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January 2004

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



Yachting catalogue

Navigation tests

Used boats


Video Nautica

Article by
Angelo Colombo


Everyone who loves the sea, and experiences deep feelings in their relationship with this marvellous natural element, sooner or later dreams of a voyage aboard a sailing ship with an old-time feel to it. We may define this as an image in the collective imagination of those sailing enthusiasts who know what it means to see land on the horizon after days and days of seeing only the thin line where sky meets sea. But if we were to dig deep into the dreams of any pleasure boater we would discover that this same fantasy is shared even by those who have never let the coast disappear astern and cast their fate to that blue line which seems to flee ahead of the bows.

A sailing ship, more than anything else, takes us back to the days of great seafaring enterprises: the first Atlantic crossings; the merchants of long ago with their adventures that seem unbelievable today; and those fascinating unarmed duels that led to the establishment of the America's Cup. Well, the Dutch boatyard Royal Huisman's creations are aimed precisely at enthusiasts who, stimulated by such dreams, want a sailing ship that can evoke the original sensations of the early navigators, but with present day technological content. In short, a "modern classic" in the words of Bruce King, designer of "Maria Cattiva".

The yacht we are presenting on this occasion is a 40 metre cutter designed, as we said, by Bruce King and with interior design by the Dick Young Design studio. Why design a cutter in the 21st century? Firstly because this type of yacht was developed in the late 1800's in France and England, and then because the propulsive efficiency of the cutter rig, especially to windward, is decidedly greater than that of others. This performance is mainly due to the two headsails which, with the Venturi effect they generate, optimise propulsive efficiency of the whole sail area. Maria Cattiva's designer Bruce King was born in 1964 but already has many successful designs under his belt, having won international recognition in 1990, '93, '94, '99 and 2000.

In '90 and '93 he received the International Super Yachts Design Award for the best sailboat over 23 metres and over 36 metres respectively. In 1994 he won the Show Boats Award for best sailboat interior and in 1999 the Maine Maritime Trade Association rewarded him for his contribution thereto. Lastly, in 2000 he received another Show Boats Award for best sailboat up to 38 metres. Bruce King reacted enthusiastically to Dutch boatyard Royal Huisman's proposal: design a sailing yacht suitable for round the world cruises in absolute safety and with maximum comfort for owner and guests. King stylised the deck design with oval forms for the two cockpits and numerous typical details harking back to the past.


Overall length: 39.92m
Length on waterline: 28.00m
Beam: 7.95mDraft: 3.82m
Displacement: 180.000 Kg
Hull speed: 13.1 knots
Construction material: aluminium
Engine: 1 x 640 HP MTU DDC 8V 2000 M70
Fuel tank: 11.550 litres
Water tank: 4.035 litres.

For further information contact Royal Huisman Shipyard B.V.; Flevoweg 1, Postbus 23; 8325 ZG Vollenhove; tel. (0527) 24 31 31; fax (0527) 24 10 64; e mail: vacatures@royalhuisman; website

But for the rig he chose the most modern things the market could offer, which is to say mast and boom in carbon fibre with a "full batten" mainsail to obtain maximum sail performance. Classic forms, then, and a very powerful sail plan by North Sails, a combination of design elements made possible by the materials used for the hull and superstructures, chiefly carbon fibres, light alloys and other materials that combine high mechanical performance with relatively limited weights. The finishes simulate wood, those timbers which in bygone days would sigh in complaint when the wind was gusting. As already mentioned, the boat is cutter rigged, meaning with mainsail and two headsails (jib and staysail). The jib head and clew are higher up than those of the staysail which is hoisted on a parallel forestay aft of the jib. The hull features a clipper stem post, reverse sheer and stern bar lengthened with inclined transom. "Maria Cattiva", in the tradition of the ships of long ago, has her owner and guest accommodation in the quarters. For the owner, a suite with two double beds, office corner, private bathroom with separate shower and independent entrance from the stern cockpit. For the guests, two twin cabins with private bathroom and separate shower. Amidships the engine room separates the sleeping and living areas, the latter furnished with a C-shaped sofa, a table and a second sofa. The saloon receives natural light from the side ports and from a wooden wheel-spoke framed skylight in the deck. A stairway connects it to the deckhouse saloon amidships, creating a single spacious area on two levels. The crew's quarters and service area are farther forward: four cabins for skipper and hands, relaxation area, galley, laundry and bathrooms. The interior which, as we said, was designed by the Dick Young Design studio, features rare wood throughout, in a traditional style in line with the boat's overall appearance and with the objective of creating a "modern classic". Numerous details such as polished metal ventilators, a wheel that is large in spite of being power- assisted, the teak deck whose form makes you want to call it by some old and obsolete name: all these things contribute to making "Maria Cattiva" an incredibly... modern yacht. Modernity perceived in analysis of the structure of her aluminium hull, the materials and techniques used for hull and deck, the accessories and navigation aids installed, the cleanliness of the spacious engine room, controlled and run by computerised systems, and the handling of a considerable sail area. Everything, in fact, but her classic and fascinating form. The engine is a 640 HP MTU DDC 8V 2000 M70, coupled to a ZF BW 550A gearmotor and a four-blade variable pitch screw. For easy manoeuvring in restricted waters the boatyard has given her two powerful manoeuvring screws: 72 HP retractable at the bows and fixed 56 HP at the stern. "Maria Cattiva" steals looks from everyone, enthusiasts or otherwise. For some she will simply be an elegant sailing craft, while other more careful observers will see a splendid combination of classic and modern, a yacht that is both traditional and technological, where wood (worked to the dictates of master shipwrights of the past) coexists with latest generation electronic systems and accessories to offer owner and guests the very best in terms of comfort and safety.