Many monohull sailors who are thinking of converting to mulithulls for distance cruising seek a combination of the speed and feel of performance cruisers together with the space multihulls provide. To offer proper bluewater cruising ability yet not be too sluggish, a fast cruising cat or tri needs to be smartly designed with payload in mind and built relatively light. Here’s where the fast distance cruisers like Outremer, Catana, Swisscat, Seawind, Balance, Atlantic, Neel and Ocean Explorer help offer that potential sabbatical or retirement dream.
Just launched: Outremer 51
The original Outremer 51 launched in 2014 and proved popular, selling more than 50 models. It also garnered a number of European and US yacht of the year titles. But things can always improve, so the French catamaran builder has updated the design with the help of feedback from hundreds of owners.
The improvements are superficial and substantial: the interior and exterior styling has been changed, but the boat’s performance has also been tweaked. Not only does this make the boat more fun, it is also “an important safety attribute”, says Outremer. With speeds in excess of 20 knots perfectly achievable, you could certainly outrun bad weather and potentially clock up 400 miles over 24 hours.
This sleek-looking boat has on-trend reverse bows, curved coachroof and low-profile steering positions. The helms are slightly raised above the cockpit with a clear 360° view out over the coachroof. It may lack the real estate of a flybridge helm station, but it saves weight and allows the boom to be lower on the mast, all of which helps stability and performance.
Control lines all lead back across the coachroof to winches within easy reach of the helmsman, except for the mainsheet, which runs along a track on the aft crossbeam behind the cockpit.
The fine entry and reverse of the bows should allow her to cut efficiently through the waves for a ride with less pitch to it. Outremer says it has raised the clearance between the waterline and the bridgedeck to prevent uncomfortable slamming.
For all their speed, these are still solid bluewater boats. Yes, you can choose a whole range of carbon upgrades, from masts and booms to tillers, but everything below the waterline is in solid glassfibre, laid up by hand. Outremer uses carbon fibre reinforcing and foam sandwich elsewhere, for rigidity and lightness, but the hull is designed to survive a heavy grounding or a mid-sea impact. Outremer claims that its boats are designed to last more than 50 years, and cover ‘millions’ of miles.
The interior offers everything that you would expect from a modern family-oriented boat.
The saloon has comfortable seating and a table for six to eight, with a forward-looking navstation that is a good size. Accommodation is three or four cabins, depending on whether you opt for an owner’s-only hull. If you do, there’s a separate heads and shower, desk, seating and storage. Outremer makes much of the boat’s quietness, free from the grinding and cracking noises you hear as some cats flex. For liveaboards this could be a welcome feature.
Outremer has done an impressive job of updating its most popular model, outside and in. I like the modern, muscular look of the sculpted-out topsides and dreadnought bows. Improved build techniques – partly acquired since its takeover of Gunboat – have also allowed the yard to save 600kg over the original model.
The 51 has enough of a go-faster appeal for those converting from performance monohulls – the majority of Outremer’s clients, says sales manager Matthieu Rougevin-Baville – while at the same time retaining the seaworthy build and features for which the brand is known.
It’s about keeping things simple, good-looking yet durable. For those with the budget, this is the ideal size of boat, in terms of speed bought by long waterline length, volume for accommodation and payload capacity (3 tonnes), for long-term, fast bluewater sailing.
At a glance…
LOA: 51ft 3in (15.65m)
Beam: 24ft 4in (7.42m)
Draught: 3ft 1in-7ft 7in (0.94m-2.31m)
Displacement: 13.7 tonnes
Price: from €735,000
Contact: Catamaran Outremer
Just launched: Ocean Explorer 60
Rubbing shoulders with Nautor’s Swan in Jakobstad, Finland, the new team behind this boat have a long track record in building low-impact yachts with high performance. And it’s not just a postcode they share with Swan – German Frers is also the designer of this yacht.
The OE60 is the first in a range running to 78ft. There is carbon load-point reinforcing and an all-carbon rig for performance, with the further option of a carbon hull as well. Cutter rigged with a self-tacking jib and staysail, it has a long, sculpted bowsprit for launching downwind sails. Dual helm stations on each hull have long clear views ahead.
Clearly built with Nordic winters in mind, she has an exceedingly cosy navstation in the saloon, with access to all key controls via push buttons. The saloon doesn’t encroach on the two hulls, and is relatively low-profile with sweeping 360° views, as well as access to the foredeck and halyard winches through a watertight door.
You can devote an entire hull to the owner’s suite, or go for up to five double cabins. There’s also the option of putting the galley in the hull to free up the saloon. And with solar panels, regenerating prop, electric propulsion and black water treatment systems as options, the OE60 is designed to minimise its environmental impact.
I wrote about this catamaran during its conception five years ago, but La Grande Motte was the first time I had seen one. Wow, talk about worth the wait… this is quite simply one of the most impressive luxury multihulls I have been aboard.
Four main subcontractors to Nautor’s Swan and Baltic Yachts formed the company and the quality of their craftsmanship is, as you would expect, world class. It is the first production cat for Frers, yet the Argentinian designer has managed to maintain his reputation for alluring lines – this is a long, low and particularly elegant design.
I like the helms right in the quarters, a more familiar position for monohull sailors, while the glass-based coachroof allows the helmsman a reasonable sight to the opposite bow. Step inside and it is the true panoramic view these vertical windows all combine to give that really appeals.
The forward cockpit is a practical area for manning halyards or standing watch. I also like the clean, spreader-less rig and massive yet practical stowage areas.
The skipper told me he had sailed a Gunboat 60 across the Pacific and that this OE60 matches its performance. A key is the C-foils, the most reliable appendage system he has used.
This was the second OE60 to be built (the first has done four Atlantic and one Pacific crossing in four years) and is being used for charter. What I’d give for a week aboard this…
At a glance…
LOA: 60ft 7in (18.50m)
Beam: 29ft 8in (9.07m)
Draught: 2ft 6in-6ft 6in (0.85m-2.00m)
Displacement: 18 tonnes
Price: from €3.6m
Just launched: Seawind 1600
The new flagship performance cruiser from the Australian brand made a welcome world debut at La Grande Motte in April. The Reichel Pugh design sits in a similar market to the Outremer 51 – a fast composite cruiser, aimed at couples going long-distance cruising.
The first six 1600s sold off plans and Seawind, which owns Corsair, now builds in Vietnam. All boats are built using vinylester and Diam foam.
The 1600 is Reichel Pugh’s first production multihull and has a practical air about it that sailors will appreciate. “It has been properly designed to sail fast when loaded,” says Seawind sales manager Jay Nolan.
The helmsman can steer from under the solid bimini or can stand outboard, with a good view over the low coachroof. Retractable, captive daggerboards, along with foam-cored lifting rudders in cassettes, allow true shoal draught capability. The daggerboards are housed underdeck and controlled from the cockpit.
The running rigging is, unusually, led under the coachroof and bridgedeck aft to a single central winch on the aft crossbeam. Reefing lines and the self-tacking jib sheet also lead to this protected, vertically mounted winch. The cockpit is smallish, linked to the interior via a huge sliding window.
The interior, also designed by Reichel Pugh, has a pleasingly yacht-like feel to it and good natural ventilation. Both the navstation and galley are well proportioned, though the dining space is less generous. The cabins don’t feel quite as light and airy, largely because the portholes are small. Seawind says these are already being enlarged for the third boat.
Three or four cabins are offered and an optional performance pack includes carbon spars and synthetic rigging.
I quickly took to this boat. The choice of performance monohull specialists to design a cruising cat is unusual, yet here the combination of Reichel Pugh’s reputation for winning lines and Seawind’s three decades of catamaran building experience has worked admirably.
Sailors will appreciate the practical elements incorporated throughout. The design itself has particularly narrow hulls at waterline level, a low freeboard and coachroof, and the incorporation of a proper payload capacity into the light displacement. The use of captive boards and rudder cassettes allow for both sailing to windward and shoal cruising. The cassettes also create the option to replace or repair a blade easily and the low coachroof allows proper forward visibility from either helm.
With the addition of larger portholes in the cabins, the 1600 gives an interesting fast cruising option for couples.
At a glance…
LOA: 51ft 8in (15.74m)
Beam: 25ft 10in (7.90m)
Draught: 8ft 6in-2ft 1in (2.6m-0.54m)
Displacement: 13 tonnes
Price: from €740,000