Racing towards self-sufficient sailing

Motor racing legend Tony Longhurst channelled his passion into creating a sustainably powered multihulled cruiser.

By Jeni Bone 07/11/2017

Kato is a high-tech, fully carbon-fibre hot-rod on water that can lay claim to being a fully self-sufficient green machine.

Its owner, Tony Longhurst, two-time Bathurst 1000 winner and owner of The Boat Works shipyard on Queensland’s Gold Coast, is a visionary in terms of alternative power, materials and design for his new Schionning G-Force 2000 Speciale.

Longhurst’s brief to the boat’s builders, Noosa Marine, was to create the lightest, strongest, fastest cruising multihull possible, and to harness the sun for propulsion – a feature that has attracted global attention for its applications across the sailing spectrum.

Boasting all the comforts of home, down to the coffee machine, 19.5-metre (65-foot) Kato features carbon-fibre everywhere, unusual beyond the sphere of pure racing yachts.

Kato’s sails and rig are superyacht quality. Southern Spars designed and fabricated the impressive 23-metre mast in South Africa, while the sails were made by North Sails at their Nevada loft. The one-piece moulded 3Di sails are made using the TPT (thin-ply technology) patented system, a lightweight prepreg (pre-impregnated) product used in America’s Cup boats and Formula 1 cars.

Longhurst has come full circle, from burning fossil fuel to pioneering alternative power aboard Kato, which is fitted with 15 Italian-made 110-watt solar panels that supply power via an inverter to the Oceanvolt electric engine, installed in the aft utility room. An auxiliary generator is available for backup on a rainy day.

Made in Finland, the Oceanvolt system is silent, lightweight, emission-free, low maintenance and claimed as “an absolutely viable replacement for diesel propulsion”, according to Longhurst.

“We shouldn’t have to use any fuel. We will be aiming for a possible 30 knots in the right conditions, with only the sound of the wind in our sails.”

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