Don Shead was the brilliant maverick British designer who penned such design classics as the DS45 for Linssen Yachts, the DS110 for Halmatic, and a raft of iconic Sunseeker hulls from the frenetic Superhawk 34 to the mighty 37M. His expertise was gained not only from a studio easel, but also from a racing career starting in his teenage years; when he broke the B-Class outboard powered hydroplane water speed record on Coniston Water in 1958. Having continued racing, he advanced into applied mechanics and electrical engineering, and consulted for luminaries such as Stirling Moss. He then entered the 1961 Daily Express Cowes-Torquay Powerboat Race (alongside Sir Max Aitken) in a borrowed boat (which did not finish…), met Sir Tommy Sopwith in 1962 (who was racing a Wynn/Walters design), and struck up a friendship and racing rivalry that would mould the future of British powerboat racing.
In 1963, Shead had Renato Levi design him a hull and structure, which he fitted out to become TRIDENT, in which he won the Production Entry C-T Race of that year; which was won overall by Levi himself in the groundbreaking A’SPERANZIELLA. This crucial experience of driving Levi hulls fast, and adapting others’ designs, led Shead to design his own hull for 1966 – building & winning in LEAN II (a terrible pun on shed…) and resulting in the design for 1967 of AVENGER. Then the orders started coming in after a starring role at the London Boat Show. Tommy Sopwith asked Shead to increase his design orbit from 25’ to 92’, commissioning the build of the beautiful PHILANTE VI, and so began the Shead domination of larger motor-yacht design. At the same time, aluminium was in its infancy as a boat-building material, but Shead Seized upon its potential, and T2 & MISS ENFIELD led to offshore classics such as HTS, which won the brutal 1972 London – Monte Carlo Race – and thus his pedigree was set in stone.
Thus, ALLIAGE came to be. The classic “Shead line” is a long, lean and hungry hull – working a narrow beam forward and up to a high, buoyant bow, with plenty of lift from aggressive spray rails arcing from the buttock lines upwards into the chines. The design is both characteristically soft upwind, yet forgiving when running downwind and downwater – and does have the trademark “Shead” look to the hull.
She was built by Chantier Naval de Biot, based in Biot, Antibes, using Sealium alloy in 2004. Sealium exhibits:
15% higher welded strength limit than conventional 5083 (AG4) alloy.
Significant (20%) weight-saving properties against 5083 (AG4) alloys.
Improved corrosion and improved resistance to fatigue than conventional alloys.
Same properties of use as conventional 5083 (AG4) alloy.
More recyclable than conventional 5083 (AG4) alloys.
Same formability in terms of cutting, flexing & shaping as per conventional 5083 (AG4) alloy.
25% more expensive in raw form than 5083 (AG4) alloy.
Less malleable than 5083 (AG4) alloy.
She is a long-legged, muscular offshore cruiser with high-speed performance, huge build strength, and look simply awesome. With a protected cockpit and race-spec hardware, her taut lines are fully ready to increase the criminally low hours on her twin Seateks, and those beautiful Trimax drives are ready to cleave their way through the briny. She has been in long-term Ownership and has been thoroughly doted-on. What an opportunity to own a “proper” boat – please do call Hugh for more info!
The design brief for ALLIAGE was to create a boat that would be fast, safe, strong, and simple, and in all of these aspects, she succeeds. The hull is truly excellent. She planes at about 17-18 knots, even with 10 passengers. She trims easily with the powerful trim tabs and remains steady and stable even at 45 knots in a typical Mediterranean chop, turning smoothly and safely with no bad habits. On a calm day, with tabs fully raised, we have often seen 50 knots with 8 people aboard.
Her length, narrow beam, and deep V design equip her well to handle the typical sea state encountered in the St. Tropez area in the summer, which is often rough due to wakes from ever-larger fast yachts, as well as strong winds.
The wide side decks make moving forward safe, and the powerful anchor windlass and the stainless anchor chain, which does not get tangled in the hold, make anchoring quick and effortless.
We frequently navigate at speed with people lying on the motor cushions. They feel perfectly safe even in choppy waters, and the cockpit provides a very safe, deep seating area, which is reassuring for younger children or older adults.
Handling in the harbour is easy, as she rotates readily using the engines alone. The bow thruster provides additional control, which is really only necessary on the windiest days.
She is much admired and has provided great entertainment over the years, but sadly, she is now used too little to justify keeping her.