September 2018

September 2018

FEATURES

No place for wimps
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

Pondering
When to push for change and when it’s (probably) better to leave well alone... ROB WEILAND

Winner
Dongfeng team manager BRUNO DUBOIS sat down with PATRICE CARPENTIER to talk through the story of this year’s Volvo Race win

Endless
Even for consummate professional and previous Volvo race winner CHARLES CAUDRELIER

Flashback
Those final hours... PATRICE CARPENTIER

Less of a gamble
Dongfeng navigator PASCAL BIDEGORRY and onshore met man MARCEL VAN TRIEST explain their overall race ‘process’ as well as the certainties – or not – behind winning Leg 11

No coincidence
The success of the Class40 has not happened by chance and there are good lessons to be learnt. TOM HUMPHREYS on managed evolution

But first a new yard
Before ordering the first roll of pre-preg for the latest Fast40+ Rán there was the small matter of building a boatyard. JASON CARRINGTON

An extraordinary vintage – Part II
DOBBS DAVIS concludes his catch-up with 470 Olympic silver medallist, Etchells 22 champion and ‘right coast’ institution STEVE BENJAMIN

TECH STREET

The magnificent fightback

Not just a fast sailor

Italian engineering!

Sharing the love

Lab or ocean?

Getting bigger

Find the time

REGULARS

Commodore’s letter
STEVEN ANDERSON

Editorial
ANDREW HURST

Update
KEN READ, JACK GRIFFIN, ALISTAIR SKINNER, PAUL HENDERSON, DOBBS DAVIS and TERRY HUTCHINSON

World news
And (some of) the Cup has already come home. Plus going a long way (in every sense) in a short space of time with KYLE LANGFORD and the New York YC’s ‘other’ big campaign... IVOR WILKINS, BLUE ROBINSON and DOBBS DAVIS

Paul Cayard – Sailing
Are how far does that go exactly?

IRC – First among equals
And a first look at the challenges of creating a new look dual-purpose Imoca 60. JAMES DADD

Seahorse build table – Room at the inn?
TRISTAN TRAJAN

RORC news – Rude to say no
EDDIE WARDEN-OWEN

Seahorse regatta calendar

Sailor of the Month
Well who would you have picked this month?

Find the time!

Find the
time!

Visit Nautor’s Swan

This year’s Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo, Sardinia looks set to become the most popular edition yet of this ‘busy’ celebration of Swan ownership

If you could capture the essence of the world’s best-loved regattas and incorporate them into one event, you’d have something like the Rolex Swan Cup. Over the last two decades or so, word of this happy synergy has spread beyond the hard core of veteran Swan owners because this year’s event, hosted as ever in Porto Cervo by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, is anticipating its largest ever entry list. Between 9-16 September, organiser Nautor’s Swan is expecting a record 125 yachts flying flags of 23 nations across five continents for this biennial festival of racing, relaxing, meeting old friends and making new ones.

To make the celebration even more special, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Mr Ferragamo taking the helm at Nautor’s Swan, sparking a rapid revival in the marque’s fortunes and an infusion of Italian design flair into recent launches.

Motoring out to the start line, with colourful battleflags snapping in the sun above smartly-uniformed crews, you are confronted with a cornucopia of Swan yachts. These range from the classy well-rounded cruiser-racers of the Swan line to the angular, aggressive racer-cruisers of the ClubSwan line, all intent on performing to their best and enjoying a day of hard, competitive racing. The fleet varies widely in vintage, and is bookended by the beautiful S&S Swan 36 Tarantella, the first Swan ever launched by Nautor in 1966 and still going strong, and the magnificent Frers-designed Swan 115 Highland Fling, one of the most recent.

To ensure close and exciting racing, organisers split the fleet into seven classes. Each of the one-design classes, the ClubSwan 42 (Class E), Swan 45 (F) and ClubSwan 50 (G), will race as such, ensuring tight, tense boat-for-boat battles throughout, with the simplicity of knowing that the winner on the water takes the race. Class C hosts all the classic S&S Swan designs. The attraction of these legendary scions needs no explanation, and the revered duo drew no fewer than 17 designs for Swan between 1966-77. There is a Swan Grand Prix class (D) for Swans of hull length 18.28m (60ft) or below. The two largest classes are Swan Maxi (B) and Swan Super Maxi (A), for boats of 18.29-27.43m (60-90ft), and 27.44m (90ft) and over. Expect to see around 20 of these powerful, elegant titans, including Highland Fling tussling with her sistership Solleone, the Swan 80 Selene and Nefertiti, a Swan 90FD.

Main picture: Increasing numbers of boat owners are being seduced by the intensely competitive racing on the water and the equally intense conviviality, hospitality and general camaraderie of post-racing social events on the shore. Add to that extremely well-run regattas in some of the best sailing spots in the world and you need a seriously compelling reason to convince yourself that life isn’t too short, in fact, to join the fun right now

The racing is some of the best anywhere in the world. The race committee, organised by Nautor’s Swan, has no fewer than 42 set courses from 10-54nm to ensure starts in anything but a flat calm, and each course threads its way around the spectacularly picturesque archipelago of La Maddalena.

When racing finishes, the crews return to Porto Cervo Marina or nearby East Dock, square away and hose down their boats before sharing a cold beer with the neighbouring boats as they share highlights of the day’s racing. Then crews repair to their lodgings and freshen up for one of many social events in one of several exclusive locations, some formal, some relaxed, all enjoyable.

This year, events include the opening ceremony and welcome cocktails at the YCCS Piazza Azzurra, the same place crews gather each day between 1600-1800 to have a drink together and catch up on the day’s racing. There is also The Nations Trophy Dinner, where participating skippers and crews meet up to exchange tips and anticipate the October event in Palma. After a relaxing layday on Friday, owners meet up for a special Nautor’s Swan Owners Dinner in the YCCS Clubhouse, by invitation, and on Saturday, partner and title sponsor since 1984, Rolex hosts a crew dinner at the nearby Colonna Pevero Hotel. The final event is, of course, the prizegiving, again at the Piazza Azzurra, where the trophies are handed out and international friendships sealed with a promise to meet here again in two years’ time.

As an event, it is highly seductive. The boats are a joy to sail, racing is well organised and invigorating, the evenings stylish, friendly and social, and the location quite stunning. It is, in short, the best possible advertisement for Nautor’s Swan ownership. If you want to enter the world of Swan, you could do worse than to choose Eurosia, an Italian-flagged, Frers-designed Swan 46 delivered in 1986. Brokerage photos show her in full cruising fig, with an upturned tender on the foredeck aft of a furled genoa, and an outboard on the pushpit – a reminder, if one were needed, that she is also a wellappointed, two-cabin, two-head family cruiser. What makes Eurosia extra special is that she has won the Rolex Swan Cup overall trophy three times. At €215,000 tax paid, someone’s taking her to the Rolex Swan Cup in 2020. Will it be you?

Click here for more information on Nautor’s Swan »


We invite you to read on and find out for yourself why Seahorse is the most highly-rated source in the world for anyone who is serious about their racing.

To read on simply SIGN up NOW
Take advantage of our very best subscription offer or order a single copy of this issue of Seahorse.

Online at:
www.seahorse.co.uk/shop

Or via email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or for iPad simply download the Seahorse App at the iTunes store

Lab or ocean… or both

Lab or ocean… or both

Visit Musto

It’s too easy to spend all your time in the lab when developing technical clothing but, as Musto likes to remind its customers, at some point you do also need to get wet. And when Musto says wet, it means very, very wet

The most physically demanding Volvo Ocean Race of recent times has just finished and there are some young (and older) sailors with a new appreciation of just how unyielding the seas can be. The incredible drone footage of the Volvo Ocean 65s piling along through the Southern Ocean and across the Atlantic at recordbreaking speeds has really brought home just how unrelentingly brutal and wet these boats are. Too wet, some would argue, especially when you compare the Volvo Ocean 65 with the sheltered comfort of a cockpit on a modern Imoca 60.

In the absence of much shelter from the one-design Volvo Ocean 65, the next best thing is to make sure you’re suitably equipped for the firehosing that you’re about to receive as you venture out on deck for your watch. Three of the seven teams in this lastest edition of the Volvo Ocean Race opted for Musto technical clothing, which has been worn by more sailors in the 45-year history of this famous race than that of any other brand.

In 1994, Musto was originally established as one of the most reliable and peer-recommended brands in offshore sailing, yet it was the formation of a partnership with Gore in 1991 that really led to a significant development in the performance of modern offshore garments such as HPX, which was launched in 1994. It should be said that Gore-Tex fabric is by no means unique to Musto. In fact, it’s used by many of the world's most trusted outdoor apparel brands as their pinnacle technology for waterproof, windproof and breathable protection.

However, it’s the work that Musto has done with Gore-Tex that makes the partnership unique. Gore’s product specialist leader, Alan Douglas, comments: ‘When GORE developed Gore-Tex Ocean Technology in 1994, Musto was instrumental in the testing and validating that this technology was fit for use in extreme, extended ocean racing. We’re proud that ever since that early R&D work nearly 25 years ago, Gore-Tex fabric continues to be the product of choice for professional ocean sailing.’

Main picture: Mark Towill mans the handles onboard Vestas 11th Hour Racing as the team rolls into the Southern Ocean during leg three from Cape Town to Melbourne. ‘We had an average boatspeed of 25 knots for the first 14 to 15 days we were down there,’ he says. ‘I don’t know how Gore-Tex works but I know it keeps me dry and that’s all I need to know’

The great challenge for the sailors, and their clothing of choice, is the huge range of conditions that they will encounter in the course of one leg. Bear in mind that in this recent edition of the Volvo Ocean Race the fleet crossed the Equator four times, putting the sailors through enormous climatic changes as they traversed wildly-different latitudes in the space of just a few weeks. This is why Gore’s technology has been such a vital ingredient for the world’s leading offshore brands like Musto. Lorraine Moffat, application engineer in the performance outerwear division for Gore, summarises the technical challenge: ‘Gore-Tex technology balances durable waterproofness with high levels of breathability to ensure optimal comfort in cold and wet conditions, where the sailors have varying levels of physical activity.’ In other words, the same garments have to stop you overheating when you’re working hard, and keep you warm and dry when the body is at rest.

More recently, other brands have developed rival waterproof and breathable products and submitted them for laboratory testing. These involve placing waterproof textiles in an accelerated wear device that simulates repeated impact and abrasion in wet conditions. After predetermined intervals of accelerated wear, each textile is pressure-tested to determine the waterproofness.


The firehose treatment, here (above) on Vestas 11th Hour Racing, can last for days. Onboard Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (below) Pete Cumming keeps an eye on main trim during leg eight – the leg took the fleet from the freezing chills of the southern hemisphere winter north through the hot and sticky Doldrums and on past the balmy Caribbean to Newport. Dealing with this wide range of conditions asks a lot of any team’s technical clothing

Although it all sounds good, there’s nothing like real-world testing, getting out there and actually using it in all the harshness and unpredictability of the world’s oceans, argues Musto’s marketing manager Nick Houchin. ‘Of course Musto and any other reputable brand will carry out extensive lab testing,’ explains Houchin, who has first-hand experience of what a sailor needs when he’s had many days at sea travelling at high speed. ‘I was lucky enough, as a wide-eyed 24- year-old, to be part of the five-man crew that did the Oman Sail non-stop circumnavigation starting and finishing in Muscat onboard a 75ft trimaran at the beginning of 2009.’ With 76 days of non-stop sailing under his belt, Houchin appreciates why Volvo sailors choose to rely on their own experiences at sea rather than data forensically gleaned in laboratory conditions.

Along with long-time friend and sailing partner Charlie Enright, Mark Towill was instrumental in putting together the Vestas 11th Hour Racing campaign. Having competed in the previous Volvo Ocean Race aboard Team Alvimedica, Towill had no doubt who he would be calling upon again for kitting out the crew this time around. ‘It's quite simple really. It's the toughest sailing event in the world, and you want to be using the best gear out in the market, and Musto's got the best gear. This race has been a lot windier than the last Volvo, and both Southern Ocean legs were quite windy; the leg from Cape Town to Melbourne, we had an average boatspeed of over 25 knots for the 14 or 15 days that we were out there. So it was really windy, big waves and not a lot of sleep.

Musto’s real-world approach

Musto trials and tests its new product innovations with the assistance of some of the world’s best offshore sailors. Musto focuses on the importance of delivering performance in all areas, not focusing on just one, but delivering a premium, proven product that covers:

  • Waterproofness
  • Breathability
  • Durability
  • Comfort

Musto uses three-layer Gore-Tex Pro with Ocean Technology, with GORE Micro Grid Backer. Three-layer Gore-Tex Pro is used for its high level of performance across all areas of breathability, waterproofness and durability.

  • Breathability RET: 13m2 Pa / W
  • Waterproofness: 28,000mm

The GORE Micro Grid Backer, laminated to the Gore-Tex membrane, has been especially chosen due to its superior performance in the areas of breathability and comfort. In the three-layer system, there is always space between the layers to allow the warm air to circulate and, as the outer shell fits much flatter and smoother to the body, it is less likely to snag and easier to pull on and off

‘You’re in your clothes for a long, long time. Gore-Tex and Musto have been working together for a long time and that was one of the big reasons we chose to go with Musto. I am certainly not a technical person, so I can't tell you exactly how Gore-Tex works, but I do know that it keeps me dry and that's really all need to know. I understand that as it is used in constructing garments, it needs to be in the middle so that moisture can breathe through the garment, and it's basically the first thing we look at when we are trying to pick the gear that we’re going to wear out there. You need to know that you are going to be kept dry and Musto Gore-Tex is really the only product that we really trust.’

Strangely for one of the most experienced professional sailors in the industry, this has been Pete Cumming’s first foray into the Volvo Ocean Race. He came in late too, only joining Sun Hung Kai Scallywag at the stopover in Brazil. ‘It was great to join a team that had changed to Musto HPX (after starting the race with another brand of technical clothing) for their offshore gear. The big thing for me is that because it is a known quantity, I can be confident that I'll be able to put the kit on and I know it'll work. So for me to see the HPX hanging on peg on the container was a reassuring moment.

‘One of the big challenges at sea is you are trying to make sure you don't have any open sores or wounds because after you’ve been at sea for 18 days, over time you will get problems. When you get a bit of water ingress that can make those problems worse. It’s not unusual to get sores around your neck, where a little bit of water going down the neck gets into your base layer, the salt crystalises and it gets rough and when you are not taking your top off for weeks on end, that salt crystal drying out just rubs your neck and it's abrasive. I’m happy to say though, that on Sun Hung Kai Scallywag, everyone was in good form and the Musto kit preserved us well.’

Click here for more information on Musto »


We invite you to read on and find out for yourself why Seahorse is the most highly-rated source in the world for anyone who is serious about their racing.

To read on simply SIGN up NOW
Take advantage of our very best subscription offer or order a single copy of this issue of Seahorse.

Online at:
www.seahorse.co.uk/shop

Or via email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or for iPad simply download the Seahorse App at the iTunes store

 

Getting bigger…

Getting bigger…

Visit Grand Soleil

Grand Soleil’s new Custom 80-footer marks both a significant step up and a major new collaboration for this experienced and successful Italian yard ‘Che

Speed, power, beauty. That is the essence of the Grand Soleil 80 Custom, the first of a series of custom and semi-custom projects to emerge from an ambitious new endeavour by Cantiere del Pardo.

The new facility in Fano, Italy, announced by Cantiere del Pardo in May 2017, is about to bear its first, rather impressive, fruit. The Grand Soleil Custom Yard will build special one-off projects too large and specialised to be handled by the main Cantiere del Pardo yard where Grand Soleil’s production yachts are built. In a partnership with the Adria Sail shipyard, a yard synonymous with high-tech custom boats in Italy, the construction of the new 80ft high-performance racer-cruiser was managed by Adria Sail’s master builder, Maurizio Testuzza, while Giovanni Ceccarelli took care of design, working closely with Cantiere del Pardo and the boat’s owner.

‘Cantiere del Pardo commissioned Ceccarelli Yacht Design for the naval architecture, exterior and interior styling for the new Grand Soleil 80,’ says Ceccarelli. ‘I was given a design brief, drawn up together with the owner and his consultant, Paolo Semeraro, for an 80ft highperformance custom-built sailboat for cruising and for racing in IRC or ORCi against other similar racercruiser yachts. Cantiere del Pardo wanted to explore the possibility of building a limited series of these yachts, updated from time-to-time to reflect an owner’s particular requirements. In the brief, certain basic parameters were fixed for this boat. It specified light displacement of about 33 tonnes and a keel weight of roughly 12 tonnes.’

For the hull, Ceccarelli gave himself a head start by unleashing the full analytical arsenal available to him and by narrowing the design options based on known performance. ‘Extensive use was made of CFD and VPP to design the hull and appendages, and the hull and structures were all validated by Italian structural designers Advanced Mechanical Solutions with FEM verifications. The brief drove me towards a hull form with high righting moment and a considerable beam. I’ve designed similar boats and the best five were CFD-tested, simulating a range of sailing conditions and wind angles, without appendages. Then we CFD-tested the best again, with a range of appendages added.

‘There are no chines aft because I don’t feel that they offer a performance advantage. Indeed CFD analysis shows that once the boat is heeled and the chine immersed, it becomes a brake. This is why the hull is clean and chineless, with moderate rocker and a moderate prismatic coefficient of 0.550. A lot of care was taken over the volume distribution, with the boat both heeled and level. The result is a very powerful hull, both in shape and waterline, with flared quarters and flat aft exits to minimise both the wetted surface of the hull and its wave resistance.’

Main picture: ‘Che bella!’ Designer Ceccarelli was briefed by Cantiere del Pardo to make sure this new custom project looked like a member of the existing Grand Soleil family and he hit the brief out of the park with his styling. In performance terms, Ceccarelli has drawn a powerful but chine-less low drag hull, while still carrying the maximum beam all the way aft for well-balanced offwind performance

It certainly looks powerful, so what sort of rig is developing all the horsepower? ‘The sail plan features a considerable J measurement, about 41 percent of LOA, in comparison with other boats of a similar type. This is to have headsails and a genoa equal to roughly 45 per cent of total sail area. Paolo Semeraro’s Banks Sails loft will make all the cruising and racing sails for this boat. There’ll be two mainsails, one pinhead for the cruising rig and one square top for racing, for which we have two running backstays on winches. When cruising, the two backstays will be fixed and their winches made available for sail handling.

‘The mast is deck-stepped, quite novel in a yacht of this size, which means it isn’t obstructing the interior. It also eliminates a critical point for water ingress. The chainplates are on the gunwales, angled at about 22° aft of transverse. Mast compression loads are transmitted through a longitudinal bulkhead to the keel structure.’

Cantiere del Pardo had made clear that, despite its custom nature, the Grand Soleil 80 had to share visible DNA with her smaller siblings. ‘The aim was to get a modern yet timeless style, one that would last, and one with clearly-recognisable Grand Soleil style,’ explains Ceccarelli. ‘The dimensions of the boat, in particular her maximum beam, which extends all the way aft, give her force and power. To reflect this I worked a lot on the coachroof, which has characteristic Grand Soleil styling in the cockpit coaming that sweeps forward into the side of the coachroof, and the sheerline where I introduced a highly-pronounced chamfer, which has a structural function and also serves the aesthetic function of lowering the freeboard forward.

‘The deck plan reflects the owner’s dual-purpose intentions. We went for two electric halyard winches at the foot of the mast, two primary winches in the cockpit for genoa and gennaker and a primary central one for the mainsail, between the two wheels. Aft of the helmsman, the two backstay winches, used while racing, are also useful for handling sternlines while mooring.’

Down below, the owner demonstrated an inclination towards the functional. ‘He wanted a boat in which luxury and modernity had to be coupled with classic yachting elements – it had to be a boat and not a floating apartment. Particular effort was made to create a sense of elegance, tradition almost, reflected in the quality of the furnishings and finishes, with a clean and essential design. Having defined the general arrangement on a boat of this type and size, the interiors are developed hand-in-hand with the owner. In this case I was lucky to have a hands-on owner who was very demanding about every detail, but at the same time was entirely realistic and had a clear vision of what he wanted.

‘All of the boat’s internal compartments are structural, created with PVC core and carbon skins, and the furniture features light, hickory veneers. Bulkheads in the living areas are clad with removable panels in composite and fabric, and when the yacht is converted into racing trim, most of the furnishings are easily dismantled and removed for weight-saving purposes.’

Regular and exhaustive consultation between the owner, the designer and the Grand Soleil Custom Yard’s build manager ensured a shared vision and a smooth design process. ‘Once we moved on from the preliminary stages, which helped to define the exterior styling, there have been no major modifications to the general interior arrangement – furnishings or structures – the sail plan or the appendages. Every detail was finalised in collaboration with the owner, with Cantiere del Pardo, and with the experienced build manager Maurizio Testuzza.’


Adria Sail’s Maurizio Testuzza, formerly of Tencara and Wally Yachts, is managing the build of the new Grand Soleil 80. Together the team focused on weight management and opted for a three-stage ‘outside-in’ lay-up using female hull moulds built within a robust structural framework with vacuum infused laminating throughout. The freshly demoulded result (above) is immaculate

Testuzza, who cut his project managing teeth with Raoul Gardini’s Tencara yard in the 1990s before moving on to work with the thenemerging Wally Yachts, explains the driving motivation behind the build. ‘The entire team, including the project’s structural analyst, focused on the building of a very stiff, lightweight boat, which in turn allowed us to create a luxuriously appointed yacht. The more weight we managed to save in the hull and deck, the more comfort we could build into the yacht.

‘The boat was built using female moulds for both hull and deck. The skins are carbon reinforced plastic sandwich using biaxial and woven roving carbon fabrics. Unidirectional carbon has also been used in highload areas. Skins, structures and bulkheads have been built using the vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (V.A.R.T.M.) technique, with epoxy resins. The core for hull, deck and bulkheads is Corecell. Most of the composite components, including hull, deck and structures, have been post-cured to optimise their mechanical properties.

‘Rig and mast are supplied by Axxon Composites. The mast tube is high-modulus carbon fibre laminated in a female carbon mould and cured in an autoclave. The rig is fractional, with three pairs of tapered, sweptback carbon fibre spreaders. Standing rigging is PBO with a single backstay for cruising and running backstays for racing. Rig loads are supported by full-carbon panels glued and laminated to the hull using V.A.R.T.M. and floors have been infused into the bottom of the hull to bear keel loads.

‘The fin-and-bulb keel weighs about 12 tonnes and boat’s draft is more than 4.5m from the waterline. This generates impressive righting moment, and that stiffness allows the boat to carry more sail area than any other comparable racer-cruiser. The fin is Weldox 700 stainless steel, a high-strength steel with extraordinary toughness and resistance, which enabled us to reduce the thickness of the AISI 316L stainless steel plating, resulting in a lightweight, rigid structure. Both keel and bulb are outsourced and the bulb is CNC machined.’

As the first Grand Soleil Custom performance project launched by a new facility, the pressure was always going to be on to do something extraordinary, as Testuzza explains: ‘The biggest challenge has been to reduce weight. For this reason, the entire boat is made of vacuumcompressed carbon fabrics, vacuuminfused to optimise the weight of both carbon and epoxy. This is a highquality, no-compromise technique for a boat of this size. Hull and deck were laminated three stages: the outer skin was infused first, the sandwich core was glued and vacuum-bagged to the outer skin, and then the inner skin was infused. This allows us to reduce resin impregnation of the core, and so optimise the weight.’

Designing and building the Grand Soleil 80, due to debut at the Cannes Boat Show 2018, has been intense, as Ceccarelli reflects: ‘We’ve designed a performance cruiser, the first in a custom series, with her own personality in the style of hull and deck: elegant, contemporary and with a sporty character, a boat we believe will become a future point of reference, and a boat that will redefine “Made in Italy”.’

Click here for more information on Grand Soleil »


We invite you to read on and find out for yourself why Seahorse is the most highly-rated source in the world for anyone who is serious about their racing.

To read on simply SIGN up NOW
Take advantage of our very best subscription offer or order a single copy of this issue of Seahorse.

Online at:
www.seahorse.co.uk/shop

Or via email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or for iPad simply download the Seahorse App at the iTunes store

Sharing the love

Sharing the love

Visit HH Catamarans

Asian-based powerhouse Hudson Yacht Group is introducing a new line of yachts that will allow more long-range multihull enthusiasts to enjoy the performance benefits of the latest design and engineering techniques

It's a dictum in life that you can’t get something for nothing and nowhere is that more true than modern performance catamaran design. The trade-offs in weight, trim, performance and cost are nearly absolute, even with clever innovations in layout and design. Where you save in one parameter, you lose in another, so the challenge for builders and designers is finding a solution that optimised all those parameters without being too compromising for an increasinglydiscerning marketplace.

Hudson Yacht Group may have found a new sweet spot in this space with the recent introduction of the new Ocean Series of blue water luxury performance catamarans, billed as “ocean tough, muscular yet graceful, and ready to take you cruising... in comfort and ease”. While the HH line of big cats – the HH50, HH55 and HH66 – are now well-established in the genre of nocompromise performance and luxury without too much constraint in cost, a place where only the finest in all aspects of build materials, quality and high-technology solutions are permitted, Hudson has realised there is room in the market for another level that, with a few compromises, can bring big cat luxury and performance to a much wider audience.

This realisation came about when Chris Doscher, the new president of Hudson Yacht Group, went touring some key boat shows in both the US and Europe with company founder Hudson Wang and listened both to current and potential owners of big cats. What they heard was interesting, and a bit surprising especially to Doscher, who has spent the last decade in the production boatbuilding business as sales manager with another major brand, one that has a large volume business in this broadening market.

‘What I heard was surprising,’ said Doscher. ‘Our assumption has always been that cats were favoured by those who wanted to have lots of living space and stability for their experience onboard, with sailing qualities a comparatively minor priority. So many of the boats offered provide this experience and harbours are full of them.

‘But if you ever sail one of these, as a sailor you’re left unsatisfied – the helm is heavy, the boats unresponsive in anything but the strongest breeze, and for me it’s just a leaden experience.’ Doscher should know, having been competitive in both the Farr 40 and Mumm 30 circuits.

Main picture: A tour of boat shows in Europe and the USA convinced HH founder Hudson Wang and president Chris Doscher that there is room in the market for a de-tuned version of the existing and now well established line of HH performance cats, a new range of boats that delivers a more relaxing experience at a lower price point. The Ocean Series is their new offering for that market

‘So when we really talked with people about sailing and not just luxury, they revealed that this was in fact really important to them, that they looked forward to sailing a boat that offered good performance but without going to extremes.’

“Extremes” is of course a relative term where for some being on a foiled cat going 25 knots is quite normal, for others this may be a little outside their comfort zone, and they don’t want to invest in professional help to crew their own boat.

So it occurred to Doscher and Wang that there is a market space that would respond to big cat designs that are not at the HH level of performance sophistication, but at a slightly more modest level that is still fast (and much faster than the others) but not at a high price for purchase or operation. Subsequent discussions with designers Morelli and Melvin and the in-house engineering and design team at Hudson Yacht Group have found a suitable middle road, and new designs in the Ocean Series have emerged roughly based on the existing HH family of designs: the OC50, OC56 and OC66 models.

These boats are constructed in E-glass for hull, deck, superstructure and interior paneling, saving 30 per cent in material cost compared with carbon, but are still moulded and resin-infused just like the carbon panels with optimal resin to fibre ratios to optimise strength and weight. And in critical structural areas where absolute strength and rigidity are needed, (such as the cross beams and other framing elements), Ocean Series boats do have carbon for its incredible strength.

Designer Gino Morelli has insisted that some new features be included in the fabrication process to preserve the heritage Hudson Yacht Group has in always searching for innovations. In this case it is the choice of PVC core material for the Ocean Series, which is the latest version of Core Cell, and the epoxy resin choice for the hulls is a new eco-friendly variety that will have less impact on the environment both during assembly and at the end of the yacht’s life. While large production operations may not adopt these due to the scaled-up increase in cost, both Morelli and Hudson felt that this small additional expense is minimal and worth it to an owner group who will likely have some uncompromising views on supporting sustainable life on the planet.


Although built using the same tooling as the HH50, HH55 and HH66 multihulls, carbon is switched out for E-glass, saving 30 per cent in materialsʼ costs. Instead of lifting boards there are now fixed stub keels to reduce complexity and expense, sail handling systems are designed for shorthanded sailing, while the standard mast is now aluminium and not carbon. The end result is a relatively similar yacht but with less complexity and a lower price point

The Ocean series has other features that differ from the HH highperformance line. Rather than hightech curved dagger boards built in pre-preg carbon and post-cured in an autoclave for no-compromise strength and high performance, along with the complex systems needed to extend and retract these boards, the Ocean Series has no boards at all. Simple, long, low-aspect keels in each hull minimise leeway while helping the boat track along at minimal draft. Yes, there’s more drag, but there is also a lot less complication for sailors who are concerned about their cruising range in lagoons and shoal waters. These blades are only 0.5m deep on the OC50.

On top of the 30 per cent saving on materials by using E-glass instead of carbon fibre, for ease of maintenance and further cost reductions, the hulls, decks and superstructures in Ocean Series yachts are built in the same moulds as the HH line, but they have a gelcoat finish rather than being faired, primed and painted. The decks are made with vinylester resins to ease on cost and are built in the same high-quality stable tooling used in the HH line. Some more durable materials are used in the interior elements too, just to give the look and feel of weight and stability in a finely-crafted yacht, and details like expertly-finished laminates and wood composites are options that give the boat the look and feel of handcrafted excellence.

Doscher says an example of this attention to detail can be seen in the doors and their structures: ‘They are built in composites with wood trim, but we worked hard on finding exactly the right hinges and hinge springs so that they open and close properly. And the structure behind what supports these doors must be absolutely rigid and is often built in carbon – imagine hull flexing while underway that causes the doors to get stuck open – or closed!’

There is some additional weight from this approach (about a ton in the OC50 and about 1.5 tons in the OC56), but the effect on performance is acceptable for the massively reduced man-hours required for the build process.

To compensate for this extra ton of loading, buoyancy is preserved with a slight expansion in each hull’s width so that the fore-and-aft trim can be controlled. This sensitivity to trim is such that Doscher says relocation of some interior systems is necessary to avoid overcompromising on performance, so the interior layout options are different to those seen in the HH line.

Ocean Series cats also come with alloy spars as standard, although choosing a carbon spar from Hall or Southern is an optional upgrade. The effect on weight, CG and stability is measurable, but not so much that the boat does not hit its intended performance targets for fast cruising. Likewise, the sail handling systems are designed for ease of use by shorthanded cruising sailors. The designers deliberately developed user-friendly systems that don’t require specialised skills when taking in or shaking out a reef while at sea.

The initial interest in the Ocean Series has been so strong that the Hudson Yacht Group is gearing up for greater production capacity, hiring another 50 employees to increase production to a target of eight boats per year, nearly double the yard’s current capacity. Doscher says he already has seven confirmed orders for OC50s, with the first delivery expected to be in time for the boat show circuit in September 2019.

‘Of our current customers for the Ocean Series, only one has expressed a strong interest in racing, even among those who have a racing background. They really seem interested in what this boat can offer: fast, stable and accessible sailing in the cruising waters of the world.’

Click here for more information on HH Catamarans »


We invite you to read on and find out for yourself why Seahorse is the most highly-rated source in the world for anyone who is serious about their racing.

To read on simply SIGN up NOW
Take advantage of our very best subscription offer or order a single copy of this issue of Seahorse.

Online at:
www.seahorse.co.uk/shop

Or via email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or for iPad simply download the Seahorse App at the iTunes store

Search Seahorse Search Seahorse