REVIEW SEAWIND 1600 CATAMARAN

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: PHILIP J. DEANS, JOHN FORD, SUPPLIED

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Seawind Catamarans has dominated the local twin hull cruising scene for more than 35 years, but their latest 16-metre performance cat is about to show a new face to the traditionally-conservative brand.

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REVIEW SEAWIND 1600 CATAMARAN

With this 16m catamaran, Seawind shakes off its conservative roll and dives into a new world of refinement and performance sailing. With stunning looks and a complete rethink of design, the 1600 is a blend of practicality and blue-water ability born from the desks of boat designers from across the globe. Conceived by Vietnam-based Corsair Marine, the initial plans were drawn by the USA/UK team of Reichel Pugh, before being refined by Seawind and composite engineered by Gurit in New Zealand.

The first Seawind 1600 hit the water in 2017 and was debuted at the Barcelona boat show. Hull number two, Double J is bound for the Sunshine Coast and was finished in May this year. We travelled with the new owners, John and Juanita Matterson, to the factory in Ho Chi Minh to experience the final fitout, and then to Nha Trang for the commissioning and sail trials.

Reichel Pugh is respected for its fast monohull designs where performance and style are at the top of their design criteria. This first foray into multihulls has a slick profile backed up with go-fast gear including a big rig, retracting daggerboards and high-profile rudders. The plumb bow and sharp entry unite with a low coach house roof and sharply-raked windscreen to present a beautifully balanced and aggressive impression. The 52-footer combines an island cruising-friendly 60cm minimum draft with deep-finned performance to create a live-aboard cruiser capable of tackling big sea miles in comfort and safety.

From the narrow bows, the hulls widen gradually to the centre where they form usable living spaces, before expanding even further at the transom. Above the waterline, the hulls step elegantly outward to maximise living space without adversely affecting hydrodynamics. Because the boat on review is built to Australian survey, extra external stringers can be seen in the tunnel, while inside, the hull has received additional layers of glass and crossbeam strengthening. The extra work adds about 1 tonne to give a total dry weight around 14.5 tonnes. 

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

A catamaran’s best feature is immediately apparent when stepping aboard.  At the top of the stairs from either hull’s swim platform is an eight-metre-wide raised cockpit with an all-covering moulded hardtop. Twin helms and numerous seating options, including an L-shaped lounge with a large moulded table, make it party central. From the outdoor area, it’s only a couple of steps down to the giant saloon, which can be opened with large sliding windows on warm days or closed off to a climate-controlled interior for year-round sailing. A monohull sailor would envy this amount of room and the uncomplicated interplay between saloon and cockpit.

Each helm has a curvaceous binnacle with room for engine controls and navigation screens up to 16in as well as a number of smaller ancillary monitors. Electronics include a 200mH transducer, B&G 40nm radar, B&G autopilot, Iridium Go satellite communication and Navionics mapping. The portside station has a 12in B&G Zeus 2 Chartplotter in combination with two additional Triton 2 four-inch screens for a variety of navigational information and autopilot functions.

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Each twin helm chair has a large-diameter GS Composite wheel that impart a racy and expensive impression. A carbon-fibre davit at the stern supports a 15-man life raft and a 3.8m rigid inflatable with a 15hp Honda outboard.

The 21m alloy mast is from Allyacht Spars in Brisbane and features a 7/8 fractional rig with twin spreaders and shrouds that clear the decks to allow easy passage forward. The powerful square top main has three reefing points controlled from the cockpit, while the boom has wide alloy wings for the lazy jacks and a built-in preventer. Sails are Doyle cruising laminate with a 95sq m main, 38sq m jib and big pink and blue 161sq m asymmetric nylon spinnaker. An 82 square-metre screecher is also an option.

All control lines lead to the cockpit with a transo-mounted electric Harken 50.2 for the main halliard, three reefing lines, a boom preventer, topping lift and the self-tacking jib. Two manual Harken 50.2ST winches each side help with the jib furler and spinnaker.

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DEVIL IN THE DETAILS 

The amount of storage on deck is incredible, with voluminous lockers in the cockpit sole, under the lounges, and forward of the saloon on either side and in the forward section of the hulls.

Access to the bow is easy with a single-level deck, with dagger boards that are secreted below deck and controlled by two-way continuous line drive winches at the cockpit. The spinnaker clew connects to a neat-looking carbon fibre bowsprit extending from a reinforced forward beam.  Handholds are strategically placed but I would have liked to see an extra one on the bimini top. You need to be relatively agile when working at the mast and boom for removing sail covers and so on but it’ relatively easy in calm water and the systems are straightforward..

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A sliding door and wide windows combine the saloon and cockpit into a monster socialising area. Light beech timber panelling blend with cream Sunbrella soft coverings and off-white soft panels on the ceiling for a modern edgy look. I’m told that 43,000 hours went into the boat’s production — it shows in the fine detail within the joinery and in the superbly finished gelcoat throughout.

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WHAT'S INSIDE 

Windows wrap around for clear views and hatches in the roof and forward windows provide a flow of breeze. Immediately to port from the companionway is a U-shaped galley with generous bench space. Refrigeration includes 100L Vitrifrigo compressor fridges in the galley and cockpit as well as a 160L compressor chest freezer under the bench. For off-grid purposes a 2200w Mastervolt charger/inverter provides power for appliances from a bank of Mastervolt AGM batteries with additional charging from 800W solar panels on the cockpit roof.

A deep sink has both fresh and salt water and the stove includes three gas burners, a grill and an oven of decent size. Hot water comes from either a gas heater or an exchanger on the starboard side engine. To port is a slide-out pantry and buffet, which includes a 40in television on a remote control articulated arm. A Fusion sound system with a big sub-woofer includes controls to modulate sound both inside and out.

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In the forward section of the saloon an L-shaped lounge wraps around a timber table, which can drop to make a double bed. Six could sit here comfortably but add a couple of deck chairs for extra guests.

Accommodation is in the hulls with the starboard side fitted out with an owner’s suite with a separate bedroom and queen bed and a spacious bathroom with dedicated head and a roomy shower. Crew share the facilities of the port hull with a cabin to stern, convertible to double or twin beds, a cozy central combination bathroom and a forward cabin with a king single. Two individually-controlled air conditioning units flow to each cabin and the saloon. 

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THE RIDE

Sailing into 12kt of breeze we saw 8kt on a pleasing apparent wind angle of 39 degrees with one dagger fully lowered. The boat had a measure of weather helm that I was told should be minimised with experience on setting sails and boards, but otherwise the feeling is slick through the water. As the wind increased, we hoisted the kite and released it from its sock to billow out against the deep blue of the harbour to record 8kt in 12kt off the beam. In true cat style, rougher conditions we encountered banged under the section of hull in heavier swells.  

Engines are the higher-option 80hp Yanmars with SD60 saildrives running Gori two speed, folding props. The engine rooms are works of art with ample space for maintenance and extremely neat and efficient arrangements of fuel and cooling systems. While it might be heretical to speak of engine performance in a performance cruiser, the reality is that the Yanmars will see regular service on ocean voyages. The slippery hull needed only one engine for 9kt at 2400rpm and 14.9lph. More sedate cruising speeds we saw 7kt at 2000rpm (7lph) and 6kt at 1700rpm (5lph). Got plenty of time? How’s 5kt at 1400rpm and 2.7lph - suggesting a theoretical range of nearly 1200nm with 10% reserve (wind and tide dependant of course). 

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THE VERDICT

The new Seawind 1600 has been designed for bluewater cruising. A modern interior, superb fitout and impressive performance means it can compete on the world stage.

As you might expect, world-class cruisers demand a world-class price, and at $1,425,000 AUD as tested, you won’t be disappointed. This includes a boatload of options including engine upgrade, generator, watermaker, Australian commercial survey, electronics package and the 3.8m tender. Pricing starts at $1,145,000 AUD ex Vietnam but talk through the option of sailing it home to save a bundle and experience the adventure of a lifetime. More on that in a coming edition.  

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SPECIFICATIONS SEAWIND 1600 CATAMARAN

PRICED FROM $1,145,000

OPTIONS FITTED

Engine upgrade, solar and battery upgrade; sail upgrade, cockpit refrigeration, BBQ, carbon-fibre steering wheels, tender, saloon and main cabin AC; B&G navigation suite, audio/visual package, external lighting package, gangway.

PRICE AS TESTED $1,425,000

GENERAL

MATERIAL Vinylester GRP with carbon and Kevlar reinforcement

LENGTH 15.74m

BEAM 7.9m

WEIGHT 14.5T

MAIN 100sq m

JIB 44.5 sq m

SPINNAKER 220 sq m

MAX DRAFT 2.6m (0.6m –boards up) 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 7 (NIGHT) 16 (DAY)

FUEL 760L

WATER 600L 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Yanmar 4JH80

TYPE In-line four stroke common rail diesel

RATED HP 80hp

DISPLACEMENT 2000cc

WEIGHT 229kg (engine only) 42kg Saildrives only

GEAR RATIO 2.32:1 (Yanmar SD50-4T saildrive)

PROPELLER 3- blade folding Gori 

AVAILABLE FROM

Multihull Central
5/457 The Esplanade, Manly QLD 4179
Phone: 07 3393 5550
Email: info@multihullcentral.com

 

The full review featured in issue #506 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.  

 


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