Dan Leech 8.25m Cat

A fam­ily-friendly power cat cruiser, the Leech 825 was the de­sign of choice for in­ter­na­tional ocean sailor Daryl Wis­lang and his fam­ily.

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY NOR­MAN HOLTZHAUSEN

Kitty for a fam­ily. User-friendly and supremely sta­ble, the L825 is the ideal play­ground for a young fam­ily.

While Dan Leech is a qual­i­fied naval ar­chi­tect with a back­ground in com­pet­i­tive sail­ing, he un­der­stands that the com­mer­cial mar­ket is weighted to­wards power­boats.

And as most boat own­ers are averse to heel­ing, he’s spe­cialised in cata­ma­ran de­signs. The sta­ble com­prises sev­eral vari­ants rang­ing from 8.25m to 9.75m in length, and in­clude both fu­el­ef­fi­cient, semi-dis­place­ment mod­els as well as per­for­mance de­signs.

What makes them par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive are their Cnc-cut com­po­nents, which make for a very ac­cu­rate build and con­sid­er­ably fewer labour hours. All de­signs are avail­able as a com­plete pack­age, suit­able for owner-builders who have the time and skills to do it them­selves. But the more pop­u­lar op­tion is a pro­fes­sional build, ei­ther to hull-and-decks spec­i­fi­ca­tion or a fin­ished turnkey pack­age.

Os­tra – a L825 per­for­mance power cat – is one of Leech’s smaller de­signs. Owner Daryl Wis­lang is a pro­fes­sional sailor, cur­rently on board Dongfeng in the Volvo round the world race. Strangely enough, he also likes spend­ing his recre­ation time on the wa­ter, al­though af­ter the rigours of the South­ern Ocean he wanted an eas­i­ly­man­aged, com­fort­able ves­sel.

He has two young chil­dren and a cata­ma­ran of­fers ben­e­fits that ap­peal to fam­i­lies – specif­i­cally, sta­bil­ity and roomi­ness that only come with a con­sid­er­ably larger

mono­hull. Also, the ef­fi­cient hull pro­file is driven by mod­est pow­er­plants – twin Yamaha 115hp four-stroke out­boards for

Os­tra. A shal­low draft also en­ables ac­cess into places – and even beach-park­ings – off-lim­its to mono­hulls.

On our day with Os­tra (Daryl was in Auck­land dur­ing the re­cent race stop-over) the en­tire fam­ily came out for the oc­ca­sion, and ev­ery­one clearly loves the boat. She’s an at­trac­tive ves­sel – clean lines and a sim­ple but strik­ing two-tone colour scheme – grey hull, white cabin and tinted win­dows.

CON­STRUC­TION

She was pro­fes­sion­ally built in part­ner­ship with Welling­ton’s MG Com­pos­ites, though to min­imise costs Wis­lang was ac­tively in­volved and put in many weeks of work be­tween sail­ing com­mit­ments.

The hull bot­tom com­prises three lay­ers of 6mm Mer­anti BS 1088 marine ply­wood. Sides are 12mm ga­boon BS 1088 marine ply­wood and the hull frames are 12mm BS 1088 ply­wood with a 12mm ply­wood dou­bler in cer­tain ar­eas.

Deck and cabin are a mix of 12mm and 9mm BS 1088 ply­wood. Hulls are sheathed in a gen­er­ous E glass/epoxy lam­i­nate in­side and out­side, while the hard­top’s sheathed with the same lam­i­nate on the out­side. It’s all been faired and fin­ished to a high stan­dard. The paint sys­tem is from Re­sene, with Du­rapox epoxy ure­thane primer and Acry­thane acrylic ure­thane gloss top coats.

For buy­ers of the de­sign pack­age, it comes with .dxf files for cut­ting the pan­els, a detailed 2D con­struc­tion book­let and 3D step-by-step assem­bly com­puter ren­der­ings. Says Wis­lang: “I was in­stantly im­pressed with the way all the pan­els went to­gether.”

He was also im­pressed by the stiff­ness of the re­sult­ing struc­ture, thanks to the pre­ci­sion of the in­ter­lock­ing cross mem­bers. It all re­sults in a high-qual­ity build with very fine

a cata­ma­ran of­fers ben­e­fits that ap­peal to fam­i­lies – specif­i­cally, sta­bil­ity and roomi­ness that only come with a con­sid­er­ably larger mono­hull.

tol­er­ances and ul­ti­mately, a ro­bust build.

Like most cats, Os­tra has a large cock­pit out the back and a safe fish­ing plat­form – well off the wa­ter and pro­tected by stain­less guard rails. The rear part of the rail drops down to form a dive lad­der, pro­vid­ing easy ac­cess for swim­mers.

Wis­lang’s not a pas­sion­ate fish­er­man and has opted for a clear and un­clut­tered cock­pit with just a cou­ple of rod hold­ers. But there’s room for any num­ber of accessories like live­bait tanks, out­rig­gers and even a game chair if re­quired.

Large lock­ers in the hulls hold a va­ri­ety of gear, with the 200-litre fuel tanks po­si­tioned forward of these lock­ers to bal­ance weight dis­tri­bu­tion.

AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

The main cabin feels el­e­gant. Its L-shaped set­tee and

ta­ble lay­out dou­bles as an ad­di­tional twin berth when re­quired. To star­board the gal­ley has a sink, stove and fridge, and the helm po­si­tion (lo­cated in the cen­tre of the dash area) doesn’t im­pinge on ac­cess down to the cab­ins on ei­ther side.

I like the way the bi­fold cabin door folds flat to one side, and with the win­dow along the rear cabin wall also open­ing com­pletely, the sense of space and flow is ac­cen­tu­ated. It makes for easy con­ver­sa­tion across sa­loon and cock­pit.

The helm seat is a padded model on a gas strut. Sim­rad in­stru­ments dom­i­nate the helm – a NSS9 Evo3 mul­ti­func­tion dis­play, AP44 au­topi­lot con­troller with colour dig­i­tal dis­play and a flush-mounted VHF ra­dio.

Wis­lang opted to in­stall Czone dig­i­tal switch­ing through­out, and just four switches con­trol all light­ing on board. A Yamaha Com­mand Link dis­play shows all the pa­ram­e­ters for the twin out­boards. Ad­di­tional con­trols for the Fu­sion stereo and an­chor cap­stan com­plete the clean and sim­ple helm lay­out.

Nu­mer­ous lay­out op­tions are avail­able for cabin and cock­pit and Leech works with buy­ers to de­sign some­thing that works for them. For Os­tra, Wis­lang’s sail­ing ex­pe­ri­ence taught him that a cross-beam lay­out is best for a good night’s sleep: the lux­u­ri­ous dou­ble bed is ori­ented across the main cabin. A sim­ple step-up makes for easy ac­cess, and the cabin door pro­vides pri­vacy.

To port is a wet room with hot wa­ter shower and toi­let, and a sur­pris­ingly large hand basin, more akin to an apart­ment than a boat. In both sides a fairly snug, sin­gle berth pro­vides two more sleep­ing spa­ces and, with the set­tee in the cabin, Os­tra can ac­com­mo­date six.

The bow area’s pro­tected by a stain­less safety rail, and ac­cess to it is easy around the cabin sides or through the hatch in the master cabin. An au­to­matic winch and stain­less plough pick take care of the an­chor­ing du­ties.

PER­FOR­MANCE

Os­tra’s dom­i­nant fea­ture is sta­bil­ity. It’s im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, and with the wing-deck well clear of the wa­ter she pow­ers through size­able swells and waves with­out is­sue. The hard chines do a good job of keep­ing spray down and well away from the hull.

Push­ing hard into turns, she re­mained flat with no out­ward-heel. I was pleased to see that even with the rear of the cabin com­pletely open there was no suck-back of spray into the in­te­rior, and the high wing-deck kept spray from com­ing over the bows.

The twin Yama­has do a great job, eas­ily push­ing her to the op­ti­mum cruise speed of 23 knots at 4,500rpm. At this speed fuel con­sump­tion is around two litres per nautical mile, not bad for an 8.25m boat with three adults, two chil­dren and a cou­ple of hun­dred litres of fuel on board. Engine noise isn’t in­tru­sive – even with the rear wall com­pletely open – con­ver­sa­tion was easy.

Al­low­ing for a safety mar­gin her twin 200-litre fuel tanks of­fer an ef­fec­tive range of around 180 nautical miles, but for game fish­ing this would in­crease to over 250 nautical miles at trolling speeds. With the weather con­di­tions and the chil­dren on board we didn’t push her to the max­i­mum but Leech says the plan­ing hulls give a top speed of 35 knots.

She’s the per­fect en­try-level power cat, ideal for fam­ily cruis­ing.

Wis­lang’s very pleased with the boat, and found Leech easy to work with, es­pe­cially dur­ing the early stages of the build when he asked for some lay­out changes. “Dan was al­ways there to talk to and bounce ideas around with, so the end prod­uct is ex­actly what we wanted. We love every minute we spend on the boat.”

Over­all, an im­pres­sive boat. She’s the per­fect en­try-level power cat, ideal for fam­ily cruis­ing. The build method is ef­fi­cient and re­sults in a very strong hull, and the level of lux­ury can be tai­lored to suit the owner.

For an 8m boat, it has a huge in­te­rior and large cock­pit and can be cus­tomised to suit the owner’s re­quire­ments. The de­sign-and-build phi­los­o­phy also suits a po­ten­tial owner who wants to be a part of their boat’s de­sign and build, al­though ac­tual hands-on in­volve­ment is op­tional. BNZ

BE­LOW There’s a well­pro­tected fish­ing spot be­tween the en­gines, and plenty of room around the sa­loon ta­ble.

LEFT The rear cabin wall – com­pris­ing bi­fold doors and win­dow – can be opened com­pletely to en­hance cock­pit-sa­loon flow.

TOP A spa­cious cabin, ly­ing across the ves­sel.

MID­DLE Com­pact but very func­tional – the gal­ley’s welle­quipped.

ABOVE A so­lar panel keeps the bat­ter­ies in tip-top con­di­tion.

FAR LEFT A sim­ple, clean helm lay­out.

RIGHT The 115hp Yama­has pro­pel her to a top speed of 35 knots.

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