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S&S cruiser built for speed

A new powerboat from naval architecture firm Sparkman & Stephens is designed for high-speed offshore passages from the Eastern Seaboard to the Bahamas and Virgin Islands.

The custom 45-foot fast cruiser, S&S design No. 2710, is under construction at New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, R.I., and is scheduled to launch this summer. The boat will allow the owner to make speedy passages from his Maryland home to a winter base in St. John, Virgin Islands, where he will use it for island hopping without numerous fuel stops, according to Greg Matzat, chief naval architect for the New York City design firm.

“Basically, this boat will be able to do 1,000 miles at over 20 knots,” says Matzat. “Most boats in this size probably can’t go 500 miles at 20 knots, so it’s about double the range.”

Powered by a pair of 440-hp Yanmar diesels, the boat carries 1,000 gallons of fuel. To accommodate such a large amount, Matzat says, the owner had to be willing to give up some space and the designers had to locate the fuel tanks on the boat’s center of buoyancy so that trim and performance aren’t affected as the tanks empty.

The cruiser also has more sound insulation than other boats its size, according to S&S. “If you were going to go 1,000 miles at speed, you’d want it a little quieter,” says Matzat, adding that the boat has underwater exhausts and carbon fiber capping on the stringers and propeller tunnels. “This will be a relatively quiet boat for its size and speed.”

A pair of propeller tunnels in the bottom was designed to meet the owner’s draft requirements for Caribbean cruising — the boat draws 3 feet, 3 inches — while maximizing propulsive efficiency, according to S&S. Matzat says 30 or 40 percent of the propellers’ blade area is inside the tunnels, and the hull has a centerline skeg to provide grounding protection.

“In order to get shallow draft without going to jets,” says Matzat, “the trick is to design a tunnel that doesn’t lose any efficiency or, if designed right, gains efficiency.”

The hard-chine planing hull is constructed of E-glass and epoxy, with Core-Cell foam coring, and is post-cured in an oven to make it both strong and light. Given the amount of fuel on board, Matzat says weight was an important consideration. “This is an epoxy boat, baked in an oven,” he says. “When they pulled the boat out of the mold it was 130 pounds lighter than predicted, so we’re in good shape.”

Another weight-saving feature is the boat’s carbon fiber davit system. Matzat says the davits weigh about 20 pounds and can be erected in sockets on either the port or starboard side.

Weight also was saved by keeping the boat simple. The pilothouse cruiser has traditional lines and a single stateroom layout. The stateroom, below and forward, has a centerline queen berth, hanging locker and seating area to starboard, and a dresser and entertainment center to port. The head and shower compartment to port can be accessed from the stateroom or the passageway. A storage area is to starboard.

In the pilothouse, the U-shaped galley is forward and to port, the helm station to starboard. A settee and dining table are aft and to port, and a pair of chairs are aft and to starboard.

The cockpit, accessed from the pilothouse through a sliding door, contains bench seating for eight, a propane grill, engine room access, and additional storage. Estimated price — fully equipped with electronics — is about $1 million, according to Matzat.

LOA: 45 feetBEAM: 14 feet, 6 inchesdraft: 3 feet, 3 inches Displacement: 29,000 poundsHULL TYPE: modified-veeTRANSOM DEADRISE: 18 degreesTANKAGE: 1,000 gallons fuel, 150 gallons water, 75 gallons waste (black and gray)ENGINE OPTION: twin 440-hp Yanmar dieselsSPEED: 35 mph top, 28 mph cruiseSUGGESTED PRICE: $1 million CONTACT: Sparkman & Stephens, New York, N.Y. Phone: (212) 661-1240.