There was a power catamaran at the recent Singapore Yacht Show which caught the eye: the Aquila 44. This is the latest model in the Aquila family (48 foot, 38 foot and 36 foot), built by the Hangzhou Sino Eagle Yacht Co in China, and the culmination of a line of thinking that says, “why not?”.
Sailing catamarans are practically everywhere in this part of the world, touted for their stability and huge accommodation volumes, but we have often wondered why power cats have not become more immediately popular. After all, you don’t need to know how to sail to drive away on one of these, and light airs in many of the principal charter cruising destinations mean that you’re going to be running an engine a lot of the time anyway, so a power cat seems like a logical conclusion.
Aquila opened for business in 2012, being a collaboration between Sino Eagle Group and MarineMax in the USA, and the first design was the Aquila 382 created specifically for MarineMax’s charter arm, MarineMax Vacations.” It also involved the J&J Design group and their development arm, Seaway, who have worked on designs for a great many well-known boating brand names.
The Aquila range all comes out of Sino Eagle’s brand new purpose-built facility in Hangzhou, and exhibit a high quality of finish. The hulls are all fully vinylester resin infused, with balsa cored and infused bulkheads for maximum rigidity and strength. Craftsmanship is evident everywhere, in the rounded corners and woodwork, and when you start opening lockers and down-low hatches, the interiors are all faultless. The electrical systems are positioned conveniently, thoughtfully and accessibly right under the cabin sole, well out of the way of anywhere that could collect water.
The Aquila 44 features a thoroughly spacious 3-cabin/3-head layout that includes an owner’s cabin spanning the full 21’ beam. Instead of dropping all the cabins down into the two hulls, the designers have come up with something different: the main cabin, or master suite, is below and forward of the saloon, slung beneath the bridge deck, and the two other cabins are on the same level and accessed to port and starboard in the usual manner. The result is ‘berths, instead of bookshelves’. Anyone who has been in the accommodation of a regular 44’ catamaran will know exactly what this means.
On the main deck, the saloon incorporates the nav station to starboard, and the galley to port (induction hob, microwave, double sink, fridge-freezer). Because the access to the main cabin is positioned centre front of the saloon going down and forward, saloon seating is split into a table (seats six, of course) to port and a pair of ‘loose’ chairs to starboard. It’s different — and it works. This boat was named “Best New Multihull 40’-49’” in the 2014 AIM Media Editor’s Choice Awards, and it’s not hard to see why. Outside and upstairs, an extremely spacious flybridge provides sun pad seating on either side of the central helm station, an electric grill, and steps down to the bow area – Aquila calls it ‘revolutionary bridge to bow direct access’.
What makes it go? That’s something important for a power cat, and the answer is twin 225-hp Volvo-Penta diesels, giving the Aquila 44 a top speed of 17 knots. At a leisurely cruising speed of about seven knots, it gets very good fuel economy for a boat of its size – about 2.9 nautical mpg. Interestingly, the Aquila range all come with bulbous bows – you’ve seen them on supertankers and container ships. An extensive programme of tank testing led to the development of a bulbous bow that makes these cats faster and improves fuel efficiency and delivers a less choppy ride in the chop. We didn’t get a chance to go for a sea trial, but having experienced plenty of uncomfortable-cat motion in a seaway, we live in hope.
So, yes, it’s nice to see something different. A few days’ gentle cruise around Phang Nga Bay or Koh Chang on an Aquila 44 would be just the thing. Now, where did I leave the sunscreen?
For more information, visit Acquila Yachts