A catamaran way ahead
Yacht Class n°7 (dec-jan-feb 2017)
Hudson Yacht’s & Marine
Let's be honest : her silhouette, her construction, her performances and her layout place the HH66 way ahead the competition. Finally, here comes a sailing catamaran in carbon composite that skillfully blends aestheticism, speed and comfort. Our trial is a "living" proof.
Text : Emmanuel de Toma - Photos : Jesus Renodo
From the side, she almost looks like a monohull. Her sleek and stretched hull, topped by a discreet glazed deckhouse, gives her a unique silhouette. After all she is highly born from the imagination of Gino Morrelli, the creator of the Stars & Stripes catamaran, winner of the America's Cup 1988, and of the 125-foot PlayStation who set the record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours. Let's not forget Pete Melvin's science. This graduate of Boston University with a degree in Aerospace Engineering, who also competed in Tornado at the 1988 Olympics, worked on the aircraft design at McDonnell Douglas before teaming up with Morrelli in 1992 to calculate and finalize the "most-skilled" multihulls. The talents of these two experts have crossed two of the biggest names in naval construction : the New-Zealander Paul Hakes and the Taiwanese Hudson Wang. The first, leader in the construction of racing sail boats, has been involved in the construction of numerous America's Cup and round-the-world races. The latter has built large units for the world market and can boast Gunboat, J.Boats and the luxurious British yacht brand Pearl. These two man teamed up in 2012 to affix their initials on exceptional sailing boats. Pioneer of their ambition : the HH42, a 100% carbon monohull, whose five units have won all the major regattas around the world. And now, here comes the HH66 and its five first hulls who have already found an owner. Between two manoeuvres on board of our test unit, Gino Morrelli explained : "These units all have a different layout. My preference goes to n°2 with her two entrances for each cabins. The hull n°3, who now sails under the colors of the New York Yacht Club, has the legitimate ambition to dominate regattas. To this end, her layout is slightly less luxurious but she weighs six tons less".
Thus, on Gino Morrelli's drawing board, the silhouette of the HH66 is extremely refined. Her hull with taut lines displays a waterline length of 19.80 metres due to the inverted bow, while her maximum width only measures 1.54 m at the waterline. As a matter of fact, these two knife blades could perfectly fit on a racing multihull. But since only cruising is on her sailing agenda, the freeboards have been raised and fitted with an elegant moldings designed to blur their height. The discreet elevation of the topsides allowed to fit a slightly prominent deckhouse but without placing the nacelle too close to the surface of the water, which would annoyingly have caused it to slam into the wave, causing slowdown and discomfort. This being said, note that the penchant for performance came back at a gallop with two large daggerboards to increase the draft from 1.54 m to 4 m. Enough to ensure great upwind performances. All the more since the mast, over 25-metre high, has a marked rake (consequence of the absence of backstays) and carries a sail area of 217m2 at this pace. Two long swept spreaders, two shrouds and two impressive lower section shrouds are sufficient to maintain the carbon fiber spar. There, we've said the key word : carbon ! Now let us take a look to the computerized office of the American engineer, Pete Melvin. The objective ? Lightness, rigidity and an unbeatable durability. And the solution came from the aeronautical sector : a thermoformed prepreg carbon-epoxy, from keel to mast truck. Even the Evolution mainsail is no exception to the crystallogens trend. Note that to complete the globalisation of this shipyard, the HH66 was entirely built - layout and rigging included - by Hudson Yacht and Marine in Xiamen, People's Republic of China. This extraordinary factory, employing 5 000 people, manufactures with the same care parts for the aeronautic industry, fishing articles, furnitures, barbecues… and yachts both luxurious and futuristics. This HH undoubtedly breaks out the "Made in China" bias.
As we embark aft, we discover the large cockpit with two elevated helm stations, and at the rear a large U-shaped sofa surrounding a vast rectangular table, both protected by a solid bimini. Her two hulls also end on a high-note thanks to their five teak steps, leading to the beach club, just above the water. Between these two, the tender on davit. But let's head to the helm station. Its ergonomics only deserves praises. At the carbon steering wheel, the skipper can either choose to maneuver standing through the opening sunroof or sitting outboard thanks to the swigging pedestal that offsets the helm. He can also remain seated behind the windscreen, protected from the weather, overlooking both the bows and the foresails though a narrow glass surface. Thus, in all conditions, the helm holder will enjoy a complete view on both the sea and the boat. The left hand (starboard helm station) will control the electric winch for the jib sheet, while the right one will command the throttle levers. At the eye level, the large navigation screen and the push buttons operating the different elements of the boat such as the daggerboards or the mainsail.
Let's start the engines ! The two Yanmar 80 hp with SD60 Saildrive are vocal. The sound level is reasonable in the cockpit and the lounge, but an improved insulation work might be necessary in the aft cabins, to ensure the wellbeing of the sleepers. Note however that carbon hulls are conducive to the propagation of sounds and vibrations. That's the price for progress. Fitted with high daggerboards to limite the underwater area, the HH will propel her twenty tons at 7.3 knots at 2000 rpm and reach a maximum speed of 13 knots. But that would be a shame to miss the opportunity to enjoy the breeze since, as we shall see, the wind is definitively this catamaran's favorite fuel. But before hoisting the sails, let's cast a glance to her original plan. On the front part of the saloon, a door leads to a forward pit, just underneath the mast. In this lowered and caulked place, the halyards and lines will be managed in the best conditions, especially considering that all the winches are electric. Thus, a single pressure of the finger is enough to unfurl - in less than a minute - the Evolution mainsail (138 m2) while, aft, with a similar touch button, the helmsman will sheet them in. At the same time, the solent is unfurled, then trimmed on while, downwind, a promising eddy is stirring behind the stern. Twenty-five knots of wind would be ideal to discover this sailing boat but unfortunately Aeolus had ignored our agenda and we had to make it with an 8 to 10 knots breeze blowing in the bay of Cannes… Still plenty enough to perceive all her passion, both in terms of speed and upwind capabilities. When her daggerboard is lowered, she can sail downwind at less than 40° off the wind and nearly reach 9 knots in 8.7 knots of real wind. That speaks for itself ! She will maintain this speed before the wind with a 155m2 reacher and 9 knots of real wind. We even heard that in reasonable wind conditions, she sails at an average speed ranging between 15 and 20 knots. That seriously shortens distances and thus gives more time to enjoy her layout at anchor. In fact, speaking of the layout, two words characterize it : openness and lightness. A large sliding glass door leads directly to the saloon. 36 m2 of luxury enclosed by safety glazing : 15 mm thick for the front part, 12 mm for the deckhouse coamings. Gino Morrelli said with a smile : "there's less chance to get sick when we can clearly see ! ". The interior layout being "customizable", each owner can bring his personal touch to both the decoration and the layout. Thus, our HH elegantly combined together a dark flooring, the pure white of the deckhouse and the coamings with the contemporary furnitures highlighted by the fine fiddles made of exotic woods. To the right of the entrance is located a large open-plan modern kitchen. Left : the oven, refrigerator and brushed stainless steel freezer. On the forward portside, the table for ten is surrounded by red sofas while the starboard features the navigation area with its working table underneath two large screens monitoring all the mechanical and electrical components on board. On both sides, a staircase leads to the cabins housed in the hulls.
On starboard, the forward cabin with its "classical sailing" atmosphere has a double berth and a bathroom. Larger and surrounded by slightly smoked windows, the aft cabin accommodates a double bed, a small but elegant table with its armchair and of course, a cabinet and the required storage volumes. The portside of the hull is entirely dedicated to the owner. There, the available space and the veneered cored panel with carbon inlays brings an extraordinary luxury. The aft large bed is followed by an assortment of cupboards, wardrobe and other storage units extending to the final masterpiece : a king size bathroom. But attention ! Here no marble, no bathtub nor gold taps… on the entire boat, the true luxury lies in its light elegant dressing. One example : the doors are not in plain wood as we thought but they are actually made up of 3mm of an interior plywood coated with PVC foam, then covered with resin, a millimeter of wood and a carbon strip… and barely weigh over two kilos. This attention to every detail is the price to pay to preserve the true purpose of this catamaran : the speed.
The word of the architect Gino Morrelli
"Everybody asks me if these inverted bows are not an aesthetic caprice. I believed this shape was essential since it offers a larger volume underneath the waterline, near the bow. This allows for an additional lift on the front. Combined with very open U-shaped hull sections, this significantly reduces the pitch inherent in catamarans. Comfort is thus improved and the rigging will be preserved of any slamming. The hull volume features a luxurious layout but I always keep a close watch on the weight that can be the worst enemy of multihulls when excessive. The bareboat - deprived of furnitures, windows and heavy glass doors - only weighs 9 tons. We can then board a lot of stuff for the enjoyment of the cruising but be careful, at 24 tons, I say STOP! Relying on my long experience in multihulls, I think we have reached the best balance between performances and comfort. Plus, the all carbon/epoxy structure has a major advantage over the carbon - fiberglass mixture regarding the lifespan of the boat".
- Overall length : 20,10 m
- Flotation length : 19,80 m
- Max beam : 8,70 m
- Draft high drifts : 1,54 m
- Draft of low drifts : 4,00 m
- Light displacement : 17 t
- Laden displacement : 23,5 t
- Largeur des coques à la flottaison : 1,70 m
- Longueur du mât : 25,40 m
- Mainsail : 138 m²
- Solent : 78 m²
- Reacher : 155 m²
- Asymmetric spi : 265 m²
- Tourmentin : 15 m²
- Price : 3,4 millions de dollars U.S
- Naval architect : Morrelli & Melvin
- Exterior & interior designer : Hudson Yachts
- Builder : Hudson Yacht’s & Marine