Bringing a new product to market begins with an aha moment, followed by the realization of a great design once only seen in the mind’s eye. From there, it is carried forward by an individual with the passion for and a vision of the future for that product. Carbon Craft is a perfect example of this scenario, as they bring small luxury tenders to yachting.
Four years ago, two business partners wondered why small tenders were usually limited to rigid inflatable boats. While easy to maneuver, RIBs aren’t very elegant and not too functional for seating, unless you don’t mind sitting on an inflatable tube. And if a passenger is finely dressed for evening ashore, that seat can become a very wet ride, quickly ruining a special occasion. It was exactly this experience which led to the the founding of Carbon Craft and the development of a prototype 13-foot hard tender built of carbon fiber with 75 percent more interior space than a RIB of the same size.
Today, Carbon Craft has a unique line of three tenders in different sizes made at their production facility in Tampa, Fla. Each tender takes advantage of lightweight carbon fiber hulls, and elegant interior appointments of teak and marine leather. The tenders are powered with high performance jet drives and each boat is wrapped bow to stern quarter with a padded fendering system, a closed-cell foam collar covered with ballistic nylon. All Carbon Craft luxury tenders have great eye appeal in any harbor.
The man tasked with making Carbon Craft the tender of choice for discriminating yacht owners is Chief Operating Officer Steve French. “About four years ago, I had my boat up on the Maine coast, and one of the founders of Carbon Craft had a new Lazzara with the prototype tender on back. He happened to dock at my stern in Portland, and I had to go over and ask him about this tender because I hadn’t seen anything like it,” said French. “This product just stuck with me, I thought it was a such a cool concept. And here I am.”
The hull, deck, steering console and other parts are laminated in a climate controlled clean room in molds from pre-preg carbon fiber. After the lamination process is completed, the molds are moved to a 20’ X 40’ curing oven for eight hours. The result is lightweight and strong parts assembled into very roomy boats, while keeping their finished weight on par with inflatable tenders.
The CC110, the smallest model at 11 feet long, has a teak deck and comfortable seating for five as well as plenty of stowage. It is a refreshing change from a RIB of similar length, and at first glance it is hard to believe how much boat is packed into the almost six foot beam. Powered by a 120 hp Weber four-stroke gasoline engine with water jet drive propulsion, the tender handles very easily. Since the jet drive uses vectored thrust, like an outboard engine does, the learning curve for a jet drive is very small for those used to operating outboards. Very maneuverable at slow speeds, the tender will also zip along at 37 knots under complete control.
As the models of Carbon Craft luxury tenders increase in size, so do the features available. The CC130 (13’ LOA) and the CC160 (16’ LOA) have folding hardtops serving as biminis available as an option. While all three models come standard with gasoline engines powering the jet drives, the 16 foot version can also be purchased with a diesel jet drive. The diesel engines are FNM, a marinized Fiat engine that is becoming popular with American yacht builders. The 135 hp diesel engine is coupled with an Alamarin jet drive with a top speed of 32 knots.
As many production boat builders with top notch products have found, yacht owners are always looking for bigger and better. In response to one such request, Carbon Craft recently launched a custom built 18-foot diesel jet tender which exceeds 40 knots of boat speed. No doubt the mold for this tender will soon become a production version.
Currently Carbon Craft’s target market is owners of yachts 60 to 110-foot LOA. Over the next few years, the company plans to utilize new technology such as large format presses for compression molding of carbon fiber parts which will make even lighter boats. These tenders will eventually find their way onto larger and larger mother ships.
Visit Carbon Craft at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Nov 5 – 9. For more information go to www.carboncraft.com or call 800-709-1387.
Capt. Jeff Werner is a 23 year veteran of the yachting industry. In addition to working as a captain on private and charter yachts, both sail and power, he is a certified instructor for the RYA, MCA, USCG and US Sailing.