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iPad-controlled superyacht almost does away with deckhands
One insider predicts tablet or smartphone control as trend for high-end vessels. Just make sure they're waterproof
Sailors around the world have been admiring the US$15-million superyacht, Adastra, which launched in Zhuhai two weeks ago.
Hailed as the first made-in-China superyacht, the futuristic, three-hulled vessel -- whose name translates as "to the stars" -- belongs to 62-year-old Hong Kong shipping tycoon Antony Marden and is the brainchild of U.K.-based boat designer John Shuttleworth, who spent more than five years crafting the design.
The 42.5-meter yacht contains one en suite master cabin, two guest cabins, a lounge area, a dining area, a galley, and a bar on the aft deck. Adastra can accommodate as many as nine guests and six crew.
Despite the unusual structure and luxury interiors, Adastra's iPad-control system is what everybody is really talking about.
More luxe yachts to be iPad-controlled
Although remote access is by no means news to the yacht industry, Adastra pushes the tech to a new level.
According to Adastra’s builder McConaghy Boats, the captain or crew can control all propulsion, navigation and onboard support operations of the 49-ton vessel through an interface on iPad from up to 50 meters away.
The Australia-headquartered boat builder, who was recently involved with James Cameron’s Marina Trench-exploring submarine, Deepsea Challenge, spent the past four years on the construction of Adastra in its shipping yard in Zhuhai.
“In practice, most functions would happen onboard the vessel,” said Stephen Oliver, general manager of McConaghy Boats China, “but this allows the captain or other crew to roam freely on the vessel whilst maintaining full control.”
For Oliver, tablet or even smartphone remote control is a trend for luxury yachts.
“What is smart about this vessel is the degree of control and the ease of the user interface using iPad,” he said. “Certainly, high-end vessels will continue this growth.”
Round-the-world sail in plan
Adastra is currently completing a series of sea trials, but Antony Marden is already masterminding an epic voyage.
"I've been planning to go exploring for a long time and it looks like it's now going to happen," Marden told South China Morning Post, revealing his plan to take Adastra around the world next Christmas.
"I wanted a big motorboat to go around the world in and the trimaran is perfect,” Marden told the Hong Kong-based newspaper. “It's easily driven and I'm used to sailing them.”
More on CNNGo: A life of luxury, totally made in China
Marden’s Magellan-dream also explains why Adastra can reach extraordinarily high speed and long range.
The superyacht can sail 6,437 kilometers nonstop and has a top speed of 17 knots. That’s more than enough for Marden to voyage from New York City to London on a single tank of fuel at a speed which is twice as fast as an average cruiser.