It’s easy to get a big head sailing around on a boat like the Seawind 1260, if for no other reason than the fact you’re not only going faster than pretty much every other boat around, but you’re doing so in exceptional comfort. Add to that the fact the boat also happens to be damn good looking and possesses some serious bluewater passagemaking chops, and you’ve got every excuse for feeling a bit vain!
Design & Construction
An evolution of the Seawind 1250—which was itself an offshoot of company founder Richard Ward’s Seawind 1160 design, a boat with multiple circumnavs to its credit—the Seawind 1260 combines excellent build quality and design with an eye toward taking its crews anywhere and everywhere in safety and comfort.
Built in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, after production was moved there from the company’s native Australia a few years back, the Seawind 1260 boasts infused vinylester and polyester hulls with a foam core, and a hull-deck joint that is securely fiberglassed along its entire length to ensure the most rigid structure possible—not just fresh out of the shed but after tens of thousands sea miles as well.
Narrow hulls and a concerted effort to keep weight out of the ends minimizes hobby-horsing, while the deck’s unusual reverse sheer makes it possible to provide plenty of headroom in the passageway areas belowdecks while minimizing freeboard in the bows. This, in turn, reduces windage (as well as weight) forward, enhancing the boat’s performance to windward, so that it feels more like a monohull than your typical multi.
Topside, no mere sliding glass door separates the saloon from the cockpit. Instead Seawind installs its proven “Tri-Fold door system,” a solid glass and metal structure that won’t leave you wondering whether it will hold firm in the event you’re pooped. It also easily hinges up and out of the way, creating a single space of the cockpit and saloon—Seawind having been one of the pioneers of the “open” concept.
The single-spreader mast and boom are aluminum, and the rigging is stainless steel wire. Overall build quality is outstanding. Originally based just south of Sydney on Australia’s eastern coast, Seawinds have long been built with surviving the notorious Bass Strait in mind, and that tradition continues despite the move to Southeast Asia.
The cockpit aboard the Seawind 1260 is among the best I’ve ever seen aboard a multihull. First and foremost, it includes a pair of outboard helm stations that allow you to get well outboard to see both the rig and where you’re going with ease, with excellent sight lines in all directions, thanks to the large cabintrunk windows immediately forward. There is also easy access to all control lines, with the lines controlling the main traveler mounted on a composite archway just aft. Aboard our test boat this arch also served as the mount for a set of solar panels.
I especially liked strolling back and forth from helm to helm while tacking and gybing. The clear path between the two and the nimble yet predictable feel of the boat’s helm make doing so both effortless and fun. A hard Targa top stretching aft to the aforementioned arch provides the person at the helm with all the protection they could want—whether from the sun, as was the case during my test sail on Miami’s Biscayne Bay, or from a rainy, 35-knot squall as was the case when I once sailed the very similar 1250 on Sydney Harbor. There’s also a clear view of the chartplotter in the saloon immediately forward of the window in front of the port helm, which slides out of the way providing easy access to it as well.
Handholds abound in this cockpit: to either side of the Tri-Fold door; on either side of the arch; to either side of the steps leading down the transoms; and even along the underside of the hardtop. A comfy L-shaped bench aft spans the better part of the aft end of the cockpit and faces a small table and abuts against a stowaway BBQ, sink and fridge.
Moving forward, there’s a useful handhold and step for getting on top of the cabintrunk: a nice touch since the structure’s angled sides and large windows would otherwise make for a challenge getting up to the boom to pack away the mainsail. Our test boat came equipped with Lewmar winches, a Profurl furler for the self-tacking headsail and a Colligo continuous-line furler for a reaching sail flying from a sprit.
Though not as spacious inside as many purpose-built charter cats, the Seawind 1260 is comfortable and nicely appointed belowdecks. Key to the boat’s interior is the fact that it includes an inline galley down in the starboard hull. This, in turn, opens up the space in the saloon for a truly massive U-shaped settee, which can be converted into a massive lounging space—or “day bed” as Seawind calls it—by lowering the table to seat level.
I’ve always been a fan of inline galleys aboard multihulls because they make it easy to brace yourself against the counter opposite when working in a seaway. Thanks to the large windows in each hull, the cook even has a nice view. There’s also plenty of open space between it and the saloon so you won’t get lonely while you’re down there.
Beyond that, two different version are available: an owner’s three-cabin version, in which the entire port hull is given over to a single stateroom; and a four-cabin “charter” version. (Seawind cats are a force to be reckoned with in the charter trade Down Under.) In either case, the saloon comes equipped with a pair of massive and massively built hinged windows forward to provide excellent ventilation when it’s hot out and security when things turn nasty.
Simply put, the Seawind 1260 is a great sailer. In 15 knots of wind on Biscayne Bay our test boat easily did 7 knots hard on the wind at a true wind angle of 45 degrees, comparable to a well-found monohull. Minor adjustments at the helm were immediately rewarded with a fraction more boatspeed, and you could truly “feel” the boat respond in a way you simply can’t aboard all too many cruising cats. Off the wind we did 8-plus knots with just our working jib up. Coming about was never in doubt, and the boat’s narrow hulls easily maintained their way. Thanks to the boat’s self-tacking jib, doing so consisted of simply putting down the helm and then taking a short stroll to the other wheel.
Having sailed the Seawind 1250 (which employs the same hull molds) in some pretty boisterous conditions in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, I can also attest to the fact these boats do well in a blow. Not only did the helm truly come alive in the best way possible sailing hard on the wind, but the motion, even through the larger chop, was easy and predictable. I can still remember having the time of my life driving the boat through 20-plus knots of breeze toward Teague Island under a lowering a sky as if it was only yesterday.
One of the nice things about narrow hulls and a responsive helm is that you also get great performance under power. At 1,200 rpm, the boat’s twin 29hp Yanmars scooted us along at 4.7 knots. Revving up to a moderate 2,000 rpm yielded 6.9 knots of boatspeed. Like any well-found cat, working the engines against one another allowed us to pivot easily in our own water. The boat’s reduced windage will only may it that much less stressful maneuvering in tight quarters.
Born of Richard Ward’s original vision of a fun, seaworthy catamaran truly capable of not just doing everything, but doing it well, the Seaward 1260 a truly exceptional boat that will do its owner proud: whether coastal cruising or crossing oceans or just knocking around the harbor on a daysail.
LOA 41ft LWL 41ft BEAM 22ft 3in DRAFT 3ft 8in DISPLACEMENT 18,400lb SAIL AREA 1,014ft (main & jib) FUEL/WATER (GAL) 126/185 ENGINE 2 x 29hp Yanmar SA/D RATIO 23 D/L RATIO 119 DESIGNER Richard Ward BUILDER Seawind Catamarans, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, seawindcats.com PRICE $460,000 (sailaway) at time of publication
MHS Winter 2018