Review: Seawind 1160 Lite
The price may be lite but this new Seawind 1160 sailing cat remains a heavyweight performer where it counts, reports Kevin Green.
A lighter and less costly version of the popular Seawind 1160 – thanks to outboard engines and more use of composites inside – makes the new Seawind 1160 Lite a great entry-level sailing catamaran.
SEAWIND 1160 LITE
The Seawind 1160 Lite is the new version of the popular Seawind 1160 that has sold 106 hulls. But with the relocation of production to South Vietnam, Seawind is reaping the benefits of reduced costs which translates into a very good-value 39ft (11.9m) sailing catamaran that should attract a variety of sailors, including first-time buyers to this category of cruiser.
The Seawind 1160 Lite has shed nearly three-quarters of a tonne with the removal of inboard diesels and the more modern composite interior has slashed the price by $100,000 to $435,000. For this you are getting an ocean-ready catamaran with the same powerful Australian rig along with Harken deck gear that made the Seawind 1160 a bestseller.
Stepping inside, the new Seawind 1160 Lite interior is strikingly different from the wood-centric interior of the standard version thanks to rounded GRP bulkheads, laminated surfaces and grey-stained timbers. The height adjustable dinette table and storage under the benches are functional – and store the batteries as well.
Large surrounding windows, with the front ones opening, ensure good light but blinds or outside tarps will be needed on sunny occasions. Lighter laminated timbers with more neutral colours have been used and the upholstery has a more angular design but with hard-wearing Sunbrella fabrics.
The galley-down design creates a large entertaining space in the Seawind 1160 Lite’s saloon, while also giving seamless access to the aft deck via the much-lauded tri-folding doors (that cleverly seat in the roof). Elsewhere, cabin doors are now honeycombed composite, yet feel strong without any flimsiness.
The layout is unchanged apart from the en suite within the starboard forward cabin now replaced by a walk-in wardrobe and wet locker. Our review model, hull #1, came with three double cabins but a four-cabin version is also available.
The owner enjoys privacy in the port hull, with a double bed forward that lies athwartships. The elevated bed means limited headroom but it also gives good storage space beneath and in the forward bulkhead, while natural light comes from two opening skylights and rectangular portlights.
In the corridor is a useful desk with swing-out stool and locker. The desk is a good charting area with shelf above and bulkhead space for electronics, in addition to the instrument and power switches already there.
The aft section of the port hull is taken up by the bathroom which has a manual head, separate shower cubicle and easy-clean mouldings throughout. Behind it a door leads to the empty engine bay, as the outboards are inside bridgedeck wells. The removal of the diesel engines frees up a lot of storage space and as I noted while looking from the pontoon, lowers the waterline by several inches.
Moving into the starboard hull of the Seawind 1160 Lite brings us to the longitudinal galley. Here are a chest fridge/freezer and inboard locker beneath the composite worktops, and locker space above as well.
Outboard sits the twin sinks alongside a three-burner stove. The optional oven was fitted to the test boat. Having used this layout at sea and at anchor, I find it works well as it has enough room for two to cook. Ventilation is good with a large opening portlight and the open-plan above your head also gives airflow from the saloon.
Elsewhere in the starboard hull is the forward double berth, located fore and aft. Again it has an opening skylight with a skylight in the forward compartment and of course hull portlights, so shouldn’t be too claustrophobic.
Up on deck the twin helms are another feature that has distinguished the Seawind 1160 Lite, so they continue and are my preference (rather than a single) for close-quarter handling of catamarans.
The deck-level setup of the Seawind 1160 Lite also requires this arrangement as your helm position relies on looking across the cabin top or through the large windows in the saloon. At the main port binnacle Raymarine i70 instruments and e7 touchscreen plotter are fitted, along with outboard engine throttles, while over to starboard a single i70 is installed.
The big change on the Seawind 1160 Lite is of course the engines, to a pair of lighter 20 or 25hp outboard motors. Petrol for both motors is fed from a single 200lt tank in the bow locker. Having just written an article on folding propellers I can tell you this is a major cost saving avoiding these expensive items alone, not to mention the reduced drag as the motors have electric tilting.
The downside is reduced power supply due to the smaller alternators, but advances in solar panel technology mitigate this to some extent. They go on the cockpit roof which has been enlarged to hold four 200W panels. In addition, the large forward locker can easily accommodate a portable generator but I’d probably add a third house battery (120amp/h) as well.
Deck space is what catamarans are all about and Seawind has evolved a very usable layout with the 1160 that frees the aft deck for multiple uses – throw some foldable furniture there or leave it as a social area – while the wide transom bench houses the optional barbecue plus davits for the rubber ducky. It’s a functional layout and moulded steps in both hulls make water entry easy.
ON THE WATER
The sailplan is designed to be very user-friendly, so our review boat came with a roller-furling jib that runs on a self-tacking track while the fully battened North Sails dacron mainsail is supported by lazy jacks. It worked effortlessly on Sydney Harbour and for lighter airs a genoa could be added, plus a cruising chute.
Another addition that made halyard hoists easy is the electric Lewmar winch by the port helm, but with only outboards for charging I’d be inclined to use muscle instead. It also doubled as the mainsheet winch and easily controlled the big-topped mainsail, while the mainsheet track sits on the bimini with Seawind signature adjuster winch on the GRP arch – a system that works well I’ve found, even in a strong breeze.
Taking the weight out of the Seawind 1160 Lite has prompted the Ho Chi Minh City-based company to offer a Sport version which involves installing a daggerboard housing into the GRP resin-infused hulls instead of the standard mini-keels. This would give better windward performance. In addition, the alloy main crossbeam is replaced by an in-house-made carbon spar, using the lightweight construction expertise from sister company Corsair.
Firing up the petrol outboards is a fairly noisy affair compared with inboards but a small price to pay for what is still a manoeuvrable boat – simply push one throttle and pull another and the 1160 Lite turns swiftly.
Motoring out with my host Brent Vaughan from his company’s catamaran marina in Rozelle Bay, I took the chance to check the performance under power, reaching 8.1kts with the 25hp Yamahas flat chat. Nice-to-haves at the binnacle would have been a rev counter (hidden inside the outboard well) and a fuel consumption gauge but again not essential. The cable throttles are a wee bit stiff but do their job and the same satisfactory steering linkages are used as on the standard 1160 twin rudders.
As we motored under the Sydney Harbour bridge some cavitation was encountered, fairly normal for this style of boat, and before long we were pointing windward to hoist the mainsail using the electric Lewmar winch. Rolling out the jib I spun us around to run with the westerly breeze clear of the headland and felt a strong burst of acceleration from the Lite, which definitely felt livelier than her standard sibling I sailed last year.
Sheeting in the mainsail and jib on its track set me up for an easy beat up the harbour – so at each tack all I did was turn the wheel with no sheeting required.
Sitting out on the sidedeck gave me a comfortable perch to watch the ferries and other harbour users fly by, while walking to the opposite helm is easily done with no obstructions. At the starboard helm the glare from the saloon window prompted Brent to remove it for me, allowing clear views forward through the saloon windows.
I felt confident to push on as we neared the shore, touching 7.6kts with an apparent wind angle of 22 degrees as the telltales levelled. The 17kt breeze was ideal for the 1160 Lite, allowing us to make good progress to windward – where I also used the mainsheet track winch on the GRP arch to centralise the alloy boom. For gybing in windy conditions it gives effective control of the boom, again something I’ve found when sailing Seawinds offshore.
As our afternoon came to an end, sail handling was the next test passed by the Seawind 1160 Lite – simply roll-up the jib and drop the mainsail into the lazyjacks, then climb the saloon step to zip-up the sail as you walk around the sturdy roof overhang. Shortening sail is done by standard slab-reefing and all lines run through deck organisers to jammers by the helms, so fuss-free and straightforward – like all the important aspects of this impressive Seawind 1160 Lite.
• Good value for money
• Proven design
• Quality build
• Essential extras bump-up price
• Spartan fitout
SEAWIND 1160 LITE SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
Seawind 1160 Lite price: $490,050
Upgraded 25hp Yamaha High Thrust four-stroke outboard motors, davits, dinghy, Raymarine instrumentation, Lewmar windlass, Lewmar electric winch, uprated North Dacron sails, hot water system, barbecue and flatscreen TV
$435,000 w/ 20hp Honda outboard engines
TYPE Sailing catamaran with mini-keels
DRAFT 0.96m (mini keels)
PEOPLE (night) 5 or 6
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Yamaha FT25F outboard motors
TYPE Two-cylinder four-stroke outboard motors with electric tilt
RATED HP 25 (each)
DISPLACEMENT 498cc (each)
MAINSAIL 57m² (65m² on Sport)
MPS CHUTE 90.99m²
CODE 0 62m²
Lot 4 Chapman Road,
Annandale, NSW, 2038
Phone 1300 852 620, (02) 9810 5014
See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #459, November / December 2014. Why not subscribe today?
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