Is it a boat? Is it a plane? What we have here is a boat that “flies.” At its 70-mph top speed, the new French-built A2V fast catamaran literally rises up on its hulls to increase speed, which also offers the benefit of dramatically boosting fuel economy.
Designed and built by La Rochelle-based Advanced Aerodynamic Vessels, the secret of the 35-foot A2V’s performance and efficiency is the wing-like shape of its “cross-deck” center section. “Imagine the boat as a flying wing. As the air goes through the tunnel between the hulls, the underside creates lift. The faster you go, the lighter the boat becomes on the water,” CEO Lionel Huetz told Robb Report.
When we caught up with Huetz, he was in Monte Carlo delivering a $1.2 million A2V—it’s only the second built—to the Ports of Monaco, the government agency that operates the tiny principality’s busy harbors. The plan is for it to go into service this spring, ferrying superyacht owners from Monaco’s just-opened Cala del Forte “overflow” marina eight miles away in Ventimiglia, Italy.
“It’ll shuttle up to 12 passengers in business-class comfort between the two harbors in around 15 minutes, and use considerably less fuel than a traditional fast ferry,” says Huetz.
Looking like a scaled-down version of media tycoon Elliot Carver’s “stealth” boat in the 1997 James Bond romp Tomorrow Never Dies, the A2V’s slippery shape was perfected in an automotive-style wind tunnel. Powered by twin 350-hp Yanmar turbo-diesels connected to draft-reducing surface-drive propellers, the A2V sees benefits from its aerofoil underbody at around 40 mph, with the full effect at its 57-mph cruising speed. Flat out, it’ll run at about 70 mph.
According to Huetz, the boat’s impressive speed doesn’t come at the expense of a smooth ride. With its expansive 25-foot beam, coupled with slender, wave-slicing hulls, the boat has been tested in gnarly 8-foot seas with 35 mph winds.
To ensure superyacht owners feel right at home, the A2V’s cabin features big, comfy forward-facing leather seats, with leather and teak trim. A full-width windshield ensures everyone gets a panoramic view while lounging in air-conditioned comfort. The Ports of Monaco’s A2V is actually the second model to find a buyer. The first recently went to ritzy Évian-les-Bains on Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, where it shuttles guests between Geneva and the city’s five-star hotels.
Huetz said plans for a recreational version of the A2V—he calls it the A2V Tender—are under way. it could either be used as a high-speed day boat, or comfy weekender.
To retain the tender’s aerodynamic shape, a huge rear roof section raises to reveal 500 square feet of deck space for sunning and entertaining. Instead of the interior seating of the ferry version, there is a cabin with bed, galley and shower.
Huetz plans for the A2V Tender to feature twin 300 hp outboards that would increase space and lighten the boat. The outboards could still push the boat to a 60-mph top speed. This more lavish boat would mean a price tag of around $1.5 million.