Boat Review: HH50

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Sportscar builders say, “Speed costs, how fast do you want to go?” This is also true of boats. And if you can foot the bill, Hudson Yacht & Marine will be more than happy to provide you with all the speed, luxurious accommodations and outstanding construction you could ever want in its new HH50.

DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

The HH50 is the smallest boat in the Hudson Yacht Group line, but its quality is equal to the company’s larger boats, which include an 88-footer. The entire HH line is produced in a new 1.2 million-ft2 factory in Xiamen, China, that is well equipped with CNC cutting machines, resin-infusion facilities, woodworking shops and testing facilities.

The design comes from Morelli & Melvin, and the hull and deck consist of post-cured infused carbon fiber and epoxy with a Corecell foam core. Spars are built-in pre-preg carbon fiber and autoclave cured. The workmanship is first-rate, with no rough edges or surfaces, even in those areas typically hidden from view. The detail finish of the interior is outstanding.

The owner of our test boat wanted to have enough reserve battery capacity to run air conditioning for several hours without the generator. To that end, he specified Beta diesels with oversize alternators for rapid charging of a compact 24-volt Mastervolt Lithium-Ion battery bank. A large “technical compartment” in the port hull serves as the electrical heart of the boat, with everything labeled and numbered. A 6kW genset located close by the forward bridge deck.

ON DECK

Perhaps the most striking feature topsides is the pair of dramatically curved carbon-fiber daggerboards. These are not only integral to the boat’s performance, but serve to maximize the boat’s interior volume as they follow the outside contours of the hulls. The boards are raised and lowered via a line drive, with only the leeward board typically deployed under sail. Each board is worth a cool $75K, so running aground with them down at full speed would be a bad thing, indeed.

Load cells in the shroud chainplates serve to keep tabs on the rig. As we were underway, the owner pointed to a screen that was showing a load of about three tons on the windward shroud. “When it gets to 10 tons, we fly a hull. That’s not good,” he explained.

Although the HH50 may look a bit like corporate entertainment platform with its big sliding doors and spacious cockpit, don’t be fooled. The boat is very much designed to be a serious offshore passagemaker. Separate watertight engine and bow compartments, for example, provide excellent collision protection. Similarly, a set of removable cockpit boards can be installed at the transoms for additional shielding against following seas. The boat’s twin helm stations are elevated and well outboard, providing excellent visibility forward and aloft, although moving from one wheel to the other when coming about requires stepping down onto the cockpit sole and then climbing back up again. An all-trampoline foredeck helps cut down on weight.

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ACCOMMODATIONS

The HH50 interior is highly customizable, and our test boat included about $300K in options to suit the owner, who is an engineer. He started with a basic three-cabin layout that reserves one hull for the owner’s suite and the other hull for two separate guest cabins with a shared head compartment. All the bunks are queen-size, and each cabin has a cedar-lined locker and copious additional stowage space. Every compartment in the boat also has an opening hatch overhead to aid in ventilation. Four separate sleeping cabins would be equally easy to install in the available space.

The saloon is surrounded by windows, and a pair of huge square ports in the transoms give a fine view at anchor from the aft berths. Tables, bulkheads and cabinets on our test boat were all beautifully made of varnished teak veneer laminated over a PVC core, making them as light and strong as they are good looking. Two closely mounted dropleaf tables adjacent to the big sliding door separating the cockpit from the saloon can be used to create either a large dining area for a crowd or more intimate space for a couple.

Other luxury touches aboard our test boat included everything from a B&G H5000 electronics suite to an overhead “rain shower” on the afterdeck and an excellent sound system.

UNDER SAIL

We generally test boats in an empty “light ship” configuration. In this case of the HH50, though, the boat was fully laden with full tanks and provisions for a month of family cruising. We also had seven adults on board, making for a heavy total displacement. Because multihulls are so sensitive to weight, I expected performance to suffer, but couldn’t have been more wrong.

Even under load, the HH50 moved along easily at 9 knots with occasional speeds up to 10.7 in a 12-18 knot breeze as we reached across the Chesapeake. That’s impressive and reinforces the builder’s claim of boatspeeds equaling the wind speed in lightship trim. Equally impressive, there was no wave slap under the bridgedeck, and the wake was exceptionally clean, indicating an efficient hull form. Lowering one daggerboard halfway eliminated leeway in the breeze, and handling was precise throughout, with just enough helm to make for pleasant steering. In a light chop, the boat’s motion was exceptionally smooth, with minimal heel, an easy motion and absolute silence from the joinerywork. In sum: it was the nicest ride I’ve ever experienced aboard a catamaran.

UNDER POWER

All the standard close-quarters maneuvers were simple, with a turning circle of about one and a half boatlengths and accurate, predictable stopping and reversing. With various combinations of differential power to the two props and the ability to control drift with the leeboards, docking should be manageable even in tight places and crosswinds.

The twin diesels were fairly quiet at 74 dBA in the cabin, but somewhat louder at the helms, which are close to the engines. More substantial soundproofing in the engine compartments would help. A throttle setting of 2,400 rpm brought the boat to an easy 9 knot cruise speed.

CONCLUSION

The HH50 is an expression of cruising technology aimed at sailors who appreciate what can be done when a top builder works with top designers and technicians. It is a strong, fast, carefully engineered boat that can be managed by a reasonably fit couple, thanks to its extensive mechanization and the computerization of its complex systems. 

LOA 51ft 9in LWL 48ft 9in BEAM 24ft 5in DRAFT 5ft (board up); 10ft 6in (board down) DISPLACEMENT 26,026lb (light ship) SAIL AREA 1,183ft2 (100% FT) FUEL/WATER (GAL) 158/105 ENGINEs 2 x 40hp Volvo diesels SA/D Ratio 21 D/L ratio 100 DESIGNER Morelli & Melvin BUILDER Hudson Yacht & Marine, Taiwan, hhcatamarans.com U.S. Distributor Chris Doscher, Chris.Doscher@HudsonYachtGroup.com PRICE $1.7 million (base) at time of publication

MHS Winter 2021

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