Seawind Catamarans introduced its 52ft 1600 model in Europe last year, where the boat promptly started winning awards. The more jaded among us may look askance at such things, especially when it comes to a bluewater-rated catamaran billed as a providing a combination of performance and luxury—attributes that typically come in inverse proportions and make skeptics of many. However, the new flagship of the Seawind line truly delivers both comfort and speed, in the process kicking all manner of skepticism to the curb.
Design & Construction
The Reichel/Pugh office’s appealing design resulted in a sleek cat with a low coach roof that extends to a hard bimini aft. The plumb bows are sharp, yielding a fine entry, and a hard chine, which runs all the way back to the transoms just above the waterline, helps create a bit of extra interior volume. The transoms themselves slope gradually downward and include three steps down to a pair of substantial swim platforms. Vacuum infusion is used throughout and includes a mix of vinylester resin with carbon-fiber reinforcements above the waterline and puncture-proof Kevlar in the interest of safety.
To assist in pointing, Seawind added captive daggerboards, which are recessed into the deck. Their tops are covered with flip-up deck sections, so the lifting mechanism is protected and presumably requires less maintenance. Hiding the boards also keeps the decks cleaner, makes the boat look better and reduces windage. An unusual feature is the boat’s retractable rudders, which make it beachable. With boards and rudders up, the Seawind 1600 draws a mere inch over 2ft.
In a real design coup, Seawind has managed to find the perfect way to create a pair of sheltered yet still well outboard helm stations with the placement of its twin wheels. Both positions are elevated in the interest of providing good visibility, while still benefitting from the protection of the boat’s hardtop. A pair of sleek binnacles includes room for a set of 12in B&G multifunction displays and engine controls. There’s even a set of handy cupholders. The positioning of the two helms combined with their ergonomic design represents quite possibly one of the slickest steering solutions ever.
The rest of the cockpit is on a single level and includes an L-shaped dinette to starboard, a straight settee to port, twin transom seats and an Isotherm refrigerator alongside the door to the saloon. As with many performance designs, there’s a centrally located Harken winch aft to manage the halyards and reefing lines, all of which run underneath the cockpit sole. Another pair of winches handles the main, while yet another pair of winches is located immediately outboard of the twin wheels for trimming the headsail. With the autopilot helping out, it’s easy to imagine singlehanding this big cat.
Moving forward, the side decks are nice and clear, with no toe-stubbers to get in the way. Our test boat also had high triple-wire lifelines, as befits any boat designed for passagemaking offshore. There are three ways to get onto the hard top to manage the mainsail—via a step directly in front of each helm or a set of integrated steps alongside the mast.
The Seawind 1600 is available with either a four- or a three-cabin layout, with the owner’s suite taking up the entire starboard hull in the latter. The queen bed in the master stateroom includes a pair of cutaway corners for easier access. The head is forward with a single vanity, a large shower and space for an optional combination washer and dryer.
To port, guest accommodations include a pair of single berths in the aft cabin and a double berth forward that’s a bit undersized due to the narrow beam in that part of the hull. Unusual in a cruiser this size is the fact that there’s only a single head on this side of the boat. The casing for the daggerboard encroaches a bit on the shower stall, but the arrangement is still workable.
The saloon arrangement is conducive to a nice easy workflow between the dinette, the substantial nav desk and the galley. The navigation station, in particular, will be the envy of every skipper in the anchorage with its truly vast work surface, good visibility forward and a swing-out chair you can spend all the time you want relaxing in while on watch.
Aft of the navigation area, the galley faces directly out onto the cockpit for passing food and drinks and offers plenty of surfaces to brace yourself against when cooking offshore. Granted, cats don’t heel much, but cooking in a sloppy seaway surrounded by a bunch of hot stuff is never fun. Overall, the finish belowdecks is up-market and then some. Thoughtful features include a number of pull-out drawers tucked in behind the flat-screen TV in the saloon—a great use of space.
We had just about perfect conditions for our test sail on Biscayne Bay. In 12-13 knots of breeze with the daggerboards halfway down, we managed 6.3 knots at a 60-degree apparent wind angle on flat water. Cracking off to 120 degrees, we bumped the speedo up to 6.5 knots before falling back down to a little over 5 knots again. When the wind piped up to 16 knots, we nudged our boatspeed back up 8.9 knots on a beam reach. With its square-top main and 7/8 self-tacking jib, the Seawind 1600 sliced its way easily through the tacks. For a shorthanded crew or cruising couple, the rig will be a great one, especially when combined with the optional screecher for sailing off the wind.
As a side note, the boat’s performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that we were fully tanked up with fuel and water and had no less than 14 people aboard. In the real world, most cruising cats are loaded down with far more weight than they’ll ever carry on a typical test sail, and we all know how sensitive multihulls are to weight. The fact that the heavily laden 1600 performed as well as it did was impressive.
With a nearly 26ft beam the Seawind’s two 57hp Yanmar diesels are set well apart making for easy maneuvering. There’s an option for engine controls at both helms, in which case no matter which way you need to dock in a tight space, you’ll be able to see where you’re going.
At wide-open throttle and 3,200 rpm, we motored at 9.2 knots with the help of our test boat’s optional three-blade Gori propellers. A more economical setting of 2,200 rpm yielded 8.2 knots, in which case you save quite a bit of fuel and but don’t lose much speed.
The base price of the Seawind 1600 is $900,000. Among the notable options that raised the price of our test boat to $1.2 million were CZone digital switching, upgraded Mastervolt lithium ion batteries, a Fischer Panda genset, a fuel-polishing system, B&G forward-scanning sonar and a carbon-fiber park avenue boom. Racers can upgrade to a carbon-fiber mast as well.
With or without these add-ons, the Seawind 1600 is a fast, good-looking cruiser with ample amenities and an exemplary finish. In other words, she more than lives up to the “luxury performance” moniker. Consider this skeptic converted.
LOA 51ft 8in
LWL 51ft 6in
Beam 25ft 10in
Draft 2ft 1in (boards up); 8ft 6in (boards down)
Displacement 28,000lb (light ship)
Sail area 1,558 ft
Fuel/Water (GAL) 200/155
Engine 2 x 57hp Yanmar
SA/D Ratio 27
D/L Ratio 92
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
Designer Reichel/Pugh Yacht Design
Builder Seawind/Corsair Marine, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, seawindcats.com
Price $900,000 (base)