Don Wigston of Windcraft Multihulls visits the La Grande Motte International Multihull Show. Read below to see his boat show feedback…
After all I’d read about the new Seawind 1600 catamaran I was itching to see one close up. So when I learned that it would be on display in the south of France at the International Boat Show in La Grande Motte, it did not take long to make up my mind. Air France transport workers strike notwithstanding, which gave me a forced layover day in Paris, never a bad thing, I made it to La Grand Motte via Montpellier on the second day of the show. Arriving just in time to meet up with some US clients who had expressed interest in seeing the 1600. Needless to say they were very impressed—as was I.
If there is a multihull capital of the world it would be La Grande Motte. Never in my life have I seen so many cruising cats on one place. The town faces a huge marina next to a public beach, and I swear 90% of the one thousand or so boats in it were catamarans. Outremer and Gunboat both have factories there. But the area of the marina set aside for the boat show itself was amazing—a visual feast for any multihull enthusiast. From the Dragonfly 28 trimaran, up to luxury 70 footers, they were all there. Talk about the kid in the candy store…..But I was not there to just wander around the other boats I was there to learn as much as possible about the Seawind 1600.
The team from Seawind including myself and the boat’s owners Andrew and Nhi, were kept busy every day showing people through the boat. At times it was challenging—the names of boat parts in French often bore no resemblance to their English equivalents—but somehow with a mix of French, English and hand signals we were able to convey the message. The Seawind held its own amongst the best of the best on display. People loved the superb visibility from the cockpit, not only the clear view forward but also of the sides of the boat—important when docking. The dual helm stations, each with comfortable seating for two, scored a lot of points, as did the twin daggerboards cleverly hidden below the deck. Her teak decks (actually synthetic flexiteek) provided an aura of luxury. The 1600 looks like a real yacht but her sleek lines and low profile show immediately that she is designed for serious long distance sailing not just impressing friends or clients tied up in a marina. Many of the other cats in this size range at the show gave the impression of being over-the-top luxurious and so expensive looking that their owners might not ever want to actually get them wet or risk breaking something.
After the show ended I stayed on to go sailing on the 1600. With about 12 people on board including 3 or more representatives from several European sailing magazines who were busy photographing and measuring things while jotting down data from the wind and knot meters, we headed out of the marina into a light wind. As with other Seawind models light air will not stop the 1600 from sailing well and we tacked back and forth easily through about 90 degrees. Which is excellent for such a large boat—with 12 people and a washer and drier on board! Andrew was itching to roll out the Code Zero and with that large headsail we saw speeds up to about 9 or so knots. Not too bad for less than 10 knots of wind. After some testing of speeds under engine power only, we headed back to the marina where Andrew made berthing this large cat between a set of menacing looking pilings look like a piece of cake. Twin engines on a wide cat like this makes for great maneuverability.
In summary the Seawind 1600 continues Seawind’s tradition (read more about Seawinds design philosophy HERE) of building strong, safe, comfortable, good performing, ocean going catamarans for serious blue water sailors, but with a touch of luxury. And that is exactly what third time Seawind owners Andrew and Nhi wanted and is exactly what they got. After cruising extensively in the Mediterranean Andrew and Nhi will sail their Seawind 1600 back to their home in Australia.