SEAWIND

words - Allan Whiting
The latest incarnation of the ubiquitous Seawind 1000 is the extended-hull XL. Could this be the quintessential cruising cat? Allan Whiting joined the Coleman family as they trialled their new boat

Sea change

Seawinds are familiar sights around the Australian coastline and, increasingly, overseas. The 1000 is by far Australia's most successful catamaran model and a significant export business winner. Enter the 1000XL.

You need to view the new XL beside a conventional 1000 to pick the difference. The principal changes are at the aft end of the hulls, where an 850mm extension has been built into each hull moulding. The idea sprang from handy aftermarket work by some North American Seawind owners who were looking for more speed when racing. Seawind in Australia lost little time in altering its mould shapes to incorporate longer hulls as an XL model.

According to Seawind's marketing and sales manager, Brent Vaughan, a cat racing veteran, the additional waterline length adds a potential knot to boat speed. The portside hull extension also houses a folding swim ladder.

The Seawind 1000 story has been one of continuous development since this multi-award winning boat was launched in 1994. Changes introduced when the XL version was released include forward opening coach house windows, a self-tacking jib, 2:1 main halyard purchase, single-line mainsail reefing and a boom cradle on the cabin roof.

HULL AND HARDWARE
The Seawind 1000XL is constructed from vinylester resin/foam laminate, with moulded non-slip deck surfaces. Beneath the gelcoat is a vinylester tie layer that is osmosis resistant; then come the outer and inner laminates, made from chopped strand and woven polyester, sandwiching polyurethane foam. The laminate specifications are approved by the NSW Maritime Authority to meet Australian Survey Standards and many Seawind 1000s are working in survey on charter in Australia and overseas.

The hulls are connected by five through-bolted aluminium beams, including one located under the mast step, and by an FRP deck and hardtop structure. The deck structure is stiffened by moulded seats and companionways.

The rigid mast assembly is built by Tempo Spars and consists of an aluminium section with double, swept-back and forward-projecting tri-star spreaders, stiffened by upper and lower diamond stays of 8mm 1x19 wire. The mast foot sits on a hinge pin, allowing forward lowering.

Masthead shrouds and a 7/8ths forestay of 10mm 1x19 wire hold the stick upright. The shrouds mount to external chainplates on the hulls and the forestay attaches to a forward beam fitting.

The boom mounts an outhaul, two one-line-system reefing lines and a large sail bag with lazy jacks. The fully-battened mainsail zips into the bag and is hoisted by a double-purchase headboard block. Batten tension can be adjusted at the luff.

The halyards are Spectra rope, led through mast-base turning blocks to Spinlock jammers. All sail control lines lead to the cockpit.

The new headsail design is self-tacking, with 2:1 sheet purchase, via a clew block. A jib sheet car runs on a deck track that has manually adjustable stops, for upwind and downwind sheet angle adjustment.

The 1000XL's mainsheet system is end-boom design, with 8:1 purchase blocks and a car that travels almost the full width of the aft structural beam. The sheet is well clear of the cockpit floor area, but car travel can conflict with targa-seat passengers' legs. When using the optional gas BBQ the mainsheet car is slid to either extremity of the traveller track.

There are two Harken ST40 winches - plenty for halyard/sheet duties, considering the main is a block system, the jib is self-tacking and there is an ample supply of rope clutches. With the halyards set, the winches are free for flying headsail or spinnaker sheeting.

There is an optional 'apex' triangular bowsprit that can mount a furling screacher, lightweight headsail. However, the sail isn't UV resistant like the furling jib, so it needs to be stowed below after use. The complete kit is a seven grand ask. The alternative downwind sail is an asymmetric spinnaker, tacked between blocks on both bows - a $3750 option, including a snuffer that makes for easy handling.

The integrated cockpit/saloon design creates a single space that's normally available only in much larger boats. Front windows that open with gas strut assistance solve the ventilation problem neatly.

The air space between the aft edge of hardtop and the targa frame can be roofed with zip-off canvas. If the weather turns nasty, the saloon can be closed in by canvas and clears. The targa frame mounts two 120W solar panels and can incorporate davits for a tender.

The solar panels recharge a bank of three 120amp/h deep cycle batteries.

The saloon has seating space for eight - 10 if the boat has the optional soft-top icebox seat - and the dinette converts to a king-size bed. Below deck is sleeping for eight people - four in each hull, in owner's and charter layouts.

OUT ON THE WATER
Nth Degree was brand new, delivered just in time to be the Coleman family's Xmas present. We joined them at Cronulla Wharf on Sydney's Port Hacking and spent a pleasant day sailing and swinging at anchor on the Seawind 1000XL.

As the Seawind picked us up from the wharf we noted the ease of manoeuvring, thanks to a Yamaha 9.9hp High Thrust outboard in each hull, on mounts separated by more than five metres. With throttles opened, one motor in forward and one in reverse the 1000XL spun easily in its own length.

As we motored through the channel, we noted how quiet the four-strokes were and how the boat could be steered accurately with only one motor running.

Once out of the channel we hoisted sail; an easy operation for a crew of two and simple enough for one if the optional autopilot is employed. The blade jib unfurled quickly and the main went up with little halyard effort, once the bag was unzipped.

The outboards sat under lift-up hatches, on spring-loaded raise/lower mounts. They lifted with little effort out of the water and into shrouded fairings.

In the light five to eight-knot morning breeze the Seawind made slow progress, so we found a shallow anchorage and checked out the boat's features while we waited for the sea breeze to kick in.

Stowing the sails was as easy as hoisting them, with no need to flake the main into its bag; the lazy jacks and the high-sided bag did the trick. The motors dropped into place, but we checked their security by lifting the hatches and pushing down on the top of each motor, just to be sure.

We anchored in two metres of water, paying out 10m of chain and clipping on the optional bridle. This bridle extended a few metres along the chain, below water level and stabilised the boat noticeably, while also reducing at-anchor noise if sleeping aboard.

The kids had a play, using the two stern stairways and the for'ard ladder. This ingenious idea makes it easy to climb on and off the for'ard deck and can be used for shore access if the boat is nosed up to a sandy beach. While the kids splashed around, we explored below decks.

INSIDE THE CAT
Nth Degree is an owner's layout boat, with a large aft bathroom and big bed in the port hull. Another for'ard bed can be optioned as an office module for liveaboard clients. The head has a holding tank that can be pumped out, but the outlet is above the waterline, so ocean travellers can drain it overboard.

The starboard hull had double berths at both ends, separated by a huge galley with full-height cupboards, plenty of bench space and a two-burner gas cooker and two-bowl sink. The cupboards and trim were made from American oak, the common area floors were finished in striped teak/holly and the fore and aft cabins were carpeted. Broad companionways led from both hulls to the bridge deck.

This boat had the optional zip-on full bimini cover, putting the cockpit in full shade. Both helm stations had compasses and seats, and the engine controls were at the starboard station.

A HOOT OFFSHORE
From our sheltered anchorage we could see white caps in the bay, so we went out for a play.

We've been out in choppy water on cats that didn't like a confused sea, but the Seawind 1000XL had a pleasant motion in short chop, even when we deliberately headed it into the waves or ran square on.

Upwind in a fluctuating 15 to 20-knot nor'easter the boat speed varied from 6.5 to around eight knots, which was quite acceptable for this class of boat. It wasn't pointing like the green Etchells that accompanied us for a while, but it was only three or four degrees worse off - and we were dry!

The helm had felt tight and heavy during our sub-eight-knot breeze sail, but with the wind over 10kts the Seawind came to life and the wheel action lightened considerably.

Seawind and UK Halsey Sails have done their homework with the new sail plan, because the 1000XL balanced perfectly on the wind, rounding up safely in the puffs and then falling off as the breeze eased.

Naturally, the Seawind came into its own with sheets eased to a tight reach and speed went up to 8 to 10kts. It held that speed range until squared away, at which point the little jib gave up and boat speed fell. If we'd had an asymmetric on board this would have been the time to hoist it.

During our three-hour play with the Seawind the boat moved easily, without hobby-horsing and people walked around without having to lurch for handholds. There's something appealing about the sit-flat nature of cruising cats.

The Seawind 1000XL is excellent value for money, offering proven world cruising ability in a package that's less than half the price of some imports. More power to our excellent local yard.


HIGHS

  • Quality fit and finish
  • Great value for money
  • Generous accommodation
  • Ample cockpit, saloon and deck space
  • Shaded saloon and cockpit
  • Excellent light entry and ventilation
  • Quiet progress under power
  • Ease of sail handling
  • Bow access ladder

LOWS

  • Sluggish performance in light air
  • Mainsail track impedes targa seat legroom

SEAWIND 1000XL
 
HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $351,000
Options fitted: Harbour Pack: midship deck cleats, wind indicator, engine meters, transom shower (cold), battery monitor, electric head, Raymarine Navionics XL9 , GPS chart display, ST600s autopilot and ST60 wind, Icom VHF with DSC, helm and targa seat cushions, cockpit icebox-seat, saltwater deckwash, dinghy davits, AM/FM radio/CD, LPG hot water and BBQ, bimini extension, batten cars, 10-person safety kit with extinguishers and EPIRB, and Profurl jib furler. Test boat also had the optional anchor bridle ($409). Other option packs are: Coastal Cruiser (Harbour Pack + $10,280), Live Aboard (Harbour Pack + $36,850) and Charter (Sail-away price + $54,555).
Priced from: $325,490 sail-away
 
GENERAL
Material: FRP foam sandwich hulls
Type: Catamaran
Length overall: 10.85m
Beam: 5.9m
Draft: 1.0m
Weight: 5500kg
 
CAPACITIES
Berths: Four cabins plus dinette bed
Fuel: 100lt
Water: 400lt
Holding tank: 90lt
 
SAILS
Mainsail: 41.9m² fully-battened (optional 51.9 to 54.4m²)
Headsail: 16.9m² furling, self-tacking jib
Screacher: 37.7m² furling, set flying
 
ENGINE
Make/model: 2 x Yamaha High Thrust
Type: Petrol four-stroke outboard
Rated HP: 9.9
 
SUPPLIED BY:
Seawind Catamarans,
25 York Place,
Russell Vale, NSW, 2517
Phone: (02) 4285 9985
Website: www.seawindcats.com

 

 

 

To comment on this article click here Published : Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. boatsales.com.au makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.

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