The most innovative projects of luxury motor yachts are starting to include catamarans, a type of vessel normally snubbed by wealthier shipowners. The aluminium construction makes the difference
by Giuseppe Giordano
“Kattu maram”, literally translated, means “wood tied together”. The word comes from the language used by communities of fishermen in the coastal regions of India along the Indian Ocean and originates from the name given to traditional fishing boats. A boat of this sort has been used for time immemorial by the populations of many islands of the Pacific. It is called “proa”, a name which defines a boat formed by a canoe, with oars and an auxiliary sail, for the crew and freight, and a smaller floating hull which ensures stability. In the West, multihulls have always been associated to stability and speed, thanks to the light weight and low hydrodynamic resistance of the two hulls, normally stiffened and connected using one or two spars. Currently numerous commercial ferries used for medium or short-range commutes, such as, between the islands of the Aegean sea, are large catamarans.
25 metres of luxury in aluminium
The presence of catamarans among pleasure craft, both sailing and motor boats, especially large luxury boats, is very scarce. The situation may however be changing. At the beginning of 2019 the project and design plan of an innovative luxury catamaran were presented. Amasea Yachts, a Turkish shipyard, is promoting among potential shipowners the new Amasea 84, a motor catamaran 25 metres long, with three decks instead of the customary two and entirely made out of aluminium. The light construction, compared to steel or traditional fibreglass, allows to reduce the power of the engines and to increase the autonomy of navigation, for cruises in areas where it is not possible to refuel frequently in harbours or for long distance trips. Powered by two Rolls-Royce MTU engines, 1920 hp each, the catamaran may embark enough fuel to cross the Atlantic at a cruising speed of around 11 knots, with sufficient stocks to remain at sea for over six weeks hosting up to twenty persons, including guests and crew.
The hull will also be reinforced in some of its parts to obtain approval for navigation even at polar latitudes. Another property of the design is the greater flexibility in the partition of the various areas of the craft, due to the presence of an additional deck with respect to traditional hulls of this length. The owner’s suite, for instance, may be split among two decks and the design also includes two separate galleys: one for the guests and one for the crew.
The first 25-metre unit will be completed in 18-20months’ time, but successive constructions will need less time, from 13 to 16 months, for a maximum production of seven catamarans a year. Interior fittings will be realized in an Italian or Dutch shipyard, and negotiations are already under way. An option for hybrid power is also envisaged, which will in any case have to guarantee a power of roughly 2,000 hp with the electric motor.
Sailing catamarans in aluminium, luxurious and completely recyclable
For racing and pleasure craft, the use of aluminium is not a novelty, since it ensures light weight, rigidity and long life. But compared to other materials, the light metal has another, important property: the complete recyclability of the boat at the end of its life cycle. An aspect which the Dutch start-up Vaan Yachts is focusing on, in partnership with Hydro, showing that high performances and luxury fittings are not incompatible with respect for the environment.
The Vaan Yachts project is bringing the world’s most sustainable luxury sailing yacht to the market. The Vaan R4 is a catamaran made almost entirely of circular materials, including recycled aluminium from Hydro.
“One of the biggest industry challenges today is that many of the products designed and produced are too difficult or expensive to take apart and recycle when they are no longer in use. We are proud to work with a visionary company like Vaan to address these challenges, and to contribute to the first recyclable yacht, which is built with our 75 percent recycled aluminium,” says Marijn Rietveld, Director Offshore and Marine in Hydro.
The Vaan R4 is a 12.8m (42ft) catamaran made from ‘circular’ materials, including recycled aluminium, cork and plant-based alternatives for leather. A key material in the Vaan R4 is the Hydro 75R alloy, made of minimum 75 percent recycled post-consumer metal, which is now used at sea for the first time. The design of the catamaran was based on circular principles. Because it is mostly made of recyclable materials, the boat, in turn, is almost completely recyclable itself. The hull, for example, is for more than 50% made of recycled aluminium such as old window panes, traffic signs, and number plates. Some parts of the cat even contain more than 75% reused materials. The recycled aluminium Hydro 75R will be applied in yacht-building for the first time.
Natural materials are used for the interior, such as lyocell (an alternative for silk), a plant-based alternative for leather made of pineapple leaves, cork, linen, and certified wood. This makes the R4 not just more sustainable, it also creates a warm, cosy atmosphere as if you are staying in a luxury hotel suite. “The yacht industry”, says Igor Kluin, founder and CEO of Vaan, “is quite a traditional industry where sustainability is not a top priority, which is why we wanted to make a luxury yacht with no negative impact to the environment. Developing a truly circular solution requires collaboration along the entire value chain. Hydro’s expertise has been invaluable in making this a truly circular product with recycled aluminium,”.
Igor Kluin is a well-known business founder in the Netherlands, having pioneered successful and highly innovative ventures within the renewable energy sector. He has also been a prolific proponent for sustainability, circular economic principles and a more fair and balanced banking sector. In his younger days, Kluin was an international competitive sailor.
Vaan Yachts focuses exclusively on sailing catamarans and, in addition to the current R4, expects to launch several other bigger models in the future.