KILLING ON DESIGNBY STEVE KILLING
Tek-35 Racer/Cruiser Catamaran
True composite boat with double hull pleasureMy design reviews in Canadian Yachting are normally based on drawings alone. Since the comments focus on the merits of the design philosophy, visiting or sailing on the boat is not a pre-requisite. However, Eugene Tekatch convinced me to come down to see his newborn (but no long in gestation) Tek-35 Catamaran, and it was a good thing that I did. Although I had access to the original drawings, after five years of development and building three custom versions of the boat, the deck, sail plan and interior had all significantly changed. It was important to see it in its final configuration. I was very intrigued by the construction process - there was no way I could have imagined its detail and complexity.
This is a boat like no other and, as Tekatch says, "It is a true composite boat." But what does this mean? Well, everywhere you would expect to see a piece of finely crafted wood, you'll find a carefully molded laminate of fiberglass, made of Kevlar or carbon fiber. The beams used to increase its structural stiffness are not separate units as on many boats, but are carbon fiber fabrications built right into the deck itself, with the ends scientifically tapered to distribute the load. The interior doesn't pay even token homage to any wood detailing. The final interior will be fabric cushions, soft fabric headliner and white composite. The bulkheads, door, chart table, sink, galley, steps -- everything is laminated. Without exaggeration, this is the most complex set of mouldings that I have ever seen in a boat.
The typical Shuttleworth hull shape is very narrow in the water, but has a large flair to give it more of a monohull-size accommodation above the waterline. With it having two hulls, it provides lots of opportunities for interior innovation. There are two large double berths, one single berth (but convertible to another double), a dining area for six, navigation table, and a large galley with gas refrigeration and oven.
Tired of monohull boats with literally dozens of metal-through hulls visible under the deck platform? Tekatch has moulded-in, sculpted louvered grills about eight inches square. These are complex, little, contoured boxes that are the final exit for cockpit and locker drains. They are beautiful, but difficult to lay up and separate from the mould.
It's fascinating to notice what kinds of details are produced when the builder also has a significant amount of design input. Sometimes a product will become very plain and simple, with all its focus on the ease of construction, rather than beauty or function. Here, however, the tooling has become more difficult to build than most designers would expect a builder to tolerate. But since the builder has worked up the process himself, he can push the limit of his own capabilities.
The unique features of the TEK-35 include kick-up carbon rudders, a single daggerboard in the port hull only, a carbon-reinforced, moulded-in cockpit table support and stanchion bases, Airex core in the hull, Corecell core in the deck, custom composite steering pedestals, and an outboard motor that steers in parallel with the main rudders.
It's also the only production Shuttleworth Catamaran in the world. Shuttleworth has designed lots of boats, and many of them have been built on a custom basis. But the production builders have found them too difficult to construct to the weight and stiffness tolerances needed. I think Shuttleworth has found a kindred spirit in Tekatch.
The next three Tek-35s have already been sold, and Tekatch has a line up of potential and patient owners waiting for their chance.