If you were looking to describe the position of catamarans and trimarans within the larger superyacht fleet, you might end up saying something like: ‘they’re a bit niche.’ Looking at the statistics, there are a grand total of 58 motor and sailing multihulls above 24 metres currently in operation at the time of writing and a further nine in build, of which 90% are catamarans. Owners keen to go even more niche could opt for a trimaran boat, of which there are a total of six boats in operation in the entire global fleet of 6,676 yachts over 24 metres.
That said, for such a small player where the numbers are concerned, multihulls have certainly garnered their fair share of media attention over the years. The launch of the 84-metre trimaran White Rabbit last September - as Echo Yachts’ biggest motor yacht to date, the largest private trimaran superyacht in the world and the largest motor yacht to have ever been built in Australia - was the most recent noteworthy example of a multihull vessel which hit the headlines in 2018. The interest in these particular boats is not just limited to these record-breaking vessels, however. Their advantages, such as improved performance, increased stability, greater space and a shallow draft can be found in sailing and motor multihulls of all shapes and sizes and are enjoyed by a small and fiercely loyal contingent of owners.
To find out what it is that makes multihull owners tick and why they’ve gone for this somewhat unusual approach to superyacht ownership, we caught up with the second owner of the 34.72-metre 2010 Sunreef catamaran Che and the British shipping magnate Anto Marden, who commissioned the John Shuttleworth-designed 42.5-metre power trimaran Adastra to be built by McConaghy Boats in Hong Kong back in 2012.
When and why did you buy your multihull boat?
Owner of Che:
I was sailing last May and my captain pointed out that Che was for sale at a good price, so I got in contact with the broker. When I got back from my summer holiday I did a sea trial in Cannes and she sailed really well. I loved the boat but I wasn’t sure because it was a lot of money. The next morning I was up early at 6am and I went for a swim in the bay of Cannes. The sun came up and at that moment I thought, I’m going to buy Che.
I negotiated with the broker, Charles Ehrardt from Camper & Nicholsons, but he suggested that I speak to the owner directly. So we set up an appointment with the last owner in his office in Antwerp, we had a really nice talk about sailing and life in general. I liked him so we managed to put the deal there at a good price which we were both happy with. He was looking for someone with the same passion to take care of the boat as it really was his baby!
Mazinga, my first major yacht was designed by John Shuttleworth back in the early 80s. She was a 45-foot trimaran cruiser-racer and she was built out of wood/epoxy in the Philippines by a couple of itinerant boat builders. Since then, I’ve stayed friendly with John and we’ve enjoyed going sailing together. After the shipping market went up all of a sudden, I had money which I could spend wisely and so I cooked up Adastra with John: she took three or four years to build, which cost far more than I thought it would. But they’re very good at building hulls at McConaghy and the interior also went well.
I’d always wanted to get a yacht power trimaran. I really like the trimaran format because it looks good, it’s seaworthy, the shallow draft is easy to push, and I was used to multihulls from an early age anyway. I used to sail the Spronk catamarans from St Maarten to St Barts in 1975 as a kid - I was a sailor boy.
Owner of Che:
For many years I didn’t do a lot of yachting, but one summer I got bold and rented a catamaran in the BVI and drove it myself, which went well. In the BVI I saw all these beautiful sailing catamarans and thought, this is nice! My first boat was called Split Second because I was getting back from the BVI, did a sea trial, went to the Cannes Boat Show and bought a Lagoon 620 as a sort of split-second decision. I liked that boat, but it was a series boat so you can’t have it built as you want, and the build-quality was only medium.
Finally, what do you see as the main advantages of owning a multihull boat?
Owner of Che:
For me, it was about the stability you get from a catamaran of Che’s size. When we’d go out sailing with my previous boat, my wife would always get seasick, so I thought, ‘I can’t continue this! I need another boat.’ I briefly considered motor yachts but they didn’t do it for me, and I looked at monohulls which are stable when you sail but not at anchor, so Che was the ideal solution.Photo: Alexis AndrewsPhoto: Alexis AndrewsSecondly, it was also about space. I also looked into big Perinis as you get a lot of space on them but they don’t sail as well. I had studied Che beforehand carefully, the interiors and everything, and I remember stepping on board for the first time at Cannes and realising that she is much bigger and has a lot more space than you see in photographs thanks to her design.
First off, there’s Adastra’s seaworthiness: we can go to sea in almost any condition. We’ve left marinas in the middle of the night into a howling gale and people are aghast! The big white yacht people would never dream of going out in these conditions, but Adastra is pretty bloody good. She can muscle her way through pretty much anything.
The next thing is fuel economy: we can go across the Atlantic twice without refuelling, which is always good. You go into the Med, you fill up with 30,000 litres of diesel in Gibraltar, and that’s you pretty much done for the season. Finally, because of her design, she is also a super-head-turner. Everybody, literally everybody takes a photograph. It’s like living in a fishbowl.
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