring and connections protruding unprotected into the cockpit locker space. Another hazard in this area on the boat we sailed were the long bolts hanging down beneath deck fittings. We also noticed that the cleats were mounted with back-up plates although the winches were not.

The Express 30 is a satisfying yacht for those who have an active interest in racing a yacht designed primarily for good performance, but without sacrificing the basic elements of civilized comfort. For the uncompromising racer Express Yachting has recently presented the 30M. Built to complete more directly with the J/29 and the Kirby 30, the Express 30M sacrifices headroom and interior appointments to reduce freeboards, lower the coachhouse and save weight. The interior of the 30M is typical of a “stripped-out IOR racer” with four pipe berths, a sink on one side, a chart table on the other, a head forward, and precious little else! Even the diesel engine is an optional extra. The lack of headroom and minimal galley would make it difficult to do much more than camp aboard the 30M, but for the serious racer the focus will be on improved performance. The 30M also has the advantage of a lower price tag, with a base price of $34,400 compared to $48,500 for the 30. The engine option accounts for about $5,000 of this difference.

For the owner who wishes to race in reasonable comfort, or who wishes to at least reserve the option of an occasional cruise, the Express 30 provides a sufficiently sophisticated racer-cruiser to be intriguing and challenging. It also meets the requirement that a 30-foot yacht should provide enough space and amenities for several adults to take at least short trips in a civilized fashion. Each of the owners we talked to had owned more cruising-oriented yachts before their Express 30s. As they became more interested in racing, they turned to the Express 30 for improved performance, and our experience indicated that it can certainly meet their requirements.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s December 1983 issue.

Length Over All: 30ft
Waterline: 24 ft 6 in.
Beam: lOft
Displacement: 8,200 lb.
Ballast: 3,500 lb.
Draft: 5 ft 6 in.
Headroom: 6 ft
Berths: five to six
Water Tank: 25 gallons approx.
Fuel Tank: 15 gallons approx .
Holding Tank: 20 gallons approx.
Engine : Yanmar 2-cylinder, 15 hp diesel
Sail area: 462 ft2

Photo 1 & 2: The Express is stable and performs well to weather.
Photo 3 & 4: The interior of the Express 30 is uncluttered, but offers accommodation for several adults. In addition to the settee berths in the main saloon, there is a narrow pilot berth above the starboard settee. In the modified Express 30 layout shown above, an optional quarter berth has been added, and the icebox moved to port
Photo 5: A tiller is standard on the 30, and the 36-inch wheel, above, is an option. The easy-to- use mainsheet system positioned in front of the helmsman is an impressive feature in the Express 30’s hardware inventory.
Photo 6 & 7: Compare the Express 30 interior and deck with the 30M (photo 7). Note the reduced header room, no-frills interior and double genoa tracks for serious racing.

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