Catamaran Joy Ride | Cruising World

Catamaran Joy Ride

Barreling up the coast, I got a trick at the wheel for a few minutes, and it was pure delight: butter smooth at 14 knots over the ground in about 16 knots of wind.

HH Catamarans

Speed and comfort aren’t mutually exclusive; there are touches of the HH66.

HH Catamarans

Performance and speed? Comfort and luxury? I fell firmly into the lap of both ways of thinking last winter when I hitched rides on a couple of the multi­hull flagships on their way to and from Strictly Sail Miami. Talk about a fantasy-sports experience. The Lagoon Seventy 7 and the HH66, both $4 million-and-change behemoths, push their respective design concepts to their logical extremes. In other words, they’re both pretty amazing vessels, each in their own way.

Let’s begin with life in the cushy lane. In Lagoon’s video introducing its largest catamaran to date, a dapper gent strolls barefoot to the sea, climbs into his single-seat seaplane and soars off to the yacht, where he’s welcomed by a stunning beauty. With the plane safely stored on the hydraulic swim platform aft — yes, it’s that big — the perfect couple stroll to the bow to watch the sunset and then retire to the aft cockpit for champagne and, as the French would say, je ne sais quoi.

I did a little walking, too, on my way to the Seventy 7, only it was along a busy Florida street and then the length of the dock at Coconut Grove Marina. It was pretty easy to spot the boat; its 120-foot-tall mast towered over anything else in the area.

Lagoon builds some fine-looking cats, but for the Seventy 7, designers VPLP (naval architects), Nauta Design (interior) and Patrick le Quément (exterior) raised the bar considerably. The sense of openness is overwhelming standing in the cockpit and gazing through the saloon, past the glass door that opens onto the foredeck and then across the expanse between the cabin house and bowsprit. Inside, light oak woodwork and shaded upholstery make the most of the light that pours in through large vertical windows that provide 360-degree visibility.

There are many places to gather: a formal dining table, couches and lounges. Overhead, there’s the flybridge, where guests can kick back on yet more comfortable couches and watch the actual sailing that takes place forward, where twin carbon wheels, sail control lines and redundant engine controls are located.

And then there’s the “private beach” in the owners cabin, located forward in the starboard hull. In addition to elegant accommodations, a large panel in the hull folds out to make a sun deck, dock and swim platform.

A bow thruster tamed the docking maneuvers, and twin 230-horsepower engines provided all the nimbleness we needed for a short daysail on Biscayne Bay. In about 15 knots of breeze, the Seventy 7 comfortably sailed at 9 knots. The crew who’d been with her since her launch in France said they saw the speedo pushed into the teens in the Med and crossing the Atlantic.

But really, if you were in a hurry, I’d recommend taking a look at the HH66, because sailing on the edge is what that boat is all about.

Designed by Morrelli & Melvin (creators of the early Gunboats) and built by Hudson and Hakes in China (builders of the same), the HH66 is a resin-infused, carbon-fiber-and-foam rocket ship.

Sure, the cruising necessities of fridge, freezer, dishwasher and ice maker are all included, but the hulls are narrow, and in the four-cabin, four-head layout I visited, the approach to furniture was minimalistic. While the Seventy 7’s displacement-length ratio of 138 allowed for an extravagance of luxury, the 66’s D/L of 61 promised pure speed. Hulls one and two both were built with sophisticated load sensors in the rig and an automated dump technology for the main for when things get too squirrelly — something that happens quickly when a hull pops out of the water in about 15 to 16 knots of breeze. I hopped aboard hull three for a too-short delivery from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. The owner of this boat opted to keep things simple, so rather than automation, one of the crew stood with mainsheet in hand the entire way, ready to slow things down in a hurry, if need be.

Barreling up the coast, I got a trick at the wheel for a few minutes, and it was pure delight: butter smooth at 14 knots over the ground in about 16 knots of wind. Captain and crew promised that a little farther off the breeze and with a bit more sail up, the HH66 would easily beat the true wind speed, riding a single hull.

It was an excellent little adventure.

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