Multihull Special 2023: Powercats Part 1
With power catamarans moving into the mainstream, monohull builders like Prestige and Gulf Craft have been moving into the multihull market, while Aquila maintains market leadership.
Note: The original article appears in Issue 71 and follows a chapter on supercats (click to read)
Power catamarans used to be the preserve of the world’s leading sailing catamaran builders, who were able to use their expertise – and sometimes existing hulls – to develop twin-hulled motor yachts.
Fountaine Pajot introduced its Trawler series of powercats in 1998, Leopard ventured into powercats in 2007, and both continue to be among market leaders. Lagoon’s launch of its Seventy 8 in 2017 and Sunreef’s debut of its 80 Sunreef Power two years later kick-started the growing popularity of larger models.
The dominance of brands like these has been challenged in recent years by powercat-focused Aquila, which was formed in 2012 and launched its 100th unit five years later. However, the popularity of the 36 Sport cruiser that debuted that year and the earlier 44 Yacht flybridge then spearheaded an enormous growth surge, with each model selling about twice as many units as the company produced in its first five years.
In the US, the Aquila 36 Sport was even competing with some of the world’s leading monohull yacht builders for sales in its size sector. The industry was watching as powercat sales rose year after year, with monohull yacht builders among those taking notice.
GROUPE BENETEAU’S MAJOR MOVE
At the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival, Bluegame announced it would be moving into the multihull market and the much-anticipated BGM75 is set to launch this year.
However, Prestige was the first of Europe’s leading luxury monohull motor yacht builders to move into multihulls, debuting its M48 at the Cannes show last year and showing it among an otherwise monohull-dominated Hall 6 at Boot Dusseldorf this January.
The builder says over 30 units have been ordered of the M48, which was designed by Italy’s Garroni Design, Prestige’s long-time collaborator, while French designer Philippe Briand handled naval architecture. Garroni also designed the M8 set to debut at this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival (September 12-17), with the 65ft model featuring hull design by Marc Lombard.
Prestige, renowned as a world leader in 40-60ft monohull motor yachts, is now one of four Groupe Beneteau brands producing multihulls.
Lagoon started in 1984 as a catamaran offshoot of Jeanneau and over the past two decades has established itself as the world’s most prolific builder of pleasure cats, topping 6,000 units in early 2021. Sister brand Excess was founded in 2019 with a focus on sportier, twin-helm sailing cats.
Four Winns TH36
Last September, Prestige’s M48 premiere at Cannes coincided with the low-key ‘prototype’ debut of Four Winns’ first twin-hull model, the TH36 designed by Garroni and Lombard, which made its official world premiere at April’s International Multihull Show in La Grande Motte and will also show at Cannes and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (October 25-29). These recent moves into multihulls show the boatbuilding giant’s vast confidence in the platform.
Rosalie Le Gall, Product Manager at Prestige, says: “The M-Line all stemmed from discussion within Groupe Beneteau about where we can go with motor yachts at Prestige and how to go beyond what we’re already doing. We analysed the trends and needs of the market and saw that people are expecting more and more space, and were less concerned with speed.
“The stabilisation systems needed for beamier monohulls are amazing but expensive, heavy and use a lot of power, while we also have a responsibility towards reducing fuel consumption. The conclusion was that the catamaran platform really answers all these needs. It even offers more than we expected.”
Prestige can draw on vast catamaran expertise within Groupe Beneteau, but as it approached the multihull market from the view of a monohull yacht builder, it started from a blank sheet of paper.
Erwin Bamps, Brand Director of Prestige, said the builder chose to create its own architecture as he believes the powercat market is not so evolved that it presents a standard set of norms and minimums required by potential clients.
“This was a very important step for the evolution of Prestige,” Bamps says. “However, this is not a consolidated market. Everyone has a different interpretation of what powercats should look like. If you go to five powercat manufacturers around the world, you find very different concepts.”
However, principals at Lagoon, whose powercat models comprise the Sixty 7 and Seventy 8, did advise Prestige to include a full-beam owner’s suite, stating that it was a key differentiator in the market.
Olivier Besson, founder and CEO of Asia Yachting, which represents Prestige in Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines, is expecting the first M48 in Asia to arrive in Hong Kong by the end of this year or early next year, with later hulls for Asia-Pacific destined for Japan and Australia.
“The positioning of the M48 is quite different in the sense that it’s a real Prestige, in the level of luxury of finish,” Besson says. “I think the innovation of the master cabin is really something quite special. I also believe the large swim platform that goes so high and so low, plus the big storage for toys, is very practical. I believe it’s a very interesting product.”
CGI of Prestige M8
Prestige will consolidate its own presence in the multihull sector with the M8, which again features exterior design and layouts by Camillo Garroni, while Lombard oversees naval architecture.
Le Gall says: “We haven’t raised the bridge deck height as much as we did on the M48, but we’ve raised the main-deck floor and overall height of the boat to make the saloon deck on one single level. We’ve also created some more space forward for the owner’s suite. That’s why it has much more space than competitors of this length, sail or motor cats.”
The first hull of the M8 is scheduled to depart for the US, where it could appear at the Fort Lauderdale show in late October. The second hull will be a special edition and will remain in Europe for the model’s world premiere at Cannes in September. It features a solar-panel system with a lithium battery bank designed to cover the yacht’s hotel load, with a highly efficient air-conditioning system among features designed to reduce energy consumption.
GULF CRAFT GROWS SILVERCATS
Meanwhile, Gulf Craft has steadily been developing its new SilverCat range, designed in-house and marking a return to catamarans for the UAE builder, which produced racing powercats in the 1980s. Today, it oversees four yacht brands: Silvercraft, Oryx, Nomad and Majesty, whose flagship 175 is the world’s largest composite production yacht.
Gulf Craft SilverCat 34 CC
Created within the builder’s Silvercraft brand of family cruisers, the SilverCat series kicked off with the 2020 launch of the enclosed SilverCat 34 Lux, built in the UAE builder’s Maldives production facility.
The SilverCat 34 Lux was Gulf Craft’s first speedboat equipped with solar panels to power all non-propulsion systems including air-conditioning, and the model is now offered in two other versions: HT with smaller wheelhouse and open-style CC (centre console).
The SilverCat 40 Lux debuted in 2021 and was followed by last year’s premiere of the 40 CC at the Dubai International Boat Show, while SilverCat’s flagship two-cabin 46 Lux premiered at the Dubai
show this March and is available with two 440hp inboard engines or four 400hp outboards.
Hulls and superstructures are made with a proprietary vacuum-infusion process, incorporate carbon fibre and even Kevlar, while the builder now also has a facility in Ajman (UAE) dedicated to the production of powercats.
Gulf Craft SilverCat 40 CC
Chairman Mohammed Alshaali, who co-founded the shipyard in 1982, says the time was right to introduce a pleasure cat series and has used each of the SilverCat 34, 40 and 46 models himself, including for fishing in the Maldives.
“We’ve found there is a trend and people like their advantages – stability, speed, space, everything – so we moved into the market with smaller models that are good for families and fishing,” says Alshaali, who says Gulf Craft will focus on sport cruisers and not move into flybridge catamarans.
“At the same time, we take care of the needs of clients in warm regions, so we offer air-conditioned interiors with a galley, cabins and so on. I love fishing and going to sea in catamarans. You feel the speed, yet it’s relaxing, and the economy is unbelievable, especially when you use diesel engines. SilverCat is still new, but we’re selling very well because I think the price is right compared to competitors.”
Gulf Craft SilverCat 40 Lux
Australian-owned ILIAD, which builds in China, hosted the debut of the 53S at this year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, while its other powercats include the 50 that launched the brand in 2019 and the 62.
For more information on ILIAD, the Thailand-built Cora Cat 48, France’s Leen Trimarans (50, 56, 72) and other brands represented by sister companies The Yacht Sales Co and Multihull Solutions, read PROFILE in Issue 71.
AQUILA POWERS FORWARD
Meanwhile, Aquila continues to grow from strength to strength, with company principals describing the MarineMax-Sino Eagle collaboration as the world’s No. 1 power catamaran manufacturer.
Aquila 42 Yacht
This year, Aquila debuted its 42 Yacht (click for Review) at the Miami International Boat Show and recently launched the 47 Molokai, which joins the 28 Molokai in the new Offshore series.
Featuring a design collaboration with French studio VPLP, the 42 Yacht is the fourth model in Aquila’s current line of flybridge motor yachts, which also includes the hugely popular 44 Yacht, 54 Yacht and flagship 70 Luxury (a hybrid version of the latter is in development).
“Aquila is extremely excited about the 42 Yacht, which offers great flexibility in terms of layout options, including two, three or four cabins,” says Yvan Eymieu, Aquila’s Asia-based International Sales and Distribution Manager.
“This versatility makes it an ideal choice for liveaboards, cruisers and the charter industry. The boat has experienced instant success in the USA and the first year of production is already sold out.”
Aquila 47 Molokai
The 42 Yacht is scheduled to make its European debut at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September and next year will have regional premieres in Dubai, Singapore and Australia, at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. Dealers in Asia include Simpson Marine and the brand has experienced significant success in Southeast Asia, with Thailand a particularly strong market.
Aquila recently announced KJM Marine as its Gulf dealer across UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. The company has secured orders for the Molokai 47 and is planning to showcase the flagship 70 Luxury at this year’s Abu Dhabi International Boat Show (November 16-19) followed by the Middle East debut of the 42 Yacht at the 2024 Dubai International Boat Show.