Herewith some notes following a fantastic test sail in 30 odd knots of wind in the Nautitech Open 40. This cat really is a gamechanger in the sense that it stands out from most other cruising cats in terms of performance and joy of sailing. I don't say things like that lightly, and I didn't think after many years of possibly "too much" sailing, including living aboard
for in total 7 years, I would be so surprised and enthusiastic about how well a boat sails
. I am embarassed to say it made me squeal in amazement when we first hit 18 knots. I cannot express enough how as a lifelong sailor, and having sailed many different multihulls (and rather a lot of monohulls too), either owning them or chartering for a month in the Carribean, or sailing with friends, that this cat is just seriously quick and fun to sail - things look the same looking forward when you are sailing, except the display reading over 12 knots virtually all the time, and significantly more than that lots of the time, but when you look backwards you see the wake running so fast, forming rooster tails I only see when I am on friends' fast powerboats. It is mesmerizing - you'll end up looking backwards more than where you are going. Which, at double digit speeds could be an issue.
The Marc Lombard design with its narrow hulls, stiff design and unusual hull
shape - which I am being told requires multiple moulds rather than a single
mould - and the sailplan create all this. And of course, this was an empty boat, with nearly empty water
and fuel tanks
, and no dinghy
on the back. I keep thinking of the possibilities this cat offers - getting places so much quicker; and whilst doing so, to have it not behave like a nearly out of control racing monohull
(which requires lots of experienced hands) or a very twitchy micromultihull which becomes jumpy and feels like a small car doing way too high a speed, but instead to my surprise, is benign in handling, even docile. In gusts over 35 knots, with two reefs
in the main, and the full selftacking jib
, she tacks well, and even jibes well without touching the mainsheet or jibsheets. Plus - no sail changes necessary between downwind at speed and upwind sailing. Something that my old pure racer Kelsall
(weighing very little and having 17 metres of mast) would not do - it required carrying more sail downwind, which if you subsequently changed course upwind, would suddenly be too much canvas
with heartstopping nerve-racking consequences. Not so the Nautitech Open 40, it does gently what you ask it to do, it never gives the feeling it will bite you. By the way - I had never heard much about the Nautitech cats, nor did I feel anything out of the ordinary when sailing the old Nautitechs. It's only the new 55 and the Open 40 which Marc Lombard has designed and which have the magic performance. And as I said, the word that keeps coming to my mind is - it's a gamechanger. Yes there are faster cats like the SIG45 or the Dazcat - but they are three times the price
- and don't have such comfortable, sensible accommodation.
Apart from the performance, the main difference in sailing the Open 40 is the double aft helm
positions. I have always had (half or entire width) flybridge positions on my cats, in the middle of the boat - and love them a) as you can see everything b) they're sociable, with a bench of minimum two (L380) or maximum 8 (L450) and love them, with the nicely angled backrest, facing forward, being able to scan the horizon and never having to move so you can really relax, get in the magic groove of the motion and enjoy. I don't like the aft steering
positions on the Open 40, because 2/3rds of your view is obstructed, and I find myself having to get up, and walk across to "the other side" often to see if I am not going towards a buoy or other sailboat, haven't had to do that since ... monohull
days. And to get to the other side, the walkway is narrow and there's likely to be someone else in the way. The steering
positions themselves are also one person only small spaces, not comfortable with upright seatbacks instead of some relaxed angle, turning sideways means your back rests against the vertical hull, not very comfortable either. The seat is a one person only seat, half designed for you standing. There is just enough space for someone to stand next to you, but it's so close it's a personal space invasion. You can half stand behind the helmsman but your legs will have the guardwires pushing into them. Also, the helm stations are so far aft, you need to be careful when walking from the deck
, stepping down to the helm station/cockpit otherwise you're over the stern in the water - this may feel better if there is a dinghy
in the davits
, but as a singlehandler I looked at it thinking you'd have to be careful especially at night (at anchor
I mean, there should be no need to go on deck
at night when sailing, all lines led aft and presuming you've reefed before dark).
wise is that this is a cat with one of the cleanest decks to work on I have seen - there is only one sheet coming back aft from the selftacking jib
; the mainsheet is the first completely safe mainsheet I have seen - with the traveller and the mainsheet blocks on the bimini
- such that no one in the cockpit
can be hit by the mainsheet in a gybe or otherwise by accident
. The handrail inside the bimini
is goodlooking, clever and works well. The deck is also clearer than most comparable boats, and much safer because of another intelligent design feature: the anchor winch
and chain are stored as far towards the centre of the boat as possible, and the chain and bridle
are led under the deck and nets forward - instead of as most other boats, where the chain is laid in a channel - and when it's let go and jumps up and down, it could hurt people standing on or around it. Marc Lombard designed it to keep weight away from the ends of the boat to not adversely affect the performance.
Although I don't like the stern steering positions, the winches located there are ergonomically superb - they are at waist height, and allow you to stand upright and with your feet wide apart to work the winch
without bending down or being uncomfortable. Downside is it's hard to see the sails
, and for instance when I let the furling
jib out, I without thinking keep an eye on the drum to check it is not fouling, and I notice I couldn't see that, or the sail setting. From inside the hatches in the saloon
are in the right place to see the mainsail
by the way. Again I really wish they would have made a centre of the boat elevated position with one wheel
. Having engine
controls only on starboard, also is in the back of my mind, as when you are manoeuvring in close quarters or marinas
, you have to look through clears, two sets of perspex, and probably through some people standing in the way, to see what's going on. Another thing I missed was the "in the hull" step near the shrouds other high cats have - with the Open 40 which is nice and high (great for good behaviour at sea and room inside that doesn't cost anything in marina's as they don't charge for height yet - don't forget the Open 40 is a lot higher than most mono's) you have to walk all the way aft, and use the sugar scoop stern to hop on the pontoon.
I really like how they've nearly made the spacious cockpit
seating area "inside" area. I would strongly prefer though, even in hot climates, to not have the fabric
"clears" as I don't like living in tents - so I would modify this somehow for northern climates so it can be a sociable and make external space "inside" - most cats are of course made for chartering and sailing in the sun, but otherwise having two seating areas doesn't make much sense.
is well put together, I don't like the dark gray as it gets very dark but prefer the light oak but that is a personal matter. Hulls are noticeably narrower than competitors but don't forget this is a small tradeoff to have that unique and significant speed advantage. What I really liked and what was different from other comparables, is that from the middle of the hulls, to both right AND left (facing forward) there are big, deep, wonderful cupboards - to the right reaching under the saloon
seating (so you don't have to "up the cushions" to get to something which is always a bore and not ergonomic) and to the left they've sensibly used the space that is forward of the long bathroom with its separate shower
cell, to create a generous vertical cupboard with shelves - again like those on the other side a good 60 centimetres deep, very handy. Inside the double cabins, another feature which struck me was the big storage
space right as you walk in, under the bed
. It just had a fabric
flap instead of a door, but that worked very well in practice, keeps floor space clean as that space is big enough and deep enough to shove a couple of big sailing bags into, and again no annoying lifting of the cushion, and clever weight saving. The aft cabins don't have a hatch
overhead, different to most other cats I've sailed. In the Carribean or Mediterranean
this will mean it will get very hot ... there are two portholes that both can open to create some airflow but they're small and don't catch the wind as a forward facing hatch
would. Good rollerblinds for the hatches; bad curtains as they let light through, fiddly job to get done if you've bought a boat, get them all out and to a professional with a sewing machine
, expensive. Why not get it right and have blackout blinds straightaway. Also I didn't see slat bottoms under the not very thick cushions
- it may be an option but again retrofitting that is a time and money
hassle. Slat bottoms are simply a must for ventilation under a matrass that gets wet by sleeping on it. Fabric on cushions
inside and out good quality. The bridgedeck area has the small seating area - a bit small for my taste, again the holy grail would be to somehow cleverly join inside and outside with the massive seating area - again I keep thinking of four or five slender vertical sliding perspex doors - to create a big internal socialising space. The one big gripe I have which however is solveable, but at a significant cost to do right is: not enough galley storage
space above worktop level. Under worktop level there is okish storage space - and they've already woken up to the fact they need to provide two sinks instead of the current single
sink, and the two hob cooker will be replaced with a three hob - don't forget this is an 8-10 person boat ... it must have a galley
to be able to cope with that. But it still needs lots of cupboards above worktop level and there are quite a few corners and spaces which will not obstruct the view/large window areas (such as in the middle, where behind the mast
there is a wide reinforced area without window). Yes, as an option you can get a little fashionable looking unit for a couple of cups but it's way, way too small. In most cats I owned, chartered and sailed, big or small, you could always remain upright and reach in front of you to get plates and cups out, without having to bend down so much as if you're in a cramped monohull. This can be done - come on Nautitech just do it, put big cupboards in the middle and in the corners, use that space that is there.
One thing I thought myself and heard a prospective owner say as well - which goes for all cats, not just Nautitech - everyone is always thinking of where to put a decent size flatscreen. A bracket that's reversible so it can present the screen
to the inside area, as well as to the outside area would be great. And please don't make it too high, but at the level of the eyes when seated.
bays - in the right place, accessible from outside, lots of space. I would prefer the 20hp version but they don't do folding propellors with that, forcing you to get the 30's - which don't make a big difference but weigh more and drink more. But I usually run only one engine, saves engine hours and only loses half a knot
or so - and makes sleeping comfortable for crew that is in the "engine off" hull. The 30hps performed well against a steep chop of 3 ft and winds of about 35 knots, giving no less than 9 knots with two running at a sedate 2,500 rpm
. The narrow hulls also made for a relatively smooth motion - probably one of the best motions motoring straight into serious chop.
My conclusion is - the speed element is a huge, to my knowledge unrivalled overriding factor. It has kept me thinking and being amazed and trying to think through the consequences for days now - destinations really become different, and I keep having the very trendy overused American word "gamechanger" in my head
. It is just that. But boy do I not like those aft steering positions ... wish it had a half-flybridge. I still need to do the homework on the numbers to see what it's relative value proposition is. On that front, I have a strong feeling as a finance professional that when this seriously big thing about it's truly amazing performance leaks
out, the resale values should be good. This is not another boring mediocre performing cat..... if the yard only listened to what people want, and design it with a flybridge - not all that hard guys ! - and plonked a bunch of clever above worktop level cupboards in the galley, and offer a "hard" cockpit enclosure option with modern slim sliding doors at the end, negating the cheap
and fragile "living in tents" feeling, it would start to score 10 out of 10 - a score I have never yet awarded to a boat.
Here again the video accompanying this informal test report:
Some responses: Barnakiel - why no boards - the designer
wrote an interesting and convincing article on that, let me summarize it here. To have boards - would mean an extra 400 kgs of weight; would add danger
of tripping over; would add noise
inside and design problems inside; you need to operate them; plus first and foremost they don't improve performance much, or even pointing. The N55 Marc Lombard design (his first, before the N Open 40) outperformed others...
Others remarking on the absence of wind instrument info - it worked at the beginning, but then stopped working. The boat had just returned from the London boatshow and the rigging
looked a bit slack to me and Paul Heys agreed with that. Looking up during the sailing, there was quite a bit of sinusoid shaking at the top there, I think it must have disconnected a wire. The one time you really want wind info ... it ain't there. In UK it's called Sods law :-)