“Aleissima is our dream boat and we built it ourselves”

Aleissima navigazione - 2What to do if you ideal boat is not on the market? Simple. You build it yourself, in a barn of an old farmhouse in the Cagliari countryside.

This is, in a nutshell, the story of Alessandro Cabras, a Sardinian engineer and his partner Alessandra Atzei, who have just launched Aleissima in Sardinia, a 9.50 m racer cruiser entirely designed by Cabras and built by the couple after 8 years of work (and many interruptions). A boat that, aesthetically speaking, seems to have nothing to do with ‘self-building’: “They ask me what boatyard she is from and are amazed when I tell them we made her at home,” Cabras reveals.

Aleissima varo - 2

“For years we have worked quietly,” Alessandra tells us, “and last 25 June we made our dream come true. The pages of your magazine have always been part of our lives as sailors and we would like to share with your readers the conclusion of this wonderful journey and the beginning of all those that will follow”. 

Here is their story, told by Alessandro Cabras.

Aleissima, the boat of our dreams

Four years old, an old illustrated book on sailing boats, yellowed, crumpled, bought for me by my father, this is the image in my mind marking the ‘zero point’ … I leafed through and looked at the pictures over and over again, always the same ones, the ones that then seemed to me the most beautiful, the most fantastic… the path was marked out!

When I was seven or eight years old, I used to cut out the plans for the boats in the yearbooks of magazines, selected with a child’s criteria of seaworthiness, safety, beauty… it was a lifelong dream.

Yes, that very life that in the hustle and bustle of everyday life over the past few years has led me to temporarily put aside my dreams, the real, fervent and above all blue ones. It is precisely these dreams that never leave you, they become an inspiration and motivation for life, whispering in your unconscious that perhaps now is the time to launch yourself once and for all.

Engineer, I was fascinated to see that marvellous boat object emerge from my mind: a boat according to your ideas, according to what you have obviously experienced at sea, according to that subtle compromise between habitability and performance that if wrong can turn a project into a success or not.

Thanks to Alessandra, my life companion, I found the impetus to begin this adventure, to change my life and embark on a dry and somewhat dusty voyage that would take me towards the blue, towards sailing, towards the high seas.

I wanted a boat that I could not find and that had special characteristics, the only way: make it!

Aleissima, design and construction

After studying structural engineering and obtaining the AS.PRO.NA.DI. diploma, I continued to study sailing physics and design while working on public works as a freelancer in the civil field.

Gallery -design projects

The idea has always been to design and build the boat; in my opinion, I finally succeeded in this. The design was studied in detail and calculated using finite elements with numerous simulations and VPP tests. After that, the construction began, during which the executive design continued with the checking of every component and executive detail. It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, there were moments of discouragement, but I never thought of giving up, my passion was always stronger than anything!

The boat is built in marine plywood sandwich with biaxial glass skins with numerous reinforcements in the stressed areas, keel and heaths, in unidirectional carbon.

No carbon was used for the hull because at this size the weight saving did not justify the huge increase in cost.

costruzione aleissima

The bow and stern are vacuum built together with numerous parts such as the bowsprit and rudders in carbon, the rest laminated using peel ply, after which the hull was cured at 50° for 16 hours. The result is a monolithic, one-piece hull, with the deck laminated inside and outside the hull as well as the bulkheads fully laminated to the hull and deck.

Why a 9.50 m boat

The 9.50 m size seemed appropriate to me for many reasons:

  • it is the smallest that allows you to sail a certain radius

  • it is not too big to extend the construction time too much, which is already quite long

    In the design a considerable effort was made to have a strong concentration of weight amidships, so the systems, batteries, tanks and engine are included in a “cell” that goes from the 4.30 m to the 6.70 m (2.40 m amidships). Outside these measurements, there are no loads either towards the stern or the bow.

    The difficult thing was to design it in a way that was easy to use and live in, even in a sporty sense. The boat is equipped with the essentials but nothing more, the luxury, so to speak, is the fridge, water heater, anchor windlass (stored in the locker), about 35 kg ‘spent’ to make the boat liveable and comfortable.


Aleissima, boat features

The characteristics of the hull are:

  • a crash box 0.30 m from the zero order, with forestay anchored on the bulkhead (in the event of a collision the mast does not come down)

  • a watertight bulkhead 0.80 m from the zero bulwark

  • forward berth, which we use as a sail locker, not in regattas, watertight and completely empty (live work)

  • bulkhead at 8.50 m, watertight up to the transom (about 3.5 m) with an upside-down escape hatch, all to ensure unsinkability even in the event of major leaks.

  • The keel consists of a high-strength steel blade (12,500 kg/cm2 at break), fairing, with a lead bulb at the end, and is embedded in the hull structures, which are masked by the central L-shaped galley cabinet covered in exposed carbon.

  • The rudders are hollow carbon tiller (1.2 kg), the blades with a strong unidirectional carbon core, remaining internal volume in foam and carbon coating. They have an asymmetrical profile and are mounted in an anti-symmetrical, high-performance, to use simple gull-wing terminology, which prevents stalling even in extreme conditions and with a very heeled boat, as tests have already confirmed.

In addition, the boat is designed so that it can simply be adapted to take part in Class 1 racing according to the OSR.

Aleissima, the hull


The hull lines are very taut with a high fineness, high prismatic coefficient, maximum waterline length, flat bottom to facilitate planing.

The boat is designed to have a very good performance in the stern but not to disdain upwind. The first tests have confirmed these characteristics perfectly, in fact the boat leans on the edge when it reaches 20° of heel, the design angle, and even when overpowered it remains steerable and stable.

The bow has been designed following the piercing-wave concept, with an inverted line, but with hull entries well “greased” going up and from the first sections with the intention of having an initial penetration and immediate lift but without impact.

You could call it a “fake” fine bow that fools the untrained eye, from the tests this hull characteristic, for the moment, with waves up to 1/1.5 m, has been confirmed, the boat goes straight, cuts but rises immediately avoiding impact and giving lift to lift the hull, but decreasing resistance.

Aleissima, performance and sail plan

With a luffing behaviour, it goes brilliantly, without the classic ‘pounding’ and without the need to give angle to the rudder, very lively but stable, you can feel the boat ‘push’ upwind, towards the critical speed, as soon as it leans a few degrees it starts to overtake it and pull away from the wake.

Gallery – Aleissima underway

The sail plan with a ZSpars carbon mast, has a squaretop mainsail, in membrane with Kevlar fibres, for greater resistance, and taffeta protection; the genoa with low overlap, 105%, in membrane with Kevlar fibres; wind jib in Dacron and fluo tormentor. Gennaker and code 0 on a removable bowsprit.

All sails were made by Zadro with an excellent finish.

Despite the sporty vocation in the design, care has been taken to ensure that the exteriors look attractive and aggressive and the interiors as cosy and well cared for as possible, without weighing them down with cover panels, leaving the visible fabrics arranged in a neat, aligned and symmetrical manner. Ducts and systems have been placed behind the longitudinal carbon reinforcements and well hidden as can be seen in the pictures.

Technical Specs

LOA 9.50 m
Max Beam 3.40 m
Draft 2.36 m
Mainsail and Genoa 64.5 m2
Gennaker 80 m2
Code 0 54 m2
Unladen Displacement 3,000 kg

The boat is equipped with loadable and modulatable waterballast (220/450 litres), which can be used to optimise performance on long voyages, but it is not compulsory to use them for cruising because the boat has a deep bulb and good righting moment.

The liquid ballasts can be moved longitudinally towards the stern or bow in three positions.

Power comes from a Lombardini 20hp saildrive.

The boat is currently being fine-tuned and at present, in addition to a few short outings, has travelled about 120 miles ‘one shot’.

From these first tests, the hull and sail characteristics fully reflect the objectives. The path of setting up the boat to get it ready for real offshore racing is still a long one, but we are optimistic and hopeful that we will begin a new phase in which we will reap some satisfaction from our hard work.

I can’t say that Aleissima is the fastest boat, and it probably isn’t, although it certainly has excellent performance, but it is certainly the boat ‘in my opinion’ and I wouldn’t change it even for a 30-metre Swan.

Alessandro Cabras

For further details, please contact Alessandro Cabras at: ing.alessandrocabras@tiscali.it



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