Safety at Speed
Dan Lévy launched O Yachts with the Class 4, a design by Lerouge, and he has followed this success up with the Class 6, a design that is turning heads and making waves in the catamaran industry. The O in O-Yachts stands for Owner – these are catamarans that are developed with their owners in a partnership with the yard.
Dan’s first aim from his Latvian base, northeast of Riga, is to produce yachts that protect their owners from anything that the weather can throw at them, and that can eat up the nautical miles offshore safely, at speed. The Class 6 is setting high standards. This is a world cruiser that is competing strongly with the likes of the Garcia Explocat 52 and the HH range.
Like the O-Yachts Class 4, this bigger boat is a catamaran for sailors and their families who want to travel big distances over an extended period of time in safety and comfort. It’s a very spacious yacht that is capable of fast cruising in a controlled fashion, whatever the state of the sea.
Keeping the Weight Off
With a length of 19.50m (64 foot), the O-Yachts Class 6 weighs only 15 tonnes light. Go for the full carbon option and this number comes down to 13.5.
Dan Levy, along with Laurent Bourgnon (sadly no longer with us, double winner of the Route du Rhum, as well as the Transat Jacques-Vabre with his brother Yvan), dreamt up this catamaran whose signature feature is a spine or longitudinal central beam that provides the boat with rigidity, stability and buoyancy in steep waves. The mast and forestay are fixed to this structure and the design allows for a large 44 square metre living space unhindered by cross beams.
Keel or Boards?
In light winds, the Class 6 will sail at wind speeds and over. Make your own wind for more sailing and less motoring!
The large, curved dagger-boards (an option, you can also specify keels) give a draft of 3.8 meters or 12½ feet when down, helping the Class 6 to pinch upwind, particularly in calmer conditions.
A Luxury Sporty Cat
The first priority of this boat is safety at sea, but make no mistake – this is a comfortable catamaran that goes places fast (and gets you out of trouble quickly). Performance means safety and 300 nm a day in good conditions is the target on this boat.
There is more than 44 m² (473 sq ft) of living space in the nacelle. Who needs a flybridge increasing your windage and forcing your sail and centre of effort higher?
High Tech Construction
Talk to Dan Levy, and this is clearly an area that he is passionate about. One of the keys aspects of producing a safe boat is strength, so the Class 6 has been “over engineered” in this respect. There is a spectrum of materials you can choose from, depending on your wish list and budget. These range from Vinylester resin/carbon-glass-kevlar/Gelcoat on the Performance pack to Epoxy resin/100% carbon + kevlar/paint on the Race pack.
The Spine is the Star
The central “spine” is the defining feature of the Class 6: almost a suspended 3rd hull. Molded into the nacelle, it soaks up the loads from the mast and forestay. It pierces bigger waves like the bows, dissipating energy and providing buoyancy as the water streams beneath the nacelle, avoiding slamming and reducing any tendency to bury the bows. Lagoon follow a similar path with their nacelle profile – let’s just say that the result isn’t quite as sleek.
Weight control is a big factor in the design of these yachts, so carbon fiber is used for all the outer and inner skins. Foam is inserted into this sandwich, and the whole packagage is vacuum infused with epoxy and reinforced with Kevlar in high stress and potential impact areas.
This all-carbon construction gives a light displacement of 15 tons, with an ability to carry loads up to a total weight of 18 tons. The spine means that there is no forward crossbeam, and it gives an impressive rigidity to the narrow hulls. The axe bows are also designed to efficiently pierce through waves and space is maximised through the use of chines.
With the curved daggerboards option and lifting rudders mounted in a well, the draft can be reduced to 0.9 m (3 feet).
Sailing – Safety First
This is a semi-custom yacht, so the sail plan and rig will depend on your program. Choose between the Performance Pack and the Race Pack.
Examples include a rotating mast and carbon boom with hydraulic furling system. The staysail, genoa and gennaker, can also furl hydraulically. The sail plan emphasises the priority of this yacht which is safety. You will be matching wind speed with the main and XL Genoa (104m2) in light air (3 to 10kts). With a Code 0 or Gennaker flying off the bowsprit, you will be sailing faster than TWS.
The steering systems can be configured as wheel steering or tiller steering with seats.
Mainsail, Genoa, Solent and Storm Sail
The O Yachts Class 6 typically comes with a mainsail and genoa which can be unfurled with a press of a button. You will have a variety of lighter wind sails to fly off the bowsprit (Code 0, 280 m² gennaker, also on hydraulics). With these flying you will be faster than wind speed on a reach in calmer conditions. With the sheets coming back to hydraulic winches at the helm, it doesn’t take long to furl the genoa and deploy the self-tacking staysail if the wind picks up. And this being a safety first boat, there is an option for a storm sail as well.
Another benefit of the spine is that it has enabled the designers to set the mast further back than you would normally see on a comparable catamaran. This is a trick more recently used by Gunboat on their 68 to achieve a balanced sail-plan, and it means that the main sail area is only 109m2 (or 1173.27 sq) ft in favour of more sail area up front: which is easier to manage of course. The centralised mast position also helps to give a stable, smooth ride.
This is an area where the Class 6 excels. The saloon/cockpit area is 44 m² or 475 square feet, a huge living space with an enormous galley. This is a French designed boat after all.
The sliding window at the back of the saloon opens right up to give you an Open+ design. Down below, the berths are wide with island beds in the aft cabins thanks to those chines. Forward, the berths are arranged athwartships and higher up, in order to accommodate the performance of the bows. Foam sandwich is used in the furniture to keep the weight down.
Keels or Daggerboards?
It has been well documented that the big benefit of daggerboards is for sailing upwind in lighter airs. For most of the time you will be very close to the same performance with keels, with all of the added benefits (more space down below, simpler systems, protection for your sail drives).
That said, the choice is yours on this boat: pick one of the following options:
– Fixed keel (Simple, more buoyancy)
– Asymetric daggerboards
– Curved Asymetric daggerboards
The whole idea of the Class 6 is to keep the engines off, but how does she perform coming into the marina?
Well, the Class 6 comes with twin 80 HP Yanmar engines. You will begin to appreciate the shape of those hulls, as with these running at 2,500 rpm, you will be pushed along at ten knots in a steady sea, using around 11 litres per hour (2.9 US gal/h).
Use half the fuel and only one engine and you will cruise comfortably at 7 knots.
The O Yachts Class 6 competes in a hot market segment: luxury fast catamarans. But what sets the Class 6 apart, is its emphasis on safety and comfort.
Yes, this boat is fast, but that’s almost a by product of this innovative design. The living space feels like a New York apartment. The boat has been kept light, is rigid and has a punchy sail plan (without being overpowered).
If you are looking for a yacht to take you long distances, the Class 6 ought to be on your shopping list. Dan claims that the Class 6 is the best catamaran a couple can manage without skipper. It is hard not to agree with him.
There is even a power version, with a Smart Hybrid power unit (one diesel engine, one electric).
For more information on the Class 6, head to O-Yachts.