THE MULTIHULL OF THE THIRD KINDBy Francois Richard
FROM VIENNA TO CANADA
Before looking at this multihull closer, unique in more ways than one, let us consider the people who have made it possible. Doctor Mai of Austrian nationality, operates from Vienna KKG or KATAMARAN KONSTRUCTIONS GMBH which offers its customers a whole range of multihulls from the small 27' to the big NOVARA 44. John Shuttleworth, renowned and experienced naval architect, created the lines and the design of the Tektron 35 which is built in Canada by TEKTRON EQUIPMENT CORPORATION who among its staff some of the best North American specialists in modern composite construction. The use of composites is in effect technically the only real solution bringing together light weight and stiffness and beyond, performance as well. This 35 footer distinguishes itself by its speed which, however, leaves ample place for comfort. The two hulls are very liveable and are sufficient for 7 crew members, the cockpit is vast and open, while at the same time offering a high degree of protection as it is sunk in between the mast support beam and the inside flanks of the hulls. With such a racy and smooth look, the Tektron 35 stands apart with her superb rotating wing-mast, which is also built of composites and carbon. as it should be for a spar promising a high level of technicity, and on a catamaran whose motor; the sails, should be effective in all strengths and directions of winds.
Plum, slightly inclined bows, reverse transom with much more slope and a one piece hull coachroof assembly with gentle shear aft; such is the profile of the T35E whose styling is continued to just above the waterline by a notch and at deck level, by a long cabin port-light stretched out in one sweep like a never ending eye. In the middle of this assembly is the double spreader wing-mast which with its boom announces a sail area which we are not used to seeing on fast cruising cats. Seen from a bridge or from the air, the T35E combines an elegant profile with a very wide beam and an immense sheltered cockpit. Within the almost 2m (6ft 6ins) maximum beam of each hull, starting forward going aft, we find 3/5th of the length. The T35E has been well thought out from a aerodynamic point of view. Below there is plenty of space. To starboard starting forward there is a double cabin and shower/head suite, then midships the galley and stowage block, always useful in a big cat',finally and usually rare, the dining area where companions can find a surprising amount of room. The seating of this dining area can double as extra sleeping space for one or two people depending on needs. Access to the vast cockpit is easy via three small steps. Approval is immediate with the 360° all-round view, here there is no imposing coachroof, obliging the helmsman to climb onto a special set and access to the foot of the mast is not difficult enabling one to participate in deck maneuvers as the square cockpit reaches up to just aft of the mast. On each side of the cockpit the two wheels are close up to the cabin companionways and just forward of the long seat which closes off the cockpit before the mainsheet track. The port hull offers at its forward end a large volume for stowage which can be easily converted into a double cabin, at mast level a head/shower unit and then a big raised double berth facing a long cabin table. Another double cabin is situated aft. The living, meal and circulation arrangement is original. The open cockpit suffers from the disadvantages of its qualities, because although one has an all-round view of the T35E, including its immense trampoline, in extreme cases of strong winds on long passages, spray and even green water can come straight in.
Multihulls destined for charter, or for gentle cruising are too often built bearing in mind that the boat will be very under used. The builder conceives his boat and defines the specifications according to the humour, sometimes subjective of the boat show potential customer and with the conviction more or less sure that he will never expose his boat to difficult sea conditions. This drift, accentuated over the last few years has led to technical errors, sometimes serious. One can remember the concept of the first models from Jeantot Marine which had central nacelles too close to the water causing slamming. Other builders, amongst the most well known have opted for systems of inner mouldings badly joined to the hulls and which have sometimes caused technical problems. With the Tektron 35 we are spared this sort of nasty surprise, because after construction the boat was quickly tested in the worst conditions, in particular during her inaugural crossing between New York and La Rochelle and also later on between La Rochelle and Venice. In 8000 miles of this first great trip, it is interesting to take a look at the best moments in the logbook of the deliverers of this Tektron 35.
On this boat aimed at performance lovers, the best speeds recorded were 18.5 knots on the Atlantic and more than 20 during preliminary trials on Lake Ontario on flatter but less buoyant water. Long moments of 17.5 knots were enjoyed on the way to la Rochelle. Evidently, if it is great to sail like a racer, that is to say getting the most out of the boat and its rigging, the counterpart means suffering wet and spray, because the Tektron is only 35 ft long. In light weather off the English coast, the T35E was just as fast reaching as a Dart 20 and during our test at La Rochelle we overtook without any problem, other much slower catamarans. During her transat', the T35E covered up to 200 miles in 24 hours with average winds, even though her speed had been reduced to 10 knots for long moments so that the crew could eat in greater comfort.
A HIGH-TECH CATAMARAN
Technically the wing-mast of the T35E proved essential on the cat' of this sort. The extra area of carbon markedly increases the yield of the sails in all conditions but also proved capably of filling the role of an almost ideal stormsail in several gales. In the Bay of Biscay at the end of September in winds of force 10, the crew had to run before the storm for 10 hours. Speed was maintained at around 10 knots easily with the bare mast only and despite huge but short seas the Tektron's platform rose above all of the breakers.
Built of composites and vacuum-bagged with exterior / interior laminates : biaxial and unidirectional E-glass with isophtalic polyester resin, the T35e us further reinforced by carbon fiber in all ares of stress. The core is of Airex / PVC while the rudders and deck structures are also carbon reinforced. On the atmosphere side, our test model was rather modern. Smooth shapes, light or white tones and little wood. These fittings are generous and enable efficient handling of the fully battened and powerful sail plan. Lighting and ventilation are provided for by three vast opening hatches. Finally the boat is equipped with safety lines and stainless steel pulpits.
Text and photos Francois Richard