First launched in 2004, the 38’ Seawind 1160 has been a popular, award-winning vessel for cruisers and charterers alike. Whether due to good design or simply good marketing, the Seawind 1160 seems to have a bit of a cult following, bringing the vessel into high demand. We sort out the reality from the hype to help you make the most informed decision you can before purchase.
Seawind was founded by Richard Ward in the early 1980’s. Over the course of a decade, his Seawind designs matured to include the Seawind 850, launched in 1991, the 33-foot Seawind 1000, launched in 1994, and the Seawind 1200 in launched in 1998 for the Australian charter company Whitsunday Escape.
In 2000, Ward purchased Venturer, a luxury power catamaran builder. In 2004, the Seawind 1160 emerged, a culmination of the best elements of its predecessors. The 1160 series includes the standard 1160, the 1160 Light (a lighter build with two outboards instead of diesels), the 1160 Deluxe, and the 1160 Resort, made specifically for day charters.
Partnerships with Corsair and High Modulus have helped solidify the Seawind as a top competitor in the mid-range catamaran market, where they have earned high awards including, Australian Sailboat of the Year, Cruising World Magazine’s Best Multihull Cruiser and Most Innovative Sailboat of the USA, Best Sailboat of the Newport Boat Show, Australian Consumer Product of the Year (Endeavour Manufacturing Awards 2007) and Nominated as a Top Ten Boat by SAIL Magazine.
With over 200 Seawind 1160s produced, the model, currently produced in Vietnam, is still in high-demand.
Compared to its competitors, Seawind offers some unique features that have made the model one of the most in-demand mid-sized catamarans on the market.
- Tri-Fold Door – opens up ample space between the salon and cockpit for yoga or entertaining.
- Low Freeboard – with less than half the freeboard of the Leopard 38, the 1160 reduces wind drift and wave impact, as well as providing easier boarding and disembarking.
- Self-Tacking Jib – combined with cockpit-led lines makes single-handing simple.
- Ample Solar Capacity – cruisers can find greater self-sufficiency on long passages and remote anchorages.5.
- Monocoque Structure – following a partnership with High Modulus, the 1160 updated its production to include a five-mold system that produces an extremely stiff and strong monocoque structure.
- Stanchion Fuel Overflow – a thoughtful feature designed to reduce diesel overflow into the sea.
Notes From the Sea
There’s no better way to determine a vessel’s seaworthiness than to sail her across an ocean. Despite assertions that ocean-going cats must be over 40-feet, the 1160 has shown these assertions to be unfounded. We met up with the owners of JollyDogs, a 2008 Seawind 1160 that made the Pacific Crossing in 2019 to find out the good, the bad, and the “why can’t you be more like your sister?”
Those who have sailed an 1160 say that they’re “safe and fun to sail.” The vessel sails well in light airs, though it doesn’t point as high as a vessel equipped with dagger boards. But then again, you don’t have the hassle and storage space reduction that comes with dagger boards. Instead, the 1160 has mini-keels, which protect the rudders and sail drives from damage.
Cruisers find that the 1160’s are built extremely strong “head and shoulders above Fontaine Pajots, Lagoons, and Leopards.” Earlier Seawind 1160s used a conventional hand-lay-up process. Newer models benefit from a high-tech resin infusion process that involves closed molds, environment-controlled curing, and vacuum pressure. This process helps make this model lighter and stronger than the competition.
With a small-to-moderate bridge deck clearance (<24”), you can expect some slamming when sailing upwind in choppy seas, but that is to be expected of most catamarans. With the Seawind’s strong hull, there should be no structural issues that result.
When it comes to just living on the 1160, everyone brings up two features unique to the Seawind 1160 and its progeny: the trifold door and the integrated barby. While some may lament the lack of seating in the cockpit for entertaining, others love the spaciousness that trifold door brings.
Indoors, the dropdown salon table makes for a comfortable lounge area or an extra bunk. The galley down provides decent counter-space and storage, and the large freezers provide ample space for the extra mahi you just reeled in. With over 6’ of headroom throughout the boat, everyone can stand tall inside and out.
Other features the builders got right include the walk-around side-sleeping bed in the master cabin (no more crawling over your mate in the middle of the night), the bright and well-ventilated interior, and the roomy stand-alone shower with a bench seat.
The Cruel Realities
On any 38-foot catamaran, you always run the danger of overloading. One common complaint we’ve heard is their lack of storage capacity. Most 1160 cruisers, unless they are extreme minimalists, end up with a bunk dedicated to “stuff.”
This may be slightly intentional, as the 1160 has a reputation for better performance than her typical cruising counterparts. Due to her size, a full cruising payload may significantly reduce performance. As in all things, it’s a trade-off.
According to Mark, on JollyDogs, “Once loaded for long distance, remote area cruising she feels a bit heavy and less responsive, but she still sails well in light and heavy conditions and is still fun to sail.”
Part of what makes the Seawind 1160 so light is the use of lower-weight, sometimes lower-quality materials. Unless meticulously maintained, light fixtures, faucets and laminate surfaces can begin to show their age far sooner than a Leopard of similar vintage.
The Wish List
One of the unique aspects of the Seawind company is its habit of listening to its family of owners and implementing design improvements where they can. With that in mind, here are some wish list items from owners we spoke with.
- Integrated Rain Catchment System in Targa – with limited water storage, it’s a shame not to take advantage of the ubiquitous squalls.
- Better Engine Access (particularly on the 3-cabin model) – unless you’re slight of build, trying to cram yourself into a 2’ x 3’ opening in the shower to access the back of the engine is near-impossible.
- Electric Windows – the 1260 has electric windows, while the 1160 has removable windows between the helm and salon. Newer models integrated storage for the windows, but older models must retrofit or find somewhere to store them when off.
- Better Ventilation Solutions in the Rain – In a warm climate when it’s blowing rain hard, ventilation can be a problem as with most cats. Electric windows that can be open only part way may be an improvement, as would the addition of door caps to forward hatches and interior hatches (as seen on certain Catana models).
- Bring Nav Station Up – while the 1260 has resolved this issue, the 1160 has the chart table and navigation station in the port hull where you can’t see anything around you.
- Ceramic Coating on the Lip Seal Bearing – the Yanmar 3YM30’s with SD20 sail drives and Gori 3-blade props are extremely efficient, and the dog clutch design in the SD20 is great. However, the prop shaft wear from the lip seals is really annoying. Mark from JollyDogs suggests a ceramic coating on the bearing.
- Deeper Settee with Lumbar Support – some owners complain of backaches during foul weather passages spent inside the salon. There is nowhere to sit in the cockpit during foul weather because the top design that doesn’t provide good attachment opportunities for an effective rain enclosure tent.
To Buy? Or Not to Buy?
Overall, the Seawind 1160 is a solid compromise between comfort and
performance. However, it comes with a heftier price tag than similar-sized Leopards, Lagoons, and Fontaine Pajots. Expect to pay 25% to 50% more for a Seawind. The best thing you can do is sail as many as you can, determine what is most important to you, and decide what you’re willing to trade off.
- Mark and Isabel on JollyDogs – https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/JollyDogs
- Chris on Strikhedonia – http://www.svstrikhedonia.com/
- Practical Sailor – https://www.practical-sailor.com/sailboat-reviews/used_sailboats/seawind-1160
- Seawind Catamarans – https://seawindcats.com/community/