NauticExpo e-Magazine - #19 - Multihulls - NauticExpo e-Magazine
March 26, 2018

Your Monthly Dose of Nautical and Maritime Innovation


The Cats Are Coming!

The Cruising Trimaran has the Wind in its Sails

Easy Rider: the Gran Turismo 46

The Online Boating and Maritime Exhibition

Multihulls on the Rise!

Dear readers,


One month before the famous International Multihull Boat Show in the south of France, we explore the rise of this type of boat. After spending 30 years in the shade, catamarans are finally coming out to shine. The most obvious sign of this development is the fact that several leading monohull producers now have their own line of catamarans.

But cats are not the only game in town. We interviewed the founder of Neel Trimarans, one of the only large cruising trimarans on the market, and business is booming for them too.

In this issue, you’ll read about the Beneteau Gran Turismo 46 that we tested for you. We also attended the Dubai International Boat Show to give you a taste of the latest trends in the boating industry in this part of the world. Enjoy!


Celia Sampol, Editor-in-Chief

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The most obvious sign of this development is the fact that several leading monohull producers now have their own line of catamarans.
SERENITY Catamaran (Courtesy of Lagoon)

Everyone can see the advantages of a large, stable platform over a smaller heeling one. Still, outside of tropic anchorages, catamarans have spent 30 years in the shade. Now they’re finally coming out to shine.   If you have been sailing for a few years, you probably know the almost religious zeal with which sailors...

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The advantage of the trimaran is that 80% of the boat’s weight is perfectly centered in the middle of the craft.
The Neel 45 (Courtesy of Neel Trimarans)

With one of the only large cruising trimarans on the market, for the French company Neel Trimarans business is booming. The founder, Eric Bruneel, tells us about the advantages of a trimaran over a catamaran. The company intends to launch its new model at the International Multihull Boat Show in April.


NauticExpo e-magazine: How would you explain this success?

Eric Bruneel: We successfully identified a niche group of customers who have been won over by multihull sailing but who are also attached to pleasant boat performance that meets their standards. They want boats that sail well upwind, handle well on the open sea and have a good level of speed. A multihull isn’t made for moving slowly, it’s meant to have a faster cruising speed than a monohull. The fact that catamarans are slower and of a worse nautical quality than trimarans gives us an undeniable advantage.

NE e-mag: Why does the trimaran have better nautical quality than the catamaran?

Eric Bruneel: The main reason is weight centering. In a catamaran, the weight is shared at 50% for each hull, which completely spreads it out and makes it difficult for the boat to handle well. The advantage of the trimaran is that 80% of the boat’s weight is perfectly centered in the middle of the craft. This explains both why it handles better at sea, with less pitching and rolling, and also why it sails much better on rough water. This is a question of comfort.

he Neel 51, just voted “European Yacht of the Year.” (Courtesy of Neel Trimarans)

Then, in terms of speed, trimarans have always been faster than catamarans. The rigging is perfectly situated on the central hull, which makes for a more powerful craft that sails better. The boat also has three quarters less wet surface than a catamaran, which saves as much surface friction.

NE e-mag: How do you explain that there are so many catamarans then?

Eric Bruneel: That depends what we’re talking about. For races, trimarans have been much more developed than catamarans for quite a while now simply because a catamaran doesn’t stand a chance against a trimaran.

“Basically, the catamaran is missing a hull!”

However, for cruising, until we arrived on the market the only trimarans that existed were small and only had difficult-to-access living space in the central hull. These boats were not hospitable enough to attract a clientele looking for a comfortable cruiser. That’s why the market didn’t take off, especially as catamarans offered much larger, pleasant living spaces.

So everything began when we understood how to fit out a trimaran so it would be as, or even more, comfortable than a catamaran while keeping the nautical characteristics of a trimaran. This is when the concept became really interesting and superior to other boats available on the market. This was in 2010.


The Neel 45 Evolution (Courtesy of Neel Trimarans)

NE e-mag: Can you describe your trimarans?

Eric Bruneel: The fact that we have three hulls plus the platform gives us a good amount of space. The owner’s cabin, saloon, cockpit and galley are located on the main deck. All of the living space is on one level, which our customers really appreciate as they don’t have to go up and down stairs on the boat.

“The fact that we have three hulls plus the platform gives us a good amount of space.”

The central hull houses other cabins or toilets for guests. This is also where the very large technical compartment is located, where all of the machinery is including electric generators, heating and the desalinator. It’s an undeniable advantage to have a real technical compartment in which customers can easily maintain their material and verify, or later even add to, their equipment.

Catamarans don’t have a technical compartment, material is dispersed wherever there’s space—often electric generators are under one bed, the desalinator is under another and the heating is somewhere in the back. Basically, the catamaran is missing a hull!

Finally, we also convert the floaters, which means there’s that much more space for other cabins.

NE e-mag: Is the boat heavier than a catamaran then?

Eric Bruneel: No as in terms of equipment it’s the same for all cruising boats. As for the third hull, it doesn’t really add weight as while the central hull is the same width as that of a catamaran, the two floaters are a lot thinner, smaller and less voluminous.



NE e-mag: Do you foresee one day installing foils?

Eric Bruneel: We could install some, but there wouldn’t really be much point as foils work well for ultralight boats. And ultralight means no bathroom, no galley etc.

NE e-mag: Who is your clientele and who are your competitors?

Eric Bruneel:  All of our boats belong to private owners. Some of them rent out their boats for part of the year. Our competitors are all cruising yachts. For the same budget, our customers might be tempted to buy a very nice monohull, a catamaran, or even a motorized troller. Our boats cost from 500,000 to 2 million euros.

NE e-mag: What are your projects for the future?

Eric Bruneel: We are going to announce our new trimaran model at the boat show. We are also going to present the new “Evolution” versions of Neel 45 and Neel 65. As for Neel 51, just voted “European Yacht of the Year,” she’ll continue to pursue her career.


Read more about cruising trimarans on NauticExpo website.

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  • DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S studio shot (Courtesy of DeepFlight)


    The DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S is the world’s first composite personal submarine to be built and tested to Lloyd’s Register rules. It has been designed on aircraft lines to emulate flight underwater.


    US-based DeepFlight was founded in 1996 by renowned subsea engineer Graham Hawkes and Karen Hawkes to develop innovative underwater vehicles. Graham Hawkes is responsible for many manned submersibles and over 300 remote underwater vehicles. Before founding DeepFlight, he co-founded Deep Ocean Engineering with Dr. Sylvia Earle.

    DeepFlight Super Falcon (Court. of Deepflight)

    From the beginning, DeepFlight’s guiding principle was to transition to underwater flight. “If you think of conventional submarines as hot air balloons that get heavy to sink in the water, then think of the Super Falcon 3S as a fixed-wing aircraft,” explained Karen Hawkes in an interview with NauticExpo e-magazine.

    “Instead of moving up and down and side to side in the water column, our submarines access the three-dimensional space of the oceans—just like an aircraft moves through the skies. There’s nothing more exciting than flying through the water, alongside dolphins, whales and other marine mammals. Plus, our acrylic domes provide almost 360-degree viewing.”

    Composite materials are used to construct the Super Falcon 3S, which called for flexibility from Lloyd’s Register (LR) when it came to classing the submarine. “Survey of component parts was undertaken in both the UK and the USA, alongside auditing of fabrication facilities,” an LR spokesman told us. “Subsequent to final assembly, both prototype and production hulls were successfully pressure tested, and final trials and testing of this first-of-class submarine were completed towards the end of 2017.”

    Composite Materials

    According to Karen Hawkes, the major challenge was that “even though composites have been used in the aircraft industry for decades, LR was the only classification provider that was open to learning about our novel use of composites for manned submersibles.”


    Building the Deepflight Super Falcon 3S (Courtesy of Deepflight)

    “Composites have been critical in enabling us to significantly reduce the weight of our submarines, while still maintaining the strength needed. That allows us to innovate a new type of personal submarine,” she added.

    DeepFlight’s first two Super Falcon 3S submarines should be deployed in the Maldives by early 2018. They’ll be operated by DeepFlight Adventures, a partnership between DeepFlight and Shanghai-based Rainbowfish Ocean Technologies, a company that will partner with luxury resorts to offer underwater flights.

    In contrast to tourist submarines, the Super Falcon 3S takes only two guests in addition to the captain. “At DeepFlight, we’ve never been interested in building tour buses,” Karen Hawkes stated. “Those types of vehicles already exist. Instead, we’ve focused on building the equivalent of underwater limousines—or you could even say underwater Lear jets.”

    Exploration of the Oceans

    “From the beginning, we’ve focused on developing an entirely new type of submarine that would open the oceans for exploration and adventure. We have also put a lot of thought into the experience itself, aside from comfort and safety,” Karen Hawkes said.

    DeepFlight submarine (Court. of Deepflight)

    Safety has always been paramount. “DeepFlight submarines are designed to always be in a state of positive buoyancy,” she continued. “They do not incorporate variable ballast systems present in conventional submarines. In order to dive, you must maintain thrust, much like an airplane. If you were ever to lose power while underwater, just take your hands off the controls and the sub will float back to the surface.”

    Powered by a 40V DC electric system, DeepFlight submarines are environment-friendly, fast, and quiet. The low voltage also makes them safe to operate around swimmers or marine animals.

    They are also an ideal superyacht accessory. “Yacht owners are increasingly interested in using their boats for exploration and adventure. Our submarines give them unique access to the ocean,” Karen Hawkes concluded. “Deck and garage space is in high demand on a yacht, so it’s important for submarines to be easy to launch, recover and store. Weight is key, and DeepFlight submarines are the most lightweight on the market.”

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    As in any other sport, spectators watching sailing like to theorize about what they would do if they were in the hot seat themselves. A new buoy positioned on the race course can help by transferring precise wind and current data by WiFi.


    What determines the outcome of a sailboat race? There are several factors. Adapting strategy to changes in wind and current is certainly one of them. Tools are able to give you an idea of what is happening around where your own boat is sailing. But what exactly goes on over on the other side of the race course, where some of your competitors are? Well, you can only guess. Unless the race course is equipped with a very special buoy, like the one conceived by SailLogic, a Norwegian company working with sailing events.

    SailLogic’s buoy tracks wind and current with extremely precise Doppler technology and sends data real time via WiFi. One buoy on each side of the course will provide a very powerful source of knowledge, which could make sailing more interesting to watch. Of course, this tool could also help race crews make better decisions if they had access to the information. But this recent innovation raises many questions about rules and regulations.

    Engaging Spectators

    SailLogic has been responsible for the Sailing League in Norway for the last couple of seasons. One of their challenges has been to make the spectator experience more interesting. Race tracking has been shown through Sailing Analytics, a software tool developed by SAP. Live commentators have also been used.

    Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Mark Strube (USA) – Star Sailors League Final 2013 (Courtesy of Marc Rouiller/ tar Sailors League)

    “Imagine if the commentator could tell everyone watching that the boats heading for the right side of the course would meet an adverse current of 0.7 knots, while on the left side, the current runs across the course at 1.2 knots. What would the consequences be? What would you do? I believe people would get really engaged!” explained Magnus Hedemark, founder of SailLogic.

    “Professional race organizers could be very interested in a product like this buoy.”

    The Norwegian company Nortek built the test buoy. They develop hi-tech current measurement instruments for commercial and military purposes worldwide. Their products are used in the oil industry, for fish farms and torpedoes, just to name a few. The technology is based on the Doppler effect.

    Ken Read

    Senior Field Engineer at Nortek Tom Christian Mortensen shared: “At the office, we are a bunch of keen sailors, and we have actually helped sailors out before. Ken Read used our devices for his Puma Volvo Ocean Race project, and we also supported a successful Norwegian Star campaign for the 2012 Olympics.

    “But this is complicated and expensive technology, and not something we will see on the commercial market for a long time, at least not for normal sailors. However, we imagine professional race organizers could be very interested in a product like this buoy,” he added. A prototype is currently under construction and will be tested in live conditions during the upcoming season.



    Monica Hutchings

    Monica Hutchings is a Canadian writer and translator who has worked on everything from technical descriptions to academic journals. She is also our in-house English translator.

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    Jan D’Sa

    Jan D’Sa is a Dubai-based reporter and technical writer.

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    Øyvind Bordal

    Øyvind Bordal is a norwegian writer and sailor, based in Denmark and Caribbean.


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    Kevin Green

    Kevin Green is a Sydney-based yachting journalist who contributes to international boating publications.


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    Celia Sampol

    Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She’s the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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    Tony Slinn

    Formerly editor-in-chief of IHS Maritime, Tony Slinn is an independent maritime journalist.

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