It’s rather common to make claims in the marine industry about how certain new products are “bold” or “innovative” or “cutting edge” for their clever new approach to design, fabrication and/or function. And these claims are often not untrue, with technology moved forward another incremental step towards us being able to sail into the future faster, smarter and safer. At HH Catamarans they’re not content with these adjectives: they prefer to use the term “disruptive” to describe what they do, and their approach to design and fabrication in their new performance luxury catamarans as “future-proofing.”
Some dictionaries define this rather techie-sounding term as the process of making a product or system unlikely to become obsolete or fail in the future, certainly a laudable goal when considering the high pace of technological progress and the considerable investment made to own boats in this sector.
HH Catamarans willingly embraces innovation and change to produce the very best in the market, where their clients come to find a perfect balance of style, performance, safety and innovation that meets and exceeds their expectations. This is because each boat is carefully crafted to be a unique solution to the customer’s sailing goals, whether its racing, cruising or more often, both.
An excellent example of this approach is how HH Catamarans and its customers are embracing the very latest technologies for sustainability and eco-friendly operation of all the yachts in their product line, particularly the new HH44s and HH52s. There are two variants in each size: the OC (Ocean Cruising) model or the SC (Sports Cruising) model. OC models are fast, comfortable, family-friendly cruising yachts that have easy-operation features such as mini-keels instead of daggerboards and are appropriate for blue-water cruising, while the SC models have the very latest in technology, with C-shaped, carbon prepreg daggerboards, carbon spar and more than 4.2 kW of solar and regeneration power in the standard-equipped EcoDrive system.
The development of the Parallel Hybrid EcoDrive system is in response for the need for an efficient and eco-friendly solution to electric power management, which is vitally important for all extended range racing and cruising boats when the primary means of propulsion is sailing. While traditional yachts rely on the main engine and/or a generator to provide this, it comes at a high cost in excessive weight and emissions for a performance-oriented catamaran.
The EcoDrive system helps solve this problem as a robust and redundant hybrid electric/diesel propulsion system designed to bring the benefits of an electric drive (eg silent fume-free motoring, instant torque for manoeuvring, and hydro-regeneration of batteries while sailing) with the reliability of a trusted diesel engine. Nearly all of the 40 HH44s and HH52s currently on order have included this system.
Depending on boat size and sea state, the power output from EcoDrive and the battery storage capacity are, on average, designed to conservatively offer one and a half to three hours of silent, fumefree electric propulsion without requiring the owner to carry an unnecessarily large battery bank.
This should be more than enough time to leave the marina or anchorage, hoist sails and regenerate power as you sail away. And this power is available not only just for motoring purposes: the power delivered by the hydro-regenerators combined with 4.2 kW from the roof-top solar panels in this system are able to generate up to a combined 50 kW of power stored in lithium batteries that are available for all the other common uses on a luxury catamaran – even air conditioning. Compare this with a conventional genset which delivers only 6 kW at a weight cost of over 400 kg plus the fuel weight – the choice for EcoDrive seems obvious.
And working closely with their electrical engineering partners, HH Catamarans has developed user interfaces that can easily control a variety of functions in the 48 V electrical system onboard that operates everything from bow thrusters and sail-handling controls to climate systems and cabin lighting. Our modern culture now is accustomed to app-style functionality and HH Catamarans strives to offer this as well.
‘This technology may seem remarkable in our sector,’ says CEO Paul Hakes, ‘yet it is common, well-proven and mature in other industries such as automobiles. We find it remarkable that more builders have not embraced this because we find our customers are fully engaged with this functionality and provide valuable feedback for us on customising solutions they look for in their yacht.’
From decades of Grand Prix-level boat building experience and meeting the challenges of technology and customer expectation, Hakes knows this process well. His partnership with Hudson Wang to form HH Catamarans in 2014 has thrived on a common vision of bringing excellence in boat-building materials and techniques – in both custom and production settings – to innovative design that “disrupts” the marketplace.
With the experience and pedigree of renowned catamaran designers Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin, known worldwide for their pioneering influence in not only developing this sector of performance luxury catamarans, but also having a guiding hand in America’s Cup catamaran development, HH Catamarans has always had a strong footing in offering impressive performance in their product lines.
Adding this talent into the next generation is Hakes’ son James, whose own background in performance sailing and naval architecture provides the important design and engineering talent needed to ensure the visions from his father, Morrelli and Melvin and the customer feedback can coalesce into a buildable yacht that delivers on all expectations.
Hakes says ‘James is the ongoing brains behind the aesthetics of our designs as well as getting the system designs correct. An example is how he worked with Harken to design an effective captive reel winch system for the HH52.’
Hakes continues, ‘I’m really impressed with our team. Everyone works hard to improve yet still meet our standards because our order book is filling so fast. An example is the first HH44 hull took nine weeks to build, but by Hull 3 this time was reduced to four weeks. Nonetheless, the orders we are taking now are for delivery dates in 2026.’
Moreover, as the first 44s hit the boat shows this season and the market gets its chance to touch and feel these remarkable boats in person, Hakes and HH president Seth Hynes foresee an exponential increase in interest…Hakes says that 100 boats plus is not out of the question.
This is where Hudson Wang and HH parent company, Hudson Yacht Group, steps in to help. The Hudson Yacht Group operations in Xiamen, China are already impressive: with an investment of over $50m USD, the newly expanded Hudson Yacht Group factory spans over 1.2 million square feet and is situated beside a harbour for easy launching and hull testing.
This yard incorporates the very best technologies, modern halls, test pool, overhead cranes and hundreds of experienced craftsmen. This facility is on its way to becoming the biggest, best and most technologically-advanced yard in Asia and it is redefining how luxury boats are built.
Yet the high demand is outstripping even this massive yard’s build capabilities, so a new Hudson Yacht Group production facility is in build now in Cebu, Philippines where HH44s and HH52s will be built. Besides providing additional capacity, Philippine-based production will have another benefit: avoiding duties placed on boats built in China for the US market.
In Xiamen production will continue on numerous other semi-custom boats in the HH Catamarans product line, such as two HH50s and six HH60s, along with new projects as demand for them arises. As an example of how the HH Catamarans customises to customer needs, the first HH60 to be launched is owned by a former Class40 competitor and will have multiple swing helm stations, over 20 control lines with constrictors led to each station, asymmetric daggerboards and a carbon rotating mast.
And the flagship of the HH Catamarans fleet, a HH88 designed and built for both private and charter use, will also launch in Xiamen in 2023. This impressive yacht will offer 10 VIP guests and four crew a level of luxury and performance commensurate with the superyacht genre, including a bridge-deck and a hot tub.
‘We are extremely fortunate to have a solid base of enthusiastic customers, an incredible team and Hudson’s support and vision for the future,’ says Hakes.
‘At every step we have been able to expand as needed to meet our standards for quality, and now with this new facility in Cebu we’ll be able to meet the market demands for our products. No one wants to wait forever to fulfill their cruising and racing dreams, so this increase in our operations will bring those dreams faster to fruition.’