LIGHTWAVE Grandé Series genuine Motor Sailer
LAMENTABLE IS THE REALITY THAT MOST MANUFACTURER CLAIMS OF A GENUINE ‘POWER catamaran’ version within their range have historically been met with suspicion and contempt by potential clients. A ‘motor sailer’ version creates even more dubiety; as such it is ironically satisfying then when a manufacturer such as Lightwave Yachts designs and builds a purpose-built bonafide model such as the Lightwave 47 Grandé Series Motor Sailer – which does genuinely address each and every prerequisite of the motor sailer concept.
THE OWNER’S BRIEF FOR this latest model in the Lightwave portfolio was for a lightweight (8500kg) and strong composite GRP power catamaran that was equally adept at sailing. It had to boast all the characteristics of a power catamaran performance, efficiency through the water and the biggie, economy – but it also had to be a proven performer under sail. In the immortal words of Lightwave Yachts principal Roger Overell, “There is a relatively fine line between 100%succeeding and not succeeding with each of these disciplines, but that line becomes even more finite when it comes to achieving a reasonable balance of performance when the rudiments of both disciplines are combined in the one hull shape,” he said. “You can go from hero to zero with one flick of a pen, so we spent considerable time going over and over the initial drawings, balancing out the effects and implications of one against the other.”
With the boat only just launched and an owner very keen to take delivery of his boat, the window of opportunity both for sea trials and a boat test, was miniscule –test day was to be the very first time out on the water for the designer as well as the boat-tester. Our Mr Overell was either going to be a very happy man or a very sad man, and if it was a sad man then he would be doubly sad for he would be faced with the abhorrent prospect of having to tell the owner “it hadn’t quite gone according to plan!”
He needn’t have fretted, for it took but a few moments after rising to the plane to confirm the fact he had very much got the power side of the equation absolutely right. Ironically when I noticed it most was looking through the camera lens, for it was quite surreal to witness such a stealth-like performance through the water, from a boat with a ‘stick’. It remained level, there was virtually no wake or ‘fuss’ at the top speed of 23kts; it was obviously very efficient through the water, a fact later confirmed by the fuel readings of 1 (one) LPNM at eight knots and 2 (two) LPNM at its most efficient cruise speed of 15.5kts.
If I wanted to compare the ride attributes and visual spectacle to anything “It remained level, there was virtually no wake or ‘fuss’ at the top speed of 23kts.” in particular, the displacement-style Brisbane River Cats with their stealth like, no-fuss level attitude through the water would perhaps be the closest. Performance was impressive then, with propulsion provided by what was very modest power for a 47-footer, a pair of 260hp, 2993cc inline 6-cylinder, direct injection 6BY260 Yanmar diesels which ran through Yanmar KMH50A (2.43:1) gearboxes and conventional shaft drive, to a pair of reputedly rather trick 20 x 21-inch propellers (no ID mentioned).
The ‘sailer’ in motor sailer
We were only half way though the test though, we had only ticked one box; remember our owner also insisted on his new boat being a capable sailboat also, set up in such a way that it could be easily sailed by just two people. He didn’t want a ‘slug’ either; he expected his yacht to perform optimally as well under sail as it would under power. Do the two disciplines marry acceptably well, we were about to find out!
The answer was short and sweet – yes they did and let me tell you, it probably took a week to wipe the smile off Overell’s face. “We made some quite radical design changes,” he explained, “and while it appeared right on paper, the ultimate test with any new design tack is when you ask the question of this change, on the water. I am actually quite ecstatic about the outcome of this design really; it performed better than I could ever have hoped for, especially under sail.”
I don’t know what he was expecting, but to me regardless of its prowess under power, it was one hell of a sail boat too.
“We made some quite radical design changes”
Traditionally catamarans sail well in a reaching situation, but this particular hull by accident or design went surprisingly well ‘on the wind’ also. It pointed surprisingly well, with good power, needless to say the ‘GM Sails’ genoa with its 120% overlap, and the 68sqm main, were working to optimum efficiency. Interestingly, and I suppose it made sense under the circumstances (reaching ability), the Grande carried an effective 70sqm screecher, rather than a spinnaker.
As far as being user-friendly to the skipper who has to raise the sails while mother helms, again it was a breeze and certainly addressed the obligatory criteria of the owner. Such was the design of the rig, the Leisure Furl roller main and the furled foresails were easily managed from the cockpit too, with all the sheets going back to a central control point either side on what in effect was the roof of the aft cabin.
Innovative features here which I particularly liked were the GRP covers over the entire length of the sheet guide or ‘gutter’, so no ropes were exposed at any point – from the mast to the aft ‘jam’ cleats. Brilliant were the moulded integral boxes adjacent to those jam cleats, which solved the problem of the unused sheets lying around at your feet or up on the deck. And, the approach to the main was so simple, yet clever. Through a system of heavy duty pulleys and guides and two more (manual) Andersen winches, the main could be operated from the one point on the port side of the transom beam. There was no traveller track for the main, just pulleys each side on the transom beam, which geared down the port and starboard sheets to the boom tip. Hard to explain in words, but very effective and most importantly, easy to operate.
Having established that our Lightwave performed up to expectations, beyond in fact, our attention reverted to its accommodation – was it up to scratch as a long-range cruiser, as per item number three on our owner’s list of mandatory criteria.
I guess when you have built as many catamarans as the team from Lightwave Yachts have you would have a fairly good idea of what works and what doesn’t, but thankfully this didn’t stop the team from further expressing their individuality by continually adding new innovation so as to further advance the cruising ideology. Cruising is their passion, so naturally what they learn from their experiences along the way is then added to the rich tapestry of their yachts.
Much of the innovation I found aboard the Grande you could very easily take for granted for it was subtle, yet so effective. Take the cockpit for instance, the sheet storage, the ‘main’ set-up, the access to the engines through the aft floor hatches, the starboard transom beam mini-galley and of course the out-of-the-way raised helm position that is so uniquely Lightwave all enhance the lifestyle aspect.
The (padded) seating allocation and layout catered for a crowd, and I especially liked the aft cockpit table which raised and lowered. Big deal I hear you say, but this table mounting frame encapsulated two stainless steel roof-height struts that whilst obviously adding support to the full cockpit overhang, allowed this table to alternate between, coffee, dining and bar-stool heights then right up out of the way at roof height, where perhaps in a full-on sailing or rough-seas situation you would need uncluttered space to allow deft movement about this cockpit area.
Up on the foredeck we discovered another absolute revelation. Walkways to the bow were uncluttered, wide and provided good quick access to the bow when under sail. The trampoline was fine, the rig engineering on the bow beam was a sight to behold and the sun-bathing pad was substantial and looked like it was actually planned – not an after-thought. There were, however, two rather innocuous stainless steel hoops adjacent to the anchor chain guide to the raised Muir Atlantic VRC2200 anchor winch, which caught my attention. What possible use could they be? “Ahhhh,” Overell proclaimed, “I thought you would ask that.
“This owner has intentions of exploring in-depth, the northern regions of Australia. It could be any time of the year and when the heat of the day is at its worst, they would like to cool off. With no immediate plans to dive in the water to cool off with the sharks, crocs and stingers, he would need an alternative. An onboard alternative in fact, so, just unclip this sun-pad off its base, lift the lid (the sun-pad base) and swing it 180° forward so as to mount on these two stainless steel hoops and voila before you lies criteria item number four, a spa pool able to be filled with salt or fresh water, hot or cold!” How many 47-footers I ruminated, boasted a feature like this?
I would describe the interior of the Lightwave 47 Grande Motor Sailer as both classy as well as entirely practical, without being over-the-top gushy and pretentious; which in reality is precisely what you would want in a long-range cruiser. With the cabin structure traditionally further aft in a sailing catamaran, layout was predictable with a wider than usual saloon and a downstairs galley. Décor here and indeed throughout the vessel, was a combo of plush panels, leather upholstery, gelcoat and European steamed Beech woodwork. Sunbrella fabric in a startling navy and white was used for the coverings of the “At the base of the stairs down into the hull proper was what could only be described as a comprehensive purposeful galley.” cockpit cushions which are sun and water resistant.
Focal point within the open-plan saloon was of course the dining setting which seated five – plus another two on the outside of this setting, on two swing-arm stools. What a neat idea, so simple, so effective and so non-intrusive in terms of storage; when not in use they simply swing back out of the way, in under the actual table. Other nice touches in here were the entertainment module to starboard and opposite this, the aft mini lounge. Clever thinking saw the hinged shelf behind this mini lounge able to be opened up so as to provide a cross draft to the accommodation level below. “The owner abhors the thought of any form of air-conditioning,” Overell explained, “so cross-drafts courtesy of this and additional side and deck hatches, became all the more important.”
Layout below decks was reasonably flexible with this Grande 47 model.
Naturally first thought for a model like this would be its suitability to the charter industry and as such a four-cabin four-bathroom version is available, with of course an upstairs galley. There is another quite different four-bedroom layout which is a mixture of single, double and queen berths, and there is the unadulterated luxury version with two ensuited cabins. And, there is this standard three-cabin layout option of two guest cabins to starboard and the full-length master stateroom to portside.
At the base of the stairs down into the hull proper was what could only be described as a comprehensive purposeful galley. Utilising both sides of the starboard hull at amidships, it featured house-size refrigeration, a hob-top stove, a wall oven, convection microwave oven, generous bench space, plenty of storage provision and most important of all, plenty of room to move about. It had everything required of an extended-stay situation you wanted for nothing.
With the galley seemingly demanding a sizable percentage of floor space I was a little surprised to find so much space still available in the starboard hull, for accommodation purposes. Forward of the galley was the main guest cabin, a queen-size berth in a modestly appointed yet still most comfortable cabin. Forward of that again was a shower and head, in the vee of the bow and while restricted in area, none the less it was your own private bathroom.
Aft of the galley was the third bedroom and in the context of most aft cabins on catamarans, this particular version was generously spacious and provided enough room for a double berth. The side window just above bed level, with one-way glass so the general public could not see in, was a real ambience enhancer that made this room all the more acceptable. The only downside of this third cabin was I guess, was you had to knock on the door of either the skipper or the guest’s cabin door, if you wanted a wee wee in the middle of the night – there was no house bathroom as such!
Elaborating further on the area of this aft cabin, this aspect was particularly meritorious considering you were up against the engine bulkhead also. One would have expected one or other of these areas (aft cabin or engine bay) to suffer spacewise but each engine bay was large enough for the engines and certainly plenty of room to move around the engines for maintenance purposes. Despite this though, there was still space available for features such as steering, tankage, engine batteries, the Barnaclean hull treatment system (no need for anti-fouling with this system), an 80LPH water maker, filters, and in a real break with tradition, the veritable Rolls Royce of power generation systems, a WhisperGen MicroCHP System Output 12V / 70A DC generator. The only mechanical items not in here were the battery bank of six AGM 100Ah batteries and the Outback Marine (USA) Combo2600W Inverter with 100A Charger, which were mounted in behind the backrests of the saloon lounge.
I have saved the best until last – the master stateroom portside. Able to be completely privatised by sliding in sequence a couple of panels and a secreted sliding door, this room took up the entire portside hull. The berth was a semi island berth which occupied the same position as the aft cabin in the hull opposite. I have a sneaking feeling this room was wider however, for there seemed to be more room to play with. This made the previous point about available space aft, just that much more impacting.
Forward of this berth was a settee and opposite it a wall unit housing a full hanging wardrobe and set of drawers. Then you had the walkway to the above level, then further forward again was a bathroom of huge dimension; by far the biggest bathroom I have ever seen in a 47-footer in fact. To the left as you entered was the head, with plenty of room around it – to spread the magazines out, if you know what I mean!Opposite this was a vanity and a set of double cupboards. Open the doors and no it wasn’t a large medicine cupboard or indeed vanity cupboard for all the ladies touch-up remedies; instead it was a combo washer dryer and beside it a linen cupboard of most generous proportions. But wait, there was more, for ahead of that again was a second vanity and the remote shower, with towels on the wall rack that was far enough forward again of the shower, that these towels would never get wet.
The Lightwave 47 Grande Series Motor Sailer was the absolute epitome of a genuine cruising motor sailer. More importantly, it was a motor sailer which excelled under both modes of power. Finish was what we have come to expect from the Gold Coast manufacturer, and the innovation, it was the icing on the cake as far as I was concerned for there were just so many good ideas that made this boat genuinely user-friendly. At $1,450,000 as tested, with all the very best of gear aboard, I felt it was exceptional value for money for a 60-footer. Well the equivalent of a 60-footer!