If weight is the enemy of speed then this featherlight new sportsboat, from the man who crafted carbon-fibre mouldings for McLaren supercars, will leave competitors in its wake. MBY editor Hugo Andreae takes a test drive of the SAY 42...
Every car and boat builder knows that weight is the enemy of speed. Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus sports cars, summed it up particularly well, saying, “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.”
Exactly the same principle applies to boats, especially planing ones, but it’s the effect weight has on fuel efficiency that is arguably even more compelling given the financial and ecological pressure bearing down on boat owners.
The heavier a boat is, the more power it needs and the more fuel it burns. The more fuel it burns, the larger the tanks have to be and the more weight you end up carrying. It’s a vicious circle that results in a heavier, slower, thirstier boat with larger fuel bills and a bigger carbon footprint.
Colin Chapman’s solution was to make his cars simpler and lighter than the competition. It worked – in 1968 Graham Hill won the F1 world championship in a Lotus 49 weighing a meagre 499kg – well under half the weight of a modern Mini!
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the man behind SAY Carbon Yachts, Karl Wagner, also comes from an automotive background. His previous company, Carbo Tech, produced carbon-fibre mouldings for the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin as well as various F1 teams.
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Now he’s using that expertise to build lightweight carbon-fibre sportsboats. There are currently two models in the range, the SAY 29 and this boat, the SAY 42, although a SAY 52 is also in development.
Almost every moulded element of the SAY 42 is made of carbon fibre, from the hull, deck and bulkheads to the seats, locker lids and windscreen frame. And anything that can’t be moulded also goes through a strict weight control process to ensure it’s as light as it can be.
That includes the engines, which is why this 42ft day cruiser is powered not by turbo diesels but twin petrol V8s. If that sounds counterintuitive for a company that prides itself on fuel efficiency, take a look at the stats; a single 440hp Volvo D6 DPI weighs 790kg, whereas a 430hp Volvo V8 petrol weighs 441kg – a total saving of well over 700kg by the time you’ve taken into account the extra oil, fuel and cooling requirements of the two big diesel lumps.
The upshot of this strict weight watching regime is that a SAY 42 tips the scales at 4.5 tonnes, less than half the weight of a Fjord 41 XL (11.5 tonnes).
For Hugo’s full review to the SAY 42, pick up the November 2023 issue of MBY, which is out now.
SAY 42 specifications
LOA: 42ft 6in (12.96m)
Beam: 13ft 1in (3.99m)
Draft: 2ft 10in (0.89m)
Displacement: 4.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 800 litres
Water capacity: 180 litres
Test engines: 2 x 430hp Volvo Penta V8 petrol
Top speed on test: 47 knots
Fuel consumption: 50lph @ 20 knots
Cruising range: 256nm @ 20 knots
RCD category: B for 12 people
Starting price: €937,500 (ex. taxes, inc 2 x 380hp)
Price as tested: €1,080,000 (ex. taxes)