Fast cruising is the theme this year, say Toby Hodges and Sam Fortescue, who look at some of 2021's exciting new multihull launches
2021 looks set to be a bumper year for new catamarans as the trend for fast cruising yachts, which deliver plenty if living space continues. This year there are set to be several new catamarans on the market, here’s our selection of those about which we are most excited.
A group of wild enthusiasts in the landlocked Czech Republic are the force behind the new IC36 from Independent Catamaran. The debut model is a fully race-tuned cat that aims to appeal to speed freaks as well as performance cruisers. Oh, and it unbolts to fit inside a shipping container or on a trailer!
Perhaps closer in design terms to the Extreme 40 than a traditional cat, the IC36 has super narrow hulls, high displacement bows and an optional rotating carbon rig with composite stays.
A sporty-looking carbon beam braces the bows and doubles as a bowsprit for asymmetric sails. Deep daggerboards help windward performance, and there’s a racy dual carbon tiller providing direct rudder control.
“The first time I saw it, I just felt like it was from one of Jules Verne’s adventures,” says co-founder Jaromír Popek.
The boat has been optimised for electric propulsion with twin 6kW Oceanvolt saildrives and up to 15kWh of lithium-ion batteries giving a range of a couple of hours. Powerful hydrogeneration under sail keeps batteries topped up. For longer spells at anchor, there is also a decent 1.15kW array of Solbian solar panels which folds away when not required.
As much fun as this boat should be to sail in its Raw racing variant, it is also available with more creature comforts.
The Pacer model has a coachroof, cockpit tent, more storage and cooking and freshwater systems. It can accommodate a reported eight people in the hulls, with a fridge and two-burner hob to port and a shower/heads to starboard. Or you can opt for a fridge and hob in the folding cockpit table.
Construction is in epoxy-glass composite with local Kevlar reinforcement and foam core, helping to keep weight down to less than 3 tonnes (key for trailering). And there are three buoyancy chambers in each hull, which underpin the claim that the boat is unsinkable.
For all the variants, the light weight and high-performance rig means you can sail in a breath of wind. In a blow, the sky should be the limit. Expect reaching speeds of 20 knots plus, particularly if you take the high-modulus carbon wing mast from Pauger.
LOA: 11.00m / 36ft 1in
Beam: 6.20m / 20ft 4in
Draught: 0.85-2.00m / 2ft 9in-6ft 7in
Displacement (light): 2,500kg / 5,512lb
Price ex VAT: €295,000 (for RAW)
This new launch from the world’s number one catamaran brand is the largest in the range of ‘regular’ boats, before entering the more luxurious world of the Lagoon 65.
It has been drawn by VPLP and Patrick le Quement, whose design nous has done much to make cats more mainstream. Many of the features, therefore, will be familiar from the smaller boats.
However, that extra length creates more volume below, so the Lagoon 55 can be arranged with up to six true double cabins with ensuite heads. “It’s the first time we have six cabins of the same size and function and a larger flybridge,” explains products developments manager Martina Torrini during a premiere virtual tour of the first model to launch in March.
Another first is the curving steps up from the transom skirt to the aft deck, dubbed ‘the stairway to heaven’. “The surfaces of the transom can be used differently,” adds Torrini. “Not just a way to access the boat, they become in themselves a living area.” This feature extends the size of the cockpit to 25m2, and even offers a plancha grill.
There’s more social space on the huge flybridge (with fridge and bar) and a movable sunpad on the forward part of the coachroof. The boat also features Lagoon’s first ever dedicated forward cockpit, connected to the saloon by a drop-down window.
A 107m2 fat-head main provides grunt, but is coupled with a self-tacking jib. As with all Lagoons, the emphasis is on comfort and ease of use rather than speed and windward pointing ability.
LOA: 16.56m / 54ft 4in
Beam: 9.00m / 29ft 6in
Draught: 1.55m / 5ft 1in
Displacement: 26,500kg / 58,433lb
Fountaine Pajot Samana 59
Replacing the five-year-old Ipanema 58, this luxurious 59-footer integrates many of the new design features of the 45, which boasted longer, wider hulls that nevertheless showed 10% less drag. Chief among the new attractions is an enlarged cockpit, forward lounge and flybridge, for more socialising space.
“We wanted to emphasise her identity by optimising her interior and exterior spaces to make this 59ft catamaran the equivalent of a larger yacht,” explains designer Olivier Racoupeau.
“Whether it’s the flybridge, the cockpit or the saloon, we’ve worked hard to find harmony between all the living spaces on board, to gain every millimetre inside and outside.”
There’s a door forward out of the saloon, and the option of a hydraulic bathing platform, which doubles up for tender storage. Up to six cabins are offered, and the rare option of putting the galley up in the saloon or down to port. Hull number one is joining the World ARC.
Meanwhile, a new 51 is tipped for launch in 2022, which will focus on sustainability and have 2kW of flush solar panels built into the flybridge.
LOA: 18.21m / 59ft 9in
Beam: 9.46m / 31ft 1in
Draught: 1.40m / 4ft 7in
Displacement: 25,500kg / 56,217lb
Price ex VAT: €1,302,900
The new 42 replaces the Leopard 40, and it draws on the latest design thinking from the larger boats in the range. Like the award-winning Leopard 50, it has continuous hull windows, a hardtop, and contrasting coachroof accents. But it also goes further, with plumb bows and long horizontal chines.
That lounging space on the coachroof adds 65% to the exterior entertainment area. “By integrating the geometry of the lounge into the GRP hardtop, we were able to achieve a lightweight area that added less weight to the boat than one average sized crewmember,” explains Michael Robertson, chief designer at builder Robertson & Caine. It has been cleverly engineered so as not to steal headroom from the cockpit.
In contrast to many modern cats, the Leopard 42 makes a virtue of the separate cockpit and saloon, whose seating is focused on the forward galley. There is lots of glazing and a full-height door out onto the foredeck. Every cabin has a third more floor space and twice the glazed area of the old Leopard 40. Each has an island berth and its own heads with shower.
But it’s not all about space. “Performance potential remains one of the top priorities,” says naval architect Alex Simonis of Simonis-Voogd Yacht Design. “We spend a lot of time refining the rig geometry and the sail layout to boost the efficiency of the rig plan. At the same time, the ongoing refinement in hull and appendage design allows us to create a yacht with better sea motion and more agility.
LOA: 12.67m 41ft 7in
Beam: 7.04m 23ft 1in
Draught: 1.40m 4ft 7in
Displacement: 12,460kg 27,469lb
Price ex VAT: €399,000
The new entry-level yacht from France’s Neel Trimarans is designed to bring the world of three hulls to a new clientele.
Building on the success of the larger Neel 47 and Neel 51, the 43 takes the fight to the catamaran, with a big superstructure that includes two double cabins as well as a galley and saloon.
There’s a further double cabin forward in the central nacelle, and cosy singles in either bow. A sliding door and window allows the saloon and the cockpit seating areas to be socially connected, although they remain two very different spaces.
The bulkhead helmstation to starboard has commanding views out over the huge coachroof. From the drawings, this appears to allow a tight sheeting angle for the genoa, but brings the mainsheet, which is fastened to the transom, close to the davits and skirt of the central hull.
The main is square-topped with two full battens and there is also a high-performance carbon spar option.
Though the lay-up is in standard foam-cored glassfibre, Neel says it is leaning towards more environmentally friendly construction. Interior joinery is from sustainable Alpi wood and recyclable material.
LOA: 13.11m / 43ft 0in
Beam: 7.50m / 24ft 7in
Draught: 1.50m / 4ft 11in
Displacement: 9,000kg /19,841lb
Price ex VAT: €329,800
Marsaudon Composites has quietly built an enthusiastic following for its TS42 and TS50 catamarans since the smaller boat was launched six years ago.
That these have been the first boats to cross the Atlantic in the last two ARCs has also done its reputation no harm.
The yard is based at Lorient La Base, at the heart of the French offshore racing scene, so it’s perhaps no surprise these designs are lightweight and offer plenty of performance.
The direct tiller steering, which gives a responsive feel to the helm, is an example of the thinking that sets these boats apart from other multihulls and makes them sought after models. Yet they also have enough space both on deck and below to offer very comfortable living.
A 57-footer from the board of Marc Lombard will be the third design to join the stable. It shares the same hallmarks as the existing models, although a wheel steering option will also be offered.
In suitable conditions this is a cruising yacht that can be expected to hit speeds of well over 20 knots.
The hull shape is clearly a progression from the earlier models, while following the same light displacement principles with fine hull shapes. Lombard drew a new shape for the bows to increase efficiency and reduce the tendency for bow-down trim. He told us: “The bows are shaped so that, when the boat is powered up and starts to heel, the lee bow will generate extra lift to push the bow up.”
The additional size makes the interior spaces of this boat significantly larger than those of the 50-footer, especially in the hulls. Much thought has also gone into ergonomics and weight saving, stripping out and simplifying anything that is not essential. CEO Damien Cailliau likes to draw on a quote from Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars: “Simplify, then add lightness.”
As an example, there are no hull linings, which saves weight and complication, but requires extremely neat moulding. “A core competency of Marsaudon Composites is that we produce excellent mouldings,” says Cailliau, “so we don’t need to hide our work.”
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As a low volume builder – only 28 of the smaller boats have been built in total – Marsaudon Composites can offer semi-custom interior arrangements, providing they don’t add unnecessary weight. The boat can also be built with varying amounts of carbon to reduce displacement further.
At the same time as announcing this design Marsaudon launched a rebranding of the range, which will now be known as Ocean Rider Catamarans (or ORC). The new name is a better fit with the qualities with which owners identify than the Très Simple concept that led to the original TS designation.
To underscore the difference between these boats and the majority of catamarans in this size range a tiller has been incorporated in the logo.
Tooling for the ORC 57 is under construction and the first boat is scheduled to be unveiled in September 2021.
Base price ex VAT: €1,085,000
Current Marine CM46 & CM52
The founder of RS Sailing, Martin Wadhams, is a racing sailor who now spends more and more time cruising.
Martin and his wife, Amanda, enjoy sailing fast boats and have spent some time looking to upgrade from their Pogo 12.50 to a multihull. Their search for a true performance cruising catamaran – and one that wouldn’t cost seven figures – turned out few viable options.
Australian-based designer Jeff Shionning put them onto some fresh designs he has done for Current Marine, a new South African brand formed from an experienced team of composites experts at Knysna, between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the south coast.
It has been set up to build the new CM46 and CM52 in low-volume semi-custom production. On visiting the yard a year ago, Wadhams was impressed enough with the high tech builds to order the second CM46.
He reports that the joinery is all laminated in, there is plenty of opportunity for layout customisation (in three or four cabins) and, owing to the lower labour costs in South Africa, pricing is keen.
Shionning’s CM designs are lightweight, efficient catamarans that should be able to sail well in light breeze and outrun weather systems in the open ocean.
Key features include daggerboards, fine bows, centralised weight of engines and tanks, and high bridgedeck clearance. The rig is also positioned amidships for optimum weight centralisation, while also helping to create a large foretriangle for flying a range of furling headsails. Aluminium or carbon spars and diesel or hybrid propulsion are offered.
Wadhams says there is good stowage space and payload capacity for comfortable liveaboard cruising. “They’re built using post-cured epoxy, carbon, E-Glass and PVC foam-cored laminates – a level above mainstream brands,” he insists. “This brings the construction found in a few larger, high-end boats into smaller-size catamarans.” The first CM46 is a full carbon racing version destined for an Auckland-based owner and is due to launch early 2021. The second boat (for Wadhams) has a more cruising-oriented spec.
Prices ex VAT: CM46 €635,000, CM52 €787,000
Is this the most popular new design of 2021? Although the first of this new 45ft model is not due to launch until later in the autumn, there has already been a phenomenal uptake in orders.
Publicity has been helped by vloggers Sailing Ruby Rose ordering one of the first boats, but a staggering 55 have been sold already. This has led to the Australian/Vietnamese yard establishing a new technical department that is separate from the production department.
European sales manager Jay Nolan says this 13-strong team is tasked with working up every system on the boat and looking at hybrid solutions.
Price ex VAT: €599,000
A contemporary fast cat set up for short-handed world cruising, Outremer’s exciting new 55 launches this winter.
We previewed this VPLP design in our September issue and hope to test it during the spring. Much focus has been placed on weight and stiffness to help increase performance and ensure the boat can sail in the lightest breezes and therefore rarely need engine power.
Price ex VAT: €1,215,000
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