The Valiant Esprit 37 is a boat of many names, literally. When first introduced as the “Esprit 37” by Valiant Yachts in 1977 she was built by a company called Nordic so some called her the Nordic Esprit 37. Later when Valiant changed hands to Uniflite, she was rechristened the “Valiant 37”, and over time and another change of Valiant ownership, the boat evolved into the Valiant 39 with the addition of a bowsprit that gave it two extra feet of length. Names aside, the boat draws much from its larger stablemate, the now almost legendary Valiant 40, and certainly owners of Valiant Esprit 37s have reported brisk and nimble go-anywhere performance, a seakindly ride, and an interior that is well thought out.
In 1976, three years on from the incredibly successful launch of the Valiant 40, Valiant Yachts was on the lookout for two smaller yachts to diversify their offerings. The Valiant Esprit 37 was to be one of these boats. The company once again used the genius of Bob Perry, who drew on the same magic Valiant 40 formula and applied it to a 37ft hull; this time sporting a sleeker cabin trunk and a brighter interior.
To build the boat, Valiant opted not to go with Uniflite who at the time were producing the Valiant 40, instead Valiant chose a new company with strong ties to Uniflite; a company called Nordic Yachts. It was headed up by Steve Nordvelt who had worked in the contracts department of Uniflite and also happened to be the son of of the original founder of Uniflite.
The boat was introduced in 1977 and sold by Valiant Yachts in that time as the “Esprit 37”, however you can sometimes boats improperly marked as “Nordic Esprit” 37s in used boat listings.
Around 1980, Uniflite acquired Valiant and production of the Esprit 37 was moved to the Uniflite factory and the boat was re-dubbed the “Valiant 37”. The Valiant 37s built during the Uniflite era were hampered by the same non-osmotic blistering issues that plagued the Valiant 40s; blistering above and below the waterline, usually cosmetic in nature. The blistering was caused by the use of a fire retardant resin called Hetron interacting with the glass fiber layup.
It wasn’t until some time around 1982-84 that this problem was permanently solved by the use of isophthalic resin. By this time, Valiant was again under new ownership and production shifted from Seattle, Washington to Texas. The Valiant 37 eventually evolved into the Valiant 39, with new a deck molding; the sleek cabin trunk giving way to a boxy one better matching the Valiant 40/42 as well as a revised interior layout. Perhaps more prominently, the 39 had its rig was redesigned to include a 2ft bowsprit which gives the boat 2ft of additional LOA.
In total 50 Valiant 37s were built, as of 2000 the registrar at valiant-owners.org list five Valiant 39s.
The Valiant Esprit 37 shares similar lines with its larger Valiant 40 stablemate, the same graceful sheer and canoe stern with perhaps a more aggressive tumblehome. The overhangs are relatively small making for a decent speed endowing LWL. Below the waterline is a cruising fin keel and skeg-hung rudder. The underside of the hull is a little flatter than the Valiant 40 which contributes to the 37 being more nimble through the tacks.
On deck the cabin trunk departs from the old boxy look of the Valiant 40 in favor of a sleek raked cabin profile. The mast is relatively tall and sports a cutter rig with a high aspect mainsail on a small boom, a design heavily influenced by IOR ocean racers of the time. The shrouds come quite far aft which unfortunately inhibits the boom from swinging wide to catch downwind air effectively. All control lines are routed back to the safety and comfort of the cockpit.
Below deck, the best words that describe the layout are well thought out and functional. There is more than adequate stowage areas for extended cruising. Descending from the companionway, there is a very functional U-shaped galley to port and to starboard is a seagoing quarter berth with comfortably sized navigation station. Further forward to port is a L-shaped settee which can convert to a double berth, opposite is a single berth settee. The cabin table is large enough to seat 6 spaciously and stows away against a bulkhead which opens up the area nicely, however the keel stepped mast does intrude slightly into this area.
Between the main saloon and the V-berth is the head compartment to port, it has a separate shower stall running pressurized hot and cold water. Even here there are clever stowage areas including extra space below the shower seat under a waterproof access cover. The V-berth forms the master cabin and is relatively spacious with lots of drawers and a generously sized hanging locker.
Access to the engine under the companionway stairs is very good. The 37 comes standard with a 30hp Westerbeke diesel, while the newer 39 has a 35hp. Owner Steve Long notes the 30hp Weterbekes are only “30hp @3000RPM” in the first hour after which they are supposed to be run at a maximum of 2500 RPM delivering 25hp. Many owners have repowered with Beta 37.5 hp engines which provide a more useful amount of power.
Like all the Valiant boats, the 37 is solidly built. The hull is uses the same hand layup as the Valiant 40 with 1.5 ounce fiberglass matt between layers of 24 ounce weave. Above the waterline lining the interior of the hull, is a half-inch layer of closed cell foam which provides acoustic and thermal insulation; this thermal barrier has the advantage of reducing condensation build up on the inside of the hull.
The deck is fiberglass with balsa coring and is solidly attached to the hull with a through-bolt join. All through-deck fittings bolted onto aluminium backing plates.
Owners report that the Nordic built boats vary slightly between boat to boat, such as the location of the bulkhead in the V-berth.
Early boats used stainless wire rigging while later boats had the option for high performance rod rigging.
Like its larger Valiant 40 stablemate, the 37 is remarkably fast for a boat of its relative size. They are nicely balanced boats, quick through the tack and generally very nimble. The boat’s cockpit is remarkably dry and the boat is easy to single hand.
To weather the Valiant Esprit 37 is unusually close-winded, aided by its high aspect rig with a mainsail that produces a lot of lift. Downwind some owners report the boat being a little slow because the mainsail does not swing very wide due to the location of the shrouds. Others flying spinnakers report fantastic performance.
In addition to strong upwind performance another area of strength is in light airs. Perry himself has noted the 37 can be quicker than a Valiant 40 in light weather. One owner reported 115 mile days over a 22 day passage in mainly light 12 knot trade winds, their boat came in 7 days quicker than another 42ft medium displacement cruiser.
As conditions become heavy the hallmarks of Valiants come into play, the boat continues to maintain its composure delivering a comfortable motion for its crew.
As of 2010, at the time of writing, there a not many Valiant Esprit 37 / Valiant 39s on offer. Asking price for 37s range from $80k-$170k depending on year and condition and there is a 1997 Valiant 39 asking $189k.
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