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How Does a NEW Boat Design Evolve?

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, a father and son team (both named Peter Dean) is launching their new 498 sailing catamaran in the next few months, never before advertised in the USA or Caribbean. All at Sea checked in with the Deans in April to find out what the new model promises.

AAS:  How does Dean Catamarans start the design process for a new sailing catamaran?

As a father and son team with together 90 years of sailing experience, we personally formulate the parameters for any new Dean Cat design. Around 300 Dean Cats have been built to date.

In setting new parameters, we rely on experience of previous models, both our own and from other owner comments…trends that we observe and approve of, from the various boat shows at which Dean Cats exhibit, and also from sailing publications. We then take a position on how we see future development evolving and seriously note any bad design trends in competitor vessels, so these can be avoided.

Seaworthiness is never a forgotten factor, regardless of any other benefit there might be in the short term. Every design action has a corresponding reaction.

AAS:  How do you transfer a concept to reality?

Once these parameters have been set and we have an idea of what we wish to achieve, Peter Dean, Senior does scale drawings by hand of the proposed boat, incorporating all the design parameters decided upon. This takes a lot of time and effort, and once completed and approved by the two Peters, the hand drawings are converted to computer drawings at Dean Catamarans’ design office. And so the new boat evolves, using CNC cut patterns, etc. to produce the plug and moulds.

AAS:  Could you share some specific design parameters you chose for the 498 Cruising Catamarans?

The exterior styling is to be very futuristic and innovative to set Dean apart from other manufacturers, and be sufficiently dramatic to arouse attention and define future trends. Clear, clean and uncluttered deck areas, with no ropes on deck for standard sailplan or exposed anchor windlass, or anchor.

This necessitates that: all standard sail sheets and halyards, reefing lines and roller furling line are led aft to the cockpit under-deck in separate conduits to prevent rope fouling. Anchor windlass, chain and warp, and anchor storage are all located in an under-deck locker with lid, and invisible at all times other than during operating the anchor windlass, when the lid should be opened electronically from the cockpit.

The jib sail must be self tacking and it is to be controlled from the cockpit. No Screecher or code zero on an aluminum short bowsprit, which is a continuing source of problems…to be replaced with a Reacher fitted on a permanently fixed forestay with roller furling which can be handled by one person in the cockpit.

The steering position is at main cabin bulkhead for protection from the elements and socialization with guests. All sail control lines are led here through jammers and two electrically-operated, three-speed winches for ease of operation.

The Bridge-deck clearance is to be a minimum of 1.1 meters or 3ft 7in. at any point. Mast rake to be retained at six degrees, as on the Dean 441, for upwind performance and quick tacking. Asymmetric shaped hull principal to be retained. Usual stanchion supported side lifelines to be done away with and replaced by stainless guardrails with middle wire, similar to Dean Jag/Pax 550 Powercat from Targa to bow-pulpit.

AAS:  What do you have planned for the interiors?

As in the exterior, the interior styling is to be modern and dramatic. Minimum headroom is to be 2.05m (6ft 8 inches.) Saloon and cockpit floors to be at same levels, making one an extension of the other. Window area to be as large as possible and as vertical as possible to reduce heat radiation. All furniture to include a kickback at the hull bonding joint to give a floating appearance with shadow joint and without beadings.

In hull cabins, all high cabinets, toilet and shower compartments to be on the inside of the hull to emphasize and not obstruct the bright and airy, open appearance and views created by the large windows. In all cabinets, hinged doors are to be replaced by sliding doors wherever possible to maximize space utilization and ease of passage. All cabin and saloon lighting to be LED with dimmers.

Engines and diesel tanks are to be located outside the accommodation area and fully sound insulated. This will prevent any diesel smells in the accommodation.

According to Dean policy, saildrive propulsion will not be contemplated. To ensure a compact and correctly positioned installation, a turbocharged 55Hp engine with ZF VEE type gearbox with conventional shaft and propeller will be installed.

AAS:  In the Caribbean, guests spend most of their time on deck. How will the design accommodate them?

A unique and spacious cockpit must be provided with solid Bimini for weather protection, yet provide an open airy feeling with good visibility, and excellent seating, sunbathing and al fresco dining facilities. The galley must have all mod cons and be able to serve both saloon and cockpit diners with ease.

AAS:  Do you anticipate success in marketing the new model despite an economic slowdown?

Already two have been sold in France just from plans, one to a previous Dean owner.

Editor’s note:  The Deans report that they expect to launch the first 498 around September. For more details on the 498 and other Dean catamarans, including the 550 built for day charter or ferry operations: www.deancatamarans.com

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