Robert Perry designed the Valiant 40 in 1973. At that time the term "performance cruiser" didn't exist, and full keels and slow passages were the order of the day. However, Perry used his experience in designing IOR raceboats and gave the boat an innovative fin keel and skeg hung rudder. This underbody configuration is commonplace today but was unheard of 30 years ago, and the years have done nothing to diminish the appeal of her graceful shear, canoe stern, low coachroof and well-balanced rig.
As Cruising World notes, "What began as a challenge to design and build a fast, comfortable, safe cruising yacht, a vessel capable of long-distance deepwater voyaging, evolved into one of the most popular yacht designs ever produced". It's also noteworthy that more circumnavigations and shorthanded ocean crossings have been completed on Valiants than any other brand of boats, and the 40 is Valiant's most successful design.
This particular U.S.-built boat DOESN'T HAVE, nor has she ever had, any of the blistering, either topsides or bottom, associated with the early Valiants; the blistering began with Hull Number 120 and she's Hull Number 108. As a measure of added protection, the previous owner had a bottom job done which included five layers of epoxy barrier coating and two coats of Imron paint; vessel was last hauled in 2016 for bottom paint and (no surprises here) she's still blister free.
A veteran of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and two Trans Pacs, this vessel is well equipped for cruising and seriously set up for a short- or single-handed circumnavigation.
Note barely 30 hours on totally rebuilt engine (with barely 1,600 hours overall) with a new Slipstream propeller (2016, owner reports this prop to be much superior to the MaxProp it replaced), almost no time on newer sails, monitor windvane (2007), all new batteries in 2017, substantial dodger (2010), Winslow six person liferaft (new 2001, last certified in 2012), updated electronics, etc etc etc. Bottom line is that this boat is turn key--she's ready to provision and GO!
And note she's also very competitively priced for a well equipped Valiant without the blister problems (compare it to ANY the other Valiants for sale)...
Traditional layout with V berth forward, then the head aft to port with hanging lockers across to starboard. Continue aft to inviting main salon with centerline long table with settees and pilot berths outboard on both sides.
Continue aft to U-shaped galley port side along with master stateroom far aft with double berth, offset companionway then big forward-facing nav station to starboard.
Note 6'4 headroom, most interior light fixtures upgraded to high end LED white lights, Espar forced-air diesel heat, interior of a Valiant 40 is one of the best ever designed for a cruising boat...
Hot/cold pressure water (12 gal. hot water heater, AC and engine fired) with manual fresh and salt water backup pumps, Cold Blue 12V compressor refrigeration with cold plate and separate cool/frozen compartments, Seaward 3122 propane stainless steel three burner gimbaled stove with oven, Magic Chef microwave oven.
Furuno 1715 24 mile radar (2010) on swing arm visible from aft cabin or helm, Raymarine SPX-30 autopilot with ST6002 SmartPilot controller and S100 wireless remote control (2011, fun to drive the boat from the bow pulpit now!), Garmin GPSMap 180 chartplotter GPS as well as two IBM Thinkpad 42 laptop computers with Garmin Blue Chart and Nobeltec Visual navigation software, Raymarine ST60+ Tri-Data instrument (2010), Datamarine wind speed/direction indicator.
Icom M710 HF SSB transceiver (2010) with autotuner and isolated backstay, ground plane and SSB modem for computer input (for email or weather fax for example), Uniden Solara VHF transceiver.
ACR Satellite2 406 Epirb (current, good thru 2022), NASA Marine Instruments AIS system.
110V AC / 12V DC. Thirty amp AC shorepower service, six 6V golf cart batteries house batteries (750 amp hours total) and single Group 24 12V starting battery (isolated with automatic switch, all batteries new in April 2017), Heart Interface Freedom 20 2,000 watt inverter/charger with Link 2000R and Heart Interface monitoring systems, two fully articulated 12V solar panels (2012) on stern rail.
Cutter rig with removable inner forestay and keel stepped single spreader rig with 1x19 stainless steel wire standing rigging (standing rigging replaced in 2009).
Fully battened mainsail (2010, like new) with Harken battcar system and two reef points , numerous headsails--new (2004) 120% Quantuum jib with foam luff on Profurl rollerfurler (1995), staysail, storm trysail and storm jib (neither ever used), asymmetrical spinnaker (2005, used only a few times), all rigging renewed in 2009.
Note Dream Chaser has been modified to the rig standard on later-model Valiants--a shorter boom (2010) with mid boom sheeting and traveler on cabintop forward of dodger (vs. a loonger boom with end-boom sheeting originally).
Solid handlaid fiberglass hull with modified fin keel, skeg hung rudder and teak over cored decks.
Stainless steel bow and stern pulpits, stainless steel stanchions with double lifeline. Heavy duty dodger (new Covercraft canvas in 2010, sailcovers replaced at same time and all the canvas looks practically new today) with retractable front window.
Monitor wind vane (2007) with MRud emergency rudder and factory spare parts kit.
Double anchor rollers on bow, Lighthouse 1501 electric windlass (installed 1994), 45lb CQR anchor (new 2000), 35lb CQR, 22lb Danforth, ample chain and line rode (300' chain and 225' line).
Coast Guard safety package including lifejackets, flares etc plus six-man Winslow Offshore liferaft (new in 2001, last serviced 2012), West Marine 8' dingy with 2 hp Honda four stroke outboard (1994, still runs strong!).
Thirty seven horsepower four cylinder fresh water cooled Westerbeke 4-107 diesel in sound insulated engine room; engine totally rebuilt in 2016 as was transmission and barely 30 hours clocked since (note new pistons, rings, cylinder sleeves, main and rod bearings and seals).
Wheel steering via cable and quadrant. Stainless steel shaft thru PSS dripless packing gland and bronze strut to 17" stainless steel folding SlipStream propeller (2016, this prop cost $2,570 and according to the owner is far superior to the MaxProp).
What began as a challenge to design and build a fast, comfortable, safe cruising yacht, a vessel capable of long-distance deepwater voyaging, evolved into one of the most popular yacht designs ever produced. The cut-away forefoot, modified fin keel with external lead, and skeg-hung rudder reduced wetted surface area. Performance was terrific in comparison to more traditional designs, and comfort was not sacrificed.
Between 1975 and 1979, Seattleites Bill and Mary Black on hull number 107 (the seventh boat built), Foreign Affair, became the first sailors to circumnavigate on a Valiant. “Safe” and “comfortable” were words they often used to describe the trip. Two Valiant 40s then entered a difficult singlehanded transAtlantic race. In the 1976 OSTAR, Francis Stokes aboard Mooneshine, hull number 122, became the first American in a monohull to finish. He sailed it very hard, mostly to weather, and didn’t loosen any teeth in the process — despite the contention of contemporary skeptics that you needed a full keel to tame any sailboat upwind in a seaway. He did it again in the same Valiant four years later. His success with the boat encouraged Dan Byrne in hull number 101, the first Valiant produced, to enter the inaugural 1982-83 BOC Challenge singlehanded around-the-world race. Dan and Fantasy completed the difficult 27,000-mile race with its two deep Southern Ocean legs. All of these cruising and racing achievements punctuated the design and building accomplishments of the Rothman-Perry-Uniflite team. That was all I needed to choose a Valiant 40 for my first singlehanded circumnavigation.
Uniflite built 159 Valiant 40s from 1975 to 1984, when Rich Worstell, a Valiant owner and dealer, bought the molds. After producing some 40s in Washington, he eventually moved the operation to Texas. The first “Texas” Valiant 40 was hull number 267. Sometime during the Uniflite operation, between hull numbers 120 and 249, resin mixtures were changed to include a fire-retardant additive. Although conclusive proof was never established, there was a high correlation between the fire-retardant additive and the blisters that later developed on boats between those hull numbers. Blisters developed on most (but not all) of the boats produced between 1976 and 1981. Lots of those “blister” boats are out there with happy owners. Blistered boats represent great dollar value, but may also require costly repairs.
All the 40s have similar sailing characteristics. Early keels are slightly longer than later ones, all the ballast numbers are close to being the same, and Spar-tech in Seattle built most of the rigs. A variety of portlight, hatch, engine, pump and tank manufacturers have been tapped over the years, and many different types of deck gear used, but the interior has remained the same. A functional, comfortable (at sea or dockside) combination of aft “stateroom,” U-shaped galley with terrific storage, traditional main saloon with a bulkhead table or permanent cruising fold-down job, outboard pilot berths, head with separate shower, and V-berth forward make for happy cruising.
Most deck arrangements are the same, although a few early boats had longer booms and end-boom sheeting — a nuisance bordering on dangerous for the unaware helmsperson during a gybe. A mid-boom traveler was introduced with a shorter boom and slightly taller rig, which is much more convenient for many reasons. The cockpit is comfortable and secure.
A Valiant 40 is capable of consistent 165-mile days without a crew willing to expend lots of energy. With conventional windvane, cutter rig, good sails and a bit of attention to trim, a consistent and comfortable 6.5 to 7.5 knots is the norm on a breezy passage. There is just enough bow flare to keep the deck reasonably dry, and loads of forward buoyancy to keep the bow from pearling. In over 30,000 miles of singlehanded sailing I never needed to worry about the integrity of my 40; it handled an amazing and sometimes overwhelming variety of conditions. Rumbling along on a deep reach with a big following sea is something to experience from the Valiant’s safe cockpit.
Best bargain: Look for a fire-retardant, potentially blistered Uniflite 40 built between 1976 and early 1981. Prices should range from $90,000 to $130,000. Hull numbers 250 to 266 were non-fire-retardant resin boats and prices will range from $110,000 to $150,000, again depending on condition and equipment. Texas-built Valiant 40s — numbers 267 to 300 — range from $160,000 to $280,000
Mark Schrader, Cruising World magazine, October 1997.
When the Valiant 40 was introduced, the term "performance cruiser" must have seemed a bit of an oxymoron. In fact, the Valiant 40 can be credited with putting the word "performance" into this class of yachts that have become increasingly popular over the years. The design can also be credited with launching the career of Bob Perry who has gone on to become one of the most notable yacht designers of the past 25 years.
Perry was convinced that cruising boats did not have to be slow and sluggish in order to be safe and comfortable offshore. He also recognized the aesthetic appeal of traditionally styled cruising boats, and he set out to design a boat that was the best of both worlds. In plan view (looking down from atop) the Valiant 40 has a very traditional shape with full ends nearly elliptical in appearance. In profile, above the waterline, the appearance is a combination of new and old. The straight stem is modern in appearance, the spring of the sheer slightly more pronounced than traditional double-enders, and the canoe stern is very traditional. The box-like trunk cabin also lends to the boat’s traditional appearance.
Below the waterline the story is quite different. The high prismatic coefficient, low wetted surface area, low displacement to length ratio and long waterline more resemble a race boat of the early 1970s than an offshore cruiser of that era.
Between 1973 and 1984 Valiants were built under contract by Uniflite Corp. of Bellingham, WA. In 1984, Valiant was purchased by one of the company’s dealers and moved to Gordinville, TX, where they are today.
My space is limited and I do need to discuss the blistering concerns. So, I’m not going to go into the usual details of construction other than to say the hulls are solid fiberglass and plastic resin, the decks are cored, and the method of construction has been in line with what should be expected of an offshore yacht. It is the materials of construction, not the method, that have caused problems with a number of Valiant 40 hulls.
Often the Valiant 40 problems have been more severe than the typical osmotic bottom blistering associated with many production boats of the 1970s and 1980s. My experience has shown a number of Valiant 40 models built by Uniflite between 1976 and 1981 to have severe blisters of the fiberglass laminates, some as large as eight inches in diameter.
Initially the blistering problem was blamed solely on fire retardant resins used by Uniflite. Later research has shown that a combination of sizing used on fiberglass strands chemically reacts with the fire retardant resins resulting in the blisters. This has the potential to be considerably more serious than typical osmotic blisters restricted to areas near and below the waterline. The Valiant blisters affect the entire hull. Most attempts at repair I am familiar with have been unsuccessful, and blisters have redeveloped in as little as two years.
I have heard of several successful repairs, although the solution is very expensive and the last I know of done professionally cost in excess of $60,000. On the positive side, there were 200 Valiant 40s built, and less than 20% have been reported to have severe blistering problems. I do not know of any reported sinking or catastrophic failure resulting from these blisters.
The Valiant 40 has a true cutter rig, and generally speaking, sails and balances very well on all points of sail. There is one Achilles heel that becomes apparent when beating to weather in choppy seaway. In a self-evaluation of his own design, Perry once wrote that; "The fineness in the bow quickly gives way through flare to a broad deck, producing a very dry boat but a boat that isn’t at its best in a steep chop". By some accounts Mr. Perry was being kind. Several years ago a friend sailing a Valiant 40 to the Virgin Islands from Florida reported the noise from the pounding so severe that he couldn’t sleep.
The Valiant 40 has certainly proven her mettle as a capable offshore cruiser with numerous circumnavigations to her credit. On more than one occasion, circumnavigation has been single-handed. Her 6’+ (5’ 3" for some shoal draft models) draft makes for less than an ideal gunkholer for some cruisers. Her accommodations are very livable for long range cruising and her performance, under most sailing conditions, is superior to many traditional offshore cruisers. Prices range from under $50,000 (needing considerable work) to well over $200,000, so there are boats to suit a wide range of budgets. Before you consider buying a boat that needs substantial repair, make sure you fully understand what you’re getting into.
Jack Hornor, NA is the principal surveyor and senior designer for the Annapolis-based Marine Survey & Design Co.