Sam Fortescue takes a first look at the Makara 85, the first of a new range of semi-custom yachts from designer Malcolm McKeon and builders McConaghy

Designer Malcolm McKeon has deepened his collaboration with composite wizards McConaghy by launching a range of semi-custom sailing yachts running from 85ft up to 120ft. The first of these new yachts to be announced is the Makara 85.

Dubbed Makara, the new line is aimed at comfortable family cruising with the option of taking to the race course short-handed. For that reason, the boats look sporty, with a defined hull chine, a low-profile coachroof and plenty of dark glass.

“Our target market is sailors that enjoy the ease of sail handling that modern systems can provide,” explains McConaghy MD Mark Evans. “This yacht will perform in light winds which will make the whole experience very enjoyable, but the Makara yachts will also perform around a racecourse – easily sailed by a group of friends.”

The boats are light, thanks to lay-up in pre-preg carbon with structural foam core: the Makara 85 displaces just 48 tonnes lightship. The sloop rig comes from Southern Spars, and owners can opt for a bowsprit and a lifting keel if they want to supercharge performance. Sail controls are all via push-button hydraulics, making single-handing a genuine reality. On the other hand, there is room for a complement of up to three crew, and the cockpit is designed to allow guests to stay clear of sailing operations.

Makara 85 can be built with a high level of customisation input from the customer

The interior is modular, with four possible layouts including the choice of putting the master cabin forward or aft and up to three large guest cabins. Finish is a matter of choice, but oak and walnut veneers are suggested options, as is a smoother minimalist grey. “For a client wanting to be involved in the build process, and wanting to work with the yard or interior designers to create a yacht that meets their exact wishes, the Makara range is ideal,” adds Evans.

The McConaghy yard has long been known for smaller feats of carbon fibre wizardry, carving out a name for itself as a high-end composite specialist. The range starts at $6.75m, and the first boat could be delivered within two years.


LOA: 25.90m 85ft 0in
LWL: 24.60m 80ft 9in
Beam: 6.35m 20ft 10in
Draught: 4.50m 14ft 9in
Displacement: 48,000kg 105,821lb

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