REVIEW: BAÑULS 60 CATAMARAN

By: Kevin Green, Photography by: Supplied; performancemulties.com

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  • Trade-A-Boat

High-speed cruising combined with comfortable accommodation, such is the allure of this Bañuls 60, built by McConaghy Boats.

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BAÑULS 60 CATAMARAN REVIEW

Spurred on by the burgeoning cat racing scene and the popularity of civilian friendly pared-down versions, performance-cruisers offer the best of both worlds — as I discovered after a day sailing this early model, which was realised by America’s Cup designer Renauld Bañuls and built by McConaghy China.

Since this model launched several years ago the Australia-based builder has expanded its range and secured local distribution via The Multihull Group.

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DESIGN BRIEF

In spite of its racing-inspired design the Bañuls 60 is not as extreme as you might imagine, according to Project Manager Raphael Blot, as it boasts ample stability to ensure safety margins adequate for a fast-cruising catamaran.

Speed, however, was the key consideration, with the cat aimed to perform well in the light airs typical of SE Asian sailing; both off the wind and on.

And as I found out when sailing hull number two, this was achieved by using deep dagger boards, high bridgedeck clearance and a powerful sailplan.

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LIVING SPACE

The Bañuls 60 is a semi-custom boat, meaning the interior can be tailored to the owners’ needs — a major selling point for discerning cruisers.

Accommodation comprises four equally-sized double cabins between the hulls.
Interestingly, the forward cabin is set up with a lower bunk (140cm wide) with a bunk bed above, sleeping three crew between them.

The saloon is intended as an entertaining space, while also having been built around the navigator. 

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The galley-up/galley-down debate has been cleverly solved with an open-plan design that emanates from the starboard hull, keeping the cook company as they serve up to eight diners seated at the saloon table.

Down in the hulls, the aft cabin offers a double berth (160cm wide) accessed through an entrance area, which features a foldable wardrobe over a seat on the inboard side and a fixed wardrobe on the outboard side.

For those who want a skipper/crew cabin on board, the forward storage locker can be transformed into a crew cabin with a large entrance hatch on deck and a portlight on the inside of the hull for ventilation.

The cockpit has a semi-hardtop bimini that allows clear views of the sails while in race mode, as well as comfortable weather protection while cruising.

Twin carbon wheels with sheet winches nearby and a transom mounted mainsheet track keeps the open plan area clear, while giving substantial downforce and twist on the big main.

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SLEEK AND STRONG

Our review boat (Dragon) showed a sleek, low profile bridge deck and reverse angled bow — a la Oracle’s America’s Cup trimaran — giving aggressive exterior styling that’s guaranteed to stand out in any marina.

The styling continues below with a clean and minimalist interior, ensuring everything is ultra-tidy, with plenty stowage for blue-water cruising.
Constructed in SP Gurit epoxy with carbon reinforcing, the resin-infused hull has proved itself to be a hard wearing yet cruiser-friendly build.

Carbon structural beams ensure rigidity, connecting the E-Glass/carbon epoxy foam sandwich hull and deck.

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Windward performance is enhanced by twin dagger boards, while 125-110cm bridge deck clearance minimises wave friction and allows comfortable sunbathing on the Dyneema net trampoline.

The Lorima carbon rig (on hulls #1 and #2) has a rotating wing mast, intended to create a perfect luff profile upwind while allowing downwind reefing; the latter a very welcome feature on a boat that may not like turning upwind on the run.

The square-topped, fully battened mainsail (from the Incidences sail loft as factory standard) has three slab reefs, while Kevlar standing rigging can be optioned with carbon shrouds.

The mast of this bold Renaud Bañuls design is nearly aligned with the twin carbon asymmetric dagger boards to optimise the massive side forces that cats may often experience, since they don’t heel like monohulls.

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SAFETY AND CONTROL

Harken deck gear and two pairs of 70.3 STA winches control the mainsail and headsail sheets, with electric 70.3 STEV or carbon 65.3 options as well.

Halyards run to the Harken 60.3 STEV electric winch at the mast base, a design element that ensures correct tension in close proximity to the sails during hoists.

Safety is a key factor in the Bañuls 60 with an escape hatch in either hull, plus the optional Ocean Data System electronic anti-capsize system.

Called UpSideUp, the system controls heel and loads for automatic or wireless release during times of major stress on the boat.

Like a lot of the gear on the Bañuls 60, it has been used successfully on big trimarans and multis such as the 105 foot trimaran Sodebo.

The navigation system features a B&G H5000 base, with four 20/20 HV displays in the cockpit and single FFDs on each helm location.

Other notable gear includes the latest Lithium Ion batteries from Mastervolt that maximise power-to-weight ratio.

Entertainment smarts include a wireless digital music and DVD system for distributed media with Wifi headsets.

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OWNER’S PERSPECTIVE

Project manager Raphael Blot, who owns the first boat and the rights to build this design under his company www.performancemultis.com, realised his dream of creating a fast cruising cat with the average performance of a racing TP52 monohull, without sacrificing comfortable single-handed control.

"I started to look for the ‘perfect catamaran’ for my own use, a boat that would be smart, elegant and fast," he said.

French national Blot, who has raced in SE Asia for the last two decades, converted to multihulls a few years ago after sailing from Yokohama to Hong Kong on the maxi-trimaran Geronimo and from Taiwan to Hong Kong on maxi catamaran Gitana 13 — whetting his appetite for performance multis.

From his base in Hong Kong, the sailor initially looked at high-performance boats without bridge decks.

"But I could not picture myself spending two weeks cruising in the Philippines or Thailand with my family on an open decked cat — what I was looking for was that same elegance and speed but with a bridge deck."

His search for a dream boat in the 50-55 foot category was thorough and included discussions with numerous big names before hitting on Renaud Bañuls — the mind responsible for the naval architecture of America’s Cup trimaran BMW Oracle and heavily involved in the design of Banque Populaire V and Groupama trimarans while at VPLP Naval Architects.

With the brief soon settled, Blot had little difficulty approaching McConaghy — despite the Sydney-based builder previously only having one multihull on its substantial list of projects.
"After talking with Neville Crichton aboard Alfa Romeo 3, and seeing the amazing standard of finish on this McConaghy-built super maxi, I was very keen to work with them," he said.
McConaghy’s second order, named Dragon, was placed by an Australian owner with similar needs to Blot; a performance cat that can be used by the family when not racing.

The businessman enjoyed an extensive racing calendar interspersed with cruises throughout Asia before the boat moved to the Mediterranean, where I boarded at Europe’s major mulithull show at La Grande Motte.

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SAILING IN SOUTHERN FRANCE

After close to eight years living on the shores of the Mediterranean, I came to the conclusion that the area requires a lot of effort from its sailors.

Our day off the coast of SW France’s La Grande Motte was typical, in that it started with a single-digit breeze that grew and then subsided as we headed back to port.

At the wheel of Dragon, snug behind the saloon, I pushed her hard on to the breeze while the windward hull lifted slightly.

With carbon genoa tight and the rotating mast smoothing the luff, we powered easily beyond the 12 knot true wind speed and eventually showed 14 knots of boatspeed.
Impressive, yet fairly effortless thanks to sail controls that see the mainsail track being set far back on the transom to maximise twist and leverage while winches were also at hand.

As the wind built towards 18 knots comfort dictated that we took one reef in, which was done from jammers at the cockpit.

Off the wind and in lightening conditions the hulls sunk in, when a cruising chute would ideally be hoisted to avoid engine use.

However, the 53HP Yanmars, with folding propellers, proved adequate to motor at 7 knots as we headed for home.

At the end of the day it was an enjoyable trip on a boat that rewards the keen sailor, while remaining well within the abilities of capable casual cruisers.

LATEST McCONAGHY CATAMARANS

Since the completion of the Bañuls 60, McConaghy Boats has gone on to expand their range under new designer Jason Kerr.

The first of these, the MC50, made its debut at La Grande Motte this year.

The yard in China was able to expand production in 2017/2018 after Hong Kong company Tiger bought a shareholding — an event that pleased Australian distributor The Multihull Group, who now offer a strengthened range of performance-cruising catamarans.

"McConaghy’s new Jason Kerr designed boats attracted us because of their innovative technology and their unique approach to catamaran design," explains CEO John Cowpe.

The MC50, is part of a trio that also includes the MC60 and the flagship MC90.

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These vacuum infused epoxy-hulled catamarans build on McConaghy’s experience with the Bañuls designed models and their mastery of composite construction.

Carbon is used in the key structural parts, while Corecell foam cores ensure these cats will be fairly lightweight.
Having just done a sea trial in southern France on the impressive Bañuls MC60, I was well satisfied with McConaghy’s abilities to produce a performance catamaran, but the Kerr boats are even more ambitious — something that has attracted TMG.

"They have exciting new features such as centreboards in each hull as opposed to daggerboards — which improves performance and allows for volume in the hulls — while having all the luxury gear that owners want," explained Cowpe.

Along with directors Peter Hrones and Tim Vine, Cowpe visited the yard earlier this year to confirm their impression regarding the quality of McConaghy’s approach.

The first MC50 that splashed this year at La Grande Motte is an angular, high volume style of catamaran that has vertical saloon bulkheads to maximise space and tall hulls to provide plenty of room in the three or four cabin layouts.

The MCs are intended to be lean and fast, as illustrated by the open foredecks where trampolines predominate over solid bulkheads.

www.themultihullgroup.com

FACTS & FIGURES

PRICED FROM

POA

GENERAL

TYPE Luxury Catamaran
MATERIAL E-Glass / Epoxy foam sandwich
LENGTH 18.28m
BEAM 8.6m
DRAFT 1.4/3.2m
WEIGHT 30.5t

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 8
FUEL 500L
WATER 500L
HOLDING  TANK 2 x 60L

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL TYPE Twin Yanmar 4JH5E 53hp
DISPLACEMENT 2.19L
WEIGHT 201kg

DESIGNED BY

Renaud Bañuls
www.banulsdesign.com
www.performancemultis.com

MANUFACTURED BY

McConaghy Boats

The full review featured in issue #508 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.  

 


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