Is this the boat Batman would sail?

Sam Fortescue speaks to the owner of the unique and stunning Hanstaiger X1, almost certainly the world’s most radical cruising trimaran inside and out. Only three of these unique designs will ever be built

Imagine a boat that combines the aggressive loom of a Lamborghini with the controls of a fighter jet. Pop a rig on top, open the transom like the cargo door of a Chinook – oh, and bung a grand piano in one corner of the saloon. This, with a bit more glass, ferocious styling and creature comforts galore, is the new Hanstaiger X1 – a trimaran so beautiful and strange that it has to be the brainchild of an eccentric. The Hanstaiger X1 truly is like nothing else afloat.

The individual behind it is John Ordovas, who created a small shipyard in southern Spain. His vision was for a cruising yacht that tore up convention and offered a vast single-level living space, architectural finish, a gigantic beach club and easy performance.

The result is a trimaran where some 85% of the interior space is on the same level, resembling a generous urban loft apartment. The cabins and heads in the side hulls, plus the master cabin occupying the forward half of the central hull, all connect without steps to the main saloon.

In-mast furling and a self-tacking jib make the X1 simple to handle via push buttons. Photo:

This was one of the reasons Ordovas chose to build a trimaran, rather than a catamaran. “The problem with catamarans is you go into the side hulls and it ends up being something of a rabbit hole with tight corners,” he explains.

It is a brave design, because all that interior space comes from extending the superstructure to the very stern of the boat. “There were some risky elements to this,” he admits. “We were removing the deck space and the cockpit. But in a way, the opening at the back becomes the exterior of the boat as the hydraulic doors become a beach club. It’s one of the design features I’m most proud of.”

Instead, the helm has been moved to the top of a broad staircase (I hesitate to use a term as traditional as ‘companionway’), where an entirely glass-lined bridge amidships gives all-round visibility.

Glass-protected helm station is unashamedly styled on a jet fighter’s cockpit. Photo:

Cockpit is absolutely the right term here, with its huge high-backed sports seats and natty little automotive steering wheels. “My father and grandfather were fighter pilots, and I’m also a pilot,” explains Ordovas. “I was always trying to inspire the architects to think of a fighter pilot cockpit – that’s why there’s a glass canopy that comes up from the helm station.”

Cockpit wings

The canopy can be opened up via wings at the side if you want extra ventilation, or that whoop-as-you-go feeling. It also lets you clamber out onto the coachroof, where a teak-lined footway bordered with an elegant stainless-steel balustrade guides you safely down to the bows.

It’s an important safety feature, but Ordovas strove to make it a largely unnecessary trip. “The boat’s been designed so there’s not much reason to go to the bow. We have captive winches for the sails, and there’s a push-button system for sheeting in, raising sail etc, so everything is electronics-based. That’s also why the deck of the boat is quite clean – we don’t have many ropes flying about.”

The XI’s scorpion-like form when seen from overhead. Photo:

While this is avowedly not a boat for a purist sailor who likes the feedback from helm and sheets – Ordovas himself says as much – performance was still a key part of the brief.

In the first sea trials off Alicante, where the yard is based, heavy conditions saw the boat make an easy 15 knots under main and jib alone. “The sails for me were more from a practical perspective – something environmentally friendly that can get you from A to B in comfort and safety. Sailing in this boat is great fun, it’s pleasurable that you can adjust the sails at the touch of a button.”

The X1 has a lifting centreboard to keep her pointing well, and the lay-up is in a mixture of foam-cored carbon and glass for the hull, with full carbon for the superstructure. It keeps weight to a minimum, but the design is not light at 40 tonnes of displacement.

Huge saloon has a wide companionway staircase leading up to a glass-sided cockpit. Photo:

There is no current allowance for a large downwind sail for tradewind sailing, but there’s nothing in the design of the boat that prevents that from happening, says Ordovas.

He is also tinkering with something he calls a ‘dynamic stabilisation system’: a pair of ailerons fixed between the outer and the central hulls and linked to a gyroscope. Operating like the flaps on a plane’s wing, the system is being designed from scratch to eliminate the already modest roll that the trimaran experiences. “My wife does get a bit seasick,” says Ordovas, almost apologetically. “I’m keen to push the boat as much as I can in terms of extreme design.”

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