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Boats

Double Down

A megayacht fisherman with a reported high-40-knot speed.

Would you like a tower station that’s accessed from a retractable internal ladder? Maybe radar arrays and antennas stealthily built into composite wings on that tower? Or perhaps LCD glass windows in the cabin and saloon that can be darkened with the flip of a switch (no blinds required)? How about triple 2,400-hp diesels that propel a fully equipped battlewagon to nearly 50 knots? Well, one owner wanted all of the above and a bit more, and with just one phone call his vision became a custom-build first.

It all began in early 2004 with an avid Northeast-based angler who was looking for a custom, enclosed-bridge sportfisherman and dialed up yacht designer Stephen French and his team from Stuart, Florida-based Applied Concepts Unleashed (ACU). French and crew are no strangers to one-off sportfishermen; they’ve been the company’s bread and butter for two-plus decades. If names like Garlington, F&S, Briggs, Miller, Spencer, and Sculley ring a bell, then you’ve seen or heard of ACU, and these builders represent just a portion of the company’s work. In fact, if it’s custom, fishy, sleek, sporty, and sexy, chances are French’s crew has had a hand in designing at least part of it.

But this owner wanted a boat that looked like nothing that had come before her, one that was fast, fishable, and oh—how about making her around 86 feet LOA?

French, whose work I’ve seen first-hand, pumps out design ideas at a wicked-fast pace, but also with an artist’s touch. Listening to the owner’s request, French replied that he had a battlewagon with a powderhorn sheerline that forms a single unbroken line from stem to stern ready to go. He admitted that it had been drawn about ten years earlier, but assured the owner it would fit the bill.

The owner agreed to look at the drawing, which French says was “way ahead of its time,” adding “[It] would be modern even in 2010 and beyond.” Upon viewing the decade-old concept dubbed “86 Unleashed” (now Double Down), it was love at first sight. French recalls that the owner said simply, “That’s it. Let’s build it.” (If all multi-year, multi-million-dollar projects were committed to so easily.)

Like most of French’s work, the 86 Unleashed started with the waveform hull bottom. It’s been around a long time and is most notably associated with Garlington. Unlike many hulls that employ concavity or convexity from chine to the keel, a waveform hull is both concave and convex, with the convex sections generally closer to the keel. In cross-section the hull shape resembles a wave, hence the name. According to French, the unique combination of these surfaces produces enhanced performance, stability, load-carrying capability, and trim.

In addition, the waveform hull is said to possess excellent resistance to roll and to plane easily at moderate speeds. And finally, the shape is famous for helping vessels achieve top speeds of up to 60-plus knots and go faster in rough conditions. Who wouldn’t want that?

To maximize performance, the owner matched the slippery hull form with three 2,400-hp MTU diesels, the port and starboard of which are V-drives while the center is hooked up to a Doen waterjet. Besides producing near go-fast speeds, this setup lets the owner get home on the waterjet alone while using the bow thruster for steering, should both props be damaged. He can also troll using just the jet.

The 86 was predicted to hit about 50 knots with a displacement of 135,000 pounds, says French. But as gear and toys were added, the boat naturally got heavier. By the time she was done, her full-load displacement had ballooned to about 180,000 pounds, including nearly 35,000 pounds of liquid (5,000 gallons of diesel and 350 gallons of water). As a result, she just missed hitting the 50-knot mark, but is reported to speed along somewhere in the high 40s. (French won’t give away the exact number but does say she exceeded the performance predictions for her final weight.)

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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