By Gregor Tarjan
It was a big day – with little wind. A typical scenario for a late spring day in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The crew of the very first McConaghy MC50 was excited to hoist the sails on their new boat for the very first time. At 15 tons fully loaded, the MC50 is by no means a racer, but no one would have anticipated what the crew was about to experience. It was to be a very revealing day.
Our friends at McConaghy Multihulls Europe and their partners at Palma One had the boat well prepared and were looking forward to a good first test. The brand-new aramid composite sails looked menacing and contributed to the already high-tech look of the MC50. Bending on new sails on a prototype yacht always involves more tweaking than one expects, but the brand new OneSails looked spectacular and no crinkle or fold could be detected. They seemed to give the boat a life of its own.
Breeze was between 5 and 12 knots true and the MC50 seemed to behave like a racehorse, responsive to the lightest helm input and eager to accelerate in the slightest breeze. The Axxon fixed carbon mast, featuring a single spreader, supported the giant square top mainsail. After short tacking – easy with the self-tacking jib – the enormous Code-0 weapon was unfurled to see if the boat could actually sail faster than the wind. The MC50 consistently sailed at 75 to 100% true wind speed, but could she, in fact exceed it?
It did not take long for the breeze to fill in with a consistent pressure. The crew hunted the horizon looking for the telltale “catspaws” on the water. Once in a nice patch of air, the helmsman gently put the bow down and the boat accelerated until the mast base-mounted B&G displayed that boat speed consistently outpaced the wind speed, often more by 10%. This is quite some feat for a flybridge-equipped luxury cruiser. Unlike the vast majority of cruising catamarans, the McConaghy 50 is equipped with tempered glass windows, which look great (even after 10 years), but have a weight penalty. This is not a hull lifting racing yacht, but a full fledged liveaboard cruiser.
Luxurious Light Air Weapon
The owner equipped the boat with every conceivable option on the factory price list. He neither skimped on the Siemens washing machine, nor the extra fridges and freezers. Of course, there was air conditioning and a large generator to support it. From the convenient aft hydraulic platform to the oversize dinghy and outboard engine, from the icemaker to a washer/drier, this McConaghy 50 is fully loaded and ready for a circumnavigation in style. In addition to her nearly full water and fuel tanks, the complement of five crew meant that she was not on her lightest displacement.
Even more of a surprise that she consistently exceeded windspeed. The use of 60% carbon in the McConaghy’s construction not only allows weight savings, but also permits larger volumes because of decreased support-beam dimensions. The ingenious modular interior is constructed separately, outside the boat. Not only does this speed up production times and improve quality control, but it also streamlines system integration. Pumps, relays, wiring and hoses are fitted under the cabin sole and integrated into the modules before they are mounted into the boat.
This type of modular build system is McConaghy’s specialty as it not only results in a better boat, but also in a substantially lighter one. The builder’s background in constructing high-end racing yachts has also honed their mindset in trying to save weight while at the same time building in nearly indestructible strength (the aft carbon bulkhead is nearly two inches thick and solid carbon!) Even the sliding glass doors sit on a completely independent carbon beam so the torque and twisting loads of this wide boat will never affect the watertightness and ease of operation of the salon doors. The McConaghy 50 is truly an amazing boat, and hats off to the designer and builder who managed to create a new benchmark in luxury cruising.
The McConaghy MC50 catamaran is the first of a line of performance luxury cruising catamarans by the famed builder McConaghy Boats. They offer a 50, 60, 77 and 90-footer with larger custom sizes up to 145 feet. With engineering and manufacturing bases in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, the McConaghy brand needs no introduction to experienced yachtsmen. With McConaghy’s 50-year experience in aerospace-type high tech composite construction building the world’s most advanced composite projects such as submarines, racing cars and a very wide range of yachts ranging from the most famous racing and superyachts to America’s Cup boats, they are now entering the booming multihull market.
They have commissioned notable naval architect Jason Ker, known for his successful racing yachts and BAR America’s Cup design, to conceive the most luxurious and safest performance multihulls. The results are a comprehensive model lineup of Grand Prix-type multihulls including the CE and Bureau Veritas certified MC50, MC60, MC77 and MC90. Trademarks for these performance catamarans are retracting centerboards, a flybridge and a unique open space bridgedeck which combines the salon with the outside cockpit.
Other highlights of the MC50 include large sliding/opening salon side windows (first in the industry); an unobstructed 12-foot salon opening, completely frameless salon doors (largest in the industry); a unique deck step for stiffness and more interior room; and no forward crossbeam. The fastest luxury flybridge production catamaran on the water, the MC50 is fully customizable to owners’ specification.
This very first MC50 has been completed and is undergoing extensive testing in Palma, with several MC50s, MC60s and a custom MC90 under construction. As of press time, two other MC60s have been signed by a U.S. client. The first MC60 was shown at the Cannes Festival of Yachting and shortly thereafter sailed at over 22 knots. More information can be found at mcconaghyboats.com/multihulls.
One of the world’s leading multihull experts, Gregor Tarjan is the founder and President of Aeroyacht, a Setauket Harbor, NY-based dealership specializing in the sales of reputable power and sailing catamarans. Aeroyacht is the official U.S. dealer for McConaghy Multihulls, and will be presenting the McConaghy range at the upcoming Miami International Boat Show in February. For more information and to arrange a test sail, contact Gregor at email@example.com or 516 818 3113, or log onto Aeroyacht.com.