On the Warpath
When a competitive sailor designs a ‘fast-cruising’ multihull, you can guarantee his definition of ‘leisurely sailing’ is probably different to everyone else’s. So it is with Apache.
When a performance-oriented sailor opts to refurbish a catamaran, chances are good the result won’t wallow in anyone’s wake.
Renowned New Zealand yacht designer Murray Ross’ 16.6m performance catamaran was the perfect example of this.
Built for speed while being spacious and comfortable to live aboard, the boat (originally named Isis) with bright red hulls was launched in 2004 and regarded as a build ahead of her time, showcasing numerous attributes of a designer keenly in tune with high-profile racing yachts of the day.
Fourteen years on, long-time friend and fellow Whitbread and Volvo Round-the-world and America’s Cup sailor Erle Williams adopts exactly the same opinion of ‘cruising’ with the need to have a boat that’s light, strong and easy to handle shorthanded – not to mention the ability to simply sail fast.
As the new owner of the Ross-designed catamaran, Williams has just project-coordinated an extensive six-month re-fit at Bluefix Boatworks in Opua, following the boat’s return to New Zealand from Fiji where it had sat at Vuda Marina on the hard stand for some six years.
Now renamed Apache and sitting in her new home at the Bay of Islands Marina, the boat stands out with clean rigging, sleek grey paint job, matt-black mast, and state-of-the-art electronics and hardware.
As Williams admits though, it’s taken a mammoth amount of work to get to this point through a complete internal and external re-fit.
The boat had previously competed in a handful of Coastal Classics and cruised throughout the islands with Murray himself at the helm, as well as being run as a charter business.
But the last few years out of the water and weathering several hurricanes had taken its toll on the boat, which meant there was much work to be done when she docked into Opua.