A UFO – an unidentified floating object – is cruising down the Pearl River in southern China. Is it a stealth spy ship? An America’s Cup concept yacht? Or a NASA project that has re-entered the atmosphere? With an unusual three hulls and a streamlined low profile, the vessel is in fact a power trimaran that for the first time combines all the features of a luxury super yacht with pioneering hydrodynamics. The latest project from acclaimed naval architect John Shuttleworth, Adastra was launched in China in April and has just been awarded Most Innovative Design at the 2013 World Superyacht Awards.

Commissioned by seasoned yacht owners Anto and Elaine Marden, the brief for Adastra was for a long-range ocean voyager with exceptionally low fuel consumption. The radical exterior lines are therefore more than just sleek aesthetics; instead, they are the result of extensive tank testing that created a form that helps to achieve a fuel consumption at 10.5 knots that is as low as 17 litres per hour when carrying 10% fuel and water. At cruising load (20 tonnes fuel and water) her range is 10,000 miles starting with 30,000 litres of fuel. She can comfortably cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at hi-speed.

In order to achieve Adastra’s impressive speed and fuel consumption, UK-based Shuttleworth – known for his multihull designs that are consistent race winners – needed more than just a hydrodynamic hull and employed an array of cutting edge materials: the deck and superstructure is constructed from carbon fibre with Nomex honeycomb core, the hull is glass/kevlar foam sandwich and the interior is light weight oak cabinetry using honeycomb panels.

Inside, almost every aspect of the boat is custom built, from bespoke fibreglass ladders to lightweight toilets. The central hull measures 42.5m in length, with a beam of 16m that makes for a spacious saloon with panoramic windows. Below deck, nine guests and six crew members are accommodated in luxury cabins, one of which features a bed tucked within the bow. Previously, the only power trimarans were stripped out concepts created to achieve world records. With the launch of Adastra, the power trimaran has entered a new age of luxury and innovation.