Safe the best for last, as they say, right? And as such I´d like to write my final article from this year´s La Grande Motte Multihull show about a very special catamaran. HH Catamarans is neither a newcomer on the boating market – actually, the company was founded some 12 years ago by the renowned boatbuilders Mr. Hudson and Mr. Hakes – hence the name “HH” Catamarans. Nor is their no-compromise approach new.

Catamaran overkill at La Grande Motte

Honestly, I´ve seen them around but never really approached this brand or boat. Maybe that is because “HH” is an awkward name to speak, but surely because I did not really know what HH Catamarans was all about and frankly, what an awesome build their boats really are! In this, join me for a really cool walkthrough in a yacht that sets the bar a bit higher. Quite a bit!

Emerging Player: HH Catamarans

First things first: Yes, these are boats which are built in China. But, like with so many other things, it is not the origin of a product that is deciding but the briefing and budget given to the makers. In terms of HH Catamarans, the company has set up a state-of-the-art production plant in Xiamen that is owned and run by the company (not a rented production facility!). I haven´t been there but from what one can see online and by talking to the guys present at the HH Cats stand, this is the best from the best. Most advanced CNC, infusion and Carbon Fiber processing technology on the market. Cheap China? Not at all! This 44-footer comes with a plus one million price tag: An HH Catamaran is absolute top shelf luxury.

Like a TIE-Fighter

As apparently the stand and the catamaran was full the whole boat show, I walked by several times hoping for a calm spot to not being interfered with when taking pictures. Which was really hard. Even before opening and after closing times, the cat was full of people checking it out. Which is a good sign. And I can understand why it attracts so many people: Nearing myself from bow, the design and lines are really breathtaking!

Angled, flat and edgy design

The extra-slim hulls and the negative stems make for a fine, slicing entry. The freeboard is very high and distance from the middle section to the waterline pleasantly high: A sign for a very seakind and fast catamaran. I liked the angled shapes very much, instantly I am reminded of the “Star Wars” starship design of the famous TIE-Fighters by the Empire – a daring look for sure. The high class paint of the hull sets it apart from the white deck-salon. A starship, ready to fly.

Somehow … awkward at first glance

This enthusiasm changes a bit when I look from a stern angle at the boat. Again, I am reminded of another starship, this time Captain Jean-Luc Picard´s ENTERPRISE D, which looks awesome seen from some angles and doesn´t work anymore from others. The reason for this strange look of the HH 44 are the closed aft sections. The boat appears to have been sort of “cut off” or “sawn away” at the stern – but later more to this, because there is a not so stupid reason.

A hidden gem

Anyways, right on the last day of the “Multicoque 2024” it was my last chance to do the walkthrough and so I went over. Again, even for a traditionally lame last boat show Sunday, the yacht was full of people. So I thank all the guys who allowed me to have them on my pictures here, and so I started my tour.

All of the time well visited

The HH 44 is the smallest entry level catamaran of the range. The shipyard offers a staggering palette of eight models, ranging from 44 over 50, 52, 60, 66, 80 and a huge 88 feet flybridge super-catamaran. The model shown at La Grande Motte was a used boat, so not brand new anymore, but there were no visible signs of wear. Also, the HH 44 is offered in two principal versions: A cruising catamaran and a high-performance cruiser with daggerboards as displayed at La Grande Motte. Setting my foot into the salon, I quickly realized that this is truly a hidden gem.

A starship for sure!

To stay a bit with the starship-theme, it doesn´t feel like being on a boat. Her design – lightweight sandwich and painted carbon structures – is kept in shiny gloss-white and hard black contrasts. Only a few other colors, like the LED-lighting or slightly crème-colored leather cushion derive from the black/white design. I like it, it really feels like being on a starship.

Front windows can – so much light!

The salon offers a classy layout with a nice wide L-settee around a reasonably sized dinner table. The windows to the front, the sides and abaft are huge and offer a true 360-degree roundsight. Having a lightweight build utilizing the latest material for stiffness, there are literally no bigger solid walls, it really feels like as if the roof is hovering above the deck.

Full opening to abaft

To make a connection from the “inside” to the “outside”, which is the large aft cockpit under a rigid roof, the large galley window can be folded up and secured under the roof, the sliding door is also removed. In this, a ship´s cook facing backwards will have most fun when providing a meal. Dishes and food can quickly be shuffled out or hauled back in after a meal. Right onto the worktop where a large single sink is located. That this catamaran is a different level indeed can be seen at some really nice details.

Look at these details!

For example, the integrated steps to go onto the roof are – at the inside – nicely stitched and wrapped in padded leather. Wow! I absolutely loved how nicely the sunshades work which are made of up to three moving fans going seamlessly up and down. Everything is made of a nice, “heavy” quality – there are literally no cheap plastic clasps installed in the boat.

Attention to the smallest parts

For a 44-footer, die salon made a great impression on me. The layout is classy and very practical. It holds also a fine balance between providing as much (free) space as possible and at the same time having a safe (less empty volume) room to roam about even in heavy seas violently moving the boat. Comparing the HH 44 salon to “our” Excess 14, which has roughly the same measurements, this one has less room and feels more “filled”, but on the other hand, comes with a very cruising- and owners-sailed optimized layout.

Design meets practical solutions

Looking at some key features, the distinction between an owner-optimized and vacation-optimized boat becomes apparent. For example the nav-station. This is an indisputable feature in a cruising catamaran, but of course, for boats predominantly used as vocational ships which as well must work fine in charter business, a dedicated nav-station will be as small as possible. This is different from a catamaran or boat (same goes for monohulls) which are intended and thought-through for sailor and owners-couple usage.

That´s quite a nav station

If you liked the huge role model nav station on the Outremer 52, you will simply love the one on the HH 44! The desk is big enough so that two persons can take a seat on the lightweight, very practical poufs. I personally like the pivoting stool on the Outremer 52 more, but I´m sure the yard could fit something like this here as well. Also, all electronic displays and controls of the boat to be found outside are mounted as daughter displays in here. A fully operational control-bridge – best for a heavy weather watch!

Big, but safely-narrow, galley

Another deciding detail – this time much, much better solved than on the (much bigger) Outremer 52 and many other catamarans I´ve seen is the galley. It´s a U-shape, which not just provides so much extra stowage, but also a safe standing position to prepare food or doing the dishes. A ship´s cook can wedge in here and there´s no danger of falling through an all-open salon.

Light suffused and welcoming

The boat is loaded with such amenities and practical solutions. The point is that you will never have the feeling that something has be done afterwards or as some sort of concession to some weird client´s requests, but it feels like the boat has been constructed around these things. Best seen where the large washing/drying machine is installed. They haven´t taken out a cabinet and just somehow fitted a washing machine, the whole area was planned to fit it. And to look nice, on top.

A Cathedral of light: Cabins aboard the HH 44

Let´s stay down below for a while because this is there the HH Catamaran really gets exciting. First of all, the black/white design in combination with huge and manifold windows and deck opening hatches makes for a wonderfully light suffused interior. There are windows literally everywhere you look – and a friendly light atmosphere. Many other boats are like “traps”, rather boosting seasickness than curing it.

Is this even a boat?

This light-concept is best understood when checking the aft sections of the hulls: Huge rectangular bed which utilized all of the area between the hulls´ walls instead of island beds (which in my opinion are nice to look at in a catalogue but are a waste of space and unsafe in heavy seas). But the best are the windows … just look at this:

The aft bed, look at the windows!

Owners and VIP-guests sleeping aft will enjoy a sunroom-like openness. I cannot remember having seen a boat´s cabin that offers such a huge amount of transparent area, being here whilst underway on the blue Ocean must be a tremendous experience. The only downside – as with so many boats – is that the hull windows are so high that you cannot look out whilst laying in bed. I guess that´s a safety issue, but it would have had an extra boosting comfort effect for sure.

So much natural light & fresh air

Have no fear for your privacy, all windows on the HH 44 are tempered so that nobody can peep inside. This is especially important for the aft cabin´s windows which are directly en par with the cockpit: Essentially, any helmsman would have a front row seat and look through a +70 inch TFT-screen onto the owner´s berth. Normally, you don´t want this. The beds aren´t just big, spacy and cozy. Underneath, parts of the really advanced propulsion system are installed.

Hybrid propulsion and autonomous energy generation

Sustainability in boat building is a huge thing currently and I support this. Big companies are investing a lot in research and development, smaller startups try out their ideas and approaches. Of course, full electric or hydrogen-based propulsion is a thing of the future, but the first brands have launched their hybrid boats already. The HH 44 is such a yacht and the shipyard calls their concept the “Eco Drive”.

Diesel engine under your mattress

It´s basically the proven, rigid and reliable Diesel engine with a linear electric motore directly attached. This electric drive with two 10 kW also works as an alternator so that, when under Diesel engines, the large batteries are constantly reloaded. The Diesel engines (Vetus) are fitted directly underneath the aft beds. This is a rather uncommon approach and I have a lot of questions regarding heat, possible (dangerous) fumes, noise and vibrations and last not least questions like maintenance (inside the cabin) to possible exchange of an engine, but apparently HH found a solution to this.

Vetus Diesel + 10 kW electric drive

The interesting aspect of the HH Catamarans “Eco Drive” concept is the interaction of the ensemble. Diesel-mode is clear, all electric mode is also clear. Furthermore, the alternators – when sailing and the props aren´t locked – recuperation mode is possible. Meaning by having the props rotate when sailing, they function like a hydro-generator. Also, there is a very clever “mix”-mode, as I call it. When you need Diesel-Power but also sleep, only one of the Diesels can be operated whilst the other is in recuperation mode.

Lithium power

Entering via a big removable door or wall piece from the forward guest cabin, there is full access to the battery and charger-room. The HH 44 is equipped with a set of 48 Volts lithium batteries with a combined power of over 43 kW hours, which is very impressive. This capacity is more than enough to ensure a cruising range (at 7 knots) of over 600 nautical miles or the utilization of all possible amenities for onboard comforts, like fridges, freezers, washing machines and even an AC.

All of the area is utilized

Apart from than, the whole rooftop of the catamaran is completely covered with solar panels. The maximum power generation of these is 4.200 Watt-peak, which is also a lot when sailing or anchoring in sun-rich areas. The HH 44, like his bigger sisters, is a proven concept and a safe offshore-capable system. I found especially impressive how openly and honest the shipyard declares that they consider all-electric propulsion for not ready now. For the sake of seamanship and safety at sea, this is a brave and trust-building standpoint, better than offering something that is not ready now.

Luxury amenities and full-cruising capabilities

So, with such a rich abundancy of electric power and a long lasting range of almost complete autonomy, this catamaran is set to re-define the combination of luxury cruising with performance sailing. Luxury, that´s often a matter of being able to use the same household appliances which make our daily life at shore so convenient.

Note the mirrors

The HH 44 offers all of them, and even more. For example, in the very roomy and tasteful designed owner´s bathroom I was happy to discover an electric towel dryer. Such a small appliance that can make life so much easier. A washing machine, dishwasher in the galley up and many more little “helpers” not only add to the impressive price tag here, but also and foremost add to the label “luxury sailing” which is truly earned.

Fine Carbon details

HH Catamarans utilizes latest production techniques. This can be seen by looking at the bare numbers: The HH 44 has a displacement of 10.2 tons (empty) and 14.5 tons with maximum load. Compared to the Nautitech 44 for example, that’s 1 ton lighter. Even more, almost 3 tons lighter than the 12.8 tons of the Excess 14. How is this achieved? Carbon, lightweight sandwich layups and even prepreg-applications are used to build the boat.

Guest bathroom, fully equipped

Here and there the shipyard offers a glimpse onto these facts by having bare glossy painted Carbon there to admire, for example in the bathrooms. People who know will easily recognize the thumb-metallic sound when knocking on the materials, which is a totally different sound from ordinary GRP layups.

The slim guest cabin forward

Both boats are made for four persons who will love their aft cabins, but there´s also another guest cabin in the front with a single bed. At least here a small window nearly at the height of the head of the occupant is offered. I guess this is the cabin that will remain unoccupied anyway or utilized otherwise as additional stowage. Let´s check the performance data, now that we´ve seen her interiors.

Performance through High-Tech

In the 44/45 footer class there isn´t much to compare the HH 44 to. So let´s stick to the Nautitech Open 44, the Excess 14 and the Outremer 45. The upwind sails area of the HH 44 is said to be 116 square meters, whereas Nautitech, Excess and Outremer clock in with 105, 135 and and 106 square meters. Being the lightest of them four boats sporting the second biggest area of canvas up in the wind, it should be clear which one performs best.

Note the slim daggerboard housing?

The Excess 14 is an excellent, easy to sail cruising catamaran which exceeds the projected sailing performance by the shipyard by far. But it is not a performance cat – as well as the Nautitech, both have no daggerboards which gives both the Outremer and the HH Catamaran a much better directional stability and upwind performance with significantly lessened leeway. I haven´t sailed the HH 44 (yet) but I´d say a match race between her and the Outremer 45 would be a great feat.

C-shaped Carbon-made daggerboards

The HH 44 has rounded (C-shape) daggerboards made of carbon fibers, hence provide a huge safety margin, high stability with flexing capability and are easy to operate due to their light weight. Besides these features, walking the deck and inspecting the running rigging, I notice so many great details, like the Carbon shrouds with soft shackles or the tall 90 cm stanchions which provide maximum safety.

So precious!

The HH 44 is a classy sports catamaran with two full-sized helm stations in the cockpit. The starboard side features the primary plotter and all control panels for anchor windlass, all electric winches (which can also be operated by foot) and some secondary displays for wind and log-data. Like on the Outremer 52, the steering wheels are mounted on a pivoting stand.

The almost perfect steering station

So in active “fun” sailing mode, the wheels are put to the outer face of the hulls, granting perfect view over the leeward hull. In cruising mode or during bad weather phases, the wheel is put to middle position (as shown in the pictures) to grant a dry stand for the helmsman underneath the hardtop and they can even pivot further into the inside of the cockpit, maybe useful in long motoring sessions.

All lines at hand in one place

The handling of all lines and winches is ergonomically perfect, all is well protected. I must say that for my taste a bit more “exposure” to the elements wouldn´t had been bad as I deemed the forward vision through the cabin windows an bit obstructed. Excess and Outremer have much more exposed helm stations in this matter. On the other side, aboard the HH 44 safety is apparently of utmost importance and a such this explains the decision for the positioning the helmstations this way.

A perfect ship?

Praise for the HH 44 is unison high. These boats win awards like Tiger Woods in his golden days. This year the catamaran was nominated for the prestigious “Multihull of the Year”-award. And as rumors go, they haven´t won because of the – surely justified, but ridiculously – high price of well over 1.5 million Euros. I can clearly see why the yachting magazines and blogs are full of admiration for this boat: Her finishing and building quality is close to flawless.

High coamings, safe boat!

So I leave the boat after my intense time aboard. I leave her over one of the foldable bathing platforms, which also brings me back to the beginning of this article. Comparing the HH 44 to the ENTERPRISE D, with a “best view” and some more awkward angles. The closed stern with a foldable bathing platform is the reason for the strange looks of the HH 44. Now that I understood that safety is the main thing on this boat – I can see the advantage of having such a closed stern.

I can make my peace with it

This is a view I could grow into and make my peace with. Yes, the high-active fully exposed Outremer 45 helm station is super exciting and makes for the most adventurous shots, but at the same time, standing a watch up there in really bad weather is clearly much more dangerous than on the HH 44. In the end, this catamaran shows how high class boatbuilding goes if tooling, machinery, material choice, intense high-class labour and of course a later price to be paid is all but secondary. The full order books of HH Catamarans speak for themselves, as well as the opening of a second high-tech production facility in Cebu. Impressive!


You might as well be interested in these related articles:

Carbon overflow: Gunboat!

At the Outremer shipyard

Sea Trial of the Excess 14 catamaran