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Maritimo 2023 S-Series LEADERBOARD

Big Cats III

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 10 Mar 2022 12:00 PST
Sea Cat 40 © Rossinavi

Things can definitely get away from you every now and then. Sometimes it occurs when you take your eye off it. Other times it is because of extraneous factors, or simply because once the cat (pun absolutely intended) is out of the proverbial bag, it is off and running very much under its own auspices. Now the former is not applicable here, but the latter two can definitely be described as having some sort of input into Big Cats III.

It was last September when we published The Big Cats and then at the end of October we had Big Cats II. Now I was intending to run Big Cats III at the start of February, but a touch of flooding in these here parts added a couple of weeks to it all, and that would be the extraneous card. As for the feline departing its enclosure, well that is probably more akin to the genie out of the bottle. It seems the size of big cats is no longer measured in sub-100 foot, but rather in greater than 30m! Equally, the rise and rise of alternative power is upon us, too. So in short, I am tipping Big Cats IV won't be too far off...

Accordingly, the question sort of became where to begin/pick it back up/kick things off/steer towards. Right then, and for no real reason, firstly we're back off to Asia.

Aquila

Aquila has literally stormed onto the market over the last five years with an offering that was certainly not a sailing cat minus the stick. For my money, the Portuguese Bridge and Main Deck Master have played a huge hand in it all. Seeing the first A70 in the hold being shipped to the USA beside an A54 was pretty impressive. Stepping on board an A54 not that long ago did definitely indicate that the big cat was going to be just that.

However, the thing that really grabbed my attention was the 3000nm range. Hello! So Aquila Boats Brand Manager, Alain Raas, was able to elaborate for us: "Lots of attention and investment with CFD of the hulls to make them as slippery/efficient as possible at displacement speeds was the key. One can cover a lot of miles if displacement speed is ok for one's journey. Once you jump up in revs to a typical cruise speed of 25-27mph (21-23 knots) that range is reduced."

"Range was an important factor for one of our clients, as they intend to travel at slow speeds, but cover long distances. For some of our other clients, range has not been too much of a consideration, albeit important, but not a deciding factor for them, as they were more interested in being able to get from Point A to point B quickly in regional terms."

"With all of that said, efficiency was very important to them all, and the Aquila 70 burning 60gph (227lph or approximately 9.87lnm) at 25-27mph makes her extremely efficient at a high cruising speed, and one of the few power catamarans in this size range that has true cruising speed of 25-27mph, along with a WOT capability of 31-32mph (27-28 knots)." Indeed it does Alain. Indeed it does...

Raas added, "One of the other major decision-making factors, from my discussions with the clients, was the reduction in operating costs, along with the ability to potentially owner/operate the boat. We have a couple of clients that are coming down from much larger monohulls. The Aquila 70 was attractive, as it offered comparable living space in terms of liveable square footage when compared with their +100' monohulls. The Aquila 70 also didn't require a crew of five to seven to manage the boat, which is a major operational benefit for them should they want the boat crewed, for it will only require a captain, or captain and cremate."

A long ranging discussion with the very friendly Alain Raas yielded some great insights as to where they are, what's potentially on the way, and why the 70 is such a nexus in the Aquila range. Given the premise of this whole ditty, it is no surprise that there may well be something even bigger in the pipeline eventually, but they were clear that the 70 had to be all ship shape before embarking on the next journey. Could be well close to that mission, as there are half a dozen away already, and counting.

Equally, customer input and feedback was a key element. What were the expectations? A couple of the main takeaways were that there was a lot of resistance to powercats being converted sailing cats, and the styling had to change to be more like the monos; sporty and contemporary. That would be the old block of flats factor right there... Equally, a powercat had to move at similar speeds and have similar handling, which Raas pointed out was why so much time had gone into the CFD. They also had to be relatively light, and nimble.

In Raas' own words, the Aquila 70 is "...the most progressive of the range, is a semi-custom affair, and optimised for Volvo Penta D13 1000hp shaft drive, but as needed can be fitted with MAN power, and jet drive for shallow operation in places like the Bahamas, where the requirement is to operate in less than four feet." That kind of transformation is a big undertaking, but shows that they'll definitely meet the owner's preferences.

The Portuguese Bridge and Main Deck Master with king bed would have to be considered Aquila trademarks, and you can never surpass the amenity either delivers. Equally, a complete Skylounge, wing stations for docking add square metres and make everyone feel at home. A low centre of gravity and keeping the mass inboard are also part of the Aquila mantra.

Raas commented, "A70 is one of my favourites in the range, and I really enjoyed my time on her and getting to know her. She is quiet and manoeuvrable, with low noise and low vibration to add to the comfort level; and speaking of level, her Humphree Interceptors ensure she remains level at all times. Entertainment systems are more and more important as the onboard apartment takes hold, and she has CZone - the smartphone of boats - for that very reason and also the load on the gensets gets balanced to look after noise and efficiency."

No doubt Europe is well inside MarineMax's sights, where their dealer network is growing, and I expect there to be more models soon in their yacht range to complement the 70, 54, and venerable 44.

Lee Randall, the Business Development Manager at The Whitehaven Group, who distribute Aquila in Australia and New Zealand, is possibly the only Antipodean to have physically eyeballed the Aquila 70. Randall commented, "It was good to go to the Miami show and see her for real and weigh it up against the A54 that we know so well. I was excited about that, as the A70 stands apart in a way, yet shows what the brand stands for. It is a step up in terms of use carbon fibre, and also performance."

"Speaking of that very item, the wi-fi got soft when I went below, so this is now being enhanced to make the liveaboard life totally seamless. The A70 is impressive, but maybe not overwhelming, so she can still be an owner/driver vessel, and does not feel as huge as some of her rivals."

"The efficiency and fit out are commendable, and the standard level of accoutrement means anything else is up to personal taste or operational use. I also really liked that you can walk into the engine rooms through the heads/bathrooms via proper doors."

The Aquila 70 may well be offered in a hybrid very soon, which is kind of very fitting with the whole market place, and life with the Big Cats... it seems it will be a system that can be serviced all around the world, and of course the fuel savings will be appreciated the world over, none more so than perhaps in Europe.

Heysea

Straight up, Heysea are playing this new 74-foot powercat very close to their chest. Camper & Nicholsons' Sebastien Wanig Bernard brokered the deal with the yard and the Australian buyers. She'll be ready early in 2023, and the Med will be her first home.

Apart from anything else, it seems the level of customisation is what will make this vessel stand out. We understand that it added an additional six months to the timeline, so that study, elaboration, design, and engineering could all be modified to taste.

Her exterior has been modified by VYD Designs, who also did the interior spaces, which will accommodate eight in splendour across the Master, one VIP, and two additional suites, all with completely private facilities. Interestingly, the Master also sports a walk-in robe, private saloon and owner's office.

However, it is probably externally that reflects the biggest changes, with an extended superstructure that integrates a bow-saloon with a bow-cockpit alfresco area that is accessible from both inside and out.

A bigger flybridge is a by-product and it offers a convertible alfresco saloon-dining area, five sun beds, a wet bar with BBQ, fridges, icemaker, and an impressive jacuzzi with an integrated bar from the available 78m2. Party time me thinks. Electing to go for greater range and a quieter time overall, the vessel will have Volvo Penta D11 725s spinning the wheels.

Off to Europe

StellarCAT AL25-3 is really smart in a kind of neo-classical way. It is always a matter of taste, but to my eye the tri-deck is the best of the collection, and with the bridge deck also available as a private Master with its own sun deck behind the room with a view, it offers huge versatility for larger family type travels. Being able to skip along at up to 24 knots will also ensure she can wear many hats, and still deliver up to 2400nm range. Tick. Tick. Tick. Expect big things from this mob...

Rossinavi Sea Cat 40. Well it looks cool. Really cool, actually. Part Dreadnought, and part Karl Stromberg's Atlantis from The Spy Who Loved Me, but better than all of that many times over. It's electric, and generates all its own power, but can be Diesel/Electric for trans-oceanic safety. Nature never looked so good, nor did its future. Bravo!

Sunreef 49m. Seeing as we have cracked 40m, there would appear to be no glass ceiling in the powercat world. 5000nm range, twin 3400hp propulsion and ten guests catered for in splendiferous surroundings. Busy yard, with 60s, 80s, and 100s, on offer, as well as a 40m, and 210 Trimaran, and the Eco models, too, such as the 80 that just splashed. Sometimes it feels like Sunreef is a sort of nautical Yosemite Sam, and what an offering! Never a dull moment. Type Sunreef into our search engine, and you'll get it...

Alva Ocean Eco 90. Well. They have announced the sale of the first Ocean Eco 90 Explorer, which has gone for a very robust styling theme. It is uprated over the Eco 90 by virtue of the enclosed flybridge, carbon and stainless steel reinforcement for the hull structure amongst other things. The yacht comes with an owner's cabin on the upper deck, and the owner has opted for 2x350 kW hybrid-electric propulsion system. There's also an electric tender that will be charged via solar panels, and she's due for delivery early in 2023.

Flagstaff Marine is one of the dealers representing Alva in that country, and also represent Australian builder Sunpower Yachts Australia with their Sunpower 44 that I went to the launch of recently. If her performance and sea keeping is on par with the range and great build quality, then this too will be a definitive marker in the cruising solar powercat segment.

Just the one (for now)

Beneteau's Swift Trawler 48 just had its world premiere in the USA, after the initial plan at Düsseldorf copped a Covid pivot [never thought I would be able to weave that word into an editorial, actually]. She's a good-looking vessel, with a more than tidy 600nm range. Now I appreciated the graphic depicting said range, but the notion of just heading straight out into the ocean off the West Coast of the USA, or East Coast of AUS might not garner as much favour with the authorities.

Graham Raspass from Flagstaff Marine in Australia commented, "We've been in discussions with a number of parties, and the Swift Trawler 48 has garnered a lot of interest. The recent launch, and as more images have to come to light have definitely helped take things along. The range for this size of vessel has made it appealing for those looking at longer term cruising in these waters, where range is a very crucial item, and then there's knowing that she can skip along at over 20 knots when required to escape impending weather."

OK. Today you will find that the website 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 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.

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Finally, please look after yourselves,

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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