This is where the worlds of racing and cruising multis meet, where we see high-tech lightweight craft that use exotic materials and daggerboards to help produce electrifying sailing. Gunboat was arguably the first to identify this market on a luxury level, and has since been joined by HH, McConaghy, Ice Cat, and ITA.

And then there are the performance multis that are more minimalist and lean more towards the offshore racer than cruiser – like Marsaudon, Dragonfly, Banuls, Dazcat, and Rapido… fun factor guaranteed!

 

Just launched: McConaghy MC50

McConaghy MC50 on water

 

Fresh from the Australian composite wizards McConaghy, the MC50 is the smallest series catamaran in a new range that runs up to 90ft. Drawn by Jason Ker, renowned for his IRC winners, the MC50 has performance in her DNA, designed as a fast cruising cat, capable of crossing oceans.
The MC line has incorporated input of experienced owners and sailors, and includes some impressive features. For example, the doors between the saloon and the cockpit concertina, while the saloon windows slide open electrically for al-fresco living. A skylight down the middle of the coachroof lets light flood in, and can be specced as a large ‘solar glass’ generator to keep batteries topped up.
Then there is the standard cross brace between the bows, which has been eliminated by using a carbon fibre longeron down the boat’s centreline, tensioned with Nitronic rod stays.
The first hull launched in time for La Grande Motte boatshow in April and the performance predictions are bold. Polars from McConaghy suggest speeds of over 10 knots in a stiff Force 6, at 30° off the true wind. Bear away onto a broad reach and she is expected to manage 21 knots-plus.
Upwind performance is boosted by 3.5m-deep hydraulic daggerboards in each hull, which include a fail-safe in the event of underwater collision. 
“We expect her to track upwind extremely well,” says James Kinloch 
of McConaghy.
And yet this is no pared-down raceboat. The saloon has deep seating to starboard and an extending table gives dining space for at least eight, and can convert into lounging room if you drop the table and install the fill-in cushion. The galley and island unit to port are more penthouse than deckhouse, with induction hob and moulded-in sinks. Sensibly, there is a navigation station at the forward end of the saloon, with good visibility ahead and access to all the systems.
The styling was undertaken by Design Unlimited.
“The concept was to create a penthouse apartment on the living deck,” says Ole John, director of McConaghy Multihulls Europe. 
“The 35-40m2 of space must be the biggest for a 50ft yacht.”

McConaghy MC50 saloon
There’s a true flybridge at the aft tip of the sloping coachroof, with twin helm stations that give excellent visibility. The key control lines come back to winches here for easy single-handing. This is also a social space with seating for seven people.
“No other manufacturer to date has built a catamaran that gives effortless pace and upwind capability combined with an ultra high quality, stylish and spacious interior. This is primarily because the latter two are not comfortable bedfellows,” says Kinloch.
The flybridge means a compromise of having the boom higher up the mast, raising the centre of gravity and centre of effort on the boat – both enemies of stability. McConaghy has tried to mitigate this by slanting the boom slightly up from the gooseneck.
The MC50 has a square-top 104m2 mainsail and a 50m2 self-tacking jib, broadly similar to a Lagoon 50. But the key to her performance lies in Ker’s optimised hull shape, and the 40 per cent of her lay-up that is in carbon fibre (she is six tonnes lighter than the Lagoon 50), meaning greater stiffness.
The MC50 is available in a three- and four-cabin layout, each with dedicated heads and shower.

 

First impressions

McConaghy MC50 cabin

The MC50 is a clever boat. A Ker/McConaghy project, it might be expected to be all about the performance. That has yet to be proved, but the first MC50 to launch stole the show at its La Grande Motte debut in April thanks to the sheer amount of open-plan living space it offers.
The natural light and ventilation offered by using sliding doors and windows needs to be seen to be believed, and the general feeling is that of a condo/apartment on the main deck.
The view from the helms on the aft flybridge is excellent, but I wonder how these relatively high positions will feel in a rolling sea. The most impressive aspect for me, however, is the engineering detail, something Ker is known for. It can be seen in the length to which he and the yard has gone with the mast base and bowsprit longeron supports, and the hydraulic centreboards that swing into the hulls.
The latter offer a clever solution to the problem of providing the performance benefits of 3.5m-deep boards without swallowing excessive accommodation space. The boards have fail-safe pins that break in a collision without 
risk of leaking hydraulic fluid; and they take just 12 seconds to raise.
This is a boat that we are itching to sail.

 

At a glance…

LOA: 49ft 10in (15.20m)
Beam: 26ft 3in (8.00m)
Draught: 3ft 3in – 8ft 10in (1.00m – 2.70m)
Displacement: 14.5 tonnes
Price: from €1.33m
Contact: McConaghy 

 

 

Just launched: ICE Cat 61

Ice Cat 61 exterior

 

Italy’s ICE Yachts has been on the scene since the turn of the millennium, but it is only now making a foray into multihulls. And it is starting big, with a 61, and a 67 further down the line. Its calling card has always been style at the service of performance, and the cats will be no different. Enrico Contreas has designed a dashing hull with just a hint of reverse bow and a long, curved quarter. It’s stylish, but also practical. “Avoiding highly reversed bows allows for easy recovery of the mooring lines,” says Marco Malgara, ICE Yachts’ CEO.
Likewise, the shallow curve of the coachroof is more than just a flick of the designer’s pen: it is intended to reduce windage and help the catamaran go to windward. This is one reason that she can reportedly manage near 30° true wind angles. Another is the manually-operated carbon foils that reduce her displacement by about 15 per cent, and the way the rig is designed.
“The angle going to windward is almost like a monohull,” Malgara says.

ICE Cat 61 galley

The yachts are built using ultra-modern techniques. On the standard version, the hull and superstructure employ a mix of glass and carbon fibre vacuum-infused with epoxy to ensure that just 35-40 per cent of the final weight is resin. Everything on the boat is foam-cored. Customers have so far unanimously opted for the RS version of the 61, which uses all carbon fibre.
ICE has tried to mitigate the handling of a large, technical boat with electric winches and a self-tacking jib. The sheets of both sails are on travellers, giving maximum sail trimming options and a tighter sheeting angle for better windward performance. The helms are towards the aft end of the cockpit, behind a pod-like console, giving the skipper more the sense of a monohull. Dispensing with a raised helm station keeps the boom and the centre of gravity low, making for a more comfortable ride and better performance, predicted at 25 knots.
The interior is more architectural than your average luxury yacht. Expect more of a kitchen than a galley in the large open space of the saloon. The configuration allows for three, four or five cabins, including a compact crew berth in the starboard bow.

 

At a  glance…

LOA: 61ft (18.60m)
Beam: 28ft 3in (8.60m)
Draught: 3ft 3in (1.00m)
Displacement: 15 tonnes
Price: From €1.35m
Contact: Ice Yachts

 

Coming up: HH50

HH 50 Exterior

HH Catamarans has been turning heads since 2012 with a line of sporty, high-tech boats that feature a luxury fit-out. What started off on the drawing board as a fast 48ft cruising cat has grown to 50ft in the building.
“One of the biggest reasons was 
the addition of a second helm station aft,” explained marketing manager 
Will Hobbs.
“That and, during the design review, we found we were able to increase sail efficiency by 6 per cent if we lengthened the hull.”
The lay-up is all carbon, with twin bulkhead helm stations and long-skirted hulls. With a self-tacking jib and push-button controls at the helm station, she should be a breeze to sail short-handed.
Her accommodation all looks very elegant – dark teak contrasting with lighter fabrics. The saloon windows are huge, letting light gush in, with a semi-horseshoe galley to starboard, a navstation forward and dining table to port. There are configurations allowing for three or four cabins.
Morelli & Melvin’s design generally looks modern and aggressive (even if we question the aesthetics of the hard biminis above the helms).

 

At a  glance…

LOA: 49ft 10in (15.20m)
Beam: 24ft 4in (7.44m)
Draught: 4ft 11in-10ft 6in (1.50m-3.20m)
Displacement: 15 tonnes
Price: Tbc
Contact: HH Catamarans

Just launched: Marsaudon TS5

Marsaudon TS5 Exterior

Even if you haven’t heard of Marsaudon, you’re likely to be familiar with its work. The Brittany-based boatbuilder is responsible for some of the world’s biggest and fastest multihulls, including the trimaran IDEC 2, in which Francis Joyon demolished the round-the-world record in 2008.
Operating out of an old U-boat pen in Lorient, France, this composite expert has only been crafting its own brand of cruising catamarans for a few years, but it has already become its mainstay. It began with the TS42, which has reached 10 units, then the well-regarded TS50. The new TS5 is a remodelled version of this, with all-new tooling and a length overall of 55ft. Even before the first one hit the water, half a dozen boats had been pre-sold, such is the reputation of this builder.

Marsaudon TS5 Exterior
In line with its racing heritage, Marsaudon is building the boat to be as fast as possible, with plenty of features stemming directly from its experience with the world’s best racing skippers. There are lots of carbon-fibre options, including a rotating mast with Spectra standing rigging, daggerboards, forward crossbeam and even a carbon main bulkhead. The hull and deck are in high-quality vinylester with foam sandwich core. Designer Christophe Barreau says that she will sail 
5 knots faster than the old TS50, which was already a strong performer. The TS5 has already recorded 23 knots in 18 knots of wind while reaching.
The cockpit is relatively compact, offering a fixed table and seating for up to six. The mainsheet runs along the back of the cockpit, which is good for performance, but encroaches a little on social space. The hulls are fine, meaning that cabins are simple and berths fill all the available space – 160cm at the stern and 140cm in the bow. But don’t expect the fineries of modern catamarans.
Marsaudon doesn’t build cheap boats, but will accommodate design requests. The TS5 shares the pared-back, short-handed philosophy of the smaller TS42, but the extra length allows more concessions to comfort. The second boat, already launched, is for Gerald Bibot, founder of Squid weather routeing software.

 

At a glance…

LOA: 49ft 10in (15.20m)
Beam: 28ft 3in (8.60m)
Draught: 3ft 11in-9ft 10in (1.20m-3.00m)
Displacement: 8.6 tonnes
Price: from €620,000
Contact: Marsdon Composites

 

 

Coming up: ITA 14.99

ITA 14.99 Aft

ITA Catamarans is a new brand, but the team behind this 14.99 are no strangers to the trade and have experience from many of the major Italian shipyards. The naval architecture is by Francois Perus, whose Yacht Design Collective has worked with brands such as Catana and North Wind on their multihulls.
The result is a sleek-looking craft with stylish dreadnought bows and refreshingly low-profile coachroof. This sets the tone for the boat, due to launch this summer, which is all about stellar performance within the envelope of a fast cruiser.
Take the twin helm stations, for instance – they are perched on the aft coaming. This frees up the cockpit for socialising, without compromising the boat’s stability by putting the weight 
of the helm on the coachroof. The result looks as if it could feel exposed in bad weather, although there is a wraparound seat, and the Jefa pedestal can swing inboard if necessary. The outer position gives you optimal views ahead and to windward.
The dreadnought bows are designed to give extra waterline length for speed, while the long, fine underwater profile of the hulls is optimised for comfort through the waves. The flatter sections aft mean that she should plane at speed, and the winch-trimmed daggerboards improve performance to windward. High-tech foam sandwich lay-up and the use of carbon fibre in key areas keeps the hulls light and stiff.

ITA 14.99 saloon

There should be plenty of power from her fathead main and self-tacking jib. “Since most cruisers consists of one couple for sailing, the deck and running rigging had to be of a design so that one person can easily manage all sailing manoeuvres from the safety of the cockpit,” says Sonia Segato, head of marketing at ITA Catamarans.
The mainsheet runs back to blocks on the aft crossbeam, where Harken 50 winches are within easy reach of the helm. It is a set-up that has worked well for monohull sailors, and this boat’s low profile coachroof makes it possible here too.
The designer’s ambition is clearly bluewater, because the boat’s equipment and latest technology includes a Schenker watermaker and Oceanvolt electric propulsion, backed up with twin regenerating props that allow you to recharge the lithium-ion batteries as you sail.
There’s scope for owners to choose their own interior design. “Nothing is set in stone”, says ITA. The heart of the boat is its comfy saloon, which has wraparound toughened glass windows, and the starboard hull is turned over to the owner’s suite. There are several configurations to choose from, including one with an office and another with bunks.
Weight management is taken very seriously. The complete hulls weigh 2,250kg, and the whole boat is infused in one shot to come in under five tonnes. The first 14.99 will be shown 
at Cannes, before the owner takes it 
on a circumnavigation.

 

At a glance…

 

LOA: 49ft 2in (14.99m)
Beam: 25ft 7in (7.80m)
Draught: 1ft 10in-7ft 8in (0.57m-2.35m)
Displacement: 14.5 tonnes
Price: €890,000
Contact: Itacatamarans

 

Coming up: Gunboat 68

Gunboat 68 render

 

Gunboat is back to what it does best with a show-stopping design for a 68ft oceanic catamaran. An all-carbon build again, the new 68 has heavily reversed wave-piercing bows and super low-profile coachroof, giving it an elegant but muscular look. There’s something of Gotham City about this yacht.
Gunboat, which is now under French ownership, has brought in VPLP design for the naval architecture. They are veterans of some of the world’s biggest, fastest racing multihulls. The design team has broadened the beam of the boat and moved the mast further aft to make her more stable and easier to handle. That said, she’ll be no slouch, particularly if you select some of the turbo options, including longer rig for bigger sails, lighter weight and longer daggerboards. Speeds in excess of 25 knots in a blow, and up to 16 knots in a Force 4 are predicted. Benoit Lebizay, Gunboat’s managing partner, says: “500 miles per day is an achievable target”.

Gunboat 68 vue cockpit
At 68ft, there is plenty of real estate to toy with here. We like the interior helm station with its sunroof – handy for keeping an eye on the sails as well as ventilation. There’s also easy access to the forward cockpit and the foredeck through two watertight glass doors in the front of the saloon. This will also bathe the interior with light.
The galley to port is big enough to sport an island unit, and the rear windows open to connect the inside and outside seating/dining areas. At this size, the two hulls offer lots of room for four, five, or six full-sized double beds with panoramic views.

 

At a glance…

LOA: 68ft (20.75m)
Beam: 29ft 11in (9.1m)
Draught: 3ft 11in-13ft 6in (1.20m-4.10m)
Displacement: 23.8 tonnes
Price: from €4.75m
Contact: Gunboat

 

 

Best of the rest:

Unlimited Yacht C53

Unlimited Yacht C53 aft view

 

Vittorio Malingri, Italy’s first Vendée Globe sailor, is the nautical brain behind a new fast cruising catamaran, christened the Unlimited C53. With no website, his is a stealthy operation, but the first hull is sold and already in-build on the Adriatic coast between Ancona and San Marino.
The boat has been designed with an experienced navigator’s eye, so the beams connecting the two hulls are an unprecedented 1.3m above the waterline, to minimise slamming in heavy seas. Tankage and heavy equipment are all positioned low and in the centre of the hulls for balance. And there is a heavy longeron, which makes for a stiffer forestay and therefore better windward performance.
The twin helms are on swinging pedestals, and the boat uses foils and T-shaped rudders to provide lift to windward. There are three broad specification levels, depending on budget, with the top spec including full carbon lay-up.

 

Dazcat D1295

Dazcat D1295 on water

 

Launched at the end of last season, the D1295 is a potent new addition to the cruiser-racer cat market. It is the smaller sister to the very impressive D1495 we tested two years ago and 
leans on more than three decades of successful 
offshore racing builds from this Cornish yard. These cats can outrun weather or look after 
crew if caught out.
Weight is kept low and central, including the engines, to create a fast smooth ride. It is also minimised wherever possible, with carbon used for the rudders, spinnaker pole V-striker, davits and bimini sections.
“She points really high and is the fastest tacking Dazcat so far,” says Dazcat designer Darren Newton. “We did a two-second tack where she lost no momentum at all, which for a cruising cat is phenomenal!”