Vroom with a view
Lightwave’s proven 45 footer is incorporated into the design of the new Maestro, creating a unique catamaran, reports KEVIN GREEN.
The Lightwave 45 Maestro
Lightwave Yachts flies the Australian made flag building quality catamarans in their Coomera yard under the guidance of shipwright Roger Overell. Roger and wife Louise acknowledged the precariousness of relying on customised, high-end boat manufacturing alone, so for the past nine years have operated a composite building facility in parallel with their catamaran yard. The synergies from this business is apparent to anyone who closely looks at the exceptional GRP finish on a Lightwave and the new Maestro I sailed was very much more of the same hand-made feel and attention to detail.
Room with a view
Launched in August for second-time Lightwave owner, Wayne Lamb of Robinson Cruises, the Lightwave 45 Maestro, Axis Vitae shares the popular selling LW45 Grande model’s features – elegant raked lines, fully extended hardtop over the aft deck and raised single helm station. The hulls and bridgedeck are the same as the Grande model, along with the davits, engine rooms and foredecks. Its DNA is clear to see because the Maestro is simply a variation of the standard LW45 model. The striking difference compared with the Grande I sailed a few years ago is the accommodation, with the saloon sharing its space with the main cabin. Accessed via an offside sliding door in the saloon, this large cabin straddles the bridgedeck and has facilities in both hulls. There’s a queen sized island bed which offers views on all sides, through the main saloon windows and even aft via a smaller one – that also allows the skipper to peek through when under way. Around the queen sized bed are plenty of cupboards – all finished in light oak with a mix of solid edges and veneers used – including a useful vanity table to starboard. An open bulkhead separates the ensuite in the starboard hull which is large with double sinks, electric head and shower forward, plus there’s access to the bow bulkhead. Over in the port hull there’s a vanity/desk and storage in lockers. The Maestro design required a slightly larger saloon and presented some technical and aesthetic challenges. “There is a fine line between accommodating big cruising cat comfort whilst not impacting on the performance design principles of the catamaran,” said Roger. So the new boat Axis Vitae certainly lives up to its Latin name meaning the ‘centre of life’ as the unique cabin puts you in that spot on this 45 footer – on the same level as the saloon, galley and cockpit.
The saloon itself remains a usable space, despite the rather austere dividing bulkhead, with L-shaped sofa surrounding a folding and height-adjustable table. Adjoining to starboard is the galley worktops and double sinks outboard. At the aft bulkhead there’s a four burner stove/oven and microwave nearby, along with slide-out spice rack and plenty of cupboards which makes for a very functional cooking space; all with sea views. My only slight gripe was the location of the flat screen television, which despite being neatly indented in the aft bulkhead, was right below the open window that houses the swing-out plotter for viewing at the helm.
Hull accommodation has skipper/crew quarters to starboard where there’s two single bunks that share the space with a washing machine and dryer, along with a bathroom forward. Tropical sailing requires plenty ventilation so three opening hatches plus a portlight should keep crew cool and the area is separate from the rest of the boat. In the crew bathroom there’s an electric head and forward is a separate shower cubicle with plenty natural light throughout the entire area from the rectangular side window.
Climbing up the stairs, across the bridgedeck then down into the port aft quarter reveals the third cabin, a double nestled aft and my favourite berth at sea on catamarans. This climb-in berth has a basic fit-out with few additions apart from the spacious sleeping space and opening hatches but should be a comfy place.
Sheltered aft deck
The Maestro deck continues the same functional layout as previous models but with some customisation of the sail controls. So there’s a wrap around tent to snugly protect the diners – or in the case of our review boat the charter parties – should the weather turn foul and the overhead hardtop ensures this tented deck area stays dry. Axis Vitae has lots of covered floor space for people to congregate or lounge and a table offside on starboard with bench seating outboard while nearby on the portside is Lightwave’s signature raised helm station, enclosed with a shapely hard-topped bimini. Sail controls are centralised at the helm to allow short-handed sailing and comprise of two electric Harken winches, operated from the bank of buttons on the main dashboard and all halyards run here via Ronstan blocks to Spinlock jammers and are neatly stowed in bulkhead bins. As per previous models the mainsail is controlled with a double sheeting system on a transom mounted track, with a set of double blocks on each end. Cleverly, the twin winches on the aft gunwales for the screecher can be controlled from here. Also, being beside the davits, these winches can hoist the dinghy. They also wind in both directions and can be remotely operated from the bank of switches by the helm, allowing skipper Wayne to control everything from his steering position. “It also means I don’t disturb the guests while operating the boat, yet the raised position means I can easily swivel round to chat,” says Wayne. Around the stainless steering wheel, which is hydraulically operated, the electronic throttles for the Volvo saildrives are at hand and you’re surrounded by Raymarine instrumentation – a large hybrid touch screen model a dedicated charter plotter while a smaller e7 model is used for sonar/depth – something you have to watch carefully on Moreton Bay. Both these units swing out from inside the cabin window.
Useful ideas here include the flip-out steerer’s seat with 140L fridge underfoot, which means the skipper never needs to leave the helm for a drink and can chat to guests easily. For shore leave, the moulded davits on the transom can quickly deploy the rubber ducky, something I checked when I easily lowered it into the briny without incident for my photo shoot. Nearby is the obligatory transom mounted barbecue. Other good details include the curved grab rails leading to the swim platforms on each hull. Along the sidedecks survey requirements mean you are well protected with four-wire safety lines before you reach the wide expanse of the foredeck. Anchoring is taken care of via a deck mounted Muir vertical windlass with the anchor bridal going through a deck roller cavity but there is another roller up front as well. Behind the collision bulkheads are twin bow lockers with large hatches, ideal for storing the gennaker and fenders.
The new stateroom required the rig to be moved further back on the Maestro and the saloon-top mast is supported by the bulkhead dividing the saloon. The new sailplan has a reduced the leach on the mainsail and an increased headsail area to compensate, so the standard self-tacking jib is replaced by a genoa. A long bowsprit gives the screecher good separation from the inboard genoa while the mainsail hoisted easily from the lazyjacks. Sail material is cruise laminated and tri-radial cut by Evolution Sails.
Making the Maestro
A slightly larger saloon was designed on hull #16 of this Lightwave 45 to incorporate the new stateroom. But there were plenty of challenges for the deck design, including the latest survey requirements that allows for 36 people aboard. “The harmonisation of State survey regulations meant we had to incorporate all their requirements, so this took time and effort as well,” explained Roger. This included the extra plumbing system that I noted running through the hulls for fire fighting requirements and on deck a set of Karly floats on the trampolines are cleverly disguised as sunpads. The aesthetics of the LW45 are greatly helped by plenty of waterline length but also the flair of the narrowish hulls add to this effect while giving good topside height to ensure a high bridgedeck clearance (0.95m), avoiding the customary cat slap as you bash to windward. Low aspect keels are designed for beaching the LW45 while protecting the saildrives and composite shafted rudders. For extra grunt to windward an optional portside hull dagger board can be specified, again showing the customisation available from Lightwave. Hull construction is GRP-foam sandwich with biaxial glass over Divinycel closed foam core, which is vacuum-bagged and hand-laid to ensure lightness and quality. Modified epoxy resin is used below the waterline to prevent osmosis and polyester resin above. Bulkheads are foam cored, sandwich construction. The bulkhead between engine room and hull accommodation is fully sealed to prevent fumes and this is a cavernous area with good access to the 40hp Volvos, downgraded in size by the owner to save weight.
Sailing on a bumpy Moreton Bay
Motoring out from Cleveland into a steep chop on Moreton Bay I stood at the helm as the spray flew over the bows, managing 8.4kts with the Volvo 40hp’s flatchat at 3,000 revs. “At 6kts I’d expect to have a 1,600 mile range,” commented Wayne, who plans long-term cruising with his wife. Swinging the hulls to face the growing southerly wind, the electric Harkens were switched into action to hoist the fully battened mainsail, all done from the binnacle, and then the genoa was unfurled as we set off towards Coochiemudlo Island in the growing swell. At the helm I remained dry and comfortable, and noted that there was no apparent wave slap from between the hulls despite the metre high swells. Trimming required merely pressing the dashboard button for each sail and being able to see all round boosted my confidence at the helm, which felt a wee bit heavy but nevertheless gave plenty feel. Tacking was done without dramas – I ensured to maintain plenty speed to push the hulls through the swells as we changed direction. With the wind rising above 25kts, I noted 9kts SOG before it was time to put a reef in; and using the two Harkens on the binnacle, this was done without fuss. Off the wind on our way back to port at 60° we smoothly glided along over the swells at 10.2kts while Roger and I flattened the mainsail to lighten the helm before reaching the sheltered entrance to complete a very enjoyable day on the Maestro. Undoubtedly and interesting Australian made and designed catamaran which is definitely worth a look when visiting the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show.
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