|Tripping the Light Fantastic|
Lightweight construction gives the Hunt 90 a 28-knot speed and transatlantic range.
By George L. Petrie
There are two ways to make a yacht go fast: add power or cut weight. The first way seems easy—just install bigger engines. But bigger engines are heavier and require more fuel, which in turn adds even more weight. This brute-force approach quickly gets out of hand, driving up both the purchase price and operating costs. The smarter way is to trim weight without losing strength.
Notwithstanding advances in construction technology that many motoryacht builders have embraced, when it comes to optimizing for maximum strength and minimum weight, it’s the sailing-yacht builders who have truly refined the art, especially those who have honed their skills in the crucible of the America’s Cup and Whitbread Around the World competitions. Of the few yards with those credentials, New England Boatworks (NEB) is all the more distinctive for not just having built a high-tech hull, but finishing it as a luxury motoryacht.
Located on the shores of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, NEB appears at first glance to be just a sprawling marina with impressive repair facilities. But the yard’s owners, founding partners Tom Rich, Steve Casella, and David MacBain, are first and foremost boatbuilders, having worked together for 20 years building contenders for the races listed above and other premier sailing yacht competitions. When the three first joined forces in 1982, aircraft-grade aluminum with honeycomb core was all the rage, and they kept NEB at the forefront of technology as composite construction supplanted it and evolved into a dizzying complex of resins, reinforcements, and core materials. The yard continues to excel, executing an eclectic array of projects, including construction and repair of high-tech fiberglass sailing yachts, restoration of vintage wooden yachts, and construction of high-speed aluminum RIB patrol boats, as well as fabricating lightweight composite structures for shore-side architectural projects. The most recent feather in the corporate cap is construction of the Hunt 90, a 28-knot luxury motoryacht and a tour de force in advanced composite technology.
From the beginning, the owner’s requirements drove the Hunt 90. Outlining seemingly contradictory goals, he wanted a large, luxurious motoryacht capable of a 28-knot top speed that would also be suitable for extended-range cruising. According to NEB, the project started out as a 60-footer, but as the design took shape, the owner realized he needed much more spacious accommodations to meet his needs. Through the early design process, the yacht’s length was increased several times until, at 90 feet, she was deemed big enough: four staterooms and a spacious galley in the lower deck, wide-open saloon and dining area on the main deck, and a big pilothouse and seating area on the flying bridge.
Despite the greatly increased size, the owner maintained his requirement for a 28-knot top speed with a 25-knot cruise, to go island-hopping in areas like the Bahamas and the Caribbean. But because cruising the Med was also in his plans, he wanted the yacht to have sufficient range to transit the Atlantic, albeit at a much lower cruising speed.
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.