BlackCat: The Catamaran Concept

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
The new superyacht design that's certainly not what you expect

Mitch Booth knows his way around a catamaran; the Australian sailor won his first championship at the age of seven and has since become an Olympic and Americas Cup veteran, lauded on multiple occasions as yachtsman of the year. If anyone knows what one of those multi-hulled racing boats can do, it’s him.

But while we’ve grown accustomed to seeing catamarans racing into the distance, we’ve never really thought what else they could do. After all, they’re built for speed, for uncompromising performance – not exactly somewhere you’d choose to relax. That is, unless your catamaran is specifically designed for just that.

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Booth’s overseen the construction of many a multi-hull in his 40 years on the water, always with that racing-specific focus that catamarans are known for. Now however, he’s taken a different slant on things, teaming up with Malcolm McKeon Yacht Design to create BlackCat.

The BlackCat concept is certainly eye-catching. When superyachts are getting ever bigger, it’s refreshing to see a completely different approach, especially one so far removed from the usual sleek hulls we’re used to.

We should get out of the way that yes, this is still a concept at present; each BlackCat is built on a custom basis so they don’t exactly have them lying around. Building a 50-metre yacht just to show off is a little extravagant for a new builder.

But from what we’ve seen so far, things look promising. The initial designs for their first build – the aforementioned 50-metre, carbon fibre ‘supercar’ are impressive. A huge, open main deck stretches across with a glass canopy, far wider than any traditional yacht of this length would allow. The layout is built for flexibility – necessary given that the entire build is down to owner specifications.

To compliment the main deck, two waterline platforms can be folded down into place when the yacht’s at anchor, adding a little more space to an already broad lounging area. They also let you get close to the water without having to lower a ladder; no risk of ‘Adrift’ style problems here.

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If there’s one downside, it’s that there’s far less interior space. There may be two hulls, but neither is particularly large compared to traditional constructions. Not that they’re particularly lacking; there’s still more than enough living space for a few guests, especially given that a catamaran can get by with far less crew. But if you’re expecting plush palatial living spaces and sweeping staircases, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Then again, if you plan on cruising around the Caribbean, you’d probably want to extra deck space over staying inside, especially since the catamaran has plenty of other benefits in that kind of environment.

First off is the shallow draft. These yachts are made for skimming the water at high speed, so it makes sense that they can manage waters that traditional hulls couldn’t contemplate, allowing a far greater number of potential harbours. It makes navigating groups of islands all the easier on the captain and lets you get closer without needing to resort to tenders.

A catamaran could also be a blessing on anyone whose stomach isn’t built for rocking and rolling out on the open water. Being as broad as it is, this kind of yacht is far more stable in the water and, even if you’re a veteran sailor, it makes a good night’s sleep all the more likely. This comfort extends to going at high speeds as well, with a heel angle of just 4 degrees compared to the usual 24.

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As for those speeds… well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when let loose this design has a fantastic potential. At the moment, it has an estimated cruising speed of between 25 and 30 knots. Even at the lower estimate that’s a good turn of speed and if you decide to opt for a more streamlined, sporty design those 30 knots will be exhilarating.

If someone does bite the bullet and signs this first design, it will be the world’s largest single-structure carbon fibre yacht. It’ll certainly be a risk; there’s not really anything else quite like it, so we can’t draw direct comparisons and there’s certainly no chance of a test run. Yet from what we’ve seen it could well be worth the risk.

More importantly however is what this could mean for superyachts in general. They’ve been getting steadily bigger year on year – though nothing’s come close to Azzam just yet – but as appetites are changing owners are looking for more unique touches - more innovative ways to achieve what they want. BlackCat’s concept might be exactly what they’re looking for.

To make an enquiry, CLICK HERE.

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