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A curious thing, that...

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 15 Dec 2020 23:00 PST
Air 96m © Sand People

The Beach Club. Found in everything from 650 feet down to just fifty feet, and the term itself is about as synonymous as Liquid Paper was to the correction fluid market, if you're old enough to remember that era. So when Nauta Design put out their press release, 'The Island': Now fully patent protected , well it certainly raised a few eyebrows around here.

Firstly, they call it 'the island', but it is all about connecting the vessel to the very sea it steams on, which was the exact premise that the beach club was based on. Next it claimed that it all began with Project Light in 2006, and that very much raised the spectre of exactly what, where, and when was the genesis?

So back in the Jurassic era, I worked on a Jon Bannenberg design that featured (amongst other marvels at the time) a huge transom door that served as swim ladder, guest embarkation/disembarkation platform from the covered tender, and had direct access to the gym, sauna, and dive centre.

Now it's true, the release does refer to all three sides of the stern being utilised, but design and utility patents granted from Italy, the European Union, and Turkey (where a huge proportion of these craft are built) protect both the form and function. Yet nearly every render, and pics from Europe's yards has multiple doors in the topsides, massive swim platforms, wellness centres, and pools in the stern. Alas, is it all so unique that a patent can indeed be applied, and are we seeing a huge shift in the onus of proof from the applicant and the patent office, to the market place?

Evidently, we were not the only ones kissing our index finger. Tony Castro was the first to make contact, and said, "It seems very audacious that anyone designer can claim it invented the Beach Club, yet one hears that such a Patent has been give to Nauta in 2020. How is this possible? I am no patent lawyer, but it feels very unreasonable to me given the widespread application of such designs for a very long time by various designers. Aren't the patent people supposed to do some research to check the claims?"

"They claim they first thought about it in 2006. Okay maybe, and so have many of us, although not all had the opportunity to make speculative images at that time and I am not sure they did either. I certainly have, and can quickly find images made as far back as 2010, including the 118m design that has all the attributes claimed in the 2020 patent. It's not difficult to find designs published by Benetti, Sunseeker, and ourselves long before these patents was granted, or the use of the transom swim ladder by Bezenzoni as created some years ago."

"The reason and the purpose are obvious, given the increased use of the stern platform and balconies. My office first drew balconies in the mid-90's. Maybe I should have patented that! It cannot be 'original' either, or require a major effort to develop an existing idea and claim it's the first solution that brings people closer to the water or used in a different way! Really??"

Castro closed by adding, "I suppose all those other designers that designed the same thing long before the patent was issued can keep their copyright and design rights anyway, and can carry on doing what they've already done before. I think it's ridiculous that someone is trying to claim they invented the Beach Club or our Industry should put up with this kind of hijack!"

Dickie Bannenberg, son of the late and great Jon, also saw the article. He and Simon Rowell will no doubt now spend some of the holiday period examining just exactly what the patents in question cover. Bannenberg said, "It does seem quite strange - getting a patent on things which we, and others, have already done. Just imagine if Jon had applied for patents for all his ideas - it would be pretty thin gruel for everyone now..."

Well and truly the Beautiful One

The 120m M.Y Indah from Opalinski Design House is utterly striking. Her futuristic looking, swinging bulwark design delivers a new approach to the creation of her beach club, and as such is also protected by an international utility patent. Lukasz Opalinski has been clear that it is available under licence to builders. Certainly the nature of the expansion is different to what has come before.

Perhaps we are seeing a bit of path to the future of design. In the case of the beach club, however, I am just not sure anyone has broken the mould per se, as much as Mitsubishi in the 70s with their counter rotating balancer shafts. Time will tell. It usually does...

And now for something a bit different

Yes. We do love a bit of an explorer yacht. Pat Bray from Canada made contact regarding this one, stating, "Here is a project that we started before lockdown for a charter firm. Now that things are looking more positive there has been more interest. The vessel comes in two different looks and has three different interior options. The great thing is that it will sleep 12 in four large staterooms, has two crew cabins (four crew), the main salon opens up on three sides, and the stern has a beach club." (There's that term again BTW...)

"The vessel is an update on our 86 ft. Ocean Series, which has been extensively model tested, and ocean proven. You can watch these videos about the vessel" -

Model Overview

Tank Testing

"The cost of an aluminium hull (over steel) on the total cost of the vessel is less than 2%, given the small increase in cost versus the total expense. Also, in the build stage, aluminium is easier to move about, and can be worked with a saw and router, which reduces labour time. The lighter overall vessel weight means a little smaller engines, shafts, props, stabilizers, etc. Aluminium has a similar maintenance regime to composite, which is much less than steel. For a long range vessel there can be a good return on a small investment."

Even more different

We saw our first Invincible in Australia this month, courtesy of importer, Sam and Lucy Wallrock's, Boat Monster.

Now Sam is a mad keen fishing and boating enthusiast, with over 25 years of experience working in the Australian marine and boat sales industry. Lucy is British though she has definitely picked up some Australian quirks since moving to Sydney over 13 years ago. She has a background in marketing, and in a past life came in the top six of Masterchef Australia...just in case you ever need some baked goods whilst cruising Sydney Harbour!

Lucy commented, "The Australian boating industry is saturated with common vessels, and is in dire need of a change up. This is where Boat Monster comes into play! We're also the Australian and New Zealand distributor of Contender Boats, Tidewater Boats and Ranieri Boats."

"Invincible are an extremely reputable brand that offers both mono and multihull vessels. They are known in the industry to offer smooth, fast and dry rides with a level of comfort and quality of finish not usually associated with an offshore boat."

"The Invincible catamaran hull is the culmination of a collaboration with Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin of Morrelli & Melvin, the designers behind some of the most iconic sailing catamarans of the past 20 years. The Invincible catamaran hull handles well at speed, leans inward during a turn, and rides in following and quartering seas without negative trim."

Ask Sam why they elected for quad 300hp Mercury V8 Verados, and he answered, "The boat can easily handle it, so why not! With a maximum combined horsepower of 1200, the 35 Catamaran could lend itself to twin 425 Yamahas or 450 Mercuries, but the quads will get you offshore to your favourite fishing grounds and home again faster in the most challenging of Australian conditions."

The 35 Catamaran is primarily targeted towards sportsfishermen, but also makes a superb day boat and tender to large super yachts due to its spacious cockpit, stylish design and comfortable, dry ride. It's a versatile vessel with unparalleled stability for a boat of its size.

Lucy sums up the Invincible 35 Catamaran, "If you're a speed freak, a catamaran enthusiast, want a stable stylish platform, or are just looking for the next big thing that is seriously different from the everyday, this boat is something to get super excited about!"

Same, but very different

In, The Colossus, we had a look at some of the things the mighty Groupe Beneteau is up to. The powercat segment continues to expand, just as it has in sail, and there are even larger ones in production from 50 through to 90 feet. Next year, Four Winns will offer their 30 something outboard-powered cat to market, but for now, larger ones will be the sole domain of Lagoon.

Other developments could well be one of the Eastern European factories being dedicated to delivering vessels into another emerging space, that of the electric monohulls.

Completely the same, just a little bit different

There's even easier access now, with our URL becoming Powerboat.World - never fear, will redirect, but for the latest and best just type in the two words...

OK. Today you will find that the site has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo.

So as you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other parts of the group, go to the top of the Powerboat.World home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the site you want to see and, voila, it's all there for you.

Finally. Season's greetings to you all and see you in 2021.

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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