TARTAN? In my under-educated and underexposed youth, the noun Tartan conjured up a bunch of hardy Scots brawling in their inhospitable highlands, for the glory of their clan's own tartan. That concept has not really changed much – even after education and a more worldly perspective in later life. What REALLY changed this insular overview was the day I stepped aboard a Tartan 4000 yacht, newly-imported into Thailand by George Foose, and berthed at the Ocean Marina, just south of Pattaya. The Tartan 4000 was a "dream" of George's, as his newly-imported yacht is appropriately just that. George is a well-known sailor in and around Thai waters where he has skippered his Ericson 38 Freewind to considerable success in many of the regattas, which are held up and down Thailand's coastlines.
This is one of the first of these magnificent 4000s, built at Painesville, Ohio, USA, (with the appropriate address there as "One High Tech Avenue") bordering the huge network of the US Great Lakes system, and the first to be brought into the Kingdom of Thailand. And, even with a yacht-building boom engulfing Thailand, it will not be the last. Quite the contrary, I think the quality, finish and overall superiority of this mid-sized cruiser (in the range of 40-45 feet) will place this craft in the lead of an Asia-wide surge for such a yacht – as its ideal for cruising and competitive racing. The Tartan arrived from the Painesville boat yard – now celebrating its 50th anniversary -via Singapore and then Phuket, before berthing at Ocean Marina. While in both these ports, the Tartan was on display at marine exhibitions and, according to George, his main task while at these respective marinas, was showing many enthusiasts the beautiful lines and fittings of the new Tartan. The Tartan Yachts company was established in Painesville in 1962 and has followed a very strict policy of: "a commitment to design and engineering, based on total performance." Tartan is "committed to the next 50 years with the focus of simply making our customer experience the best the industry has to offer". The many who viewed the Tartan at both the Singapore and Phuket boat shows), would subscribe to the company's philosophy. George, in keeping with his strong attachment to Thailand, had the majestic blue hull embossed with the logo of the Suphannahongse, fore and aft. This mythical Thai swan, is the identifying feature of HM the King's own royal barge, used for festive occasions on Bangkok's Chao Phraya River and readily identifies with the Thai people. As we sat in great comfort in the yacht's ample airconditioning at the Ocean Marina (ambient temperature outside was around 38 degrees C), George showed obviously enormous pride in the cherry-wood finishing, woodwork and trimming of the doors, cabinets and hatches around the craft, George pointed out his "pilot berth", neatly placed as part of the cabin fascia. "Tartan threw this one in for free", he said. He also pointed to the numerous overhead hatches, complete with mosquito netting and shades.
Among the superior stainless fittings and equipment, the craft features an adjustable transom, for ease of boarding and, complete with a ladder, ideal for swimming and water sports from the yacht. Hand-crafted, Tartan Yachts have a 50-year heritage of combining cutting-edge technology and all models feature composite cored hulls and decks, with infused BPA epoxy. The Park Avenue boom, steering pods and rudder shaft are all carbon-fibre and the mast is incredibly light and strong, weighing a scant 100kg, shipping weight. Added to this are the cruise control rigs, stunning cherry-wood interiors and all craft are totally rigged and outfitted with the finest hardware available, as well as North Sails. Tartan owners and aficionados comprise successful professionals and entrepreneurs, amongst senior executives and investors who have an uncommonlyhigh demand for the company's traditional blending of beauty and performance. Alvah Simon, a judge for the selection of Boat of the Year, 2012, was ecstatic about the 4000. "The keel-stepped mast, the double head-sail solent rig with the self-tacking jib (known around the Painesville boat-yards as cruise control)," he noted, "as well as the bulwarks and the varnished cap-rail, the T-shaped cockpit, with the twin helms are incomparable." There's a 75 HP Volvo D2 diesel sail drive, and all electronics including inverter and generator are Master Volt and the interior fabric is ultra-leather standard. So superior is the construction of the Tartan, that the company underwrites the hull with a 15-year warranty. George referred to his formative years in the US mid-west where he always hankered after the Tartan 4000 and, in 2010, George committed to purchase one of the first five boats to be built. "Now, I both own one and, through my company, Sports Engineering and Recreation Asia, represent the Tartan Marine Group's interests in Southeast Asia". For the statistically-minded, the Tartan 4000 is resin-infused laminated in "one shot", eliminating secondary bonding of structural materials. Length overall (LOA) 40.7ft (12.41m); beam 13ft (3.96m); ballast: centerboard 8,600lbs (9573kg); total sail area: 890.9sqft (82.77sqm). The Tartan can carry 60 gallons (227 litres) of fuel, 120 gallons (454 litres) of water and there are seven berths. Designed by Tim Jackett, the 4000 is the newest model to come out of the Tartan Yachts complex and it compares, according to George, to a very up-market model of a new automobile.
One critic, Ed Sherman , examining the Tartan, noted: "It has a traditional feel; they have retained that classic Tartan look , but they have also given you ergonomics that work well throughout. The lay-out is very pleasing (and) the galley was really impressive… the companion-way steps were wide…and it was easy to go fore and aft, even when the boat heeled."
Although George is a very competent sailor, he will limit his time on the Tartan to be more cruising-oriented. He, no doubt, agrees with other sailors who say the truly versatile design of the 4000 will facilitate coastal cruising and off-shore ventures. As Beth Leonard says: "The Tartan delivers excellent cruising capabilities; it is really a coastal cruiser, capable of passage-making. I would take it anywhere."
No doubt, George agrees and he is already planning passages to some of Thailand's beautiful islands, especially in the Andaman Sea, Phang Nga Bay, the Koh Chang area and down to Malaysia as well.
Although racing will not be his main objective, nevertheless George recently participated in – and won – the Cruising Class Division in the monthly Ocean Marina Yacht Club's championship.
As I returned to the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, just north of the Ocean Marina after this visit, I wondered if Tartan Yachts would be willing to trade in my 20- year-old OK dinghy, as a down payment on a new Tartan 4000. www.tartanyachts.com,