ILIAD 60 Design Deep Dive: A conversation with Mark Elkington

ILIAD is very quickly becoming an established brand in the Australian motor yachting space since the brand’s inception just over two years ago.

Having recently being nominated for the 2022 Multihull of the Year, one of the most prestigious awards in yachting, for their all-new ILIAD 60 model the brand is now beginning to turn more and more heads from around the industry.

The ILIAD 60 is an extremely fuel efficient, light, long-range, passage making vessel.

Fortunately, I had the chance to sit down with the brands CEO, Mark Elkington, to discuss the brand-new model in depth.

What were you aiming to achieve with the ILIAD 60 when looking at other vessel in the ILIAD range?

At ILIAD, every vessel is an extension of the DNA of the entry level 50. The ILIAD 60 was designed around what we saw as a gap in the market, with the majority of power cats on the market having minimal options for customisation.

An ILIAD boat is a true expression of its owner, whether it’s a 50, 60 or 70 model, but importantly each boat is still recognisably ILIAD, sharing the same core DNA. That DNA is made up of a focus on safety, build quality and the boats ability to drift off to remote places for long periods of time.

Beach-ability is also critical for us. ILIADs are designed to be beached safely, being some of the only catamarans on the market able to do so. Of course, we are not promoting parking on beaches to explore the foreshores of islands, but if you are in a remote area and you need to deal with an emergency, you can beach the boat very safely.

The hull of the ILIAD 60 is constructed from complete Vinylester, one of the few boats we know of in the global market that is built completely out of a Vinylester resin – the whole hull not just a shell. Most boats are built with a layer of Vinylester for watertight integrity, but we build the entire hull of the boat with Vinylester, adding considerable cost, but giving us absolute peace of mind that this boat will outlive its owners, without the development of any issues, which is commonplace with many composite vessels.

Ultimately, I would say the ILIAD 60 is the perfect boat for a couple to get lost with. However, it is still very easy to handle solo with our intuitive control systems enabling owners to do most things at the touch of a button. Furthermore, the 60 has a larger fuel capacity than the 50, giving you a range of 3500 nautical miles, meaning that there’s no ocean in the world that you shouldn’t be able to cross.

ILIAD 60 front angle render
Despite being a relatively young brand, ILIAD are making waves in the motor yachting industry

You’ve already described the centrality of the ILIAD DNA. Are there any differentiators with the ILIAD 60?

From all the ingredients that are across the whole range the differentiator is probably the forward opening door through to the bow of the boat. Owners are able take four steps from the helm station to the anchor winch or to pick up the mooring, instead of walking around the side of the boat which is what you would have to do on our other models.

The forward opening door also offers an incredibly great ventilation system, a breezeway through the boat, without also having a deep cockpit there that holds water, something that is becoming quite common throughout the industry, and something that could make the boat very dangerous. A deep cockpit filled with sea water could certainly impact the trim and balance of the boat if you’re running down big swell. However, the ILIAD 60 holds very little water on a breaking wave so there is no real impact from this design feature that is primarily there for access and ventilation.

Aside from that however the 60 is recognisably ILIAD and echoes the successes of our model range thus far.

From where did you draw inspiration when designing the ILIAD 60?

The exterior as I have stated really fits in well with the rest of the ILIAD range. But when it comes to the interiors, at ILIAD that process is truly down to the owner.

We are excited to be launching the first ILIAD 60 at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in May of next year, and that particular boat is just our own interpretation of what you can create inside a 60-footer. However, the three 60s we’ve sold already are all very different internally. Different galleys, different timber colours, saloons, lounges, different cabin arrangements. There really is no standard inside an ILIAD, with every owner having the opportunity to design their interiors from scratch.

Another big thing for us when drawing up our exterior design is a strong focus on safety as I’ve already mentioned. We are fortunate to have a team with over a hundred years of combined boating experience and thousands of hours on the water. We also take onboard ample customer feedback when designing and I think it is the combination of both our own opinions and theirs that leaves us with a truly excellent product.

For example, we’ve done huge amounts of research on drainage and where water runs throughout the vessel, so that water doesn’t down in areas that cause a stain on your deck or hull. This attention to detail can be seen in a wide variety of areas throughout the boat, from air intakes, to outlets, to the placement of pumps.

Everything onboard is designed to be logical for the user. We never approach the build with the cheapest options; the process of designing the 60 is one in which we wanted to do our very best. We have thousands of components onboard, hence why it has taken us some time to bring the boat to market, but we have done a lot of work and research on making the boat as practical as possible. Even in the engine room we have optimised the layout for easy access so that the boat is easily serviceable – something that will save our owners money in the long run.

ILIAD 60 master stateroom render
The interior onboard is completely customisable, a hallmark of the ILIAD brand

Talk to me a little more about the interior customisation process?

ILIAD is a custom brand; there really is no standard. Our in-house interior design team work with each owner once they enter the purchasing stage and that is really when the customisation begins. We begin working on the overall design and layout with them from the timber colour to the material finish. Owners can essentially request any wants and needs at this stage and we will see if we are able to accommodate before eventually presenting them with a 3D render of the project for them to sign off.

Surprisingly there are some things we can’t achieve, but as a result of our extensive experience, we are pretty aware of what is and isn’t possible, and we liaise with the owner about this. The level of contact with the owner when it comes to this stage of the design really sets us apart from most other brands.

Once everything has been approved by all the involved parties, we set a production schedule. The boats are assembled in our shipyard in China, nd all the other materials and components generally come out of Europe, Japan, USA, New Zealand and Australia, locating the best options from around the world for our models. The windows for example are manufactured in New Zealand, coming from one of the best glass manufacturers in the world, and our sliding doors are manufactured here in the Gold Coast. We could use cheaper options out of Europe and Asia, and you most likely wouldn’t be able to tell the difference upon inspection. But we know that this glass is the best, so we use it. The entire production process is very well planned by the purchasing department to provide all the best gear for the build.

Going back to the interior, the storage capacity onboard the 60 is exceptional, this being another area in which we’ve done a lot of research. The 60 is designed to be a long-range vessel on which owners may live aboard for 6 months of the year undertaking various passages to islands or remote areas.

There’s not a 60-footer on the market that has this amount of storage capacity combined with the sensible access that goes with it. Storage again is very logical, and there really isn’t an area of the boat you can’t access. Inspection panels onboard are discreet are sensibly placed, meaning access to almost any component of the boat is straightforward.

How do you approach the design process at ILIAD?

We look at every boat we build at ILIAD as being an extension of our brand, with the first 60 being our ninth build, not our first. Despite being a relatively young brand in the space we are equipped with ample experience. We don’t run a production line at ILIAD, instead we are equipped with a highly skilled team. There is sometimes a stigma when it comes to production boats, with there being so much tooling and moulding involved, that the first few units of a production boat can come with problems before a stage of seamless construction is reached.

The 60 is expertly crafted by our team from start to finish with every detail checked and checked again. For us this process is second nature and the 60 is just another ILIAD.

I wouldn’t say that the 60 really has a particularly pronounced standout feature, and that is because it was designed with the ILIAD DNA in mind, to complete our model line-up.

A lot of boats on the market are losing sight of logic and are beginning to look like modern homes, but here at ILIAD we are fully aware that we are on a boat, not in a house, and we are prepared for the complicated design process that comes with.

How would you say the ILIAD 60 could be suited to the Australian market/owner?

We have done a lot of testing on the waters that our owners are likely to travel.

Australia is known for having one of the most uncomfortable seas in the world, especially when compared to the Mediterranean, it can be terrible at times. With the big swell, the wind, and the currents we experience around our headlands going up and down our coastlines, the bridge deck clearance of just under 1.2 metres on the 60 is a big feature. Many power cats have a very low bridge deck clearance and that can cause stress on the boat. This combined with the lightweight hull and the excellent efficiency makes cruising our oceans for extended periods of time comfortable and easy.

How would you say you have moved the ILIAD brand forwards with the 60?

The 60 makes our range feel truly complete, giving us a good size boat between the 50 and the 70. The 50 is a great size boat for cruising, but if you do want to go and travel around the planet on a power cat it is a bit too small. It’s not quite possible in terms of fuel capacity and range, with a 2500 nautical miles range with no head wind, you would not try to cross the Atlantic.

The 70 on the other hand is a little too large for most couples to look after. It is probably better suited to having a captain or crew onboard to run the vessel so you can better enjoy your time onboard.

The 60 really is the perfect size, being capable of long-distance cruising and simultaneously being manageable to maintain. It is easy to manoeuvre in close quarter situations in marinas, and it’s very safe. It is the perfect vessel for a couple to cruise remote areas of the globe in and really get lost. It is complete with advanced systems and engineering, but it is also logical, and that is really what we set out to achieve.

The 60 truly completes our range and the recognition we’ve received as a result has certainly helped move the ILIAD brand and the ILIAD name forwards.

END

ILIAD Catamarans really are making waves in the motor yachting industry, and it would seem their recognition is well and truly deserved. The hard work and attention to detail from the ILIAD team has led to the creation of a functional, efficient, and logical product and we can’t wait to see the nominated vessel in person at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in 2022.

Stay tuned to motoryacht.com.au for the latest from ILIAD and around the industry moving forwards!

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