A new sailing catamaran has made its way over to the U.S. from South Africa, and this TAG60 is no timid kitten. In fact, I thought its looks were a bit intimidating but at the same time intriguing; more like a spaceship than a boat. That intimidation factor rose as I boarded and stood at the starboard helm station, while company managing director Tim van der Steene explained that the boat will fly along at 18 to 20 knots. In the same sentence, he claimed that two can sail this vessel—which I’m sure is true, but it had better be two who know what they’re doing.
Design & Rigging
TAG Yachts only builds a 60-foot model but you can get it as the XR, an all-carbon construction with an extended rig, or the GT, which is a combination of E-glass and carbon with a standard rig. Either way, Greg Young’s design is all about stiffness and speed, even when just cruising, which is in their words “in order to limit the time spent between destinations.”
The TAG60 has a very high bridge deck clearance (of over four feet) so it glides over choppy seas and avoids pounding that is hard on both the boat and the crew. Wave-piercing bows push through waves rather than hobby-horsing over them and presumably, the boat will sail to within 40 degrees of true wind. High aspect centerboards and rudders also provide a high lift and low drag solution. The boat slices through seas rather than climbing over them.
The mast is a rotating carbon wing that adjusts the camber of the mainsail from six to 13 degrees. The standard sail package is a large full-roach square-top mainsail with a “Park Avenue” or “pocket” boom, a self-tacking jib and staysail. The headsail options include a light air jib, a Code 0 and a furling asymmetric gennaker. This variety in sail combinations means that boat speed can always be optimized regardless of the conditions.
Pushbutton hydraulic rams control the mainsail, main traveler, self-tacking jib sheet, and centerboards. There are two helm stations, one on each hull and each with a full suite of Simrad and B&G electronics, all-carbon elliptical wheels and intuitive joysticks. An electric winch and a cluster of line stoppers are right behind the helmsman on each side so there’s no need for anyone else in the cockpit to assist.
Listening to van der Steene talk about the powerful rig, I wasn’t at all sure that flying a hull on a 60-footer was a good idea unless it was under the control of a racing rock star. But he went into detail of the safety measures behind the power which the company calls Auto Release. First, there is an audible and visual warning system. Various sensors feed a central computer all the information on the loads in the rigging, the pressurized hydraulic system and the angle of heel. If there is no human response to the alarm, then the mainsheet, traveller and jib sheet are released or rather eased slowly, so as not to bring the big boat slamming down into the waves. In this way, the boat de-powers itself if necessary. The alarm system also functions as an early reefing warning – if the alarms are constantly going off, perhaps it’s time, or just slightly past the time, to reef. The safety modes are programmable at 60, 80 and 100 per cent and therefore customizable to the comfort level of the crew.
So, it seems like there is a racing rock star aboard the boat—and it’s the boat itself. Okay, sign me up.
Luxury & Comfort
There are plenty of videos on YouTube showing a TAG60 at full speed up on one hull resembling an America’s Cup contender more than a family cruiser. But that image of a utilitarian speedster fades when you step inside this new-fangled cat and experience the comfort and luxury.
There is no large outdoor cockpit, as is found on cruising multihull sailboats in this class like the Fountaine Pajot Sanya 57 or the Moorings 5800 Catamaran. Instead, there is a hard-walled saloon with big windows that’s on the same level and in the same shared space with the enormous galley. Entry is via glass doors both port and starboard, and the windows that surround the settees and coffee table provide enough light that you almost feel like you’re outside. The galley has a large carbon counter where you can seat three for a leisurely happy hour with the wet bar area outboard to port. Four-drawer refrigeration is easily accessible as is the stove and double oven. The sink is at the center and close to the dishwasher. Again, large windows make it easy for the cook to see outside, and since this whole space is a great room like in a modern house, the social activity flows from one end of the boat to the other.
The inside navigation station, which doubles as an office, is just ahead of the galley with a long bench and a console that extends from port to starboard. Visibility forward is excellent.
Two sets of steps, one on either side, lead down to the living quarters below. The staircases form a “Y” and you choose to go forward or aft so as not to disturb people in other cabins. The TAG60 comes with either a two or three cabin lay-out, with double beds and one cabin with over/under bunks. On hull #1, named Tang, the space for the forward double in the port hull has been turned into a walk-in sauna.
|Max. Sail Area||285m2|
|Fuel capacity||211 gal.|
|Water capacity||211 gal.|
The finish quality and fixtures are excellent, as they should be on a yacht of this caliber. There’s definitely no roughing it aboard and despite its speed-demon looks and performance, this boat is all about delivering luxury as it reels off the knots. The South African company is now building hull #3, called Phoenix, which should make its U.S. debut at the Annapolis boat show in October 2013.
Understanding the rigging and safety measures and experiencing the creature comforts takes a bit of the intimidation out of the TAG60 and makes you want to take her out with only one friend aboard. But just in case, make sure that friend is a well-seasoned sailor—if for no other reason than to see the smile on his or her face as this big sailing catamaran gets into the groove.