Few multihulls have generated such anticipation as the new NEEL 43, and Australia’s wait is finally over with the latest model from the French shipyard arriving in Brisbane in early 2022.
Industry accolades have flowed since the NEEL 43’s launch with the trimaran receiving nominations to three of the world’s most prestigious awards for 2022: Multihull of the Year, European Yacht of the Year, and the British Yacht Awards. NEEL Trimarans has surpassed itself with the NEEL 43, an impressive achievement on the back of its earlier models, including the NEEL 47, 51 and 65, which set new industry standards for performance and accrued numerous industry awards and won multiple ARC Trans-Atlantic races.
Multihull Solutions, the brand’s Asia Pacific importer and distributor, has a long list of clients keen to test sail the new tri, and the boat will be showcased at this year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in May, if not sold prior. While the catamaran market has exploded over the past decade, cruising clients have been a little slower to recognise the appeal of its three-hulled cousin, but NEEL Trimarans’ motto of “Just Makes Sense” looks to finally be hitting home.
NEEL Trimarans has launched 13 of the new models to date and has at least 20 on forward order, making the NEEL 43 a contender for one of the shipyard’s most successful releases in its history. It took NEEL a decade to produce its first 100 boats, but it launched more than 30 sailing models across its range last year, which is separate to its emerging range of LEEN semi-custom fuel-efficient power trimarans. The NEEL 43’s scintillating sailing performance isn’t the only reason the model is making waves throughout the industry. The tri packs an ocean of features into its compact design that tick boxes across eco-sustainability, liveability, and robustness, making even the most loyal cat and mono clients tempted to find out what all the fuss is about.
SMALLER SIZE WITH GREATER SPACE
Unlike her big sisters, the NEEL 43 has been designed as a more compact cruiser that will appeal to couples yet is just as capable of tackling circumnavigations as it is turning on the speed for an exhilarating day sail or coastal cruise. The trimaran has the same living space as a cruising cat of the same length, but the key differences end there. The NEEL 43 affords more stability, is extremely dynamic at the helm and delivers more outstanding speed than production cats in the same size category. Dismissing the layouts of traditional trimarans, the NEEL 43 has reconceptualised onboard living space, both inside and out, resulting in a boat that challenges the volumes of much larger cats and monohulls. It has a modified central platform that has created a single-level area and significantly enhanced the deck space, while its expansive coachroof offers an entirely separate level for sunbathing and enjoying the view.
The NEEL 43’s full-beam cockpit has been carefully designed to include generous seating and a large dining table, while there is a choice of spots to relax around the boat, including a comfortable cockpit lounge, foredeck stations and ample space on the rooftop when at anchor. The cockpit also features a plancha grill plus a swim ladder and expansive transom steps for safe and easy sea access. Short-handed sailing is a breeze from the elevated triple-seat helm station that enjoys excellent visibility and fixed bimini protection from the elements. The coachroof with mast, boom and sunbathing areas is easily and safely accessed by integrated side steps, and a handrail around the area delivers added security when enjoying this extra freedom. Underneath the saloon floor in the central hull is the main technical area, and this generous zone efficiently fits all the tanks, plumbing and batteries, with the engine and steering gear further aft. There is also a dedicated zone for electrical systems and connections, and all equipment is easy to access from one central location.
Despite all this space, the NEEL 43 has a light displacement of just nine tonnes, approximately three tonnes lighter than most 42-foot catamarans.
In keeping with NEEL’s focus on innovation, the new 43 has a unique interior layout that successfully blends modern comfort with functionality. The shipyard’s trademark Cockloon – its integrated saloon and cockpit – is continued in this new model, but it is the loft-style interior that truly shows off the originality of the Marc Lombard Yacht Design Group.
The open-plan saloon has a swathe of large windows that create a beautifully light interior and almost panoramic visibility, and the combination of crisp white fibreglass, durable synthetic teak flooring, and contemporary furnishings and textiles strike a minimalist yet elegant balance that still allows clients to inject their own personal style. The galley is compact and practical with clean lines and premium appliances, and cruisers can enjoy superb views from all angles while whipping up a meal at anchor. The main saloon table has ample room to host onboard guests, and the seating can be converted to a double bed for those extra visitors. A neat watchkeeping and nav station is situated forward to port and is equipped with state-of-the-art systems and comfortable double seating for planning passages together.
The owner’s cabin of the NEEL 43 is on the main level, a unique design feature shared by the shipyard’s other models. Enjoying excellent ventilation and light, the master cabin is ideal for cruising couples as it takes advantage of its location adjacent to the galley to gain additional light through the separating splashback window. Curtains easily restore the privacy when entertaining friends and family onboard. The cabin also has an opening forward-facing window to usher in the sea breezes. A main guest cabin is located to starboard in the central hull and is accessed via a stairwell in front of the galley. Enjoying excellent privacy, the cabin has myriad thoughtful touches, including fabric bulkhead, coat hooks, storage pouches for personal belongings, and a reading lamp with built-in USB port.
Back on the main level, a superb feature is the extra sleeping area that has been cleverly incorporated into the saloon design. Located to the port of the saloon table and separated by screening curtains, the generous berth is an ideal retreat for kids or short-term guests, or for simply having an afternoon siesta after that long seafood lunch. An added bonus is the storage space below the bunk, which can be used for luggage, supplies or other gear. There are even more accommodation options available with two single cabins forward in the amas, which have convenient foredeck access and bring the NEEL 43’s capacity to ten berths, making it also an ideal model for commercial charter use.
It’s quite remarkable what the NEEL 43 manages to achieve in such a compact size. The designers have not only created a boat that delivers blistering speeds, but the trimaran is surprisingly stable and very comfortable in even the most challenging conditions. Like the NEEL 47, 51 and 65, the new model has a high freeboard and similar pod design, and an excellent balance of weight and load capacity for extended cruising. The hulls combine a central ‘rockered’ hull, which facilitates tacking and manoeuvring when in port, with streamlined floats that provide stability and prevent pitching. The NEEL 43 is also characterised by her unrivalled steering with the single rudder controlled by Vectran lines on ball-bearing blocks and the rudder stock mounted on self-aligning bearings. A slight heel contributes to the sublime feel at the helm and allows the windward float to ‘fly’ over the waves.
The single engine and bow thruster make the trimaran particularly manoeuvrable, which is ideal for short-handed crew. The sail plan comprises a mainsail and a roller furling jib, and the asymmetrical spinnaker ensure it is easier to comfortably sail windward. All manoeuvres lead back to the helm from where the skipper enjoys an unobstructed 360° view.
NEEL Trimarans has been at the forefront of the eco-change movement within the marine industry and has introduced bio-sourced and recyclable materials throughout its construction processes, for example, reduced Styrene emissions courtesy of improved resins and gelcoats. The NEEL 43 is manufactured with a vacuum-infused composite sandwich construction using PVC and PET foams with carbon-fibre reinforcement to deliver strength and rigidity at a reduced weight.
Boards are fabricated from honeycomb PVC, vacuum bonded with fibreglass/isophthalic polyester resin structural material. The PVC closed-cell foam sandwich laminates provide phonic and thermal insulation, floatation, and are impervious to moisture. The tri’s rigging and sails are designed and produced by renowned multihull specialists in La Rochelle, home to the NEEL Trimarans shipyard, and all interior coverings, such as linings, flooring and upholstery, have been rigorously tested in oceanic conditions prior to their selection.
GROWING MARKET SECTOR
Multihull Solutions Sales and Business Development manager Greg Boller said there has been intense interest in the NEEL 43 from Asia Pacific buyers. “We’ve been fielding solid enquiries on this new model ever since the shipyard unveiled its early plans,” Greg said. “We’re excited to finally have the boat here in Australia and don’t expect it to be long before this particular vessel is sold,” he said. The NEEL 43 that has just landed in Brisbane and available for immediate sale has been fitted to a very high specification, including performance carbon rigging, removeable cockpit and bimini clears, air conditioning, water maker, remote tender-lift system, and much more. “It’s certainly not the only NEEL 43 we expect to see in the region over the coming years, and it’s great to see the market starting to fully appreciate what these remarkable boats can do,” Greg said. “While cruising catamarans show no sign of slowing down their dominance, NEEL Trimarans combine the benefits of a multihull’s space and stability with a monohull’s excellent windward performance and impressive speed,” he said.
“They are perfect for clients who appreciate superior performance while still enjoying the appeal of a spacious interior design, plenty of room to relax on deck, and the peace of mind that comes with stability underway.” “NEEL is at the front of the market in terms of quality and performance for trimaran cruising, but there are also other shipyards producing exceptional models that are great options for buyers,” he said. “Rapido have made a big impression on the world stage over the last couple of years with their innovative folding trimarans and their 60-foot model that has been hailed as the world’s fastest cruising tri. “It’s another example of a trimaran that delivers great comfort and luxury, but defies expectation when it comes to performance,” he said.
Multihull Solutions has sold a number of NEEL Trimarans to cruisers in the region over the past several years and has seen the demand for trimarans significantly grow across its new and pre-owned sales divisions. Multihull Solutions Brokerage Manager Patrick Gilot said trimarans are in demand across the company’s second-hand market, and the sales team is seeing an increase in both listings and enquiries on pre-owned boats from production yards and custom builders. “It’s great to see buyers realising there are more options out there for stable and spacious cruising multihulls than just catamarans,” Patrick said. “We’ve sold a number of trimarans through our brokerage division and are seeing a lot more interest in the models that become available than we did a few years back,” he said.
Multihull Solutions is enjoying its highest sales in the company’s history with forward orders on new yachts stretching into 2024. Pre-owned brokerage sales are also at a record high with listings selling before or as soon as they hit the market. “The current situation, where demand is exceeding supply, is also creating an environment where people are exploring options outside of their original plans,” said Patrick. “Those who were in the market for a specific sailing catamaran are now considering other models because of the limited supply,” he said. “We are also seeing people expand their criteria to consider power over sail, or trimarans over cats. “It’s certainly an exciting time for the marine industry with such a significant increase in interest, which is due to a number of factors. “The prolonged period of lockdowns and a sense of fatigue with living through this pandemic has seen many people want to escape the confines of home and enjoy the freedom of life on the water. “The inability to travel and take traditional holidays has also seen the emergence of new clients, many of whom have never sailed before but are now keen to embrace the cruising lifestyle,” Patrick said.
Multihull Solutions has expanded its team of sales consultants throughout its Asia Pacific network to cater for the increase in demand. “We’ve appointed new consultants in all of our regions and are thrilled to have even more highly qualified and experienced professionals onboard,” Patrick said. “Our Gold Coast Sales Centre at The Boat Works in Coomera is absolutely booming, and we are looking forward to a huge Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in May, if conditions permit,” he said. “We’re already fielding massive enquiries on the models we will be exhibiting, and the NEEL 43 will certainly be a showstopper.”
The NEEL 43 will be on display at the 2022 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show on the Gold Coast from May 19-22. Contact Multihull Solutions to arrange a prior inspection or register to view it at the show on tollfree
1300 855 338 or +61 (0) 7 5452 5164.