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The big cats

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 1 Sep 2021 23:30 PDT
ISA Zeffiro 130 power catamaran © ISA Yachts

12-cylinder Jags, or lightning fast Cheetahs? Neither automotive, nor feline. Catamarans, and even more specifically, powercats is the name of our game here. At 130 feet, ISA's Zeffiro commanded a presence, just in the renders on your screen. My very first reaction was to ponder just what a presence her 13.1m beam would have, and the kind of berth you would need to house said proportions.

There is no doubt she is stylish, and offers the very latest in cascading terrace style thinking that we have been talking about for some time, most recently in The rice paddies of Bali, but perhaps at an imposing 130 feet, you start to have ample length to eradicate a lot of the block-of-flats aspect that haunts many a powercat design.

Eliminating part of the bulwarks, and even offering a balcony as part of that arrangement has done a lot to take away from the slab sided appearance that can be as imposing as a wall around a prison. Offering flying eaves, and a sculptural hardtop for the sundeck certainly gives softness, and as for open spaces, well, only a multihull can do it in such a way as this.

Who else?

Going aboard the Lagoon Seventy 8 with its 4000nm range sure gave an understanding of the space and amenity on offer. These are certainly elements the smaller Sixty 7 can also provide for.

We talked about the McConaghy 82p in Brute force over ignorance, and McConaghy's own article, Ahead of the pack, demonstrate that this too is a stylish affair, with the emphasis on mass and slipperiness, so as to allow for killer range from low power requirements. A split level main deck changed not only the overall look, but I dare say the volume down below and up for'ard, significantly.

The Sunreef 100 just popped out of the yard and is probably most identifiable by the size of the pilothouse, which occupies a grand proportion of the main deck. Quite possibly this one will have a main saloon equivalent to that of a castle's ballroom. We'll see...

Yet it was shortly after considering the docking scenario, and in an effort to appreciate the grand scale of this vessel, I got to thinking what was the biggest cat I had tested so far. That would be the ILIAD 70, which we did in The Tank Commander. Now possibly the best way for me to comprehend exactly what she was came about by comparing her with the ILIAD 50 we tested in A boat of two hulls (and lives).

The latter is still one of my favourite videos BTW, but for us here, the sense of scale between the two ILIADs was a chasm worthy of the Grand Canyon National Park. That in turn would make the differential between the ILIAD 70 and ISA's 130' Zeffiro something more akin to the Mariana Trench.

Time to check in.

Talking of ILIAD, I spoke with Mark Elkington to get an update on the brand that was created only in 2017, and has just recently moved into a new, larger shipyard to handle to production of this burgeoning fleet of powercats. "ILIAD Catamarans was established to provide customised passage making, power catamarans to a market segment that was clearly lacking in a high quality, customisable product offer. The initial plan was to build three to four units per year, ranging in size from 50 to 80ft."

"We put our prototype through a 12 month, 10,000 NM sea trial, and extensive 'live aboard test' by our team, so as to ensure we had met all that was contained in the design brief as set down for the ILIAD concept, and the proposed range."

Elkington added, "Like any new design that leaves a design teams desk and goes into the build phase and then actually afloat, we knew we would not get it 100% right. In addition to all that time aboard, we hade made passages in varying conditions from calm oceans, to 70 knots and seven metre seas. We'd been in calm anchorages to dealing with onshore chop, beaching, manoeuvring and also the general functional ability of the layout."

"As a result, we took some 130+ upgrades into the first ILIAD 50 that was built by ILIAD, and released this proven design at the 2019 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. The boat sold in hours of the show's opening, and the orders started to flow in. It was not at all a surprise for us, for it played out was exactly to our business plan."

Can I get one just for me?

"There are some great designs and quality power catamarans in the market, and we were not aiming to just be 'another choice', nor be everything to everyone. We wanted to be in a niche market, where buyers could make their ILIAD as individual as they are: to offer true passage making range, excellent sea keeping ability and a build quality that was more common many years ago, when boats were built more traditionally, and not on production lines where numbers are more important than attention to detail with some brands."

Customisation was possible, for they were originally only building three to four boats a year, depending on the model. The first year's production was sold out in the first 30 days after the brand's launch, and by the end of the first year, they were at seven orders, so the next year's production was also accounted for. The doubled it all again so far in 2021, and some 15 vessels have been sold since the first 50 in May of 2019.

The next gear (And a new facility).

"We were actually in a position where we could not meet demand and customer's timelines, so 11 prospective buyers had to go elsewhere. We are now at the next stage, as we have eight craft afloat to date across the 50, 60 and 70 range. They are making passages across oceans, going along the East Coast of Australia."

"We will deliver new ILIAD Catamarans every seven weeks for the next two years, and demand will almost double this into 2024-2025. So we have just relocated the shipyard to a new site that will provide the space and to improve our production capability and meet this market demand, which is both wonderful and something we did not expect so soon."

Production is capped at 15 boats per year, which Elkington and the team feel is the right number to maintain all the ingredients that provide our point of difference, ensures high quality is paramount, and allows for customisable boats with a new level of after sales service and owner support. Yes. They are a very proud team, and one that has some 100 years of combined production, design and management experience.

And now for something very different.

At 41 feet LOA, and some 7.2 metric tonnes, Beneteau's Gran Turismo 36, could be hauled up in between the hulls of some of the larger powercats and used as a tender. My own experience with Beneteau's Gran Turismo range started with the then very new GT40 in 2017, and later that year, the two GT50 sisters in Spain.

The patented AirStep hull did provide for not only a smooth ride, and swift acceleration, but provided for a lower overall power requirement to achieve suitable speeds. In the case of the GT40 that was 39 knots. The new variants now comprise 32 to 45 feet, and with the GT36, the scow-esque bow we first saw in the Antares has been used to give the for'ard Master some real space.

The new craft very much follow the contemporary feel laid out by the predecessors, and in this case it is Andreani Design who are responsible for that. The living spaces are light filled, airy and spacious, with panoramic views and seamless indoor/outdoor living. There are two cabins, bathroom and separate wet room, but I think with something like this it will be having both an indoor and outdoor galley, the sunroof, and sliding bimini covering the aft deck.

Drivers will like the hull's performance and standard Zipwake interceptors to not only help her get up on the plane swiftly, but ensure the turn in angle remains pleasant. (Others will turn them off so you can laugh all day - your call).

First in Oz.

Flagstaff Marine are Beneteau's NSW and Queensland inboard power dealers and they placed an early order for a Gran Turismo 36 as they believed it would be ideally suited to cruising Sydney Harbour, Pittwater, the Gold Coast and all ports in between.

Their belief was soon proven correct with the first boat already sold to its new owner, who is a long-term and experienced powerboat owner. They were immediately won over on seeing the Gran Turismo 36, and she'll soon be seen cruising Sydney Harbour, or tucked away in her berth at Clontarf Marina.

The inboard version is powered by your choice of a pair of Volvo Penta 270hp or 300hp Diesels and achieves 30 to 35 knots WOT, respectively. Two Garmin 12" screens, a bow thruster, and joystick control means navigation and manoeuvrability is a breeze.

Time to check it out.

Both Grand Banks and Palm Beach hold really esteemed positions both in the industry and with boaties all over the place. True, where you are in the world will certainly reflect on just how much you know about either, but there is the chance to immerse yourself in both for real.

The Grand Banks 54 and the Palm Beach GT50 are both on display at firstly the Cannes Yachting Festival, and then the Newport International Boat Show. No they are not the very same boats, given that the two in Europe are off to their new owners and the world's shipping issues would make any dream like that a bit far fetched, but they are the very same models... If you like them sleek and efficient, here are two very nice examples.

Got a question?

Often you do. So it is good to be able to find a place to get an answer to many of them. Apart from a new, refined and simpler logo, our friends at Pantaenius have been busy making a lot of cool videos looking at things like surveys, stern drives, shaft drive maintenance and many more. Check it all out here. Now other new ones are coming, and we got a sneak peak before it hits their website, like this one on tenders.

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. Please look after yourselves.

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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