Wollongong, Australia, is a beautiful spot you’ve possibly never heard of. Backed by mountains south of Sydney and fronting the Tasman Sea, Wollongong is home to Seawind Catamarans, whose newest offering reinterprets the open accommodations of its popular Seawind 1000 into something larger, comfier, and better suited to offshore duty. The new 1160, at 38 feet, sails at the upper range of a high-windage cruising cat, and it won’t work you to death while you enjoy its nifty features.
I spent a day aboard in Sydney Harbour and proved that even in a moderate breeze, this is one cat that can tack without making a big deal out of it. In fact, thanks to the self-tacking jib and the boat’s willingness to turn through the wind, you can bang it from tack to tack any old time, and visibility is good enough that you can switch wheels or not, your choice, while working from behind the wheel or beside it. Tacking through 100 degrees is easy. Pay attention to the traveler, get serious about sail trim, and you can tack through 90.
As for those nifty features, there are several, but unless you’re buttoned up for bad weather or bugs, every guest is sure to notice that the doors just up and disappear. The 1160’s two outer saloon doors fold across the center door, and the whole assembly is hinged at the top. Attach the dedicated line to the bottom, and you can winch the doors out of the way to the overhead, where there is a metal bracket to secure them in a seaway. Now you have a wide-open, uninterrupted space from the cockpit to the saloon for indoor/outdoor living. We’ll come back to that.
When raised, the doors mate with the fore-and-aft bridge that connects the cabintop to the targa, and this, too, is a nifty feature. The targa supports dinghy davits, two 120-volt solar panels, and the traveler (removing one potential hazard from the cockpit). The connecting bridge comes in handy when you’ve dropped the main into its jacklines and boom bag and you need to walk to the end of the boom to straighten things out. Performance-minded buyers will opt for a bowsprit to carry a screecher, and they will appreciate that the bowsprit folds up and away. Why pay the dockmaster for extra LOA? The mast is supported by two sets of diamond stays and single spreaders swept aft to compensate for the lack of a backstay. The mainsail carries seven full-length battens with ball-bearing batten cars, and there is single-line reefing from the cockpit.
High Modulus of Auckland, New Zealand, engineered the Seawind 1160. The boats are solid glass below the waterline, foam-cored above the water, and are constructed from only five molds. Hull parts are built by a combination of hand layup and chopper gun, but the factory is building some components with vacuum infusion and plans to make a complete conversion to this process sometime in the future.
This boat’s good performance in a moderate breeze is due in part to hulls that are thin below the waterline, minimizing wetted surface. However, on the inboard side the hulls flare, adding interior volume and extra buoyancy when the going gets rough. Twin keels protect the saildrives and rudders, and the boat can rest on its keels if you want to dry it out and work on it. The lower portion of each keel is sacrificial fiberglass that can break away without damaging the boat.
Now let’s return to the cockpit, which, doors aloft, extends forward to embrace the U-shaped saloon and the table that lowers on a gas strut to create an additional 6-foot berth. This is a bright space that is easy to relax in, whether under way or at anchor—safer, too, with the extra handholds added after test sails in hull number one. From the step-down galley in the starboard hull—with twin freezers and a bar fridge—it’s a piece of cake to pass up food and drink.
The 1160 is available in three- or four-cabin versions, each with two heads. In the three-cabin model, port-hull center is dedicated to office/navigation and stowage space, and the stern holds a large head with glassed-in shower. Floors in the saloon are simulated teak, and unlike some I’ve seen, they are truly nonskid, one more sign that sailors can be happy aboard.
$380,000 (sailaway, FOB East Coast). LOA 38′; LWL 35’7″; beam 20’3″; draft 3’2″; displ. 14,300 lbs; sail area (main and jib) 1,100 sq ft; power (2) 30-hp diesels. Seawind Catamarans, 416-203-1542