Launch at Dubai boat show

Shrouded in secrecy until her launch recently in Dubai is a ground-breaking new yacht: The world’s fastest luxury sailing catamaran (for her size). Launch at Dubai boat show For the last eight years the GTCat 66 has been the consuming passion of two leading Dubai-based businessmen – Abdulla Al Hamli, an Emirati businessman and French entrepreneur and former Olympic Tornado sailor Sylvain Vieujot. In conceiving the GTCat 66, this duo enlisted several of the world’s leading specialists such as multihull designers Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret and industrial designer Christophe Chedal Anglay. The boat was built at Abu Dhabi Mar using all the latest technologies including full carbon Applied Structural Analysis design.

In the GTCat 66, the group has created a state of the art, 20m long racing catamaran with an ultra-lightweight interior and a high speci cation. The result is a tamed racing yacht that is at once ultra fast, luxurious and spacious. She has four cabins and a saloon area that would put a 30m monohull to shame. If pressed, she can y her weather hull like a racing catamaran in 12 knots of breeze and will do 20 knots.

Part of the secret to the boat’s performance is that, like all Irens-Cabaret designed record breaking trimarans of the last decade - from Ellen MacArthur’s B&Q trimaran to Francis Joyon’s IDEC and Thomas Coville’s Sodebo, the GTCat 66 has very slim hulls and is long for her beam. “Long slender hulls have less wave-making drag,” explains Irens, reiterating a fundamental philosophy he has pushed throughout his lengthy career designing multihulls. In fact the GTCat 66’s bows are wave piercing, while the hulls have a chine running the length of them that helps shed water and also provides structure stiffness.

As to her overall dimensions, the GTCat 66 is best considered a 16.5m boat, in terms of her beam and accommodation, that has been extended by 3m. “If you want performance, the most cost effective way of improving any multihull is to make the hulls longer – you’ll get better ride, more comfort, it’ll be faster and safer,” continues Irens. “It should also pitch a lot less and it should be dryer as well because you are, of course, parting the sea a lot more gently.”

A secondary effect of the boat having a narrow beam is that it makes her light - light weight being vital to achieving high performance in a multihull. The GTCat 66 has a displacement of just 11.5 tonnes, several tonnes less than other high performance cruising catamarans. This is further helped by her carbon bre construction throughout, plus her low freeboard and lack of a forward crossbeam - instead the forestay tacks to the bowsprit, extending forward from the mast as on an Extreme 40 catamaran, with trampoline either side. Similarly at the aft end of the boat there is lightweight trampoline instead of solid deck.

Several features of the GTCat 66 stem from the sailing background Al Hamli and Vieujot have in A-Class dinghy catamarans. In fact as Vieujot puts it – “It is a big A-cat, but with beds and a bathroom!” As a result the boat has a state of the art rotating wingmast rig and giant, curved, A-Class style foils – the leeward board providing increased lift the more the boat heels. Most exceptional are her steering positions, designed very much for the purist sailor. Typically on catamarans, the helmsman stands are the back of the boat where it is hard to see the jib and the leeward bow is invisible.

On the GTCat 66, the cockpit is immediately forward of the main cabin, with a steering position at each lateral extremity of this. Here, the helmsman will be up at the weather steering position, where they can feel the wind on their face, can check the trim of all the sails, can see the leeward bow and all the sails are controlled by hydraulic winches, they can even trim them by push button with complete ease. To improve the experience still further, each steering position has a tiller rather than a wheel. In addition, the open saloon allows the skipper to be an integral part of life on-board, whilst also enjoying the pure sailing.

In terms of comfort, the GTCat 66 is just as enjoyable for its passengers as its sailors. Its large open plan saloon area offers a 360 degree panoramic view outside and features a dinette area to starboard and the galley to port. Large patio doors at either end of the cabin provide access forward to the cockpit and aft to further seating and the sun loungers on the aft deck. The layout is perfect for being at anchor in warmer climates. On longer passages if conditions get too unpleasant in the cockpit, it is possible to helm from inside too.

One gets to the main aft cabins via passageways down to the hulls from the saloon. Here the standard layout has an owner’s cabin aft in the starboard hull with a head compartment mid-ships, with this layout similar in the port hull. There are single berth cabins forward in each hull, accessible from the hull but also directly from the deck.

Abdulla Al Hamli, owner of the rst boat, spoke about the project: “We rst designed this for our own pleasure. We had failed to nd a boat builder or even a boat on the market, that matched our expectations. We wanted a design that gave us a really fast racing experience, whilst being able to take friends out that don’t have any real sailing experience. Being avid sailors we employed the very best designers, builders and other specialists. With their impressive track records, the design soon became an interesting evolution of multiple generations of multihulls that was so innovative that we’ve decided to put it into production.”

For owners looking for racing multihull performance while out sailing, but luxurious accommodation when the boat nally comes to a stop, there are few better propositions with greater pedigree than the GTCat.