REVIEW: SEAWIND 1000XL2
Allan Whiting tries out the latest Seawind 1000XL2, one of the first of the company’s new generation boats built in Vietnam.
The Seawind 1000XL2 cruising catamaran has been around since 1994 and has stood the test of time with relatively minor design changes being necessary in 20 years of production. In fact, the design was 14 years-old when Seawind adopted the first running change: a hull-extension idea that was implemented by some Miami, USA sailors looking for more hull speed. Subsequently the 1000XL – extra length – was introduced as the upgraded factory model with an integrated 850mm extension abaft each hull (long with other lesser changes).
That’s how things stayed until 2011 when another owner-inspired idea was incorporated into the boat: an FRP hardtop over part of the cockpit that afforded more sun protection and in conjunction with clears on both sides, weather shelter for the helmsperson.
Requests for less isolation in the galley were met by provision of a servery between the starboard-hull galley and the saloon. A sliding hatch was integrated into the galley deck-head and a shelf was slotted in above the stove. With the panel slid open the cook was no longer isolated from the saloon and it was easy to pass items back-and-forth.
Some Seawind 1000 owners had experimented with a flexible table design in the saloon, so the factory introduced a table that could be raised and lowered, and folded to make a coffee table, a single daybed or a huge king-size-plus bed.
These changes rated a rebadge and the 1000XL2 was born.
According to NSW Seawind distributor and former factory employee, Brent Vaughan, the decision to cease Australian production was forced on the company by the combined efforts of the global financial crisis and the strong Aussie dollar.
Vaughan explained that the lower labour rates in Vietnam have allowed almost twice as many hours to be spent on each boat and the result is improved finish in all areas. Seawind’s build quality was always good, I reckon, but there’s no substitute for additional TLC.
Hull layup is now done using vacuum bagging which controls resin application to a finer degree. The result is a beautiful finish and less excess resin and Seawind claims a cool half-tonne, or 10 per cent weight-saving in the new boats.
What I noticed immediately on sighting the offshore-built boat was the different gelcoat colour; now a brilliant white rather than the former cream-white. It also had more inherent gloss finish than before.
Anti-slip deck sections are now moulded in white gelcoat, not in grey. However the trademark slight irregularity in the foredeck anti-slip surface has been retained – just for old time’s sake.
The aft hull sections, where the original moulds were modified to incorporate the original XL extensions, used to have a tacked-on look about them but that’s changed in the new boat. Proper box-section coamings flank the hull stairways.
Another moulding difference is the addition of toerails on fore and aft outboard hull gunwales, to ensure compliance with Europe’s CE OH&S requirements. On a monohull these potential thigh denters would be viewed with some hostility by the crew but there’s no need to rail-sit on a cat is there?
The foredeck ‘spine’ that houses the beach ladder and anchor chain tube and fairlead used to be an assembly but now it’s moulded in one piece for a neater appearance.
Closer inspection showed other changes. The standout difference was the finish of the tubular stainless steel kit and on the Seawind 1000XL2 there’s plenty of it, given the targa structure over the cockpit aft seat, tender davits and full-length safety rails.
Every welded joint, including those at tricky three-tube junctions, had been welded, ground free of pits and blemishes and then polished to match the non-welded sections. It’s as good a finish as we’ve seen on boats costing 100 times more than the Seawind.
The beautifully finished targa incorporated davit tubes for the tender and mounted twin 175 Watt solar panels.
The twin helm stations remain but there’s an upgraded instrument panel in front of the starboard station, designed to accept the latest electronic nav and information aids. The stock boat comes with cushions atop the fibreglass helm seats but there’s an option for upholstered seats with backrests that adjust fore and aft, allowing the helm seats to face aft in the cockpit.
As before, the helm seats had swing-up lids that revealed two 9.9hp Yamaha High Thrust outboards but the line and pulley tackle was gone, replaced by user-friendly electric adjustment of motor height, from full-tilt to fully-lowered.
It would be great to report that the half-tonne claimed weight reduction converted the Seawind 1000XL2 from a cruising cat into a potential AC35 winner, but in a howling 25-knot nor’easter it was impossible to tell. The weight-saving advantage would most likely be felt in lighter air. (The calm-weather sailing photos hereabouts in this story are from an earlier shakedown trial).
The North’s sailplan is as conservative as the original, erring on the side of easy handling rather than outright performance. A self-tacking, furler-mounted jib and main with single-line reefing and double-purchase halyard are easily set and just as easily reefed or stowed. Seawind’s deep sail bag, lazy jacks and clever lanyard zipper arrangement make stowing the main an easy job. A bonus of the cockpit hardtop is surefooted grip when bagging the mainsail and the boom stows in a fat chock on the hardtop.
There is an optional ‘apex’ triangular bowsprit that can mount a furling screacher lightweight headsail. However the sail isn’t UV resistant like the furling jib, so it needs to be stowed below after use. The alternative downwind sail is an asymmetric spinnaker, tacked between blocks on both bows.
I’m not a big fan of the 1000’s mainsheet traveller, located as it always has been on the aft transverse beam. I wonder how difficult it would be to redesign the targa to handle mainsheet loads and reposition the traveller on top of it, thus clearing the cockpit of lines and tackle.
The SeawindXL2 likes a blow and I reckon it’d be fun with a bigger headsail and a square-topped main. However, as supplied, it’s no slouch tacking happily through 90 degrees and making 6 to 7kts to windward without feeling pressed.
Off the wind on a broad reach it seemed happy to plough along at 10kts-plus all day.
Australia’s top-selling cruising catamaran is now made in Vietnam, allowing additional man-hours in its construction. The result is improved fit and finish and reduced weight. Pricing has dropped but standard equipment levels have gone up. Ongoing cost control should keep the Seawind 1000XL2 at the top of the Australian cruising catamaran sales charts.
- Value for money
- Top-shelf fit and finish
- Ease of sail handling
- Great family cockpit, deck and cabin layout
- Mainsail traveller track position
SEAWIND 1000XL2 SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
Midship deck cleats, shorepower and battery charger, stereo system, VHF radio, 175 Watt solar panels, barbecue and shelf, hot water, transom shower, dinghy davits, jib roller furler, cockpit side clears and aft shade cloths, digital panel upgrade, multifunction display, masthead TV antenna, Raymarine autopilot and speaker upgrade
$325,000 sail away
MATERIAL FRP foam sandwich hulls
LENGTH 10.85m overall; 10.4m waterline
BERTHS 4 cabins, plus dinette bed
HOLDING TANK 90lt
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Yamaha High Thrust T9.9
TYPE Four-stroke two-cylinder petrol outboard w/ power tilt
RATED HP 9.9
MAINSAIL 41.9m² fully-battened; 51.9 to 54.4m² optional
HEADSAIL 16.9m² furling,
SCREACHER 37.7m² furling; set flying (optional)
Lot 4 Chapman Road,
Annandale, NSW, 2038
Phone: 1300 852 620; (02) 9810 5014
Fax: (02) 9810 1763
See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #448, January / February 2014. Why not subscribe today?
Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.