Whether you love the convenience and versatility of the 26-foot, water-ballasted MacGregor sailboats or no, most sailors have at least heard of them. Fewer boaters are probably familiar with the much larger MacGregor 65 Pilothouse sailboat (not water ballasted) first launched in 1984. Reportedly 100 hulls were built up to 1995 before the widespread popularity of the water-ballasted 26s demanded the company’s full attention. What’s the deal with the successful but less talked about MacGregor 65?
Widely described as a racing sled, the fin-keeled MacGregor 65 is meant to fly. With a PHRF rating of negative 54, a low displacement ratio of 54, and a fairly Spartan interior (in part due to a slim 12’ beam), the 65 is a sleek fiberglass speed freak first and everything else last. To put that tiny beam into perspective, the sleek and popular J/65 is rocking a compartively roomy 16’ beam.
The 65 has that low racer’s coachroof and twin foresail rig too, but with the addition of a pilothouse. The pilothouse is a unique cruiser’s touch for this racer that will probably be appreciated in the Pacific Northwest during the wetter winter months.
Anecdotally, MacGregor Yachts once reported that a 65 averaged 10.5 knots for 1,150 miles in generally upwind conditions and hit top speeds of over 25 knots during a Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta race. Those are some pretty great numbers.
There’s currently a 1990 model with an inboard Yanmar diesel engine listed from Oak Harbor, Washington-based Bristol Yachts Northwest. If you’re looking for an arrow of a boat that should be able to take home regatta wins for a price less than a new J/Boat half its size, the MacGregor 65 Pilothouse beckons. Listed at $149,000.