It’s safe to say that there has never been a performance-oriented cruising boat quite like the HH44. In Cruising World’s annual Boat of the Year contest, the magazine’s judging panel became quite familiar with the brand’s previous models: the HH66, HH55 and HH50, all of which acquitted themselves extremely well. And the legendary multihull design team of Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin have a long list of cutting-edge accomplishments across the offshore-catamaran spectrum, prior to and including their association with HH Catamarans. Melvin & Morrelli are the real deal, with an extensive résumé of bluewater success to prove it.
But as the latest judging panel learned in sea trials on Chesapeake Bay following this past October’s US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, the HH44 is literally a different breed of cat, what the company rightfully refers to as HH’s “second generation” of twin-hulled yachts, one “that really kind of marks a shift toward a more environmentally friendly electric future.”
That shift to a hybrid approach to propulsion, with new advances in charging systems and battery maintenance, is a stunning story. But first things first. Like its siblings in the HH quiver, the new 44-footer first and foremost offers a joyful, unparalleled sailing experience. Despite the fact that the HH44 was fresh out of the box, only a couple of days removed from arriving on a freighter, under near-ideal conditions of 12- to 16-knots of steady breeze, the sprightly cat trucked to weather while flirting at 10 knots of boatspeed. With its deep daggerboard deployed, it tracked like a freight train with the lightest of helms. If you enjoy sailing, the HH44 will light you up.
And yet, that’s only half the narrative, and for some cruising sailors, it won’t even be the most alluring part.
That’s because the HH44 employed, first of all, a construction laminate that the Cruising World judges described as “the most sophisticated hull/deck structure in the entire fleet: epoxy-infused E-glass and carbon fiber in high-load areas over a thermoformed foam core. The thermoformed foam eliminates kerfs, and the extra resin weight in them.” Translation? A light, rigid, bulletproof layout that makes for an impressive combination of strength and speed in one beautifully rendered package.
But then, as the judges noted, HH doubled down on the technology that defines this boat: “It also had the most sophisticated house systems and propulsion, starting with their ‘parallel hybrid’ drive, a system unlike any we’ve inspected on any boat before this one.” Electric motors are built onto the back of the twin Beta Marine diesels with a coupling to the transmission. The electric motors can effectively be used as a pair of 5 kW generators to charge the battery bank. Adding regeneration while sailing provides up to 2 kW per shaft at 10 knots of boatspeed. An additional 43 kWh of energy are produced by the solar array on the cabin top.
What this translates to is silent operation under power in full electric mode, augmented by hydro-generation to top off batteries while sailing, with the good old-fashioned reliability of those diesel engines as a backup. It’s a boat that checks all the boxes.
To sum up, the HH44 is a fully found engineering marvel. It will take you wherever you wish to go—quickly, quietly and efficiently.
For more information on the HH44, visit www.hhcatamarans.com/hh44.