As soon as I opened the e-mail bearing news of the Eagle Class 53, this sporty cat leapt straight to the top of my Boats-I-Want-to-Sail list. The performance multihull niche has grown like wildfire in the last decade, and this outrageously potent-looking foiling cat takes another leap into the outer limits of design.
Created by a top-notch design and build team with deep America’s Cup roots for a client who originally wanted to convert his Gunboat 90 to a foiler—which would have been quite something to see—the Eagle Class 53 brings together the talents of designers Paul Bieker, Eric Jolly and Andres Suar and boatbuilder Wolfgang Chamberlain. They took full advantage of the open design brief to come up with a boat that will foil on either C- or T-foils and is powered by a new “Hybrid Wing,” a cross between a hard and soft wingsail with a self-tacking jib.
Controlled by specially developed “Flight Control” software, the T-foil configuration creates a “stable autonomous foiling platform,” according to Suar. Other features include seatbelts for the crew when in foiling mode, full carbon fiber composite construction yielding a dry weight of six tons, and comfortable cruising accommodations from which the lucky owners can watch the world whizz by at up to 35 knots.
Designed by Morrelli & Melvin, another design team with plenty of America’s Cup chops, HH Catamarans’ lineup was perfectly positioned to fill the void left by the temporary demise of Gunboat. Its HH66 and HH55 carbon fiber flyers provide fast cruising and electrifying racing, and there are more models on the way. Realizing however that not everyone wants to go zipping around the oceans at breakneck speed, HH is now offering a more restrained line of pure cruising cats.
First in the new Oceans Series is the OC50, another M&M design that shares the same aesthetics as the carbon-fiber boats but is built in conventional e-glass and foam composites rather than exotic materials. It has fixed keels instead of daggerboards and an aluminum rig, but shares many of the design features of the carbon boats along with comfortable accommodations. It’s good to see another contender enter the sport-cruising arena occupied by the likes of Outremer and Catana.
New from that hotbed of multihull building, South Africa, the Vision 444 is a perky-looking cruiser that has the attributes of a good performer under sail. Designed by James Turner and featuring e-glass/foam sandwich construction, the boat has a conventional aluminum rig carrying a square-headed mainsail, a roomy cockpit and a clean deck plan. The cockpit layout looks to be very good. The bridgedeck saloon features galley and nav station aft and a dining table forward, while an owner’s suite takes up the starboard hull and there are two spacious guest cabins to port.
Eagle Class 53 fastforwardcomposites.com
Vision 444 sailawaycatamarans.com