After a recent trip to the Nautitech catamaran factory, Andrew Thompson, Director of Horizon Yacht Charters and Sales, was able to make his own opinion of the latest Nautitech catamaran, the Nautitech Open 40.
“Visiting the factory in Rochefort, near La Rochelle in France, I was fortunate to have a guided tour of the factory and the production process by Bruno Voisard, the founder and visionary behind this quality catamaran builder. His enthusiasm and passion for catamarans is contagious.”
Mr. Voisard has recently sold his yard to the yacht building giant Bavaria, but Mr. Voisard is staying at the helm as CEO, excited at the possibilities that Bavarias financial clout brings to the development of Nautitech.
The yard is spotlessly clean, production is efficient, which is reflected in the value for money in these quality built cats and the production level is evidently buoyant. Currently building 40 yachts per year, this is expected to double and beyond as the factory has plenty of room for expansion at its present site, and Mr.Voisard appears to have inexhaustible ideas and energy to drive it.
The construction is first class, different density foam cores are used, in combination with specific laminate specifications depending on the application and loading in different parts of the structure. Throughout the infusion process, skilled workers monitor the vacuum pressure, temperature, and resin flow, which ensures very tight weight tolerances, and very thorough wetting out, along with precise resin to mat ratios. Not only are all bulkheads glassed into the hulls, but all interior framing and furniture is built in the boat, (not built in modules and then lifted in and glued in place as with some builders), but built in and glassed in. You end up with a very stiff, very strong boat, very quiet boat. A nice by product of resin infused foam is that the yacht is designed to be unsinkable.
By laying up the hull in 4 sections, Nautitech are able to produce much finer hull shapes than their competition, who are often building a hull-bridge-hull mold in one. There is an outward “ step” in the topsides of the Nautitech 40, a hard chine, which means you benefit from a fineness of hull ratio below the waterline which translates directly into speed, but the volume above sea level for excellent accommodation is unaffected. Bruno Voisard and Marc Lombard, the Naval architect are very focused on weight, and by using foam composite lay up , over the balsa cores of the competition, they are saving half a ton of weight in the 40. They save another 200kg by not running all lights back to wall mounted switches, but by having switches on many of the fittings themselves….it all adds up, the Open 40 comes in at 17,200 lbs, the immediate competition are over 22,500 lbs. A difference of 2.5 metric tonnes, 2.75 US tons. A huge amount. This weight saving, in combination with the hull and foil shapes means the Nautitech Open 40 is fast and fun to sail. However, it is also important to note , that a fast catamaran is a safe catamaran, as it can outsail a broach in a following sea, not to mention making a safe haven ahead of deteriorating conditions.
When comparing a typical coach roof helm position versus the Nautitech outboard helm position, the following should be considered: with twin helms on the hulls, (with a bimini as standard over the starboard helm on the Horizon spec, and an optional one on the port side), you are driving the boat from a position where you have good visibility forward and aft, and you are able to see all four corners of the boat. You can see the mainsail and the jib with ease, the jib sheet, mainsheet and traveller are all to hand. The topsides are very adequate at the aft quarter, so you do not feel exposed in anyway, and being at deck level, rather than elevated at a coach roof position, makes you feel more secure, and more in touch with the conditions and crew. Of course, the suite of Garmin electronics in harmony with the Garmin autopilot will drive for you, if you wish to move to the cockpit or saloon. The Nautitech helm position, combined with relatively high aspect hydrodynamic rudder foils, gives feel and feedback on the helm that is often sadly lacking on a cruising cat. (A comparison of rudder and keel shapes in cruising cats makes the Nautitech 40 shine below the water, as much as above). The Nautitech 40 has fine entry, sacrificial keels, giving a draft of 4ft 5 inches. As an entirely separate molding that is bonded to the hull, it is possible to completely wreck a keel, without compromising the integrity of the hull in any way. The yacht also has watertight crash bulkheads forward. Effectively there are four, as the bow is divided each side horizontally and vertically, forward of the forward double berths.
The “Open” 40 name relates to the Voisard- Lombard vision of a sailing/living space unlike any other. The saloon has a forward facing galley, twin drawer fridge, and a saloon table to seat 6, with integrated navigation station. Two large coach roof hatches provide ventilation at anchor (along with two fans, and air conditioning as standard on the Horizon spec). Moving aft, there are no steps up or down, just a level cockpit that opens up the saloon into a huge al fresco living area, protected from the elements, but with fabulous visibility forward and aft, which you just do not get on any other 40ft cat. A cockpit table comfortable seats 8, and a long bench seat on the port side raises like a deck chair at one end to give a comfortable reading recliner.
Ingeniously, the cat has drop down side panels to the cockpit, so that if the rain is driving in a cross breeze, water does not enter the cockpit, but runs off the gently angled side decks and into the scuppers. Should you find yourself in rather warmer conditions, there is a drop down sun shade, which is very welcome late in the day when swinging on an anchor to the Easterly Caribbean trade winds, with the sun beaming down over the stern of the boat, setting in the West. Imagine then, being able to drop the aft cockpit curtain, turn the air conditioning on, to cool not only the saloon, but the cockpit area as well. Only the French could achieve this with such style. The Horizon version has a cockpit fridge, and a freezer in the starboard hull. These are all quality, water cooled units, which are capable of performing in tropical conditions very well indeed. There is a 3 double cabin owners layout, and a 4 double cabin version, both with twin head and showers. The double berths are a good size, with good firm mattresses and good storage. The Horizon version has a single berth in the port bow as well as ample storage in the starboard bow. With an upgraded AGM battery bank, twin 115A alternators ( fitted on Yanmar 30 horsepower engines, capable of cruising at 8 knots), 400 watt solar panels, and LED lights throughout, there is ample power supply. An 100 Amp battery charger/ 2000 watt inverter and 8kw Generator ensures all your 110 Volt requirements are catered for, whether you are plugged in, or offshore.
( All fore mentioned items are included in the Horizon package).
Then you go sailing. A fathead main ( which does not have to be clipped and unclipped from the track) is hoisted effortlessly with the ( standard Horizon spec) electric winch, and as you bear off, the solent jib is unfurled and sets beautifully on its self tacking track. In 7.5 knots of wind, single handed, without touching a sheet, the cat tacks through 105 degrees and never drops below 3.6 knots boat speed. There is an option for a bow sprit and roller furling gennaker. In 7.5 knots true wind, unfurl and set the gennaker in a minute or less, and sail at 7.5 knots in 7.5 knots true wind at 70 degrees apparent. Class beating bridge deck clearance means no slapping when the sea state does increase.
One has to conclude that the Nautitech open 40 is a very well thought-out catamaran, with a turn of speed, handling to match, and layout options to make her very appealing to private purchasers and charter management alike. This is a yacht to get truly excited about.”