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An Affordable Lobster Yacht Floats To The Top

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In the October 2008 issue, PMM announced the Westlawn-PassageMaker Design Competition. Sponsored by ImtraMarine Lighting, the competition would build on Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology's tradition of not only training boat designers but also encouraging new and innovative designs to meet realworld needs. It also would offer PMM readers a fresh way to consider different types of boats and gain a better understanding of which type might be best for their own use.


PMM and Westlawn Institute employed a panel of six judges to evaluate the challenging and imaginative array of concepts submitted. Meeting at Westlawn's Mystic Seaport office, each judge brought to the table decades of experience in the boating industry. The judges included Bob Johnson, president of Island Packet Yachts; BobMacNeill, an industry consultant and former president of a major boat manufacturer; Bill Parlatore, PMM's founding editor; and Chris Wentz, a boat designer and president of Z-Sails. Norm Nudelman and I rounded out the panel; Norm is the former president and current provost of Westlawn, and I am Westlawn's director.

Task number one was to divide the submitted designs into two categories: those that met all of the design criteria and had no serious technical problems, and those that failed to meet the criteria or had serious (as opposed to minor) technical concerns.

Considering the current state of the economy and the design criteria, which specified that the winning boat should be economical in these days of potentially $6-a-gallon fuel, the judges were strongly driven to favor the smaller entries. In addition, large boats would have problems on the inland waterways, with both bridges and draft limits. The 78-foot and 63-foot yachts were thus quickly eliminated-they were simply too large and too expensive. Similarly, a superbly designed but complex 44-foot power cat was eliminated; not only did it have far more accommodations than required for our two owners and their dog, but it would have been far too costly. Other designs either did not meet the competition criteria or had intractable technical defects.


After the initial weeding-out process, during which all judges looked at every design submitted, there were eight potential finalists vying for top honors. Each of these was put on the drawing table, and all judges reviewed every sheet of these designs. One by one, the remaining entries were winnowed down until three finalists were left. Although the judges had now eliminated 21 of the submissions, there was universal agreement on the declination of those designs and on which entries should be in the top three. From here, the process was more challenging.

It would be hard to imagine three more completely different designs than those that sat on the finalists' table: a 49-foot, slender-hulled power trimaran; a 44-foot monohull with traditional styling; and a 32-foot lobster yacht with a hard-chined hull. Each design had supporters among the judges, and intense debate raged about each boat's merits and drawbacks.

Ultimately, the judges agreed that all three designs met the overall requirements for the competition, and a tabular evaluation sheet was created, through which each judge rated the finalists on seven criteria: appearance, innovation, livability, fuel efficiency, dinghy handling and storage, ease and cost of maintenance, and initial cost of the boat.

Tabulating the results produced a clear winner.


Yves-Marie de Tanton's LST. 32 lobster yacht, with its hard-chined hull, took top honors. The judges were impressed that the design met all the criteria in one of the smallest and thus least expensive packages. Not only does the boat have good deck access-with stairs gentle enough to be used by a large dog-and a large outside flybridge deck with helm station, but the interior arrangement includes a generous forward master stateroom with enclosed head and a completely separate shower. The pilothouse saloon has a usable though compact galley with a comfortable dinette and settee/berth that will truly seat four for a meal. Further, the boat has an aft cabin with a washer/dryer, a real boon for the liveaboard cruiser. The single aft berth extends to form a double, so another couple can join Jane, Bob, and Bart for weekend cruises and enjoy their own private cabin.

The LST. 32 gets quite a lot out of a small volume, and the boat's size not only reduces initial cost but also makes maneuvering easier in tight spots on inland waterways. The judges' reservations about the design were minor. Dinghy handling was acceptable but interfered with the use of the swim platform, and though the LST. 32 is a good-looking boat, it struck most of the judges as being somewhat high in appearance relative to its length. This, however, is an almost inevitable result of working so much into 32 feet of length. In fact, Tanton notes that the high profile requires a bow thruster (included in the design) to ensure good handling in a stiff breeze during docking. The bridge clearance of 19 feet 5 inches will pose some issues on inland waters.


Karl Stambaugh's Redwing 40 Hybrid struck almost all of the judges as the most attractive of the designs submitted. Though 8 feet longer than Tanton's LST. 32, the Redwing 40 is actually 9 inches narrower and has just 4 inches more draft. Bridge clearance is considerably lower than that of the LST. 32. In fact, with its 12-foot-6-inch clearance, the Redwing 40 could pass under many bridges without waiting for them to open. Lowering the mast reduces bridge clearance to just 8 feet 9 inches. Initially, several of the judges felt quite strongly that the Redwing 40 Hybrid should be the winner. Being larger, though, this boat would cost more, and so everything would have to be spot-on throughout the design to justify the extra expense.

Dinghy handling was singled out as being particularly well conceived, with storage for not only a standard dinghy on the aft cabin deck but also a kayak. The cabin layout made good use of the extra length for spacious, spread-out accommodations. As the judges examined the arrangement in more detail, however, some problem areas appeared. Most important was that the size of the heads and the space allowed for them were much too small. The toilets as drawn were just 11-1/2 inches wide, whereas 14/15 inches is typical, and there wasn't comfortable width for the average man to sit on the heads as drawn. The sinks in the head compartments were just 7 inches in diameter-again, not realistic or workable.

In addition, the double berth in the aft stateroom was only 42 inches wide: too narrow for a true double. Some judges didn't like the fact that you had to pass through the aft stateroom to get to the cockpit. Others argued that this is not only acceptable but some owners prefer it. The galley on this 40-footer was small-slightly smaller even than that on the LST. 32-and the aft cockpit, while otherwise workable, had seats only 5 feet long, too short to lie down on.

All of these problems could be corrected fairly easily. In fact, since several of the judges are professional designers, the concepts to rectify these issues were quickly sketched out. But the judges had to base their assessment on the design as submitted, not as how they might rework it. In addition, all six judges concurred that hybrid propulsion (a Steyr 75hp "pancake" system, in this case), though it has cachet at present, is not the answer for efficient boat operation. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the concept or execution of the propulsion system, but all of the judges concluded it added cost without much real benefit-if any at all-in overall fuel economy.

Though the Redwing 40 Hybrid was the personal favorite of several on the judges' panel, after accounting for the above issues, this design's score on the finalcriteria judging sheet ranked behind that of the LST. 32.


Triple Threat, a modern 49-foot power trimaran with slender hulls, impressed all the judges with its bold innovation and handsome styling. It's rare to see a truly fresh and different boat design that six completely independent judges all agree is handsome and inarguably unique. Triple Threat accomplished just that-no mean feat! Furthermore, all of the judges were impressed by how carefully and sensibly thought out this unusual concept was. It is quite a difficult design challenge to fit usable accommodations in the odd form and tight spaces of a trimaran of this size, with its very slender hulls. Again, designer Jon Ames achieved that goal.

Long, slender hulls can be driven very economically with much less power at a given speed than any conventional monohull. Such narrow hull forms are fundamentally more fuel efficient. These hulls also slice through the waves and have small water-plane areas, factors that make for lower heave and roll motions, and the multihull form will roll to much smaller angles than a monohull. Taken together, this creates a boat with particularly comfortable motion. (Note that multihulls with fat, beamy hulls-and there are many such out there-don't gain many of these advantages.)

Triple Threat has a private stateroom forward and a private guest stateroom aft. The main cabin, on deck, contains a well-equipped, enclosed helm station and a generous galley, a large dining table and settee, and a full head with separate shower, all with full standing headroom. There's no doubt that Triple Threat would draw a crowd at any marina it pulled into, and there's no doubt that it would be efficient.

Closer examination raised several issues that ultimately knocked this design out of the top spot. One is that the engine is rather large. The single 330hp diesel would drive Triple Threat to 23 knots with a cruise around 18. This seemed like too much power and speed for the goals of this design competition. A 125hp diesel would drive the same boat at 14 knots max, with a 12-knot cruise-much more economical. Again, the judges had to make their decision on the design as presented. Triple Threat also has a hybrid drive system. This is an add-on system, unlike the integral Steyr system on the Redwing 40. Though the hybrid electric drive could be omitted, it was part of the design, and, as before, the judges concluded it wasn't ultimately cost effective.

All judges concurred that this design would be the most expensive of the three finalist submissions. Indeed, none of the judges believed Triple Threat could be built for under a million dollars. This is not a design fault. It's a necessary result of the complexity of the multiple hulls, as well as the intricate superstructure and the lightweight composite construction required.

Finally, aspects of both the layout and access to the machinery were affected by the limitations of the slender hulls. The aft cabin can be accessed only by a vertical ladder on deck. Similarly, the flybridge is accessed by a vertical ladder, so Bob and Jane's 65-lb. chocolate Lab would never make it up there, or into the aft cabin. Another drawback: the double berths in both the forward and aft cabins are fitted into the hulls. Ames did a nice job working in such sensible accommodations, but making up these berths and getting in and out of them would take some gymnastics. As Jane, Bob, and their friends grew older, the difficult access would be even more of a challenge.

By the same token, the engine and generator are deep in the main hull (also called the "vaka"). Although the general machinery is well considered, access around the sides of the engine is tight, making maintenance difficult. All of the judges were quite impressed with Triple Threat, but these considerations kept the trimaran from taking top honors.


Competition winner Yves-Marie de Tanton is a professional designer with decades of experience. Born in Belgium, he started sailing when he was 8 years old. He first went to work as a designer for the John Illingworth office in Great Britain. From there, he moved on to work with the French naval architect Andre Mauric and with Briton Chance on the 12-meter France. After moving to the United States and designing at Sparkman & Stephens, Tanton ended up as design director at the Dick Carter office. In 1974, Tanton started his own design firm, Tanton Yachts (, in Newport, Rhode Island, and he has been creating all kinds of boats ever since. He has been awarded the $1,000 prize for his winning entry in the Westlawn-PassageMaker Design Competition, from funds generously donated by Imtra Marine Lighting.

Karl Stambaugh earned his degree in naval architecture from the University of Michigan and has his own design office, Chesapeake Marine Design (, in Severna Park, Maryland. He currently works for the U.S. Coast Guard's naval architecture branch.

Jon Ames, a current Westlawn student, is a winner of the prestigious Owens Scholarship. He holds a 50-ton master's license with sail endorsement, spent a number of years working as crew on commercial boats, and has served as captain on boats plying Florida waters. He can be reached at jonames15@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dave Gerr is director of the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology and chief designer at Gerr Marine Inc. He is the author of Propeller Handbook, The Elements of Boat Strength, The Nature of Boats, and Boat Mechanical Systems Handbook, all published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill.

To read analyses from design competition judges Bill Parlatore and Bob MacNeill, visit the Web Extras for this issue at

LST. 32

DESIGNER Yves-Marie de Tanton, Tanton Yacht Design Newport, Rhode Island

LOA 32' 1"

DWL 31' 9"

BEAM 12' 11"

DRAFT 3' 2"


BRIDGE CLEARANCE 19' 5" (mast up); 12' 1" (mast down)

FUEL 300 U.S. gal.

WATER 75 U.S. gal.



ENGINE 60/100hp diesel (owner's option)

MAXIMUM SPEED 9.8 knots (80hp)

CRUISE SPEED 8/9 knots (80hp)

RANGE AT CRUISE SPEED 648nm at 9 knots

CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass or aluminum Strongal with minimum internal framing


DESIGNER Karl Stambaugh, Chesapeake Marine Design Severna Park, Maryland

LOA 40'

DWL 40'

BEAM 12'

DRAFT 3' 6"


BRIDGE CLEARANCE 12' 6" (mast up); 8' 9" (mast down)

FUEL 280 U.S. gal.

WATER 120 U.S. gal.


GENERATOR 7kW Steyr pancake/hybrid

ENGINE 75hp Steyr hybrid diesel with 7kW pancake motor generator

MAXIMUM SPEED 9.1 knots (80hp)



CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass, wood/epoxy, aluminum, or steel


DESIGNER Jon Ames jonames15@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

LOA 48' 11"

DWL 48' 9"

BEAM 18' 5"

DRAFT 2' 9"



FUEL 340 U.S. gal.

WATER 200 U.S. gal.



ENGINE 330hp diesel




CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass/composite