A SUCCESS STORY IN PHUKET, THAILAND
With fantastic weather Phuket is a great place to live; more so if you are into sailing with some of the best cruising grounds in the world plus a good sprinkle of regattas throughout the year.
Asia Catamarans kicked off in Phuket, Thailand in late 2012 when Australian Alan Carwardine, who was already living in Phuket, completed his employment with the UK based company Lewmar as the Asian area manager and joined forces with Swiss-born Roger Diggelmann who had been running his own boatyard, Composite Yacht Constructions for 12 years in Phuket.
Alan is the designer behind Stealth designed catamarans as well as the many super fast Stealth Sports boats (monohulls) in Australia.
To kick start the new company Alan set about designing a new range of Stealth cats with more modern looks and fine tuning of the many areas that make for a good, user-friendly and particularly fast cruising cat. The new range incorporates the important original concept of little sun ingress and maximum air-flow for the tropic conditions.
Building Techniques and Materials.
A lot of thought went into how to build the cats in an efficient way using the existing 15 Thai workers employed at the yard and without spending a fortune on moulds.
The concept was not to try and take over the world but to build semi-production, semi/custom boats, up to 3 a year, to maintain an enjoyable lifestyle which was the real reason both Alan and Roger were in Phuket in the first place. (it’s always good to keep in mind what life is all about!)
Moulds were made for all curved panels including the large cabin and cockpit roof structure and an all new hull and deck mould. All flat panels are made on the large glass vacuum table.
The techniques used result in light and strong epoxy, foam cored structures with very little fairing needed.
This then made it possible to build the Stealth cats from 11.8 metres to 14 metres using the same moulds; a bit tricky with some of the larger designs but still a reasonably efficient and fast building technique.
Most internationally recognised building products are available in Thailand to build these lightweight cats and what is not, is imported from Australia, the US and China with little fuss.
The complete range of cats, including the powercats, is built using approximately 20% carbon. Asia Catamarans has concentrated on how to utilize this great but still expensive product in the needed areas only instead of the areas where, although still beneficial, it is more often used as a marketing ploy.
The materials and techniques used has enabled Alan and Roger to build very affordable cats that are stiff and strong but with weights way lower than the competition.
The OMR sailing weights of the following Stealth designs are truly staggering
Stealth 11.8 = 2,850 kgs
Stealth 13 = 3,500 kgs
Stealth 13P = 3,100kgs
Stealth 14GT = 4,300kgs
Stealth Cats launched to date.
There are now 5 sailing cats and 1 power cat on the water. These range from the very fast semi race/semi cruising Stealth 11.8’s to a fully fledged 13 metre charter cat with all the bells and whistles; plus a new 45ft power cat ‘Rendezvous’ which was launched a few months ago and already working well to its design brief in the local charter market.
Rendezvous is very unique in that it can carry 23 people in large open spaces and cruise at 15 knots using 1.8 litres/nm. With a top speed of 20 knots the boat can really get to the ‘not too close’ islands with little fuss and very little fuel. Powered by 2 x 60hp Suzuki outboards only, the cat was cost effective to build with the only complication being a water maker. Solar panels and the small outboard alternators run the complete electrical demand comfortably.
To achieve such fuel economy a lot of effort went into reducing windage and reducing weight. With empty tanks Rendezvous weighs 3.6 ton.
Orders in Place
By the time this magazine gets to your lounge room a new 14 metre Stealth sailing cat will have been launched. The customer and his partner wish to spend 3 years sailing the world doing as many races/regattas along the way as possible. The cat therefore has Cat 1 Offshore safety equipment, a full set of cruising sails and a full set of carbon racing sails.
Rumoured to be venturing ‘down under’ to line up against the Aussie competition, keep an eye out for a cat called ‘WOW’.
Asia Catamarans is also halfway thru the build of a 13 metre live-aboard sailing cat to be based in Langkawi. Ordered by another Aussie, the boat will mainly be used as a home; do some Asian area cruising but still do the more low keyed local regattas such as the Bay Regatta (Feb/March) and the Langkawi regatta (January).
2 x Stealth 13P’s have also been ordered. This new design is a follow on from the very successful Stealth 11.8 cats such as Hurricane and Java both achieving excellent OMR results. The 13P (‘P’ for performance) will have the same sail area but a metre taller rig, longer, slender hulls and carry a lower OMR than the Stealth 11.8’s?? No doubt it will be a weapon on the race track.
One of the 13P’s will be based in Phuket, the other after spending 12 months cruising and racing in the local Phuket waters, will be sailed to Ballina, NSW as her home base. Another stealth to watch out for in the SE QLD regattas in the future.
A Stealth 11.8 is also on order to be based in Krabi on the east side of Phang Na Bay.
To date the last 3 out of 4 King’s Cup regattas have been won by a Stealth cat with the very recent 2014 regatta won by Hurricane with a perfect score of 10 out of 10. Java, her sister-ship, finished 2nd with the all new and all carbon trimaran ‘3 itch’ from Langkawi, finishing a commendable 3rd.
Hurricane also won the recent Raja Muda regatta based in Penang/Langkawi and the midyear Cape Panwa Hotel International Race Week. She came second behind Java in the midyear Multihull Regatta and again 2nd by 1 point in the Febuary Bay Regatta.
The original Stealth 12 ‘Cut Snake’ is still doing well on the Australian race course winning the 2013 Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race and the Stealth 12.6 ‘Sidewinder’ now based in Darwin won the Darwin to Ambon Race last year.
The Stealth designs have been dominating the Asian regattas in recent years and there seems no reason why this will not continue into the future with more Stealths and new Stealth designs on the race course.
There has been a lot of focus on electrical propulsion recently which due to gains in technology is no doubt slowly becoming more viable.
Alan has been doing some design work for a Stealth 12 metre powercat with a roof covered in solar panels (close to 4KW); a 6 or 8 KW generator down below; and 2 x 10KW electric motors mounted on short, retractable rudders.
All the research is showing the cat will do 8 knots for 5 hours not needing the generator and 16 knots for over 2 hours not needing the generator. Of course when using the generator there are no limits on available electrical power but when cruising these waters it is rare to be motoring for 5 hours a day anyway. The thought of doing so with no engine noise has great appeal not to mention the benefit to the environment. These figures only relate to clear sunny days of course.
To achieve this performance the cat again will be built light, predicted to be under 3 tons and an even bigger effort will go into reducing windage.
There are certain sponsors interested and a few customers keen on this new green design concept but no doubt there will be some hesitation; it being such a futuristic idea.
New ideas and designs, new techniques and new materials continue to become available to all boat designers and builders. This ideology is the way forward for any business leaving little room for complacency; a key to the success of Asia Catamarans.