San Diego-based maxi and superyacht design maestros Reichel/Pugh have entered the fast-growing world of the large performance multihull
For 33 years designs from the Reichel/Pugh studio have produced unparalleled results for their owners and made a distinctive mark on the sailing industry. With an average age of 38, the Reichel/Pugh team has a strong passion for design, naval architecture and engineering as well as sailing whether in monohulls, multihulls or kiteboarding. The company’s impressive portfolio ranges from the 1992 America’s Cup winner, America3, to groundbreaking one- designs for Melges Boats (the 32, 24, 17, 20 and the Melges 14).
The Reichel/Pugh portfolio also boasts purpose-built offshore record hunters including Transpac record breakers Pyewacket (76ft, 1999) and Alfa Romeo (100ft, 2012), as well as the 100-footer Wild Oats XI with eight line honour wins in the Sydney Hobart and record setting trifecta (line honours, race record and overall handicap) wins in 2005 and 2012. The studio has also produced breakthrough Superyachts including the 45m Visione, the 34m Nilaya, the 67m Hetairos and two Wallycento designs; Magic Carpet3 and Galateia. Now Reichel/Pugh is looking to a new market, one which is quietly exploding in popularity: performance multihulls.
The motivation to design this 45ft offshore performance catamaran started with a question from a prospective client. The client wanted a fast yacht for shorthanded offshore racing that also featured genuine cruising capacity; he initially asked us to offer a recommendation in choosing between a Class40 monohull and a custom multihull design. There may have been an expected response from a design firm with such long and successful pedigree in monohulls, but recent hires by the company have tipped the balance somewhat and, with nearly half of the design team owning performance catamarans themselves, the discussion was spirited and the conclusions divided. To explore the trade-offs in proper depth it was decided to develop a new multihull design.
There are a growing number of larger performance multihulls appearing with increasing effort also now going into devising a pragmatic rating system to allow better competition between types. The RP45 cat, however, ramps up the emphasis on speed by opting for a clear bridgedeck with all the living space in the hulls; this may turn out to be a genuine breakthrough design
The design process begins with the market research. After evaluating possible layouts and reviewing market trends, it was determined that a catamaran design would provide more living space than an equivalent trimaran by splitting the interior accommodation between two hulls instead of one centre hull. Furthermore, given the performance goals the design would focus on an open bridgedeck layout to help achieve a light displacement. The team found a few designs in this market space, however most were by now several years old. The research indicated an opportunity for a unique performance catamaran design capable of racing and cruising that would be quite different from the existing options available today.
On deck the space gained from eliminating the voluminous but typically bulbous bridgedeck cabin allows for a more efficient sailing layout as well as a generous social area for guests aft of the mast; the bridge deck itself is also designed to keep the working and social areas dry even at high speeds. A low sheerline and cabin profile ensure a clear line of sight from the helm (an issue on many current catamaran designs). The winches and working areas of the boat are carefully laid out to facilitate both fully crewed as well as shorthanded sailing. Additionally, all control lines are lead below deck to further enhance the open feel, safety and efficiency.
Compared with a comparably sized monohull or trimaran the large open deck of this new design provides significantly more usable space. When required, a bimini hard top covering the guest seating area will provide protection from the elements for cruising passages and day sails. At anchor the transom doors open to provide bathing platforms with uninterrupted access from the bridgedeck to the water. These platforms also facilitate boarding from either a dock or tender. The forward trampolines offer more lounging and sunbathing area.
The interior arrangement features the owner’s quarters, a head with separate shower and the galley in the starboard hull. The port hull accommodation includes two guest/crew berths with shared head and a dinette area. The fit-out is simple but comfortable in keeping with modern design trends; numerous portlights and windows create a light and airy interior.
Under power the new 45ft cat is driven by two diesel saildrives, but in the longer term the design team aims to introduce electric drives, given the rate of development and increasing implementation of these systems.
To fulfil the design brief for a successful racing design all opportunities for performance advantage were investigated. The modern hull design exhibits a low rocker shape and reverse stem while maintaining a high-volume bow for reserve buoyancy with a flying knuckle to improve manoeuvrability.
The rig utilises an efficient rotating mast arrangement. The headstay, code zero and downwind sails are supported with a stayed longeron/sprit, eliminating the customary forward beam to reduce windage and pitching motion. C-shaped daggerboards provide leeway resistance as well as some vertical lift to reduce virtual displacement – also ensuring the bows stay up when the boat is being pressed hard downwind.
This 45ft catamaran, designed and engineered by the Reichel/Pugh studio, is well positioned to make an impact in the growing performance multihull market. It is truly a versatile offshore racing yacht, combining high performance with the amenities and comfort for relaxed cruising while also maintaining the safety and ease of use necessary for such a boat to be sailed by its owner and guests without employing professional sailing crew.
Tony Beale, Reichel/Pugh Yacht Design, San Diego
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