For more than 100 years, Australian boatbuilder Norman Wright and Sons has been producing a wide variety of vessels, from commercial ferries and pilot boats to magnificent sport-fishers. Its latest creation, the 60-foot Aura, is just one example of the exceptional skill and dedication of this reputable Brisbane builder.
Aura was designed and constructed using one-off custom molds to suit the client’s requirements. For the hull design, the Wright team worked in conjunction with the US naval architecture firm Donald Blount & Associates. The hull is a warped planing configuration with a transom deadrise of 12 degrees and 24 degrees amidships, with deep tunnels and a substantially flared bow. Composite engineering experts from ATL Composites designed the hull to meet the international standards for Norway’s DNV GL High Speed Light Craft; it is infused with epoxy resin and E-glass on either side of high-density Divinycell structural foam core to provide both strength and light weight.
The boat’s main stringers are a combination of carbon fiber and E-glass with epoxy resin, and run the full length of the hull. The overall monocoque—or single shell—construction of the hull provides strength and rigidity with minimal internal framing. All of the topsides—including the deck, house and flybridge—are also constructed with E-glass and epoxy surrounding a Divinycell core.
Stepping into the spacious salon, the cool, light colors are inviting. The designers used US-sourced pale rock maple timber for the dining table and window trim, while the beige carpet and soft, caramel-colored leather couches blend in beautifully with the vessel’s gorgeous all-white interior.
The galley boasts a contrasting dark teak nonslip floor and Miele appliances, including cooktop, oven and microwave. Under the stainless-steel countertops are two large Liebherr refrigerators, capable of holding plenty of stores for those liveaboard adventures to the Great Barrier Reef. There is plenty of carefully thought-out storage; the 60-inch television monitor is mounted on the starboard side of the galley bulkhead.
A large island-style dining table and lounge will easily seat 10 adults, with an additional lounge to accommodate even more guests. The real standout feature of the salon: the huge aft bulkhead window that can slide down and out of sight with just the touch of a button. This ingenious idea opens up the salon for an unobstructed view of the cockpit.
Moving forward, the first thing that caught my eye was the spacious walk-in tackle room, complete with a full range of bent-butt heavy tackle neatly racked. Large slide-out drawers housing lures, hooks and fishing tools also ensure neat, out-of-the-way storage, yet is easily accessible by the crew when looking for gear in a hurry.
The forward master stateroom includes a queen bed with ample storage beneath, plus his-and-hers hanging lockers, and a second double stateroom boasts the same queen bed with spacious lockers; each includes an en suite head.
Cockpit and Bridge
The uncluttered teak-soled cockpit has all the right components for big-game fishing: a Release Marine fighting chair, a huge livewell, and a transom door wide enough for any oversize marlin. Beneath two deck hatches are removable insulated fish boxes, large enough to chill and easily store a 200-pound tuna. And a forward deck freezer can hold enough bait and provisions for a month out on the reef.
The bridge layout features a wide, center-console helm with dual helm chairs. Both port and starboard lounges include removable, reversible backrests, which are handy for those long trips or for watching the baits. Under the lounges are built-in rod racks for a full range of stand-up outfits.
The helm station integrates the latest 17-inch Furuno multifunction displays behind a lift-up acrylic screen. On either side of the console are two additional lift-up hatches concealing the watertight compartments that house the VHF radios, autopilot, anchor windless, davit and Seakeeper 16 gyrostabilizer controls, as well as all of the boat’s control switches. In the tower is a 15-inch multifunction display, along with bow thruster and windlass controls, an important setup when fishing or navigating along the Great Barrier Reef.
A pair of C32 ACERT Caterpillars—at 1,825 hp each—supply the boat’s power, and despite their size, more than 5 feet of accommodating headroom means there is plenty of room to get around the engines and other equipment for maintenance.
Ship’s systems such as batteries, fuel filters, coolant reservoirs, watermaker, refrigeration, air-conditioning units and the Eskimo ice chipper are all easy to access. Even the two 19 kW Onan generators are located off the sole, making service work easy. All electronic circuit breakers and shut-off switches are housed in sealed compartments at eye level. The forward fuel tanks—located in front of the engines—not only have electronic gauges, but the builder also went one step further by installing sight tubes for added safety.
Aura’s performance, which is controlled by Twin Disc’s EC300 MGX system, provides a cruising speed of 30 knots at 1,900 rpm, with a top end of 41 knots. The boat’s curved transom design proves to be a winner as well, easily taking on a stiff following sea without broaching or burying the stern when backing up in the same sea condition.
The ease of maneuverability, even at relatively high speeds in the choppy conditions off Australia’s Moreton Bay, blew me away. The propeller tunnels and wide chines give the vessel an amazing turning radius. And the sound? A nice, deep-throated note billows from the engines thanks to DeAngelo’s 14-inch marine exhaust and Centek’s muffler system.
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This 60-footer by Norman Wright and Sons is just another fine example of a purpose-built vessel able to handle Australia’s rough-and-tumble conditions, as well as the demands of a hardcore fishing program. Aura not only looks great, she also performs at the highest levels.
Norman Wright and Sons 60 Specs
- LOA: 60′
- Beam: 19′3″
- Draft: 4′7″
- DISPL: 68,000 LB.
- Fuel: 1,800 GAL.
- Water: 160 GAL.
- Power: TWIN 1,825 HP C32 CAT ACERT
- Gears: TWIN DISC MGX-6620A
- Propellers: 37″ 5-BLADE VEEM
- Paint: AWLGRIP AWLCRAFT 2000
- Climate Control: Dometic