What's New in the Big-boat World

Here is what's new in the world of Flagships, and these beauties offer plenty of performance and comfort.
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Fountaine Pajot Victoria 67

If the most seductive aspect of a cruising catamaran is the amount of space—both inside and out—then those in the market for a big cruising cat will find it difficult to resist the charms of the Victoria 67. You could hold a full-on party on the flybridge and invite most of the anchorage along. A chic loft apartment couldn’t look more contemporary than the large saloon, or have more places to lounge around. With all line handling accomplished upstairs on the flybridge, the cockpit is devoted purely to entertaining and relaxing. Even with a good deal of the port hull devoted to a huge master stateroom, there is space for four extra cabins, each with ensuite heads, and there’s an option to squeeze a couple of single berths into the bows. You could go cruising on this boat and have room for all friends and relatives who want to come along…problem is, no one would want to leave.

Fountaine Pajot: fountaine-pajot.com

Dufour 500

There’s no doubt that Europe leads the way in production-boat styling, although I’m not brave enough to suggest it is superior. Dufour’s sharp new 50-footer perfectly illustrates the current design trend among mainstream European fast cruisers: plenty of beam, twin rudders, hull chines, pleasing lines, and an interior that looks classy and practical. Dufour has also taken the bold step of placing the galley at the front of the saloon. On deck there is a large lounging cockpit ahead of the working area. The sailplan is powerful, with an extending sprit to make the most of an A-sail. One of my favorite features is the built-in grill under the helm seat, which can be easily tended from the drop-down “tailgate” style swim platform. Superbe!

Dufour Yachts: dufour-yachts.com

Hylas 63

Fresh out of the Hylas yard, this handsome center-cockpit cruiser from the board of German Frers Jr. fills a yawning gap in the line between the 56 and 70. A glance over the spec sheet reveals a solidly built, generously equipped bluewater yacht that will take its lucky crew just about anywhere in style and comfort. Strength was obviously a prime criterion. The hull consists of alternating layers of e-glass and Twaron fiber, vacuum-infused with vinylester resin. The keel-stepped triple-spreader, double-headsail rig carries an inner forestay with runners that can be deployed when necessary. Still, the ratios show that this boat is no overbuilt slug. With a sail area-displacement ratio of just under 20 and displacement-length ratio of 188, the 63 should move along nicely. The interior can be customized; the drawings show a four-cabin layout headlined by a vast owner’s suite, a slightly less sumptuous stateroom forward, and a pair of guest cabins.

Hylas Yachts: hylasyachtsusa.com

Oyster 745

With its long expanse of teak-covered flush deck ahead of a low-profile house, the Oyster 745 makes a strong styling statement. The latest in a long line of Rob Humphreys designs for the British yard, the 745 sports twin rudders that allow for more powerful stern sections, which should improve downwind speed potential. In Oyster fashion, there is a large cockpit for socializing that is separate from the working cockpit, where all lines are dealt with by an array of powered winches abaft the twin wheels. Down below, there is a choice of four or five cabins, each with ensuite heads/showers, in an interior bathed in light from hull ports and deck hatches. Options include centerboard, deep keel or shoal keel underbodies to suit owners’ intended cruising plans.

Oyster Yachts: oysteryachts.com

Gunboat 55

This new design from British multihull maven Nigel Irens marks a styling departure for Gunboat. Gone are the precise angles and refined lines of the Morrelli & Melvin boats that built the yard’s reputation. The 55’s curves and chines give it a lean, hungry and aggressive look. Even at rest, it appears ready to leap forward. Although it looks like a racer, the 55 is, in fact, aimed at a specific type of “owner-operator” cruising sailor who has no wish for a professional crew. The boat can be sailed by a couple, so ease of maintenance and handling were key criteria. Irens has done away with the traditional saloon/cockpit divide, with an open-plan bridgedeck and a galley-down layout, and the usual Gunboat working cockpit forward is protected by a removable door. This looks like a very cool boat that stands out among the growing ranks of performance cruising catamarans.

Gunboat: gunboat.com

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