BOAT TEST: SEAWIND 1160
When Wollongong-based cat builder Seawind offered ALLAN WHITING a slot on board a new four-cabin 1160 for four days in the Whitsundays, he couldn’t pack his kit fast enough
The Seawind 1160 was born some 10 years after its smaller sibling, the Seawind 1000, and expanded the model line-up by adding a longer, wider, taller, faster cruising catamaran. The family DNA remains, but the 1160 has more flowing lines and a distinctive coach house, targa top and innovative saloon door design.
The 1160 employs resin infusion construction, with input from NZ's High Modulus engineering team. The hulls and the lower part of the cross structure are moulded in a single piece, as is the entire hull top and deck component. Before the upper and lower halves are joined, three interior mouldings are bonded in place. These load-sharing modules shape the interior spaces, so there's no need for additional structural bulkheads.
That design concept limits interior layouts to some extent, but the Seawind 1160 still comes in four variants: three-cabin; three-cabin island bed, four-cabin; and, four-cabin island bed.
In all cases, the starboard hull layout is constant, with a for'ard raised double bunk; for'ard head and shower; long galley with dresser, cupboards, drawers, 130lt fridge and 60lt freezer; and an aft cabin with double bunk.
In the three-cabin version, the port hull has an aft head and shower, a long office and chart table area and a for'ard double bunk, arranged either fore and aft or athwartships, as an island bed.
The four-cabin versions lose the port hull's office and chart table module, which is replaced by a centrally located head and shower. The aft cabin has a double bunk and the for'ard cabin has a raised double or an island bed.
The saloon area is common across all four versions of the 1160, with a U-shaped lounge and table, broad companionways leading to the hulls and an almost seamless opening to the cockpit area. The table lines up with the lounge to become a double bed base.
Fit and finish throughout is export quality and the lounge fabric has a suede leather-like appearance that is very easy to keep clean, as I discovered when a cut shin leaked some blood spots onto a cushion: a damp cloth did the trick.
Every cabin and living or working space has a ventilation hatch, either deck or hull-mounted.
The Seawind 1160 is strongly rigged and many boats have survived storm conditions without major damage. Standing rigging is 10mm die formed 1 x 19 stainless steel wire, with Sealock turnbuckles and end fittings. The diamonds are 8mm wire.
Halyards are Spectra and the standard winches are pair of Harken 46STs and a pair of 40STs. There are no fewer than 12 Spinlock rope clutches. Huge bins at each steering station swallow all the rope tails easily.uge rope bins beside each teering station swallow all the rope tails
Normally, when we evaluate a boat, it's a one-day exercise. But here was an opportunity to check out the performance of the model over a fleet of nine examples. That turned out to be fortuitous, because our test boat, an 1160 in charter work, had optional fixed props and lacked the Pentex sail kit that most private buyers take. Several of the other 1160s had folding props and faster sails and the performance differences soon became obvious.
The fleet was made as equal as possible by a ban on overlapping jibs: all boats were restricted to self-tacking headsails.
The first day's race was through a gate start off Shute Harbour, followed by a slog to windward, keeping Long Island to starboard and then a run up the narrows to the resort anchorage.
As committee boat, Happy Cat laid a wake 'start line' and then, as the five-minute starting sequence ended, we peeled away on a starboard beat. At the pin end, I thought at first we had the fleet nicely covered, but it soon became apparent that the drag from Happy Cat's fixed props was disadvantaging us. Also, our cruising mainsail didn't have the drive of the smarter Dacron sails, let alone the tri-radial Pentex options fitted to some of the fleet. We soon worked out our disadvantage over the leading boats was around one knot.
With the sheets eased off to around 40?, our boat speed improved to around half true-wind speed, but that meant we'd cover more ground. Still, there was always the faint hope of a favourable wind shift…
It didn't happen, but we finished in the middle of the fleet. Seawind's Brent Vaughan, who invited the Trade-a-Boat crew alone for the rally and ride, wasn't too disappointed.
The next day's run was an upwind race into a dying sou'easter, from Long Island to Shaw Island and the greater distance meant we finished farther back in the fleet.
My last sail in the Seawind Rally, before dragging myself off the boat to return to Sydney, was a downhill broad reach and run, from Shaw Island to Hamilton Island that also saw us finishing well behind the leaders.
The lesson from this experience was that not all 1160s are equal. Many racing sailors, who've chartered Seawinds during Whitsunday holidays, come back with a poor opinion of their performance, but most charterboats are set up for gentle behaviour. The privately owned boats we lined up against showed our charterboat a clean pair of heels and did so without recourse to the overlapping headsails and screachers they had in their sail lockers.
The 1160s were noticeably better to windward than the 1000s and 1000XLs that attended the rally, making far less leeway, thanks to their deeper draft and larger skegs. (A mate and I would love to play with a pair of dagger boards on a 1000XL).
But cruising catamaran sailing isn't only about performance: it's more to do with the ease of living on the water and in safe passagemaking.
The 1160 has twin helm stations, with instrumentation at both positions and the engine controls on the port instrument panel. All sail control lines run through mast-base turning blocks and fairleads back to the cockpit in an orderly manner: the mainsail controls are to port and the jib lines are to starboard.
The only on-deck job during sail handling is to unzip the capacious mainsail boom bag: after that, it's a simple matter of unfurling the self-tacking jib and hauling the main up the stick.
The enormous foredeck is a perfect base for the self-tacking jib, which is fitted with a crow's foot clew to distribute sail loads evenly and maximise area. The sheet runs through a clew block to the track car and back to the portside steering station. Incidentally, the jib furler drum is sized to handle more canvas area than the standard self-tacker.
The main halyard is a two-fall arrangement, with a block on the headboard, so the sail raising effort is low. Lazy jacks make sail raising a tad tricky, with battens on the roachy main liable to catch inside the jackstays, but dropping it is quick and safe, with no need for anyone to go forward of the cockpit.
Two-stage reefing is a cockpit-operated one-line design, with blocks at the reef tack points on the main. The traveller runs across the top of the targa structure and is worked by a starboard-side windlass, with two-direction action.
The Seawind Rally sailing instructions forbade more fore triangle sail than the standard self-tacker, but in light airs the 1160 would have benefited greatly from an optional genoa: the turning blocks and fairleads for it were ready and waiting. However, even nobbled as we were by cruising sails and fixed props, the 1160 managed around half true-wind speed on and off the breezes, which rarely exceeded 15kts.
Tacking and gybing the 1160 is a one-person activity: the helm is put over and the helmsman strolls across the cockpit as the boat passes through the eye of the wind, to resume steering at the opposite station. Steering can be done from the padded ice-box lid seats or from the coaming.
Vision from the helms is usually a problem in big cats, but the 1160's layout solves the problem neatly. If the competitive urge is upon you, the coaming steering location is best, with one hand on the wheel rim. If the weather is inclement, it's easy to tuck in behind the coach house and steer by looking through the huge coach house windows. The aft windows open so vision is impaired by only one thicknesss of glass, not two. This facility makes viewing the optional chartplotter easy. The standard bimini between the targa bar and the coach house doesn't quite protect the helmsman from rain, but clears are available.
Powered propulsion is in the form of twin Yanmar 30hp diesels, located aft in each hull, with saildrives and standard, twin-blade folding props. There was very little noise and no vibration under power. Manoeuvring the Seawind 1160 under power was easily done with the engine controls, making navigation into and out of tight moorings precise.
It's easy to understand why cruising sailors love the 1160.
Living on board the Seawind 1160 for four days proved to be very pleasant. The beds are comfy, with ample ventilation in the cabins, backed up by fans.
The galley layout and equipment makes food preparation simple and the saloon and cockpit designs give priority to entertaining.
The Seawind tri-fold saloon doorowever that winches up into the cockpit roof has been world-recognised and makes the saloon and cockpit spaces join almost seamlessly. The saloon table is offset-mounted on a height-adjustable gas strut that allows it to be swung into different positions, for varying table seating purposes.
Many cat designers opt for vertical coach house windows, to reduce sun entry, but Seawind has adopted much more attractive sloping glasses that are tinted and can be fitted with snap-on sun shades. The two central windows swing up on powerful gas struts, feeding fresh air into the saloon.
Survey-compliant handrails and lifelines have been proportioned with kids in mind and the three-line design is an effective kid-trap. The twin trampoline bow netting is flat-faced, plastic-coated material that felt small-toe friendly. The port hull is fitted with a swing-down swimladder that suits all sizes.
Strong stainless steel tube grab handles abound, but it took a short chop to make the boat motion sharp enough to warrant using them.
The gas BBQ location is ideal, cantilevered somewhat over the aft cockpit rail. The stainless steel hotplate is fitted with slot that connects to a drainage tube, making cleaning easy. The aft cockpit seats also mount off the targa frame and don't intrude into the cockpit floor area.
The Seawind 1160 is a deservedly popular cruising cat in Australian waters and a worthy export business winner for this country. It's well-equipped, well-priced and beautifully made. If cruising's your bag this could be your boat.
Specifications - Seawind 1160
PRICE AS TESTED
$658,063 (Note: GST is refundable for charterboats and the 50 per cent investment allowance applies)
Charter Pack - survey construction, second anchor, 240V battery charger, 2 x 125W solar panels, insect screens, five cabin fans, Windex, Raymarine ST 60, C80, 125GPS and XL9, deck washer, electric toilets, galley charcoal water filter and dinghy davits
$587,595 sail away
Material: FRP foam sandwich hulls and deck
Length overall: 11.6m
Berths: 3 or 4 double cabins, plus dinette bed
Holding tanks: 240lt
Mainsail: 57m² fully-battened (optional 62m²)
Headsail: 22m² furling, self-tacking jib
Screacher: 62m² furling, set flying
Make/model: 2 x Yanmar diesel
Type: Diesel, saildrive
Rated hp: 30hp (each)
25 York Place,
Russell Vale, NSW, 2517
Phone: (02) 4285 9985
Fax: (02) 4285 9984
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