The evolution of the powercat has been steady during the past decade, thanks in part to Aquila Boats. The brand has been around for only nine years, but Aquila has sold more than 360 hulls in that time. I ran its most recent launch, the Aquila 54 Yacht Power Catamaran, in Clearwater, Florida—and learned firsthand why 27 hulls were sold before the boat even launched.
“We’re one of only three companies that design powercats this size,” says Lex Raas, head of Aquila’s product development. “The others come from sailing cats, so size and performance are different.”
Raas, who spent many years overseeing multihull design for France’s Leopard Catamarans, says the Aquila 54 came about because of demand for four- to five-stateroom multihulls that could be owner-operated. “You need that length to create these types of luxurious accommodations, not to mention a flybridge,” he says.
The 54′s interior has square footage that’s roughly the same amount of space as a 68- to 70-foot monohull. It’s also a smartly designed space: The cockpit has a table for alfresco dining, as well as three stools at a bar that connects to the galley inside via an opening window and door. Thanks to the boat’s 25-foot beam, the main deck effectively turns into one vast social area. Add the salon’s seating, 360-degree banks of windows and 6-foot-9-inch headroom, and the area feels more like a waterfront condo than a boat.
Aquila gave this first hull an ash-wood finish (the other choice is dark walnut) for a light, airy feel. The full-beam master stateroom has a queen island berth on centerline, with hullside windows and a few dressers. To starboard, the head (with two sinks, a toilet and a separate shower stall) is down a few steps. To port is enough cabinet stowage for long cruises.
The guest staterooms aft to port and starboard each have a dressing and seating area, as well as a head with an enclosed shower. The fourth stateroom, with twin berths and a separate entrance from the cockpit, can serve as crew quarters or a crash pad for two teenagers. This stateroom’s head also works as a day head.
My favorite part of the 54 was the optional sky lounge. The area can be sealed on rainy days or opened in sunny weather. Visibility from the twin helm seats is unobstructed, while the lounge area abaft those seats is its own ecosystem. Farther aft is a Kenyon grill.
The sky lounge also provides access to the foredeck via a Portuguese bridge and centerline stairs down to the bow. The setup not only makes moving between the bridge and foredeck simple, but it also provides a second route to get around the boat. Lounges on both sides of the stairs forward turn the bow into a private nook.
We left Clearwater for a short run along the Intracoastal Waterway and then out into the Gulf of Mexico. There was only a small chop, with 1- to 2-foot rollers, and the 54 felt like it was riding high off the water. One of a multihull’s advantages is minimal roll; pitch was also minimized by the foot-long underwater bulbs on the forward edges of the hulls. Those bulbs provide additional buoyancy and increase speed in displacement mode.
The hulls also plane, and with the upgraded 480 hp Volvo Penta D8 diesel inboards, this 54 reached a top-end speed of 22 knots; cruise speed was 15.5 knots. At 7.8 knots, its range is about 957 nautical miles. (Standard engines are twin 380 hp Volvo Penta D6s, and maximum power is twin 550 hp Cummins QSB6.7 diesels.)
Regarding style, J&J Design helped Aquila to give this power catamaran a yachtlike look, including keeping the profile sleeker than usual. Aquila also used well-known marine brands—many of them from US equipment-makers—throughout the yacht. Besides the Volvo Penta powerplants, the 54 has Kohler generators, Raymarine chart plotters and autopilot, SeaStar steering, a CZone system, Fireboy fire suppression, a Fusion stereo, and more. Raas says Aquila wanted owners to be assured they could service their boats in the United States.
Ironically, in that context, many of the 27 Aquila 54s that have been pre-sold are going to the Mediterranean, Asia and the Caribbean. “We hit all the right targets with this yacht,” Raas says, adding that pricing ranges from $1.5 million to $2.5 million.
What’s next for Aquila? According to Raas, potentially even bigger models. “We’re going to see the cat market explode,” he says. “Already, we’re seeing foils being adapted to catamarans, and other builders are coming up with innovative outboard versions.”
Take the next step: aquilaboats.com