How often does the builder of a sportfisherman have to qualify a recorded top end of 43 knots?
American Custom Yachts (ACY), known for building some of the world’s fastest battlewagons, did just that, explaining that while it recorded that number, it was still fine-tuning the props on its new 68 to eke out even more speed. Indeed, ACY says it expects its first 68-footer to hit 45 knots. That’s 46 tons of boat moving through the water at almost 52 mph.
“Some people look at me as a speed freak,” says Dominick LaCombe, Sr., ACY’s owner, “but everybody’s trying to go green. Speed is the outcome of efficiency.”
The 68’s 2,400-bhp MTU 16V 2000s, mated to 1.75:1 ZF 3060A marine gears, spin four-blade Rolla props to hit those numbers. But the powertrain is only part of the story. “When you build a boat that pushes through the water easily, it’s [also] an efficient boat,” explains LaCombe.
ACY uses cold-molded construction, which it says creates a lighter hull with a better strength-to-weight ratio than a comparable molded-fiberglass hull. Fiberglass-encapsulated clear-fir stringers form the backbone of the 68’s hull, which is laid up with three opposing layers of vacuum-bagged plywood along the bottom; the hull sides employ just two layers. Everthing is bonded together with Kevlar and fiberglass mat. (Yes, that’s the same Kevlar that stops bullets in body armor.) Because the combination is stronger than conventional fiberglass, less of it is needed to achieve a given level of strength. To save even more weight, all structural bulkheads are cored with balsa, and the deck and hatches are cored composite.
Underwater, most water enters via a sea chest, eliminating drag-inducing through-hulls; there are separate intakes for the engines and gensets. The result is a lightweight, low-drag modified V-hull built to go fast. And its efficiency comes not at top end but in the midrange where it takes less throttle to make an equivalent speed on a heavier boat.
This 68 is an open-bridge design, with a custom tower and hardtop built by Bausch-American Towers. The electronics feature a full navigation package at the tower helm station, as well as drop-down flat-panel TVs in the staterooms and a pop-up one in the saloon. In the galley and three heads, granite counters cored with aluminum honeycomb save weight, while there’s teak flooring throughout the interior.
Apparently all of this emphasis on building a speedy sportfisherman has paid off. At presstime, ACY was adding about 40 staffers to keep up with demand.
CONTACT: ACY (772) 221-9200. www.americancustomyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.