NZ designer dies after accident at home

Well-known New Zealand multihull designer Malcolm Tennant has died after an accident at home.

His life long involvement with multihulls began when he bought his first beach cat in 1959. His hobby became his profession when seven years later he began designing and building GRP catamarans with two friends and later became a licensed builder of the Olympic Tornado.

Malcolm’s first large catamaran design was the 36ft (11m) Vorpal Blade, which he designed as a performance cruiser for himself in 1969. In 1973 he designed the now legendary 28ft Great Barrier Express (8.5m) which became the archetype of the larger off-the-beach style catamarans. There are now over 300 of these iconic little vessels around the world including Malcolm’s own vessel.

The GBE was followed by a stream of designs, from 1979, and over the next couple of years, the GBE and its bigger sisters, the ‘Turissimo-9’ and the ‘Turissimo-10’ also went into series production in a number of countries including New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, France and the United States.

Over the 45 years of Malcolm’s career a steady stream of designs left the office, with over 270 designs at last count, from small racing craft and folding trimarans up to large passenger carrying ferries and ocean crossing private motor yachts Malcolm had a life long passion not only for boats but for learning the ‘why’ behind everything in life with interests that stretched in many directions. It was this thirst for knowledge, that always caused him to look beyond first impressions and to see what aspects of the design really contributed to its success or weakness and to build this into the next vessel.

Malcolm was always willing to share his thoughts on design with interested people and got great enjoyment from passing on the knowledge of his experience to all who would listen.

He died suddenly after an accident at his Auckland home on 10tMay, while pursuing another of his hobbies, gardening. He slipped a fell from a retaining wall and suffered a fatal head injury and died in hospital several hours later.

Main picture: Wild Thing: One of Malcom’s favourites not because it was the most exciting photo in the world as far as multi photos go, but because it showed how light a delicate these boats can be.