by Pete Green
Rustler Yachts are a British boat builder based in Falmouth, Cornwall. They have a reputation for building and designing high-quality, and fast blue water cruising boats. They are hand finished by time-served craftsmen. Clients are invited to Falmouth to be involved in each stage of the design and build process. No two boats are quite the same; each is fully customised to the owner’s specifications. Rustler Yachts are driven by customer demand.
This article looks at the history and success of this iconic brand and Halcyon Yachts’ involvement in providing yacht delivery services to Rustler owners.
Past: A short history of Rustler Yachts
In the mid-1960’s Kim Holman designed a boat for Russell Anstey of Poole which became The Rustler 31, the name was a play on Russell. Anstey Yachts then built around 35 more boats before the moulds were passed on to other yacht manufacturers where the boat continued to be fabricated. Orion Marine acquired the blueprints in the early 1980s. Led by founder Ralph Hogg, they started the construction of the traditional Rustler 36. In 1999, naval architect, Stephen Jones launched the Rustler 42. The first boat was christened, ‘Red Ruth’. Hull number 42 is currently in production and the design is now seen as the model blue water cruiser. Stephen Jones followed the success of the 42 with the Rustler 33, 37, and most recently in 2019, the Rustler 57. Other models include the Rustler 44 an elongated, taller version of the Rustler 42 and the 24, a beautiful day sailer.
Present: 21st Century Yacht Designs
In 2005 Rustler Yachts moved to new, bespoke waterside premises in Penryn, Cornwall where up to 50 people are employed. The yard has a hoist, hard standing and the facilities to build their yacht range from the drawing board through to completion. During a recent visit to Rustler Yachts we asked Managing Director, Adrian Jones what exciting things were coming out of the yard in 2022.
Adrian was keen to explain about the flexibility that his team has when working with new owners. Clients can adapt the yachts standard designs to reflect their own needs. For example, the internal layout can be modified to include a larger fore cabin or shower room; sailors can request washing machines, generators, boson lockers, workshops etc. The standard Nanni engine can be replaced with another model of the owner’s choice. The charging systems can be modified, i.e. with the addition of a second alternator, renewable energy systems can be included as can water makers.
One design aspect that the company has been successfully integrating is the inclusion of carbon fibre masts on some of the more recent boats that have come out of the workshop. Whilst the cost of a carbon fibre mast is higher than the traditional aluminium construction there are clear advantages.
Adrian commented that “it turns a Rustler 42 from an 8-knot boat into a 9-knot boat”. The carbon mast is lighter so the weight above the decks is less which means that the boat is not as tender and therefore not so prone to heel. A boat that heals less is more stable and can hold canvas for longer. She is also not so inclined to pitch and roll so the sea movement is more fluid allowing the yacht to maintain her speed through the water. The more comfortable motion has benefits for the crew also and could help to reduce seasickness. Another advantage of a carbon rig is that the manufacturing process can take into consideration the different stresses that are placed on a mast along its length. For example, the load at the base is not the same as is experienced at the gooseneck or around the spreaders. This differentiation is not possible with an aluminium mast.
Future: Rustler 41 motorboat
One of the most exciting developments at the Rustler workshop is the upcoming launch of the Rustler 41. This will be the company’s first motorboat. Adrian explained that the concept has been customer lead with many existing clients asking if it was possible to build a motor yacht with all the established hallmarks of a Rustler sailing vessel. After an eight-year planning period, the first hull is being laid down in the mould. The finished vessel will have a deep-V planing hull to ensure excellent performance, good seakeeping and a smooth comfortable ride. In addition, the boat will include the blend of “craftsmanship, and elegance” that can be found in their sailing vessels.
The finished boat will have good slow-speed manoeuvrability, and a comfortable cruising speed of 25knots whilst being capable of a top speed of 35 knots. Part of the concept is to produce the feel of “a gentleman’s launch”.
Halycon Yachts and Rustler Yachts
Halcyon Yachts have a long history of delivering Rustler Yachts. For example, in 2015, Halcyon Yachts delivered ‘Mor Toad’, a Rustler 42, from Tortola in the British Virgin Isles to Falmouth UK.
This 4000nm mile trans Atlantic yacht delivery was completed in three legs: the first part was the 900-mile trip to St. Georges in Bermuda, the middle and longest leg was to A Coruna in Northern Spain and finally, the crew travelled 500nm across The Bay of Biscay and north to Falmouth.
‘Rebbeca’ was a brand new Rustler 42 straight out of the workshop. Halcyon Yachts conducted this yacht delivery to the Southampton Boatshow where she was a very popular exhibit.
‘Red Ruth’ was returned to the UK by Halcyon in 2019 from Madeira via the Azores. This yacht delivery was a difficult windless journey as The Azores High moved further north during the passage. The skipper was at the very bottom of the boat’s fuel reserves as he entered the fuel berth on The Isles of Scilly. He commented that if the boat hadn’t had such large 600-litre fuel tanks it would have been a very long drift!
‘Asherah’, another Rustler 42 was on delivery in 2020 from her long-term base in Denia up to Falmouth by a Halcyon team. After many years in one family, she was returning to the Rustler yard for a refit ready for resale by Red Ensign.
The ‘Asherah’ delivery crew met up with another Halcyon delivery team in southern Portugal during a planned stop. The two skippers had differing ideas about the best course to take up the Portuguese and Spanish coasts to A Coruna. One opted to motor sail very close inshore to cover the least distance and stay out of the tide and weather.
The skipper of the Rustler knew he had a fine blue water boat and opted to sail 250nm offshore in 25-30 knots of wind, tack and sail back towards the coast of Northern Spain. Who arrived in A Coruna first?
Well, the yacht that motor sailed did but only by a few hours and that boat had used a full tank of fuel. After a very brief stop in Spain, both yachts sailed across The Bay of Biscay together. With the wind just aft of the beam ‘Asherah’ completed the crossing to Ushant in 43 hours. The yacht delivery crew agreed that it was one of the most exhilarating passages that they had ever had.
More recently in September 2022, the owners of ‘Lark III’ commissioned Halcyon Yachts to deliver her from Dunstaffnage near Oban down to the Rustler yard. This was a reverse trip of the yacht delivery that Halcyon completed in 2018 when ‘Lark III’ was brand new and straight out of the workshop.
One of the owners joined the skipper and mate for the 450-mile passage. He said that he had decided to buy a Rustler because of the great name that Rustler boats have and the post-sales service that is available. After ‘Lark III’ has had a refit she is going to spend the winter and early spring in the Caribbean.
A Final Word
Rustler produces beautiful and tactile sailing boats. They handle difficult seas with an easy, confident motion and have a deep cockpit that inspires security. Larger models with two headsails provide a more versatile sail plan as does the option for electric or hand winches. The navigation area is large enough to spread out charts and almanacs and is complemented by modern electronic equipment. Internally, there are hand holds just where one needs them to be, moving around below when the boat is heeling can be achieved without too many bruises! The layout with the larger heads, shower, electric flush toilet and self-pumping basin is a pleasure to use. A wet locker within the heads area is a little difficult to access but still a very useful space. Rustler Yachts are fast, seaworthy and strong and always a pleasure for Halcyon’s crews to deliver.