Multihull Central’s Brent Vaughan explains the back story to the only production catamaran under 45 feet designed for performance sailors.
With over 115 Seawind 1160s launched and sailing worldwide, the design has forged a reputation for its innovative layout, robust construction and simple but safe sailing systems. However the design has for a long time been overlooked as a true performance cruising catamaran. Then in 2010 Seawind acquired Corsair Marine in Vietnam, builders of the world’s most popular high performance trimarans with 30 years of experience and would eventually become the headquarters for Seawind Catamarans with the senior management team all relocating to Ho Chi Minh City.
The Corsair Marine factory has three main buildings with the trimarans being assembled in one building, the Seawinds being assembled in another, and fibreglassing of all designs under one roof in the centre. This mix of design philosophies, construction methods and experience from the two camps was the catalyst for exploring greater performance and lighter construction methods.
Then more recently in 2015 a Seawind 1160 ‘Talisker’ won the multihull division of the Hamilton Island Race week. Up against some much larger and more expensive designs who claim a high performance pedigree, Talisker has impressed all who have sailed up against her.
Featuring a recently extended and modified hull and new sail wardrobe, Talisker again performed well on the water at this year’s Hamilton Island Race Week against the mixed fleet of multihulls, despite Seawind enjoying its own division including 13 boats.
It was this accelerated edge that helped encourage the new Seawind 1190 Sport design.
The 1190 Sport now features a number of key performance enhancements designed in collaboration with leading multihull designers, Alan Carwardine and Francois Perus. I was lucky enough to sail on the first Seawind 1190 Sport in Vietnam and witness for myself these features in action, including:
- Extended hull: The 1190 enjoys an additional foot of waterline length (LOA: 39 feet) and additional buoyancy in the stern providing a cleaner exit of the transom from the water and reducing drag . This hull extension goes hand in hand with a new profile design for the deck with a higher stern for weather protection and new window styling.
- Taller rig: The new double spreader rig allows for a higher aspect mainsail and jib, while still being as sturdy as ever.
- Daggerboards: To help improve pointing to windward (between 5-7 degrees) and reduce drag when sailing downwind due to less wetted surface area than mini keels. When the daggerboards are up, the draft is reduced down to just 450mm which is also a very practical feature when going inshore. The daggerboards are neatly stored within their own case under the deck which means you don’t see them or bump your toes on them.
- Retractable rudders: Seawind have not held back on their quest for additional performance and incorporated retractable rudders into the extended transoms for light steering thanks partly to the high aspect design of the rudders and partly to the carbon rod tillers and cross bar arrangement.
- Performance Sails: With Doyle recently redesigning the performance sails for the new Seawind 1190 Sport, the package now includes lightweight and super strong Kevlar arimid sails with a high aspect radial cut square top mainsail and deck sweeping self-tacking jib, plus optional overlapping genoa sheeted back to the hardtop, and large furling screecher.
- Carbon Bowsprit, Front Beam and Targa Arch: The screecher attaches to a super-strong carbon bowsprit that extends from a carbon reinforced front beam for an extra stiff platform. The targa arch is also carbon reinforced to provide additional strength while reducing weight.
- Outboard Engines: To help reduce weight and reduce drag, twin 20hp Honda Outboards are standard on the new Sport which also has the added benefit of reduced maintenance and associated costs.
- Synthetic Rigging & Safety Lines: Using racing boat technology with Dynux synthetic rigging, further weight has been taken out of the rig up high. This is complimented by synthetic safety lines that also contributes to weight loss.
So what does it sail like? Well they say that all cats can sail in 20 knots of breeze, but what do they sail in 10 knots of breeze. The reality is that most cats tend to get bogged down in lighter winds with boat speed falling down to 4 knots or less and as a result, choose to use engines instead of sailing. This in turn means you use much more fuel and send up your engine hours. I see this all too often with used 2nd hand cats we sell that have sailed from Europe to Australia with massive engine hours. If you are in remote locations, the replacing fuel on a regular basis can also be a logistical issue with very little clean diesel being available on a wharf. Instead you might need to be prepared to travel to your closest fuel station with jerry cans! So it pays to sail when you can. Outboards using unleaded petrol can also be an advantage in many remote island locations as most fisherman use outboards rather than diesel motors.
As is common in SE Asia, we were delivered a stunning day out on the China Sea with 10 knots of consistent breeze. Without trying hard, we were achieving 7 knots to windward and pointing at about 34 degrees using the self tacking jib. Of course, with the optional genoa I’m sure we would have gotten closer to windspeed and pointing higher again as move your centre of effort forward creating lift forward of the daggerboards.
It’s really nice and light to steer thanks to the rudder system, complemented by a set of sexy carbon steering wheels on the twin helms. The daggerboards are very easy to operate using a twin line system to deploy and retrieve. Because the daggerboards float, they pop up easily into their case and need only a little encouragement to be deployed fully into their down position. I always love the twin helms which is standard design practice on the Seawinds, but with the benefit of full shade and weather protection which is not offered on other twin helm designs.
In summary, the 1190 Sport was a real delight to sail and its easy to see the performance enhancements while not losing any of the practical living layout features that have made the Seawind 1160 such a popular choice for cruising couples and families alike. You also get all of the benefits of quality assurance, warranty support and resale that comes with a production catamaran.
Not long after I test sailed the 1190 Sport, it was shipped to Boston USA where it competed and won the Black Dog Dash up against 24 other multihulls. Four 1190 Sports have been ordered for the USA already and we are now getting good interest in Australia too as more discover just how good a souped up Seawind can really perform. This is a design destined for Hamilton Island Race week and will still be one of the nicest boats to live aboard and cruise the Great Barrier Reef afterwards.