Simonis synomious with elegance and speed

'Simonis/Voogd designed Sydney Hobart 2000 line honours winner, Nicorette II' Simonis /Voogd
Sunferries Magnetic Island Race Week entry, the Simonis 42 White Pearl, comes out of the highly-regarded international design team office of Alex Simonis and Maarten Voogd.

Simonis and Voogd's designs are found around the world with their super-yachts, powerboats, catamarans, and both cruising and racing monohulls gracing the waterways in Europe, America and New Zealand.

A Simonis design first appeared on the Australian racing circuit in 2000 for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

'I came to Australia for the first time in 1994 with a boat then called Broomstick. It was a light- displacement 70 footer which was chartered for the 50th Hobart race. It didn't do too well, but it wetted my appetite to come back again to claim line honours in that amazing race,' Simonis explains.

Focused on this goal the Simonis/Voogd team went back to the drawing board and produced the Cape Town built maxi yacht, Nicorette II.

In 2000 the 80-foot yacht took Sydney Hobart Race line honours. Four years later and with a newer and larger version, the 90-foot Nicorette III was also first across the line.
Simonis/Voogd design team head, Alex Simonis - Simonis /Voogd

In 2004 three of Simonis's Fast 42 designs were bought to Australia, initially to work as charter boats on Sydney Harbour. The racing version ended up in Brisbane under the ownership of Greg Poole and re-named Piping Hot. The cruiser/racer version of this design was purchased by Mooloolaba's Tracey Johnstone and with her partner, Gary McCarthy, transformed into the elegant racing vessel White Pearl.

'The Fast 42 design dates back to 1992. We did a custom boat called Orion Express which at the time was one of the first ILC40s in the world under the then relatively new IMS and ILC rules.

'Out of this ILC 40 the Fast 42 was developed by taking the same hull, but extending it to 42 feet to carry the additional weight, and not being built in high tech composites.'

Simonis's original idea was to make a fast, comfortable IMS cruiser /family-racer based on a grand prix boat design. Built by the Durban-based builder Fast Yachts, there have been numerous small updates over the years to improve on the base model and meet the changing racing rules requirements. Over the years they have found the formula successful with several Fast 42s achieving good results under IRC.

'Today about 40 units have been build since 1994 when the first production model was launched. They have been sold literally all over the world. Where only about seven or eight are in South Africa, there are in Scandinavian countries, the UK, Italy and Holland. There are also some in USA and New Zealand,' Simonis says.

The most recent domestic design project for the Simonis/Voogd team is for Cape Town boat-builder Pacer Yachts. The Pacer 27 Sport was the first off the design board. The brief was to design a fast trailer-sailer which could perform on the offshore waters of the South African coast and still be fun to race on inland waters. Simonis reports the top SOG measured to date was during the Table Bay Week 2006, at 24.5knots.

Their newest design is the Pacer 376 EP with the first boat hitting the waters off Cape Town earlier this year. The 376 has been designed as a light-displacement cruiser/racer with modern lines, a powerful sail plan, performance foils, and a high standard of finish.

Simonis Pacer 376 EP, new in 2008 - Simonis /Voogd
After tweaking the prototype the second boat has already come off the production line. Simonis reports she is beautiful to sail and built to international standards.

'The production of the 376's is going well. We are now working on export production issues. At the same time we are looking with Pacer at what possibly could be the next, and bigger model for Pacer Yachts.

Alongside their domestic design work, Simonis and Voogd are hard at work designing powerboats, catamarans and high-end production yachts for Dehler.

The team has designed numerous high-speed powerboats in recent years. Currently under design and due for release later this year is the stylish, fast rubber inflatable X-Craft. Two versions are on the drawing board - the 8.5 metre with inboard engine and the 7.5 metre with an outboard engine.

'We are still very active in the multihull scene with three new Fastcats models being designed for the Durban-based Dutch-owned company, African Cats.

However, their main thrust in recent years comes from Europe where the team are very busy working for Dehler. From their design board has come the Dehler 34 (September 2007), 38R (2008), 44 (September 2006) and now the exciting and sleek Dutch-built Dehler 60 launched in July 2008.

Described by Dehler as 'the most beautiful, sexiest, fastest, cleverest and biggest yacht ever produced by Dehler', the first one is already sold and in the water.

'The Dehler 60 is the natural follow-up on the Next 56 range of yachts which were constructed in New Zealand. This high-tech composite yacht is fitted with twin rudders and lifting keel, as well as a rotating wing mast,' Simonis says.
Simonis/Voogd designed Dehler 60 - Simonis /Voogd

Dehler, Fast and Pacer yachts are all currently exported to Australia, but not in large numbers. 'Hopefully the numbers will improve as more and more of our boats are seen on the Australian racing scene. Other than the Nicorette project, we have as yet not built other boats in Australia and it is something we would very much would like to do.

'We would like to see if we can get some more one-off projects going in Australia, or going there to race, as we feel it is quite a racing-driven market. We also have unfinished business in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race where as yet our name is not shown on the Tattersalls cup,' Simonis says.

Johnstone would welcome seeing more Simonis/Voogd boats racing in Australia.

'I am simply delighted by the Simonis design. The boat is easy to handle and well set-up for the cruiser/racer style events we compete in. While often racing against yachts of much larger sail area and longer water-line length, the White Pearl can match it with some of the best in the Cruising Spinnaker division entries.

'Making the effort to travel to Cape Town to test sail the Pacer 376 really reflects Gary and my belief in Simonis as a good designer of racing yachts very suitable to racing in Australia.

'I believe the Australian racing scene would greatly benefit from seeing more of the Simonis/Voogd designs,' Johnstone says.

by Media Services

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