Best Of Both Worlds
Yacht Style|Issue 59
Designed to be as sleek and fast as a monohull motor yacht, Aquila’s new flagship 70 also offers the enormous living areas of a large powercat, while luxurious, semi-custom interiors and advanced technologies further open the doors to a new level of clientele.
Mark Sturgess

When charged with creating the Aquila 70, J&J Design was faced with an unusual challenge: design a new 70ft powercat that looked fresh, unlike anything on the water. It had to lose the usual boxy look of most big cats and instead have a sleek, contemporary profile that would match the yacht’s top speed of 27 knots.

The Slovenian firm, which has created new designs for more than 50 builders around the world, also had to make sure the new boat had a luxurious interior and smartly designed exterior.

J&J has been designing for Aquila since the latter was founded in 2012, with the brand’s other models including the 32, 36, 44 and the new 54, which was unveiled in February along with the 70. But the flagship had to be a special design, aimed at a much more exclusive client.

“The aesthetics and handling had to be the main drivers of this boat,” says Lex Raas, President of Aquila and co-founder of the brand with Bill McGill and Sino Eagle’s Frank Xiong.

“But we also needed to focus on a yacht-quality finish. At this upper end, you’re talking semi-custom rather than production, so you need to give the clients quality and choices.”

Owners do have the option of customising the 70, including choosing interior amenities and number of staterooms. Other choices include at least two completely different layouts for the main-deck interior, the galley up, down or both, and an open or enclosed flybridge.

MONOHULL PERFORMANCE

Aquila has strong competitors in the 65-75ft power cat segment including Sunreef, Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot, but Raas was really aiming at motor yacht builders like Azimut, Sunseeker and Princess.

“A lot of these powercats may only do 15 knots and have boxy shapes,” he says. “We surveyed the owners of those yachts and they told us that’s what they don’t like about big cats. We understood we needed performance and looks. They have to have a reason to change.”

In profile, the 70 could almost be mistaken for a monohull, with the sleek shape, trendy window patterns and sharp forefoot. “Everyone is blown away by the lines,” Raas says.

With the twin 1000hp Volvo D13 inboards, the boat not only has a stated top speed of 27 knots but also proved it on a recent test off Clearwater, home to the MarineMax headquarters in Florida.

On our short run into the Gulf of Mexico, which involved running a gauntlet of crab traps, the boat handled well, hitting 27.4 knots without hesitation. The friendly cruise is 21-22 knots at 2,000 rpm. Running a cat feels different than a monohull, especially when it comes to sharp course corrections, but the Aquila felt solid in the minor chop.

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