- With its vast reserves of power, its other-worldly shape and its radically tapered aft sections, the stirring Aeroboat has the capacity to be very special indeed.
- … the layout and finish of each boat are governed by the customer, but as a starting point, this will do very nicely indeed.
- … in an industry of thick overlaps and design commonality, the Aeroboat feels indisputably special.
Weird but Wonderful – Claydon Reeves Aeroboat
Alex Smith investigates a £3 million Spitfire-inspired superboat from British design house Claydon Reeves.
When Hampshire-based Claydon Reeves were founded in 2011, their co-founder and designer, Mike Reeves, was very forthright in insisting that one of his key ambitions was to ‘revolutionise yacht design’. If he had followed up such a lavish overstatement with nothing but regurgitations and also-rans, we might have looked back and laughed, but the new Aeroboat is by no means your everyday kind of design. Of course, it falls some way short of a revolution, but in an industry of thick overlaps and design commonality, the Aeroboat feels indisputably special.
Old and New
This 48ft, seven-man express cruiser makes a very auspicious start by selecting the Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 engine as its power plant of choice. This is the same supercharged monster that powered the legendary Spitfire fighter plane in World War II – and we’re not talking about a modern approximation of that engine, but an authentic model, reconditioned, adapted and supplied with documented provenance. OK, so for use in a boat of this scale it has to be detuned from 2500hp to around 1100hp, but with a quoted speed range from 75 to 95 knots, its radically lovely exhaust note ought to be well matched by its ferocity of performance.
Stylistically, its lines are also inspired by Britain’s best-loved WWII fighter plane. From the tapered, wing-style stern to the huge air intake aft of the cockpit, its delightfully resolved shape employs construction methods and specifications that do a fine job of melding the classic with the modern. Built from carbon fibre with wood veneer and Kevlar reinforcement, its hand-stitched leather seats and wooden dash are matched with hi-tech features like a joystick throttle and touch screen navigation. And the old-school, aircraft-inspired switchgear also has a modern counterpoint in the cockpit’s impact mitigation seats.
Down inside the bow, the cabin is every bit as remarkable as the Aeroboat’s profile. You get a double berth and a small heads compartment, all built from the same sumptuous materials and all arranged with the same sinuous, corporeal loveliness as that fluid external form. As you might expect, the layout and finish of each boat are governed by the customer, but as a starting point, this will do very nicely indeed.
British in all regards, from design to materials, the intention is that the Aeroboat will be built at a shipyard on the Solent. But of course, like most brave, exciting and meritorious concepts from relatively young design companies, the Aeroboat doesn’t yet exist. In fact, to this point, all we’ve seen beyond three years of dramatic pictures and grandiose verbosity is a scale model at a posh London lifestyle show. However, if you want to see the real thing nestling at your marina berth (and frankly, who wouldn’t?), all Claydon Reeves require is your order. With a limited run of 12 in the offing, you might want to act fast.
Even without the rare and special desirability of its raucous Spitfire power plant, the Aeroboat has to be considered a desperately lovely boat. Its price is high and its practicality is extremely limited, but it’s exactly the kind of visceral, fundamentally affecting creation that should appeal to the bored millionaire, keen to spice up his easeful life with something more piquant. With its vast reserves of power, its other-worldly shape and its radically tapered aft sections, the stirring Aeroboat has the capacity to be very special indeed.
- Length: 14.6m
- Beam: 3.0m
- Weight: 7700kg
- Engine: Rolls-Royce Merlin V12
- Power: 1600–2500 hp
- Max. speed: 75–95 knots