Somewhere, tucked away in a highly secure location at Windy’s Västervik HQ, there must be a crystal ball. I say this because it was back in 2010 that Windy, in conjunction with Ed Dubios, created the SR52 Blackbird, a spellbinding custom-built 52ft chase boat with a deck-focussed arrangement and neat T-top perched above the helm. Wind the clock forward to the present day and you can’t move for this style of boat as established purveyors of these T-top deck boats, such as Fjord, tussle with new blood from the likes of Pardo, Solaris and even the high-volume builders in the Hanse Group and Jeanneau. There’s no two ways about it, the traditional sports cruiser is being displaced by a new genre of fast cruiser and with the shadow of the SR52 looming large, Windy was well placed to strike and build a 44ft offering all of its own.
Like its bigger sister, the Blackhawk is the result of a design collaboration between the Dubois studio and Windy’s longstanding hull design guru Hans Jørgen Johnsen, this time with superyacht designers Design Unlimited in the mix to handle the interior. A fine looking thing it is, too, especially in the surroundings of Lymington, where boats of this style aren’t quite as common as they are in the South of France, Italy or the Balearics. Even in an all-white colour scheme with muted grey upholstery it still has plenty of wow factor in the flesh, and in the stifling heat of an unusually warm July day its large sun pads and expanse of relaxed seating look almost irresistible.
It’s a bigger boat than it looks, partly down to its impressive freeboard and partly because of the heft of its mouldings, particularly around the superstructure of the hard top, wet bar and coachroof. Chase boat duties were clearly a consideration during the boat’s conception, confirmed by the chunky black rubbing strake that is draped around the boat’s perimeter, including the optional hydraulic bathing platform. There’s also the teak treads in the bulwarks, which cleverly disguise the filler caps for diesel and water, and can be supplemented by classy teak steps with built in lights as an option that will make boarding from a quayside or the mothership safer and easier.
From the pontoon it’s easiest to access the boat via the bathing platform where there’s a clever “boot” arrangement whereby the aft sun pad lifts quickly at the touch of a button to reveal a shallow lined storage area, perfect for stowing fenders and watersports kit. In fact, it’s even large enough to stow a modest inflatable-bottomed dinghy if you want to keep the bathing platform clear at all times. This is also how you access the engine room – the floor tray powers up on gas rams to provide excellent access to what is a very tidy machinery space. The drawback to this arrangement being that if you need quick access to the engines at sea you’ll need to empty all of the kit out of the tender garage before you can get to them.
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