- Pull-out back of the cabin opens to cockpit
- 33 knot top speed, 18-20-knot cruise
- Well finished, nicely detailed
- Simple construction
- Slippery, fuel-efficient hulls
- Simple layout works well
- Lots of ventilation
- Suitable for short, fast passages or longer ones between islands
- Outboard power allows shallow water operation
- Flybridge for tropical operation
The Bay of Islands on a crisp winter morning is a far cry from the balmy air of Tahiti, but this Given T9 powercat is equally at home in the two environments.
The latest Ron Given-designed powercat to leave the Kerikeri yard of builder Craig Partridge is headed for warmer climes: its owner, Vatea Quesnot, lives on Moorea, across the water from the main island of Tahiti.
“My previous boat was a Roger Hill-designed Arrowcat 30. I prefer catamarans for their stability, space and low draft compared to the overall size of the boat, which is important where I live,” says Quesnot.
He says he wasn’t planning on getting a new boat until a friend showed him a picture of Given’s own T9, which the designer had bought ‘secondhand’ off its original owner in 2010.
“It was in my head for six months – I was trying to figure out how to get this boat. Then I called Ron. Surprisingly, he was coming to Tahiti after a boat trip, on his way back to New Zealand. I picked him up at the airport and that’s how we met,” Quesnot says.
“He did not have to convince me about the T9, but I was really impressed by his knowledge of boats, in every detail. He is always looking into how to improve his designs.” Given in turn introduced Quesnot to Partridge, who last year launched his own Given designed powercat, 10.8m E-Cat Taiaha Rua (featured in Boating New Zealand last year). Quesnot visited the Bay of Islands and went out on Given’s T9.
“He fell in love with it, couldn’t believe how well it performed, and ordered one on the spot,” says Partridge.
Given says the T9 was designed with affordable construction and economical running costs in mind.
“After more than 20 years of involvement in powercat design, including offshore voyaging in powercats from 12 to 18 metres, I have narrowed down as many good attributes as possible to a simple, yet highly efficient craft,” Given says. “Construction is in composite epoxy, plywood, foam
and fibreglass, and the whole system is designed to be unsinkable. Even in the event of very serious damage at sea – the floatability of the construction material is greater than the total dead weight of the engines and so on.”
As a Given owner himself, Partridge knows that the proven underwater hull shape is good in a seaway. “Ron prides himself on that. There’s also really good wing-deck clearance, so it can handle waves.”
Quesnot wanted a couple of modifications to the base boat, the most significant being the addition of a flybridge with a hard top. “Where I live it’s always 28 degrees and a flybridge is really the best place to be on a boat,” he says.
As well as providing a naturally well-ventilated place to relax, the flybridge also has the practical advantage of providing greater visibility when navigating through the reefs and shallows of the tropical archipelago.
Shallow draft was also a priority. Vaiterupe III – named after Quesnot’s father’s boat, and a valley the family owns on Moorea – is powered by a pair of new-generation 200hp Yamaha four-strokes, which can be lifted to reduce draft when in shallow lagoon waters.
“The outboards are convenient because I leave my boat in front of a white sand beach in water that is only 80 centimetres deep. With this size of boat, only cats with outboards can get there. I can go where smaller, single-hull boats can’t,” says Quesnot.
Up in the islands, the boat will be used not only for cruising within the lagoons, but also had to be able to cross blue water between islands, including up to the Tuamotu group, around 230km northeast of Moorea.
OUT IN THE COLD
The car’s outside temperature gauge reads just 2.5 degrees as we wind down to Kerikeri’s Doves Bay Marina to meet builder Craig Partridge and get out on the water. It’s beautiful, but climate-wise it’s a far cry from Moorea.
At first sight, the boat is a mini sister-ship to Partridge’s 10.8m Taiaha Rua. Partridge says Quesnot liked the colour and interior finishes on the larger boat and decided to go for a similar look. However, Vaiterupe III is sporting the aforementioned flybridge.
The T9 has a simple layout, with the saloon, galley and main helm station on the wing deck, two single berths in the port hull (one of which can be extended into a double), and a large double berth and head in the starboard hull. There’s an outdoor shower in the cockpit.
Large mirrors on the bulkheads make these sleeping spaces feel roomy and light, and opening ports and fans will keep these areas cool in the tropics (no need for any chilling down today). A nice touch is the alternating waveform of the steps down into the hulls on either side.
The interior is a simple white, with European beech detailing and a hard-wearing and stylish teak-look linoleum on the floors. A light touch of contrast is added in the saloon with its dove grey and charcoal leather upholstery.
A triangular table, which can be lowered to create another berth, provides plenty of room for dining without using up too much space. The galley is to starboard, with a solid-surface benchtop (the same as on Taiaha Rua), small sink, two-burner gas stove and under-bench Waeco electric fridge. A large chiller locker lives out in the cockpit, doubling as a seat.
The large window at the rear of the saloon slides out completely and, with the cabin door also open, the saloon is fully opened to the cockpit. While it’s a bit of a liability on a freezing winter’s day, it will be marvellous in Tahiti.
“The whole pull-out back of the cabin was a big thing,” says Peter Gabriel, foreman at Craig Partridge Yachts. “The owner wanted a boat that was really open, but his previous boat has clears that took about an hour to remove. With this removable window, he gets the feeling of it being open but can close it up securely.”
Visibility from the saloon is excellent, with large, opening windows around the front and sides providing an unobstructed view when sitting at the table.
“There is lots of ventilation – all the port lights open, the side windows open,” says Partridge. “There are hatches in the windscreen rather than a full opening screen, because he wanted to take the boat offshore. You don’t want a big wave coming over the bow onto a screen that leaks.”
The main helm station is set centrally, with the instruments mounted on a beech panel and the wheel in a curved inset below. “The owner wanted it to have a bit of shape – we spent a bit of time doing that,” says Peter.
The helm station is fitted out with a Raymarine HybridTouch GPS fishfinder, with the throttle and outboard controls to starboard. In keeping with the boat’s entertaining role, blue ‘mood lighting’ LEDs are fitted throughout the saloon, on the steps and out in the cockpit. There are also four underwater blue lights – partly to attract fish but also to look cool.
The fully open rear cockpit has plenty of room for both fishing and entertaining, with a scooped-down transom rather than a walk-through.
Large boarding platforms on either side of the outboard and a big boarding ladder make it easy to get on and off while diving, and there’s a small awning extending out from the back of the flybridge for a bit of extra shade. There’s plenty of storage built into the cockpit floor, and a 466-litre fuel tank on each side, to allow a decent cruising range.
We head up the steps to the flybridge and you can see why Quesnot wanted it: the views are spectacular. There’s a second helm station up here, also with a Raymarine HybridTouch GPS fishfinder, throttle and outboard controls and VHF.
I imagine Quesnot will drive the boat mostly from this elevated, well-ventilated position, and spend quite a bit of time lounging on the curved sofa forward of the wheel, keeping an eye on the rods in the large holder across the back of the flybridge.
On the hardtop is a pair of large solar panels, the boat’s main source of charging. They provide sufficient energy to power the fridge and freezer continuously, without the boat having to be
connected to shore power.
We run across the Kerikeri Inlet for the drone camera. While enjoying the view from the flybridge, Pete and I try to pretend we are in the tropics as Vaiterupe III picks up pace and powers across
the glassy water. We are up to 30 knots without much effort, and the boat corners well and leaves a very modest wake. With the tropical breeze in your hair it would delightful.
The boat’s top speed is around 33 knots, with a comfortable cruising speed of 18–20 knots. At cruise speed she uses around 38 litres an hour; to extend the range you can drop down to 14–15 knots and use about 32 litres per hour. This makes the boat practical for both short trips and longer passages between island groups.
Photos over, it is time to return to the ‘real world’ – and a hot coffee. It’s been a beautiful morning in the bright sunshine, but we are losing feeling in our extremities.
The combination of Given’s proven design and Partridge’s attention to construction and finishing detail means Vaiterupe III is both an efficient performer and a class package, well-suited to her island home.
Now, if we can just swing a trip up there to try her out in situ . . .