Review of Alpa 38

Basic specs.

sail specifications
The Alpa 38 is a sailboat designed by the American maritime architect bureau Sparkman & Stephens in the mid seventies. The Alpa 38 is built by the Italian yard Alpa.

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The hull is made of fibreglass. Generally, a hull made of fibreglass requires only a minimum of maintenance during the sailing season.


The boat is equipped with 378.0 liter fresh water capacity.


The boat equipped with a masthead rig. The advantage of a masthead rig is its simplicity and the fact that a given sail area - compared with a fractional rig - can be carried lower and thus with less heeling moment.


The Alpa 38 is equipped with a fin keel. The fin keel is the most common keel and provides splendid manoeuvrability. The downside is that it has less directional stability than a long keel.

The keel is made of lead. Compared with iron, lead has the advantage of being 44% heavier, which allows a smaller keel and hence less water resistance and higher speed.

The boat can enter most marinas as the draft is just about 1.52 - 1.62 meter (4.99 - 5.29 ft) dependent on the load. See immersion rate below.


Alpa 38 is typically equipped with a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine at 48.0 hp (35 kW), which gives a max speed about 6.3 knots.

The fuel tank has a capacity of 189.0 liters (49 US gallons, 41 imperial gallons).

Sailing characteristics

This section covers widely used rules of thumb to describe the sailing characteristics. Please note that even though the calculations are correct, the interpretation of the results might not be valid for extreme boats.

Stability and Safety

What is Capsize Screening Formula (CSF)?

The capsize screening value for Alpa 38 is 1.71, indicating that this boat could - if evaluated by this formula alone - be accepted to participate in ocean races.

Theoretical Maximum Hull Speed

What is Theoretical Maximum Hull Speed?

The theoretical maximal speed of a displacement boat of this length is 7.0 knots. The term "Theoretical Maximum Hull Speed" is widely used even though a boat can sail faster. The term shall be interpreted as above the theoretical speed a great additional power is necessary for a small gain in speed.

Immersion rate

The immersion rate is defined as the weight required to sink the boat a certain level. The immersion rate for Alpa 38 is about 188 kg/cm, alternatively 1052 lbs/inch.
Meaning: if you load 188 kg cargo on the boat then it will sink 1 cm. Alternatively, if you load 1052 lbs cargo on the boat it will sink 1 inch.

Sailing statistics

This section is statistical comparison with similar boats of the same category. The basis of the following statistical computations is our unique database with more than 26,000 different boat types and 350,000 data points.

Motion Comfort Ratio

What is Motion Comfort Ratio (MCR)?

The Motion Comfort Ratio for Alpa 38 is 36.8.

Low High 88% 0 50 100
Comparing this ratio with similar sailboats show that it is more comfortable than 88% of all similar sailboat designs. This is a comfort value significantly above average.

L/B (Length Beam Ratio)

What is L/B (Length Beam Ratio)?

The l/b ratio for Alpa 38 is 3.33.

Wide Slim 62% 0 50 100
Compared with other similar sailboats it is slimmer than 62% of all other designs. It seems that the designer has chosen a slightly more speedy hull design.

Ballast Ratio

What is a Ballast Ratio?

The ballast ratio for Alpa 38 is 42%.

Low High 62% 0 50 100
This ballast ratio shows a righting moment that is higher than 62% of all similar sailboat designs. A righting moment (ability to resist heeling) just above average.

D/L (Displacement Length Ratio)

What is Displacement Length Ratio?

The DL-ratio for Alpa 38 is 408 which categorizes this boat among 'heavy cruisers'.

Heavy Light 4% 0 50 100
4% of all similar sailboat designs are categorized as heavier. A heavy displacement combined with smaller water plane area has lower acceleration and is more comfortable.

SA/D (Sail Area Displacement ratio)

What is SA/D (Sail Area Displacement ratio)?

The SA/D for Alpa 38 with ISO 8666 reference sail is 14.0, with a 135% genua the SA/D is 16.6.

Low High 18% 0 50 100
The SA/D ratio indicates that it is faster than 18% of all similar sailboat designs in light wind.

Over- / underrigged

Low High 46% 0 50 100
The Alpa 38 has more rig than 46% of all similar sailboats, which indicates that the boat is slightly underrigged.


Bottom Paint

When buying anti-fouling bottom paint, it's nice to know how much to buy. The surface of the wet bottom is about 30m2 (322 ft2).
Based on this, your favourite maritime shop can tell you the quantity you need.

Note: If you use a paint roller you will need more paint than if you use a paintbrush.


Dimensions of sail for masthead rig.

mainsail specifications headsail specifications

Are your sails worn out? You might find your next sail here: Sails for Sale

If you need to renew parts of your running rig and is not quite sure of the dimensions, you may find the estimates computed below useful.

Guiding dimensions of running rig
Mainsail halyard 30.9 m(101.3 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Jib/genoa halyard30.9 m(101.3 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Spinnaker halyard30.9 m(101.3 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Jib sheet 11.4 m(37.3 feet)14 mm(0.55 inch)
Genoa sheet11.4 m(37.3 feet)14 mm(0.55 inch)
Mainsheet 28.4 m(93.2 feet)14 mm(0.55 inch)
Spinnaker sheet25.0 m(82.0 feet)14 mm(0.55 inch)
Cunningham4.4 m(14.6 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Kickingstrap8.9 m(29.1 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Clew-outhaul8.9 m(29.1 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)

Boat owner's ideas

This section is reserved boat owner's modifications, improvements, etc. Here you might find (or contribute with) inspiration for your boat.

Do you have changes/improvements you would like to share? Upload a photo and describe what you have done.


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