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Brent Vaughan from HH Catamarans distributor Multihull Central, takes the HH50-SC ‘Synergy’ out sailing off the Gold Coast to test how it sails in lumpy conditions and light winds. Here is the full account and transcript that accompanies the sailing video.
With influences from building TP52’s, Americas cup yachts and at one stage Gun Boats, the Hakes and Hudson partnership has emerged as arguably the leading shipyard in its class of high performance production and semi custom cruising catamarans, intertwining technology and comfort. Though many HH catamarans are raced and they enjoy the fact their boats are strong enough to fly a hull, the real reason more and more are attracted to these performance cats is that they sail well in lighter conditions as they do in stronger conditions. This efficiency means more champagne sailing days and less diesel being burnt unnecessarily.
The HH50 – SC is a full carbon fibre build to reduce weight from heavier glass and resin, allowing for greater performance and more onboard luxuries and equipment. Designed by the prolific Morrelli Melvin and built by kiwi boat builder Paul Hakes who teamed up with Hudson Yachts, the HH50 cats are built in state of the art facilities in China and now the Philippines that could rival most European facilities. Synergy is the sports cruiser version of this design, however there is also a less expensive OC or Ocean Cruising version also built with mini keels, eglass hull with carbon frame and alloy rig. The SC’s carbon hull is resin infused, fared and then painted to provide the ultimate finish – of course you get to select the paint colour with Synergy painted in Porsche Crayon grey.
Motoring and Manoeuvring
Today we are taking Synergy for a sail on Australia’s Gold Coast. We pull out of the marina berth at Sanctuary cove, using the assistance of a single bow thruster. Due to the light nature of the hulls they skim over the top of the surface a bit more than a heavier cat, so these actually come in handy to control the bow in a cross wind or tide. We untie the lines with these slick flick–back cleats, finished with a carbon rub strip.
Synergy is packaged with twin turboed 45hp Beta Marine diesel motors with sail drives, built by Kubota in Japan and have a reputation of being super reliable. Its these motors combined with a shaft drive that would be used for hybrid Ecodrive on other models. IN this engine room however, the Beta engine has the saildive forward, along with the Jefa steering arms for super responsive steering and a fire suppression system installed.
As we motor out down the river to the sea way, we sit on approx.. 8 knots doing approx.. 2100 revs without working hard at all. We take the opportunity to pack away fenders and lines into the enormous forward lockers that also store the extra sails. These are deep and well organised with rope ties.
Rig & Sails
There has been a strong southerly blowing for a week which has just eased, so we prepare to go out of the Gold Coast sea way into a 2.5 metre swell running and 10 knot breeze – not ideal conditions but a good test of light wind sailing all the same.
The mainsail is about to go up the one piece 21 metre carbon rig, build by the famous Swedish Marstrom mast manufacturer. The fixed cabon rig keeps the complexity down by not rotating, but its wing shape and tapered head keeps weight out of aloft yet reduces the amount of stays needed due to its stiffness over an alloy rig. The stays are made from EC3 carbon strands that also reduce weight and provide superior strength to stainless steel and of course doesn’t corrode.
The cap-shrouds also have load cell pins providing invaluable feedback to the helm as to the pressure and stress the rig is under to prevent damage being done and helping guide when one of the three reefs need to be put in place. The reefing points are on quick release reef hooks that avoid chaffing that reef lines can suffer and minimise any stretch in the system when under load.
As we start to raise the North 3Di mainsail, viewing it through a window above, the main halyard is raised via an electric Harken winch which is controlled via a foot switch in the starboard helm to keep hands free. The mainsheet trim is adjusted on either side with an endless line, with the main traveller from a push button Antel line driver from the helm.
We then lower the leeward daggerboard as they are C shaped providing lift to windward. The daggerboards are beautifully engineered built out of pre-preg carbon fibre and heat cured for the ultimate strength. Again they are raised and lowered using a push button line driver at the helm with bearings above and inside the board.
We then pull out the overlapping jib from its dedicated furler around the forestay and mounted on the carbon longeron beam. This is an integral part of the stiffness of the boat and is quite a structure. It also allows for a self tacking furling staysail which is also ready, plus extra sails such as a reacher and furling gennaker on Synergy, plus other optional furling spinnakers. We are sailing nicely along in the lumpy oncoming seas tapping 9 knots in 14 knots of breeze at approx. 36 degrees apparent. The jib sheets are cleverly directed to the windward helm with barber hauling tweakers to adjust the slot.
With the wind easing to 10 knots, we bare away and sail off the breeze, so the traveller is moved outboard using the electric line driver from the helm, mainsail eased, jib furled and the North Furling Gennaker is unfurled. We are sitting nicely again on 8 knots of boat speed in 10 knots of breeze.
The boat handles the swell and messy chop beautifully thanks to its generous waterline length, bridge deck clearance and large forward trampolines. The trampolines are made from a beautifully woven dyneea and attach to the carbon longeron beam that has an integrated forward beam and pelican striker.
The helm position is remarkably well protected given how open it is. You can easily communicate between helms, yet remain out of the wind and control virtually every item on the boat from the motors, sails, traveller and boards. The chartplotter is set between a conveniently located rope bin. If you have to go forward, there are handholds everywhere and the decks are flat and uncluttered with the lines going back over the coachroof.
We pull into an anchorage for some lunch.
The anchor chain feeds through the longeron beam and is controlled by remove control.
Then its time to sit back and enjoy the great entertaining aspects of this boat.
The shared open spaces between the cockpit and saloon have so much space, accompanied by a centrally located BBQ to entertain that was inspired by this Australian boat, plus a neat rain shower head in the ceiling to rinse off after a swim. The dinghy is mounted by asymmetric carbon dinghy davits. The cockpit features a large day bed and external cockpit seating, even two carbon seats with a dedicated external dining table.
Inside we have another dining table which can be enclosed for weather protection by the large sliding doors, both with beautifully polished timber tables. This is adjacent a huge U shaped galley featuring induction stove top and in place of the usual oven, a spacious wine fridge. Above there are storage cupboards which is where you could fit a microwave if you wished. The timberwork is beautifully finished and galley countertops are of course corian. There are four programmable fridge freezers which can do either. Then you have well arranged forward facing nav station with a full computer monitor duplicate screen for your chartplotter, that can also double as a regular computer monitor for your laptop.
The boat is powered by 1.49 KW of walk on solar panels with individual mppt controllers and voltage boost for maximum efficiency, located on the hardtop. This feeds into 22kW hours of Lithium batteries using a 24 volt system, capable of running the air-conditioning overnight with no generator. There is programmable C-zone throughout the boat.
Down below and the cabins are spacious with vast headroom above and plenty of natural light in the cabins thanks to the large aft windows and side windows. There are some clever touches too, with the wardrobe cupboards fitted with cedar internal walls providing a lovely odour. Its these small finishing touches that are really nice.
The bathroom and head are generous in size and features black matt fixtures and carbon fibre sinks to match the toilet. This colour scheme inspired the Skye interior used on the new 44 and 52 models.
In summary, the attention to detail on the HH50-SC is to the extreme. It’s strength in engineering will provide anyone confidence to overcome testing conditions, while it’s ability to perform in a wide range of conditions is exceptional. Yet it has serious comfort factor and style without giving up the toys.
For more information on the HH50 including the OC various, click here https://www.multihullcentral.com/hh-catamarans/. For more videos on the HH range Click here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0KNgGPQT81Tm5y0RWqYywtWQHYOxIImT