TEST Will tomorrow’s boats have the hull of the Advanced A44?

After much talk about it during the winter and spring, it’s finally time to try the Advanced A44, the smallest of the Italian shipyard’s models(which just launched its new 80-footer).
Having already had the opportunity to carefully study both the deck spaces and the interior, my attention is all on the hull, the work of Roberto Biscontini, a designer with a great deal of experience in the America’s Cup world. This is how Roberto himself had introduced the A44 to us on the day of its official debut.

The western Ligurian seems not to like me, the wind is struggling to even show up in this very hot week. The thermal doesn’t feel like blowing either. We go out anyway, as the air settles around five knots. We hoist mainsail and unfurl the jib, adjusting it to make the most of this light breeze.

And here is the first surprise: the boat immediately skids about ten degrees and immediately rests on its own edge. It was the behavior I expected, actually, but experiencing it is different. “In the design of this boat we started with big ambitions, so we developed a very detailed design, using CFD a lot, both for the aerodynamic and the hydrodynamic part,” Roberto Biscontini had told me. Which resulted in a hull that is striking for its maximum beam (by as much as 4.25 meters). “The maximum width in itself is not amazing, but it is true that it goes from the middle of the boat all the way to the stern, and so I obviously siphoned off experiences I had with Team New Zealand when we designed the Volvo Camper for the round-the-world race. So we developed about twenty-five to thirty hulls, which we tested with CFD to optimize performance.”

Also at the anchor you can see the edge and flared design towards the stern
Also at the anchor you can see the edge and flared design towards the stern

At first I am somewhat puzzled by the behavior of the A44 after turns. Because there is little air, I always come out of the turn a little leaning, then slowly hemming in as I bring the boat up to speed. The A44 picks up speed steadily but rather slowly. On the third turn I realize that it is I who am making a mistake.

With a boat that has such a hull, the exit from the turn, even with little air, must still be fairly tight: what is critical is to bring the hull to its first degree of heel, then the boat almost single-handedly creates the apparent and accelerates quickly. As soon as the wind strengthens slightly, this factor becomes even more noticeable. As soon as the A44 rests on its “rail,” I can feel the difference underfoot.

Even when we hoist the gennaker the A44 behaves the same way. We keep a fairly tight angle, and voila, the game is done: the boat skids while remaining in full control of yours truly who is at the helm, and sailing immediately becomes fun. In short, one should not be afraid to “pull” the corner. Rather, it is very important to let it accelerate by hemming even sharply (critical speed is reached in a moment) and then use the resulting pressure to lean and gain meters in the stern. With ten to twelve knots of wind it must be a real treat.

A look at the minimalist interiors, the product of Studio Nauta
A look at the minimalist interiors, the product of Studio Nauta

The question (which is then also a provocation) came to me as I was driving back toward Milan in the evening. In recent years we have seen increasingly wide boats, on which, above all, the maximum beam started from the middle of the boat and stayed all the way to the stern. A solution that disproportionately increased living space, both indoor and outdoor. Now, the hull of the A44, when viewed from the surface of the water, rises very much laterally in its aft sections, effectively taking away interior space as well. What will the large production sites decide? Will they opt for hulls of this type, which are decidedly easy and fun, perhaps giving up the aft cabins or lengthening the cockpit and aft of the rudders (which would lead to the retention of the cabins, at the expense of saloon space)?



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