Express 35

Express35250Nov2The Express 35 represents an impressive blend of sailing performance and elegant cruising comfort. There is sufficient room in its overall length for a posh interior without compromising the appearance or the sailing ability of the hull shape. The abundance of carefully fitted stowage units and many other thoughtful details all contribute to making the 35 a yacht an owner can be justly proud of.

The 35 is the brainchild of Bill Goman and Steve Killing, two young men who left C&C Yachts in 1970 to establish their own businesses. Goman, a construction specialist, founded Goman Boats Ltd. in Midland, Ontario; Steve Killing built a house down the road, where he established his design office. The two had worked together on the 1978 Canada’s Cup winner, Evergreen, at C&C, and since leaving the company their careers have continued to intertwine. Goman’s first production boat was a killing design, the Goman 20 (later called the Express 20). Killing then provided the lines for the Express 30, and Bill Goman built Killing’s first custom commission, the 37-foot Phantom.

Goman Boats fell victim to the crippling recession early in the decade, but re-emerged through new partners and refinancing as Express Yachting, with Goman serving as its vice-president. The Express 20 was dropped from production, and a racier version of the 30 by Killing, the 30M, soon followed. When Bill Goman wasn’t building production boats, he was turning out test tank models for the Canada 1 program, in which Killing served as the assistant designer. Today Killing is the chief designer for the True North America’s Cup effort, and Goman is lending a hand as a construction consultant and graphic artist.

“We aimed the Express 30 at the racing market,” while Goman reflects. “For the 35 we changed the emphasis to appeal to the cruising sailor while maintaining the same high standard of performance.” And at a base price of $85,400, the combination of sound design, comfortable appointments and quality construction adds up to good value.

Killing designed the Express 35 in 1983 with a relatively light overall displacement of 10,600 pounds. Although the production weight is now actually 11,500 pounds, almost half of it is concentrated in the keel to balance a generous sailplan of 643 square feet. Keel shape has been optimized through computer analysis, resulting in a thin, moderate aspect ratio foil; a shoal keel is also available. Hull lines are modern, but not extreme, to provide speed and performance without conforming to the distortions imposed by a rating formula.

Since the first hull was launched in 1984, almost 30 have been sold, with many, to the pleasant surprise of Goman, going to American owners. Since Express Yachting does not have a large manufacturing facility, the pace of sales has been sufficient to permit a steady production flow without creating an excessive order backlog. Goman is very satisfied with the rate of market penetration. There is no better example of the boat’s spreading fame than the fact that we shared our test sail with a couple who had driven all the way from Annapolis, Maryland, to experience the 35, and they ended up buying one.

Sylvester Watt of Toronto purchased one of the first Express 35s and sailed it on Georgian Bay through the 1984 season. He was looking for a comfortable cruising boat with a top-quality interior finish, but he’s also an ex-racer who appreciates speed and performance. With his competitive sons as crew, he says the only boat he can’t catch on Georgian Bay is a C&C 40.

Our initial sail of the Express 35 on a fog-shrouded, windless morning near Midland didn’t give us an opportunity to put this high-spirited design through its paces. As we were readying to return to Toronto, a cheerful 10- to 12-knot breeze piped up and cleared enough of the fog for a bright, sparkling ride in almost ideal sailing conditions. The Express 35 came to life with the change in weather conditions, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable hour of sailing.

The 35 was a pleasure to steer, nicely balanced with a light, responsive touch on the helm. The well-designed cockpit layout around the helmsman’s position provides several comfortable locations to steer from, all with excellent visibility. Upwind we judged the boat to be neither tender nor stiff, but pleasingly sensitive to the freshening breeze. It worked well to weather and seemed to accelerate smartly as we bore away from the wind.

The main hatch leads below via a true companionway with bulkheads and grab rails on each side, which provide a more secure route to and from deck than the typical open ladder. At the bottom of the companionway a slatted teak panel covers a drip pan draining into the bilge. Once below, the interior opens into a broad sweep of oiled teak and modern surfaces.

The basic layout includes a double cabin in the port quarter aft of the galley. The nav station is located to starboard opposite the galley, with the head immediately aft on the starboard quarter.

The main saloon leads through gracious double doors to the roomy double V-berth cabin. With these louvred doors open, the interior of the Express 35 feels remarkably spacious through careful design and clever use of attractive materials. The cabin sole, bulkheads and locker facings are oiled teak, complemented by a streamlined off-white headliner. Ventilation is provided by a large forward hatch, a mid-deck hatch over the saloon and the main companionway. The aft cabin and the head each have a solar-operated vent, which Goman tells us Express plans to replace with small skylight hatches. In addition, the aft cabin has a small opening port in the cockpit’s side wall. There are plenty of light fixtures arranged to create a pleasant glow in the main cabin and also to provide good lighting in reading or working areas.

In both the aft cabin and the forward V berth there is an emphasis on attractive and functional stowage. There is a long shelf down each side of the V berth, a hanging locker to port and a built-in unit to starboard that contains drawers, a “flap-down” locker beneath a small countertop and a smaller mirror-fronted locker above. Underneath the V berth there are also large lockers and bins. The entire V-berth cabin is generously appointed and comfortable; our only quibble is that the berth insert seems a little more cumbersome and heavy than necessary.

The aft cabin is similar to the vee berth in style, but space is at a higher premium. A hanging locker features a built-in drawer and locker stowage underneath, and a single long shelf is placed outboard of the double bunk. The bunk has a maximum width of 42 inches, which means you’re going to be friendly!

The main saloon has an L-shaped settee to port and a straight settee to starboard, each of which could serve as a single berth. Providing plenty of stowage is a high priority here as well. Outboard of each settee is a practical, fiddled shelf with attractive sliding-door lockers behind it. Above the lockers is additional shelf space. Behind the seat backs and under seat cushions are still more lockers. The double-hinged table is floor-mounted, although with a screwdriver it can be removed. It is a generous size and has a very nice finish and quality, easy-to-use hardware, but no fiddles around the edge! Apparently most owners prefer the table without fiddles, but Express Yachting will happily fit removable fiddles to the table if you’re planning to eat at sea.

The galley, on the other hand, is impressively equipped for going to sea. Acrylic fiddles several inches high surround the entire counter area, and a stainless steel grab rail extends in front of the stove. The two-burner propane stove with oven (an option) is a good model that gimbals freely. A fitted board covers the stove for a level surface under all conditions, and it stows neatly out of the way when not in use. Similarly, the hinged cutting board fits over the deep, double sinks located close to the boats centerline.

The icebox is an adequate size for short cruises. However, Sylvester Watt says he would like to have additional fridge or freezer space for voyages of two weeks or more. There’s a suitable amount of stowage for dishes and food including a spice rack, but we didn’t like the pile fabric in the back of the galley lockers because hard surfaces are much easier to keep clean. There are also a small space under the stove and a big cupboard-style locker under the sink.

Opposite the galley to starboard, the chart table is bordered by the same type of acrylic fiddle and stainless steel grab rail found in the galley. The navigator’s seat is comfortable and secure, though legroom is adequate rather than generous because a drawer unit is located underneath the table.

Sliding-door lockers continue from the saloon, along the outboard edge of the nav station, with a shelf above where instruments can be mounted. On the boat we sailed the electric panel was located beside the navigator’s seat, more or less under his right elbow. Goman says that the panel is being revamped and enlarged, and will henceforth be located in the aft end of the locker, probably on a hinged board to simplify access to the wiring.

The head compartment aft of the nav station is roomy and well-designed, with strategically placed grab rails for security. There’s a good sink in a stretch of counter, with lockers above and below. Over the lockers is an open shelf space that looks unfinished because the headliner stops short, exposing the underside of the deck and various bits of plumbing. A better finish or additional locker fronts would be more attractive. Other features including a big mirror on the bulkhead beside the toilet and a wet locker located behind it.

The hull and deck are constructed of fiberglass with a full balsa core, reinforced in areas of high stress. Inside are longitudinal fiberglass stringers running unobtrusively down the length of the boat on each side to add to the hull rigidity. The chainplates are stoutly anchored into the bulkheads and grounded to a keel bolt. The double-spreader tapered spar rests on a cast aluminum mast step bolted to reinforced floor timbers. Rod rigging for all standing rigging except the mainstay is standard equipment, an unusual quality feature. Deck hardware is all topnotch, name-brand gear. In typical Express style, halyards and reefing line lead aft under a portion of the deck to stoppers and halyard winches mounted on the aft end of the cabintop. The mainsheet runs from the end of the boom to a traveler bar immediately forward of the wheel and pedestal. Its coarse and fine sheet arrangement and traveler adjustment system are a pleasure to use.

The engine is easily accessible behind the companionway steps and through a sliding panel from the aft cabin. Batteries are secured conveniently under the navigator’s seat in a well-ventilated compartment. Access to the steering under the cockpit floor is somewhat cramped as the fuel tank and holding tank are located there. On balance, we give the Express 35 high marks for its combination of sailing performance, comfortable appointments and quality finish.


LOA            35 ft.

LWL            29 ft.

Beam             11 ft 6 in.

Displacement             11,500 lbs.

Ballast             5,300 lbs.

Draft: Fin Keel             6.5 ft.

Shoal keel             5 ft.

Water             32 gal.

Fuel             24 gal.

Holding             16 gal.

Sail Area            643 sq. ft.

To see if this boat is available, go to for listings!

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