Very Slender Vessel "VSV" MarySlim
V12, 32 litre, 1650hp C32 Caterpillar
Rolls Royce KaMeWa FF 550 water jet
Magazine articles about the Very Slender Vessel MarySlim "A British Engineering Triumph"
Slippery When Wet
By Alan Harper
If you've ever seen anything like this before, you've probably been doing something you shouldn't: either snooping round a couple of select UK shipyards or attracting the attention of British special forces.
But this one isn't secret. It's the first motoryacht built using "very slender vessel" (hence her VSV designation) wave-piercing principles and a patented hull shape drawn by naval architect Adrian Thompson, whose designs are also used by some of the more aggressive elements of the Royal Marines.
Viewed from any angle, the VSV is like nothing you've seen before.
Just under 74 feet long, she's a lightweight, long-range, high-speed cruising yacht. If she seems to lack something in the beam, your eyes deceive you: She's even narrower than she looks. Huge stabilizing chines that spread back from that cutthroat stem account for around a quarter of the boat's total beam at the stern. Below the chines the hull body itself, semicircular in section like a chopped-off canoe, measures just 8'9" at its widest.
Back in the days of steam, this was how you went fast: Make the hull long and thin to foil the wave-making resistance of conventional displacement shapes, and put a knife-edge bow on it. Queen Victoria's Navy was well stocked with destroyers boasting length-to-beam ratios of 11:1, emitting lots of smoke, and slipping through the water at better than 30 knots (34.5 mph) while creating hardly any wake.
But then hydroplanes were invented, and—some might say—small-boat naval architects entered a hundred-year-long blind alley, trying to design planing hulls that could skip over the tops of the waves without pounding themselves to pieces. They have gotten pretty good at it, but shouldn't they have been designing wave-piercing craft all along?
Richard and Mary Reddyhoff know all about the limitations of V-bottom hulls. Over the years they have cruised all around Europe from the Mediterranean to Orkney in open RIBs. In fine weather it was fast and fun, but plugging around a headland in eight-foot seas is another matter. They grew tired—not of cruising but of RIBs. "Its very wearing," says Mary. "You don't get very far very quickly."
So they acquired a Thompson-designed prototype VSV, 33 feet long but with just two tandem seats and a camping berth forward, and experimented with that for a few years. It wasn't ideal, but it showed them what the VSV concept could do. Thompson offered them a larger design, but it still wasn't quite what they wanted. "At 19 meters [62 feet] you couldn't get in a decent guest cabin and heads," Mary observes. "At 22 meters [72 feet], suddenly everything fit.”
Known on the south coast of England as the owners of a small, successful chain of marinas, the Reddyhoffs commissioned small, successful, high-tech boatbuilder Multimarine to take on the project. Nic Bailey, designer of numerous intriguing machines from racing trimarans to the pods on the London Eye ferris wheel, was brought in for the layouts and exterior styling while High Modulus engineered the structure.
As you can tell, there was no shortage of friends and admirers on hand for last March's launch celebrations in Plymouth, United Kingdom.
It was an all-star cast, and the result is an Oscar-winning production. "She has fulfilled all our wildest expectations," says Mary. "It's amazing—I'm overwhelmed with the quality of the build. She looks so pretty."
With such a long, thin shape to work with, Bailey's interior has an inevitable tube-like quality, but with white moldings, pale Polystone worktops, a restrained use of dark-stained ash trim, and the big windshield overhead, it feels neither dark nor particularly cramped down below. The Reddyhoffs' en suite cabin is in the long, thin bow, and the guest cabin and second head are on the starboard side, with a couple of additional guest berths—which owners of more conventional craft might mistake for bookshelves—built into the bulkhead to port. The galley and six-seat dinette sit just aft of midships, under the windshield, with the commanding, three-seat inside helm looking over the top.
The interior works well, and it's some step up from a RIB, but it's far from palatial compared to the average 74-footer. This is a boat designed quite uncompromisingly for speed, range, and seakeeping. Beneath the dinette lies the main fuel tank, with a capacity of just over 3,500 gallons. Forward of that is another 240-gallon tank, which can be used to trim the boat, with another 300-gallon seawater ballast tank in the bow.
Immediately aft, the solitary 1,650-hp Caterpillar C32 drives a big KaMeWa waterjet, its fuel supply protected by outsized filtration and water separators and a 950-gallon-per-hour Algae-X fuel-polishing system. A genset and fire-extinguishing system are to port and a watermaker and water heater to starboard. Engine-space access is via the world's tallest hatch coaming: the base of the cockpit table.
From the upper helm station, a two-seat affair perched high up over the cockpit, the view forward is of an ever-diminishing bow. When I first took the helm as we left the shelter of Plymouth harbour, towards the end of the yard's scheduled sea trials, I really had no idea what to expect. On the brief cruise between the marina and the sea, I could tell that her narrow beam made her quite tender, as she rocked gently on the wake of our photographer's RIB—which Mary looked down upon without a hint of nostalgia. But then I pointed the bow towards France and opened her up, and all doubt evaporated.
Deck plan: Multimarine Composites' VSV
In my experience, jet-drive motoryachts and acceleration just don't mix. But even with a single engine, the lightweight VSV combines excellent power-to-weight characteristics with a slippery hull shape, and she just gets up and goes like a muscle boat. At 30-plus knots I swung the helm over, half expecting her to lean outwards, destroyer style. She heeled into it. The speed bled away, I eased off a little, and round she went—again, just like a muscle boat. It did not feel just familiar, it felt right—which for such a revolutionary concept is some achievement.
But this is a VSV—a wave-piercer. We had to find some waves to pierce, so we headed offshore again in search of swells. There was nothing too taxing out there, unfortunately, but in a boat some 65 feet on the waterline charging along at better than 30 knots, there was enough of a sea for me to get an idea—or there would have been in any ordinary boat. Watching the seas coming, my hand hovered instinctively over the throttle, ready to ease back, while my knees flexed, waiting for the impacts. But they never came. With no ballast forward, she loped over the swells with an easy gait, acknowledging the sea without picking a fight, like a black belt nodding to a bouncer. Downwind she exhibited the same calm confidence, tracking like a pro.
Her owners were also disappointed not to encounter more serious weather on their delivery trip from the shipyard to their home port of Gosport, about 120 miles along the coast. "There were no waves!" lamented Richard. "But she went very nicely. We've seen 33 to 34 knots so far," he added, "but she's got quite a lot of fuel onboard. The yard has predicted 37 knots with [little] fuel, but the point with this boat is cruising speed, and she seems very happy at 28 to 30 knots.
Mary and Richard collected their new boat in April, with plans already in hand for a busy summer focusing on a cruise into the Baltic, to Poland, in July. "It will be just a gentle break-in," concedes Richard. "We've got a lot to learn about the boat. We'll see what our general confidence levels are like after the North Sea."
Their real plans, formulated during those seemingly endless battles with the elements in their open RIB, are much wider ranging. The summer of 2008 will see the Reddyhoffs, with a fortunate friend or two along for the ride, taking on the North Atlantic with a trip north to the Faeroes, and from there up to Iceland and the Arctic. Ambitious? Maybe, in any ordinary boat. But there's something about this one that says she'll just take it in her stride.
On Monday 14th January 2008, at the ceremony for the Motor Boat of the Year Awards at Claridges Hotel, Cornish boatyard Multimarine Composites was presented with a Judge’s special award to honour the build of MarySlim, a 73’ wavepiercing Very Slender Vessel.
MarySlim was launched in March 2007 at the historic Royal William Yard in Plymouth, and since then has caused a stir wherever she has gone, from Portsmouth to Poland. Her owners, Richard and Mary Reddyhoff, had searched the world for a yard to build their dream boat, eventually deciding to choose Multimarine, a small but accomplished custom boatyard based in Millbrook.
The Motor Boat of the Year awards are held every year to coincide with the Collins Stewart London Boat Show. They honour the best production power boats in the world, as judged by IPC titles Motor Boat & Yachting and Motor Boats Monthly, but there is a discretionary Judge’s award they can give and this year they chose to honour a unique vessel.
Motor Boat & Yachting editor Hugo Andreae, presenting the award to Darren Newton and Simon Baker, Multimarine’s directors, said “We always like to keep one extra award up our sleeves for a person, product or boat that we feel deserves special recognition. Although we make a point of these being truly international awards, this year the judges felt that their special award should go to a project that epitomises everything that is great about the British marine industry.
It required the vision of an adventurous British mariner to commission it, the talent of a British designer to interpret it and the boatbuilding skills of a British yard to create it. The end result speaks for itself.” Multimarine are very proud to receive the award on behalf of the Reddyhoffs, who were unable to attend in person. MarySlim’s designers, Adrian Thompson and Nic Bailey, are also delighted their work has received recognition.
Together the team
As featured in a six page spread in the February 2011 issue of Motor Boat and Yachting magazine, and four years after her 2006 launch, pioneering Multimarine-built Very Slender Vessel MarySlim has had a foil fitted at the bow to improve comfort of ride in rough seas.
As a cruising wave piercer she is the first of her kind (this kind of design previously having been limited to the delivery of military personnel, where comfort of ride is not a priority) and so how she would behave in big seas had been a matter of theoretical probability until her launch.
Richard and Mary Reddyhoff, her owners, were happy with her performance but did notice that “the bow was so sharp and light it would actually come clear of the water in big seas, thus neutralising the benefit of the wave-piercing design,” as Richard explains in the article.
The solution is the new T-foil installed on the hard in Portland (where MarySlim is berthed), about six metres from the end of the bow. Built using a combination of advanced composites, stainless steel and bronze, the foil is trimmable from both exterior and interior helm stations, giving either up or down thrust as needed so it can grip the water as the front rises, holding the hull in the water so that it slices its way through the waves as effectively as possible.
Even prior to the foil, MarySlim’s movement was unlike anything else on the water, with a ride so level that, as Mary describes, “It can be difficult to tell how fast you’re going because the ride is so smooth and flat, the only time you realise is when you stick your head out of the side and lose your hat and sunglasses!”
In an email written after the installation and before they took out the journalist Jack Haines for a spin, Richard described how they took her out “in 15 knots wind WSW [and] ran downhill to Anvil Point ... then turned back and went back to Portland Bill with 10 degrees of flap up, ie bow down, and a very happy 30 knots into one metre head seas (more in tidal bits) with the bow really working well ... The bow is now more glued to the sea meaning we can maintain decent speeds ... So big result, and want more waves!”
Jack Haines would seem to agree, describing the experience of riding on board in glowing terms: “Never have I felt such ease of travel, it may be calm but the way this boat moves is something quite special.” The boat causes such a stir wherever she goes that the Reddyhoffs keep a stack of leaflets on board, to answer the inevitable questions she elicits wherever they stop.
Unique MarySlim may be, but we pride ourselves that every boat Multimarine builds is given the same attention to detail, even after launch, to ensure it performs to the owners’ expectations, and making sure we deliver on our promises.
Not everything in life has to be a compromise?
Not all boats have to be the same?
Despite the dramatic growth in pleasure boat manufacture around the World in recent years, many of the boats produced look much the same as the next?
Now a truly revolutionary boat is being launched that will not only turn heads around the World, it will open up the globe to the discerning owner. The stunning wave-piercing vessel, created and crafted by Multimarine Composites Limited, was unveiled during an exclusive ceremony at Plymouth’s historic Royal William Yard on Friday 30th March 2008.
The £1.5 million, 22.5m VSV (Very Slender Vessel), named MarySlim, will enable the bold and intrepid to explore the globe - quickly, safely and with the maximum fun-factor to boot. The pioneering powerboat features wave-piercing technology that allows it to plough through storms no other vessel would dare to tackle. Her revolutionary design makes the MarySlim ideal for cruising the globe and adventuring in the most adverse of conditions and with minimal crew.
The stylish and ultra-sleek boat can cut through waves in any conditions thanks to the extremely sharp line of her bow. The hull and windscreen have been constructed to submerge several metres and withstand the pressure of 50 tons of water – so when bad weather is turning regular mariners back to port, the MarySlim will be heading confidently out to sea.
The new design allows for improved performance under power thanks to the ground-breaking shape of her hull. Traditional thinkers say that hull forms should be either displacement or planing. However, a displacement boat will give range but not speed, and a planing boat will give speed but lack range. The VSV uses a combination of the two for the best of both; its long thin hull runs in displacement while it planes on the hull chines. A conventional planing boat rides the surface of the water so it bounces off the top of each wave making for a very bumpy ride, and once the swell becomes too large it has to reduce speed to the same as the displacement vessel. The VSV pierces the waves, smoothing the ride and enabling it to travel quickly - making her perfect for fast long distance exploration and adventure.
A select audience has been invited to the launch of the MarySlim, to view the inspirational and innovative craft as she makes her first public appearance after 18 months being built in Multimarine’s modest boatyard, on the beach at Millbrook, near Torpoint. But the unremarkable shed beside the estuary belies the quality of the build and cutting-edge design, which has only previously been seen in military vessels used for stealth missions. In fact, the new vessel’s owners travelled the World looking at boatyards to turn their dream into reality before finally choosing Multimarine Composites. The firm is one of the few remaining independent boatyards in the UK with a reputation for building spectacular, one-off performance boats to the exacting specifications of owners.
The patent for the VSV hull design is held by Adrian Thompson of Paragon Mann, and the military concept was taken to the private sector by Nic Bailey, a renowned designer and architect who designed the London Eye pods and Multimarine Composites’ 18m catamaran Impossible Dream, which was built for solo sailing by a wheelchair user.
A fuel capacity of 12 tonnes gives the VSV a range of 1800 miles. Combined with a cruising speed of 25 knots and a respectable top speed of 32 knots, she will be able to travel further, faster, and be more fun, than any other pleasure boat in the World. Multimarine is investigating the feasibility of running her on bio-diesel, which would also make her considerably cleaner and greener to run.
In keeping with her design heritage the interior of the boat is minimalist and very clean, with no superficial or unnecessary linings that add weight or are unable to take a severe pounding offshore. MarySlim has been painstakingly hand crafted, painted and finished to the highest quality.
She has been built for exploring in all weathers, so lavish accommodation was not high on the owners’ wish list. But the deluxe owners’ cabin in the bow is comfortable, with a wide double berth, hanging lockers and en suite head and shower.
There are also four single berths with separate heads; these bunks are more likely to be used in extreme conditions and have cargo netting fronts to protect the occupants. The saloon has a large table with an octopus-featured end matching the door hinges, all of which the owners made themselves. The style is modern, with molded stone counters, light paint finishes and bamboo flooring. MarySlim does not follow old-fashioned nautical styles and is a breath of fresh air, balancing style and practicality with strength and performance.
Propulsion is provided by a 1750 hp V12 32-litre twin turbocharged Caterpillar engine, combined with a Rolls Royce KaMeWa water jet. Stability will be maintained by Mercury K-Plane trim tabs. An additional and distinctive feature is her auxiliary power system; a 90m² kite supplied by KiteShip, which will turn her into a sail boat in the event of fuel running out, engine malfunction, favourable winds or just for fun. Multimarine is so taken with the idea it is designing the feature into its other powerboat projects.
The owners and builders were keen to keep as many aspects of the project as green as possible. With the boat being vastly more fuel efficient than its competitors they wanted to explore other ways of reducing its overall impact. Antifouling was one of these areas; Multimarine resourced a new product called Ecospeed, which coats the bottom of the boat with a layer of resin and platelets of glass that inhibit the growth of algae and barnacles by preventing them from finding purchase on the hull, rather than by poisoning them. They have yet to see how it will work but if it is successful it will become the standard for future vessels built by Multimarine.
Multimarine Composites hopes that with the success of Impossible Dream, the VSV and its Dazcat range of cruising and racing catamarans, the company can expand, building bigger premises and securing more jobs in the maritime sector.
Managing Director of Multimarine Composites, Darren Newton, says they are proud to have built such a unique boat in Cornwall: 'This area has a fine tradition of boat-building excellence and heritage. But we are not stuck in the past; we have the skills and resources here to build cutting-edge and innovative craft like the VSV. We are able to turn ideas, contemporary designs and complex build projects like Impossible Dream and MarySlim into successful World-class boats. We hope to expand our operations and deliver more show-case projects of marine excellence.'
The owners of MarySlim have said it was a delight to work with Multimarine Composites: 'The company has delivered an incredible feat of engineering and it was great to be able to be as involved as we wished in producing a boat that is going to give me hours of pleasure powering through the waves. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.'
Bring on the waves!
Power & MotorYacht
Motor Boat of the Year Award
Motor Boat & Yachting
Bring on the Waves!
click buttons to view articles
Motor Boat & Yachting ~ July 2006 ~ Narrow Minded by Bethan Ancell
Motor Boat & Yachting ~ June 2007 ~ Slim Pickings
Motor Boat & Yachting ~ July 2007 ~ Cutting Edge by Alan Harper
Motor Boat & Yachting ~ March 2008 ~ The Judges Special Award
Motor Boat & Yachting ~ Feb 2011 ~ 6 page spread?
Boat International ~ July 2007 ~ MarySlim by Dag Pike
Sports Boat ~ Sept 2007 Pushing the Boundaries by Bethan Ancell
Quote by Adrian Thompson
A quote by Adrian Thompson @ the Launch of MarySlim
“It’s been beautifully built by the way; I want that put on record because that’s important … I’ve had no grief at all [working with Multimarine] I mean it’s been fantastic … they’ve done a superb job. I think they’re probably – I know Darren is standing there – but they’re the only yard in the UK that could have done this. If you’d gone to a more, I can’t say established yard, but a bigger company they wouldn’t have been able to … react to the … owner’s requirements and build the bit of kit that he wants … And it’s obviously a very cost effective process ... You’re the guys … [who] know how to build a semicircular sink but you don’t spend £5,000 on a mould, [you] mould it off a fender … which is fantastic.”
Adrian Thompson being interviewed at the launch of the VSV MarySlim, built by Multimarine, at her launch in March 2007
Managing Director: Darren Newton
Director: Simon Baker
Co Reg Address:
Metropolitan House, 37 The Millfields, Plymouth. PL1 3JB
Co Reg No: 8451232
Vat No: 160 384 422
Company Address: Multihull Centre. Foss Quay, Mill Road, Millbrook, Cornwall. PL10 1EN United Kingdom
Tel: 01752 823900
Opening Times: 9am - 5pm weekdays, 9.30am - 12pm Saturdays
Please give us a call before you travel to make sure someone is available to show you around.
Information & Copyright: Held by the Multihull Centre Ltd