The Whisper 300 from Swallow Yachts is well worth a closer look at this year's Southampton International Boat Show...
The three most important things you need to know about the Whisper 300 are: firstly that it’s not glassfibre, instead its construction is entirely wood epoxy composite.
Second, although its outward appearance might lead you to believe that it’s an inboard shaft drive boat, it’s actually powered by a pair of 70hp petrol outboards, hidden discretely beneath the central box just forward of the sloping transom.
Finally, despite their modest combined 140 horsepower, those tiny Yamaha engines propel this 30ft 7in (9.32m) long boat at a hugely impressive 26 knots.
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By today’s standards, the Whisper 300 is quite slender (somewhat conveniently, the beam is within the UK’s maximum allowable no-strings-attached towable limit) but otherwise there are no hidden tricks up the Whisper 300’s hydrodynamic sleeve such as steps or hydrofoils to explain the boat’s efficiency, designer and builder Matt Newland just seems to have hit a sweet spot.
The consequence is very modest fuel consumption and a circa 160 mile range at around 20 knots. If Matt were able organise the engine box to accommodate, say, a single 140hp outboard instead, the reduced drag could potentially increase those efficiencies by a further 15% to 25%.
Properly engineered, modern wood epoxy composite structures offer the cruising enthusiast a whole slew of benefits. They are lighter and stiffer and stronger than conventional GRP structures.
Typically, they dampen noise and vibration better than any other material. The problem of end of life recycling is a subject that most boatbuilders don’t like to talk about, but compared with the difficulties of recycling GRP, timber is a doddle to deal with.
Look closely and you might spot some of the stylish embellishments that suggest that the Whisper 300 is built by people who don’t believe accountants should rule the world, flourishes such as the W engraved onto the end caps on the stainless handrails, and the capping at the back of the timber gunwhales.
Whisper 300 specification
LOA: 30ft 7in (9.32m)
Beam: 9ft 6in (2.85m)
Draught: 1ft 6in (0.45m) engines up / 2ft 4in (0.70m) engines down
Displacement: 2.4 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 240 litres
Water capacity: 70 litres
Designer: Matt Newland
RCD category: C for 8 people (provisional)
Engines: Twin 70hp petrol outboard
Top speed: 26 knots
Cruising speed: 20 knots
Fuel consumption: 30 litres/hr (approx)
Cruising range: 160 miles
Starting price: £150,000 (inc VAT)