Every cat is having its day ... except in the powerboat design world

Azzum slips through the water with a minimum of fuss, reaching speeds of 40 knots.
Ensign Brokers
Just when the Japanese whaling fleet thought it was safe to go back to the water, the son of lean, green speed machine Earthrace, aka MV Ady Gil, has been launched.

The whalers made short work, literally, of the original 24-metre wave-piercing trimaran, shearing off its bow with such force that the vessel sank within a day.

Builder Warrick Yeoman from New Zealand has developed a new 12-metre version for the luxury boat market. It’s yours for a cool $US745,000 through Ensign Ship Brokers …

Called Azzum, it is designed to be used as a serious ocean cruiser that will maintain speed in conditions that would keep most other pleasureboats clinging nervously to their mooring.

Twin Yanmar diesels with surface-drive props propel it to 40 knots. The helmsman gets a two-tier leather Recaro bucket seat, as do three passengers, and there are Raymarine E-series electronics, radar and night vision cameras to ensure you don’t bump into anything harder than a whaler’s heart.

There’s a 500-litre seawater ballast system that adjusts fore and aft trim as sea conditions dictate. The wafer-thin bow does the rest, slicing through waves like they’re mere speed bumps.

Fuel consumption is minimal, as you’d expect from such a light, streamlined, low-drag hull. Construction, incidentally, is medium tech e-glass, foam and balsa composites, plus carbon fibre where necessary.

Drawing just 58 centimetres, Azzum can access just about any beach.

The surprises keep coming down below, where you find twin leather lounges, two double berths, a galley with two-burner stove, stainless steel microwave, coffee machine, fridge and freezer, plus a head compartment boasting a shower, basin with designer tap, and toilet.

The saloon includes a retractable plasma television and surround-sound entertainment system.

The design blends aeronautical and hydrodynamic thinking.
Ensign Brokers

The hull design, to some degree, mirrors what’s happening in the sailing world, where Moth dinghies and AC72 catamarans alike are continually pushing the boundaries of hydrodynamics.

While Hamlet sagely noted that ‘the cat will mew and dog will have his day’, the tide is turning … multihulls are seizing the moment. Yacht club coots will be tut-tutting into their gins while old Tom Sopwith and his J Boat buddies roll in their graves, but many would argue that the change is long overdue and definitely for the better.

F18 catamarans have been transformed by reverse bows - a new way of doing business.
Mark Rothfield

Not since Ben Lexcen turned a keel on its head and added wings has there been such a mind-bending design breakthrough as the reverse bow seen on many of the new America’s Cup cats, Formula 18s, A Class and others.

The old theory was that reserve buoyancy should increase as the bow submerged but designers realised that it increased the braking, and hence tripping, effect – the better alternative was to reduce wetted area so decks could clear water faster.

It’s a completely new way of doing business.

Look at the powerboat world and this sort of innovative thinking is conspicuously absent. In terms of deep vee monohulls it’s pretty well been same old same old since Raymond Hunt came along … surely it’s ripe for a new foil system, a wave-piercing innovation or whatever.

Here’s hoping that where Azzum dares to tread, others will follow.