Sabre's message for its 452 is perfectly clear: the company wants you to take the new cruiser offshore, around the world if you have the time and the inclination. Of course, you don't have to go for an extended cruise, coastwise or otherwise, to appreciate this boat, because the 452 is equally at home close to home and around the buoys as a PHRF racer. If you thought of Sabres as performance boats you can cruise, maybe you should think of the 452 as a globetrotter you can race or daysail.
The difference between the 452 and Sabre models from the past extends far beyond LOA. The design team of Jim Taylor (naval architecture for the hull, appendages and proportions of the rig) and Sabre's chief of design, Ken Rusinek (everything else), have put a great deal of thought into the details. Get the details wrong, and a boat simply never lives up to its potential.
I'd love to say that I spent a week cruising the 452, but I settled for a couple of hours on Chesapeake Bay in fresh offshore breezes and moderate seas. I can only guess from this brief exposure that Sabre got it right in the offshore department.
In spite of her luxurious accommodations, the 452 is a bonafide sailing yacht. Sabre has kept overall weight in check [using resin infusion molding] for the hull and deck. Skins and balsa core are laid up dry, and resin introduced during vacuum bagging. Displacement is 26,500 lb., and driving this moderate poundage is a masthead rig of 1,043 square feet, upwind sail area. I'm not crazy about masthead rigs, because they need big headsails and often don't like to drive the boat under mainsail alone. On the other hand, they do point high - right up to about 25 degrees to the apparent wind on the Sabre. Tacking and jibing the 452, though, requires an agile crew of at least two to keep the maneuver from turning into a Keystone Cops rerun. The primaries are on the cockpit coaming, close enough to the wheel for the helmsman to let go the leeward sheet, if he steps forward of the wheel. Cruising doesn't require much tacking and jibing, and most cruising folks will motor out of the harbor, instead of short-tacking.
On the plus side, this big rig quickly accelerates the 452 to her theoretical hull speed of 8 knots, but she easily tops that. Taylor has done a fine job on this hull, so the only time you'll be confined to hull speed is in light air or upwind in freshening breezes. Motion, too, ought to be kind to the crew, thanks to her fine entry and rounded sections. Placing the heavy weights over or near the vertical center of buoyancy keeps pitching to a minimum, as well.
Comfort requires more than a kindly motion; the accommodations have to be first-rate. One of the most important ingredients in a successful offshore cruising boat is a safe and intelligently arranged galley. I like this one for a couple of reasons: the flow from refrigeration at the after end of the galley space to the preparation counter to the stove to the clean-up counter to the sink in a reasonably close U-shape is ideal; it's roomy so you can work without banging your elbows, and at the same time, it's tight so you can brace yourself and stay in place when the seas get grumpy. The double stainless steel sink is big and deep - you'll be able to wash pots and pans in it - and every counter has a substantial fiddle to keep stuff from sliding to the sole. Counter tops are Corian, attractive and durable, but they'll defeat any fiddle short of six inches tall. They're simply too slippery - that goes for every boat I've sailed. Sticky rubber mats are the order of the day at sea. Cooking at sea, though, shouldn't create too many headaches, because the Regal stove has four burners and substantial pot holders.
Cruising sailors seem to subscribe to the natural-gas theory: a given volume of natural gas will expand to fill its container regardless of how large you make it. So, who has enough stowage space? No one, but filling all the hidey-holes aboard the 452 won't be so easy. Every space that hasn't been used for tankage, wiring or plumbing runs, batteries, engine and whatnot, goes to stowage. A careful and clever cruising quartet ought to have space for a month at sea.
As production boats go, the 452 has nifty arrangement. When I become hypercritical about the interior of a production boat, I have to kick myself to remember that the builder has to appeal to a fairly wide variety of tastes and requirements. The forward stateroom is big, so no one should get claustrophobia in there, but I don't like the centerline berth stuffed so far into the bows. You have to crawl over your pillows to get aboard, then you end up at night tangling feet with your mate. I give the cedar-lined hanging locker four stars for its size, though, and I love the smell. The forward head is commendably large, but you don't want to be in the shower or on the toilet in a serious sea: the head's too far forward. You can use the one back aft behind the nav station. The motion back there will be a lot gentler.
Sabre tells us that seven adults can sleep aboard the 452 - two forward, two aft, two on the convertible dinette, and one on the settee opposite. Be that as it may, I wouldn't want to be aboard with six other folks, no matter who they are. Both berths in the saloon, are great places for the offwatch crew to sleep. The motion over the center of buoyancy is always the most gentle of any place on the boat.
When the price of a 45-footer nudges the half-million dollar mark, you expect a lovely interior, and once again, Sabre has done its sums. The joinerwork of the boat I sailed was domestic cherry. Its color and warmth made me want to hang out in the saloon with a good book, a wee dram of the malt, and Paul Desmond turned low on the CD player. Even in nice weather, this cherry interior invites an hour or two of repose. Here's a clever item - the starboard settee hides a table that opens out of the center and creates a pair of chairs and one end table between them. This would be a fine perch from which to watch TV, but the TV is on the starboard side, too, in a cabinet above the after chair.
In the interest of allowing cruisers to be independent of shore power, Sabre has equipped the 452 with a Heart 2500w inverter, two 80-amp alternators, and a pair of 200AH deep-cycle house batteries. A 30-amp, 110v AC shorepower system is standard for dockside duty.
OUR RECOMMENDED SAILING GEAR