Catamarans are the fastest growing segment of the boating market with sales of powercats even outperforming sailing cats. Multihulls in general, have gained popularity as boaters have come to recognize their inherent advantages: Multihulls have more deck and interior space per foot of length than monohulls. They have shallower drafts and greater stability under way and at rest in anchorages without fins or gyrostabilizers. Twin screws set wide apart enhance maneuverability even without a bow thruster. Cats also don’t drag a massive keel through the water so on average, they’re lighter and 20 to 30 percent more fuel-efficient.
Part of the recent growth of the powercat market is attributed to the original builders who stayed the course long enough for models to turn over into the brokerage market. Cats have also held their resale value, which helps defer costs of ownership. Builders of sailing cats have also converted to producing powercats so there are more models available. And finally, powercats have leapt forward with major changes in styling, comfort, customization and range.
With so much going for them, isn’t it time you learned more about what’s out there? Here are a few power catamaran models that might pique your interest.
Big and Beautiful
At the top of the market are some sexy models that work the luxury charter trade but are still manageable enough to be owner-operated. Over 60 feet or so, cats become luxe vessels with plentiful amenities and a long range to go just about anywhere. Customers are generally people who already know the advantages of a catamaran and would like to step up their game.
The Horizon Yachts’ PC models (60, 65 and 74) designed by Angelo Lavranos, have flybridges that can be enclosed into skylounges adding square footage to the living space. And with all that room, there are multiple layout options available so you can personalize your boat to make it almost unrecognizable as a production boat.
Another production cat, the Lagoon SEVENTY 8, is the size of a tennis court on deck and has three levels of accommodations and a master suite with an opening section in the side of the starboard hull. When lowered, this section forms a private terrace just a few feet above the water. If you’d like to get away from your guests, this feature gives new meaning to the term “escape hatch”.
The French builder also launched the 630 MY that can be run by an experienced couple that wants a sense of privacy and self-sufficiency, which isn’t available when professional crew is aboard. The 63-footer is powered by either 260 HP or 300 HP Volvo Penta diesels and can cross the Atlantic. The SEVENTY 8, with it’s twin 580 HP John Deeres, can cross the Pacific.
The Polish-built Sunreef 80 seems more like a 96-foot monohull and is equipped with an aft garage with room for a dinghy, a PWC and water toys. The flybridge has vast lounging areas with a Jacuzzi and a bar and this big boat is powered by twin diesels that can be upgraded to 1200 HP each. With these enormous engines, the boat will do 24 knots.
The Sunreef 68 (that has a 3,000 nautical mile range and a top speed of 25 knots) has nearly 1,000 square feet of room and a custom interior design that makes it more like a five star hotel. And although not in the same size class, the new Sunreef 40 Open is a sexy machine with fold-out hull sides that add deck space when deployed at anchor. With twin 860 HP engines (upgraded) the 40 Open has a top speed of 60 knots made possible in part by the retractable hydrofoil system that lifts the boat above water when cruising over 25 knots. The 40 Open is so sleek and futuristic, it looks like Jason Bourne’s next ride.
Most of this segment is dominated by production builders like Leopard, Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot that develop cats for charter as well as private ownership. Leopard Catamarans are marketed by South African builder, Robertson & Caine, and if you’ve ever chartered a sailing cat from The Moorings or Sunsail, you’ve probably been on a Leopard. Powercats are becoming more available in charter and that’s a great way to try a model for an extended period before purchasing one. Cruising at 18 knots, you can cover a lot of territory when chartering in places like the British Virgin Islands or Croatia.
Mid-range powercats are packed with ancillary equipment like generators, watermakers, solar panels and larger battery banks and fuel tanks. This means they can go farther and stay longer. What’s more, styling and amenities have become a real differentiator for the brands in this segment and high-end touches like leather and chrome accents, drawer refrigeration, ice makers, full electronics suites, digital switching and hydraulic swim platforms are available on most models making life aboard a pleasure.
Fountaine Pajot also works with charter companies and their powercat line includes three models, 37 to 44 feet, with engines up to 300 HP that will deliver 18-20 knot speeds.
Better hull shapes have resulted in greater fuel economy and these mid-range designs can cruise farther for less.
Built in China, Aquila Catamarans are represented in the US by MarineMax and have three models 36-48 feet. The entry model is an outboard-powered express cruiser that is perfect for coastal runs or doing the Great Loop. The 44 has an optional main deck level owner’s suite that anyone would find comfortable. It even includes an office (or nursery if you like).
Small but Mighty
There are also powercats for those with smaller slips and tighter budgets. Powercats in the 20 to 35-foot range like Glacier Bay, World Cat and Arrowcat have been known as fishing machines. Two hulls provide a smooth ride to where the fish are biting and a steady casting platform to reduce fatigue so you can fish longer. New narrower designs and lighter construction methods ensure that most of these boats can coastal cruise up to 200-400 miles and get there at 30 knots.
World Cat, which now markets over a dozen models 23 to 32 feet, offers center and dual console and branded Glacier Bay cuddy cabin designs. Arrowcat offers three models 32-42 feet and concentrates on fit and finish, a smooth ride, amenities and a top speed of 44 knots on their 32-footer.
Aspen Catamarans’ Power Proa design has dialed in superior fuel economy. Two asymmetrical hulls, one of which holds a single Volvo Penta diesel, deliver 9-20-knot speeds and 300-500 miles of range depending on conditions. The 32-foot C100 also offers a galley, a dinette, a double berth and a head. A couple could cruise for a week or longer in perfect comfort.
To demonstrate Aspen’s robust build as well as distance capabilities, in 2014 the C100 completed a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in a non-stop, un-refueled, timed race of 640 miles. The western side of Vancouver can be rough going but the C100 completed the voyage in just over 47 hours with an average speed around 13 mph. This shows these coastal cats are durable and fast. Many of these smaller cats are also trailerable so you can cruise faster and farther by highway, then launch and explore new waters.
Overall, powercats have become more available on the secondary market and have entered the charter trade. They’ve made gains in fuel efficiency, amenities and luxury. Because more production builders have gotten into the game, powercats have also become more affordable. Finally, they’ve become sleeker so they’re easier to berth. If you haven’t tried a powercat, you should. After that, you may find that a monohull is just half a boat.
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