The luxury performance cruising catamaran market is a small one in terms of hull numbers, but it is one of the fastest growing segments in terms of revenue (these boats aren’t cheap) driven by the likes of Gunboat, Kinetic and HH Catamarans with the HH66.
These are all teams that were involved in the early Gunboat story. Kinetic can trace their history back through Harvey yachts who built the first Gunboats and Hudson Yacht Group, who own HH Catamarans (run by Hudson Wang and Paul Hakes), were involved in the production of the Gunboat 60.
It was a relationship that eventually turned sour, but that’s all water under the bridge now, and we are left with a handful of very strong competitors who are pushing each other to greater heights. Which is good news if you happen to have 7 figures tucked into your wallet to spend on a performance cat.
Photo credit: hhcatamarans.com
Sitting right at the top of the list along with the Gunboat 68 is the HH66. Just head to Les Voiles de St. Barth around April time, and you’ll see all of these big fast cats racing each other. Morrelli and Melvin, the architects behind the early Gunboats, are the team behind the design and they have come up with a beautiful, sleek catamaran.
I am not a big fan of the covered helms on the HH55 and HH50 – they don’t do the boats’ profile any favours in my opinion (the single helm on their Ocean Series OC50 catamaran look better), but you have none of that on the 66 footer. The coachroof steps up a notch over the aft cockpit allowing you to helm on a side bench (twin aft helms version) or your are tucked into a slider in the bimini roof which closes to give you protection if the weather deteriorates.
- Blisteringly fast, the HH66 is among the quickest performance catamarans that money can buy. It’s part of an elite club that includes the Gunboats, Schionnings and the Marsaudon Composites ORC57 among a few others. Dazcat is up there too.
- Customisation. As well as being able to choose your layout down below on the HH66, you can also customise the helm set up. Aft helms? Forward cockpit? Bucket seats with tillers? You choose.
- Looks to kill. This is one sleek looking cat, a real head turner. Morrelli and Melvin nailed it with this yacht.
- Helm position. If there is one debate that rages on and on with regards to multihull design, it´s the position of the helms and how you achieve sailing feel versus protection. With the sliding roof and twin helms (notwithstanding the fact that you can choose a forward helm position if you prefer), we think the designers have covered both bases.
- The price. OK these boats aren’t as expensive as a Gunboat 68, but they are not cheap either at over $4m. That´s what happens when you use so much carbon to get the weight down.
- Time will tell how these yachts hold their value, but the HH brand is not as powerful as the Gunboat brand. And that probably means that they won´t hold their value as well.
- These are complex sailing machines that ideally need an experienced crew. With the jib sheets coming aft, and everything else at the mast, you are going to need some help to sail an HH66. The forward cockpit set up is easier to manage short handed.
Hudson Yachts have been accumulating expertise in this sector for over a decade. The hull and deck moldings of the HH66 are carbon fiber sandwich with a Corecell foam filling, infused with post-cured epoxy resin. Furniture and bulkheads are made from carbon fiber composites. The whole game is stiffness and weight, and the HH66 team are razor focused during the build process to maximise the first and minimise the second.
No forward beam is needed on these yachts: the hulls are stiff enough for the forestay to be fixed to the carbon fiber longeron. Southern Spars supply the carbon rig and boom. Add on carbon curved daggerboards and rudders (with optional T-foils) and you have one serious mean machine on the water. Rigging is all carbon fibre and aramid. She comes with a carbon fiber fractional mast, boom and longeron.
The HH66 is pretty much a custom catamaran. You can opt for twin bulkhead helms like R-Six, the #1 hull, or you can go for a forward helm and cockpit like an Atlantic Cat or Gunboat. HH66-05 (Flash) has gone for the forward cockpit option, but with tillers and bucket seats aft.
Push buttons control many of the critical sail handling features, such as the traveler on the aft beam, the main and jib sheets, dagger-boards and the main sheet dump in case you get hit with a big gust.
This isn’t a boat for a couple or short-handed crew though. There is some serious power in that sail plan and you need to be on your A-Game to sail her safely.
On the number one hull, R-Six for example, sails are raised, unfurled and reefed from the forward cockpit, and only the headsail sheets are led to the twin aft helm stations. The mainsheet and traveler are controlled by push button controls from the helms.
In the forward-cockpit version, all the lines are controlled from the central command area.
It´s a very organised boat: the side decks are wide with control lines for the boards led under the decks, the chain runs along the longeron to the anchor that sits at its end, and so on. Morrelli and Melvin have thought out a very efficient system with which to tame this cat. And there’s plenty of room left in the aft cockpit for dining, lounging and socialising (particularly on the forward cockpit configuration) with a table that seats 6 to 8.
Let’s talk about what the HH66 is like under way shall we? let’s face it, this is where you are going to get the most bang from your buck.
The HH66 has a very powerful sail plan with an S/D ratio of over 34. This is a cat that will lift a hull which is why she comes with a main sheet dump button. The loads involved mean that the big Lewmar winches are essential and are some of the reasons why most owners will need a crew on this boat. Having said that, electrics mean that the sails can be tamed with a crew of one or two. The standard upwind configuration is a Solent jib (125% overlapping) and square-headed mainsail, and there’s a large screecher ready for action. Add the asymmetric spinnaker for lighter airs, and you have most of the tools you will need. A staysail and a storm jib completes the set for feistier conditions.
Sailing into the wind is where this cat excels compared to other multihulls. In a fresh breeze you will be sucked upwind at up to 70% of true windspeed. Bear away and you will be matching wind speed as the HH66 is powered along by the breeze plus her own wind that she generates as she glides through the water. The rig is intelligent and will warn the helmsman when it is time to reef thanks to load cells on the windward shrouds. That way, you can dial things down before you start flying a hull.
Visibility from the twin aft helms is excellent, and you are well protected under the sliding roof. Morrelli and Melvin have nailed the helm position on this boat. I guess that’s a bit easier on a 66 foot carbon yacht with all the latest technology, but even so, top marks to them. You can choose between twin helms with a forward cockpit or twin aft tillers- it’s all designed for maximum sailing feel.
The HH66 is a truly luxurious machine with incredible attention to detail: the workmanship is top class and they have worked hard to imcorporate as much solar on the roof as possible to make the HH66 is green machine.
Again, the key phrase is custom build here. As well as the aft or forward cockpit versions, you can chose between 3 or 4 cabins in the hulls – the three cabin version includes a luxury owner’s stateroom in the port hull with a smaller cabin for crew. In the starboard hull there is space for 2 cabins with queen-size berths, each with a head and shower and plenty of storage room. Yes, the hulls are slender, but it doesn’t feel cramped down below. There’s plenty of room for tall sailors and lots of light.
This yacht might be a performance catamaran, but she is able to soak up the weight for your creature comforts like A/C, a generator, wine cooler, freezers, washer-dryer, ice maker, flat screen TVs and so on.
The HH66 is powered by two 80hp Yanmar diesels fitted with folding props on saildrives. Maximum speed under power is around 13 knots. Ease off a bit, and you should comfortably see 9 knots with both engines on or 8 knots with one if you are in diesel saving mode.
HH66 Polar Diagram
- HH66-01 R-Six (twin aft helms)
- HH66-02 Night Fury (twin aft helms)
- HH66-03 Nala (twin aft helms)
- HH66-04 Nemo (twin aft helms): She’s winning a lot of races!
- HH66-05 Flash (forward cockpit, aft tillers)
The HH66 easily holds her own in this high performance luxury market. The combination of Morrelli & Melvin, from California, sharpening their design pencils and the manufacturing expertise of Hudson & Hakes (that´s where the HH brand comes from) means that this is a formidable competitor in the market.
How much does an HH66 cost? What is the price?
As always, we will qualify this with “it depends on how you kit her out”, but assuming that you are not going to be trying to save money on the options while buying a multi-million dollar yacht, you are looking north of $4m. That´s cheaper than the Gunboat 68 but more expensive than a comparable Kinetic 62.
Which is faster? A Gunboat or an HH Catamaran?
They are comparable. This is going to come down to your crew!