• The new 1250 flying under spinnaker.
    The new 1250 flying under spinnaker.

Boat Test: Seawind Catamaran

Seawind Catamarans, Australia’s most successful boat builder, recently launched their newest catamaran, the 1250. AY editor and catamaran sailor, Barry Henson, took it for a test sail on Port Phillip Bay.

When it comes to catamarans the accepted wisdom has always been that you want a boat in excess of forty feet, or a bit over 12 metres, for heading offshore. The idea being that a boat of this size offered the additional length and, more importantly beam, to deal with offshore conditions. So it was with some interest that I learned Seawind Catamarans were coming out with a 12.5 metre catamaran.

Initial impressions

Walking down the dock at Martha’s Cove with Seawind’s Victorian dealer, Terry Jones, I was impressed by the sheer size of the 1250.  This is a boat that was obviously built for offshore use. The beam is 6.8 metres or 22.44 feet in the old measure. In catamarans you want the beam to be at least half the LOA and this boat’s beam to length ratio is nearly 55%, so you’re looking at a very stable boat.

The other thing that is striking about this boat is the roof structure over the cockpit. As any boat owner will tell you one of the most important things you’ll ever add to a boat in terms of increasing use and enjoyment is a sun cover. Recognising this Seawind have created a fiberglass roof structure that extends from the cabin top to the targa. This provides shade across the entire back deck. They’ve also incorporated several neat features into the roof, but more on this later.

First let me lead you through this boat.

From stern to stem
The sterns have several broad steps leading down to the water. The starboard side also incorporates a recessed swim ladder and a hot and cold fresh water shower. Stepping up to the deck area there is a fiberglass targa structure that supports two solar panels and the traveler. On the side of the targa is a horizontally mounted bidirectional winch that allows you adjust the traveler under load from side to side.  

Below the targa is one of the best seating/barbecue arrangements I’ve ever seen.  Seawind use the same seating arrangement in all its boats from the 1000 upward, but what makes it so nice on the 1250 is that this area is shaded by the fiberglass roof. This is an indoor/outdoor space second to none.

Moving forward, there are port and starboard helming stations. The helm seats lift to reveal lazarettes, and in the port lazarette Seawind have thoughtfully incorporated a refrigerator large enough to cool a slab of VB or a dozen bottles of wine (that should keep the punters happy for a while).  Both helm stations have engine controls and Raymarine E70 instrumentation. The master station additionally has the autopilot control, a chart plotter and the anchor winch control. Seawind have incorporated Plexiglas panels in the roof above the helmsman giving excellent visibility upward. The oversized bridge deck windows afford good visibility forward. Each helm station has a window that opens to the interior, making communications and passing things in and out easy.

Another interesting feature of this boat is the tri-fold lifting door to the interior. This is a patented Seawind innovation. The two outer leafs of the door fold inward and the whole thing is hinged so it lifts and is secured to the underside of the roof structure. It creates a huge indoor/outdoor space, but can be lowered in seconds to secure the boat.

All lines are led aft through Spinlock jammers to Harken 46STs as primaries, or Harken 40STs as secondaries. On the boat I tested the port winch, which handles the halyards, was powered.

Moving forward the rig is a *** swept-back two-spreader rig. The standard main is a fully battened SIZE Dacron main with a very full roach. The upgraded sail package includes a mylar SIZE main for the performance-minded sailor. The rod vang is supplied by SUPPLIER.  

On the foredeck Seawind gone with a curved self-tacking jib arrangement. There are also three large lockers forward for fenders, lines and the various things bits and pieces you might take cruising. The anchor well and windlass are well back from the bow with the chain running forward in a recess to a chock that holds the anchor. This is a nice arrangement that keeps the weight away from the ends.

One unfortunate deletion from the 1250 is Seawind’s drop down bow ladder.  

And inside…
If you’re a die hard mono-hull sailor, someone who’s never considered sailing on, let alone buying a catamaran, you have to see this interior. The bridge deck salon is the size of a small living room in a house, with a curved settee that incorporates a chaise lounge, a dining table that lowers to form a double bed, a nav station and two cupboards. There is, quite literally, room enough to swing a cat (the whip variety). The other nice thing about the salon is that you can sit at the dining table and have 360 degree visibility, and with the doors up this whole area is open to the back.  

Before you accuse me of waxing lyrical, there is one particular improvement I’d like to see. The nav station isn’t up to the standard that you would expect on a cruising boat. It lacks space for electronics, charts and chart storage. Thankfully, I would expect this would be fairly easy for Seawind to remedy, particularly as the 1250 is a new boat that has some evolution to come.  

March to a different drummer
One of the interesting things from a reviewer’s viewpoint is that multi-hulls and mono-hulls need to be judged by different standards.  A good example is the use of space. On my mono-hull any unused space is considered wasted space, a sin punishable by keelhauling and drinking the last VB in front of you.  Not so, on a multi-hull. For multi-hulls to perform well (and be safe) they need to be light.  
Just because they have the area of an apartment, doesn’t mean you want them to weigh as much as an apartment. They’re also constructed to different standards. Mono-hulls are built much more heavily than multi-hulls. Mono-hulls are designed to sit in the water, whereas multi-hulls are designed to float on the water.    

With those thoughts in mind let’s look at the rest of the interior. Both bows have crash bulkheads. Just back from this bulkhead to port is a double stateroom with a small seating area, plenty of storage and a hatch above the bed for good ventilation and star gazing.  Mid-ships Seawind have put a large locker and a standing height cabinet for all the bits and pieces you might wish to take with you. Aft is a nicely sized head with a rear door that provides access to a generously sized port engine room.

Seawind have equipped the 1250 with twin 29 hp Yanmar diesels with folding props.  Yanmar 40 hp engines are available as an option.   

Immediately aft of the starboard crash bulkhead is a master double stateroom with ensuite. Mid-ships is an attractive looking galley with polystone bench tops, a three burner stove with oven, a 130 litre refrigerator and an innovative 60 litre freezer that tilts outward, providing easy access to frozen foods.

Aft is a double bunk with plenty of storage.

Seawind do offer an alternative layout with the galley up on the bridge deck, but I can’t see any benefit that would justify doing so.

So how does she sail?
Motoring out from Martha’s Cove Port Phillip Bay was dishing up a mixed bag. We had a fluky westerly ranging from 12 to 18 knots so we got a bit of every thing. Anybody who has raced against them knows that catamarans fly when the wind is on the beam, but their downfall has always been their pointing ability.  
I was interested to see on the 1250 pointed, particularly as it has skegs (and a 1.16 metre draft) rather than dagger boards.

Well, the short answer is it points surprisingly well. We started off on a reach with the breeze sixty degrees off our bow. We managed between 5.5 to 6.8 knots boat speed in a thirteen knot breeze.  As we hardened up I expect our speed to drop, well, it didn’t. At thirty-five degrees off the wind we were doing a consistent 6.5 knots. Hmmm… not bad for a cat.  I could point a degree or two below that, but beyond that my speed began to drop and she started to luff. Still, thirty-five degrees off the wind is pretty respectable pointing for a catamaran.  

Back off the wind her speed picked up. We were now doing 7.8 knots boat speed in a sixteen knot breeze, fifty-five degrees off the wind. Not bad.

If the 1250 has any potential weakness (and this is common to all cats) it’s running dead down-wind. Since she’s rigged without backstays, her side stays are located fairly far aft and this restricts your ability to present the main to the wind. Seawind have remedied this by rigging the boat for a spinnaker. If you’re cruising the downwind performance probably won’t bother you, and if you’re racing you’re probably going to use the chute anyway.

In summary
It’s really exciting to see a successful Aussie boat builder and Seawind have produced a string of winners. They have the knack for picking their market and delivering a good product at a great price point. I have no doubt the 1250 will be a winner. It’s well constructed with a lot of attractive features and sails well.  And the price? The base boat is $690,000, add another $60,000 for options and a fully featured 1250 for around $750,000.

Seawind Catamaran Specifications:
Overall Length41ft / 12.45m

Beam: 22’44” / 6.8 m

Draft: 3’ 8” / 1.16 m

Displacement: 18165lbs / 8.24 tonnes kgs

Underwing Clearance: 2’6” / 0.80m

Steering: Twin Helms Cable Steering

Diesel Sail Drives: 2 x 29hp Yanmar

Fuel: 126 US gallons / 480 litres

Fresh Water: 185 US gallons / 700 litres




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