Outremer Yachting, a French builder of performance cruising catamarans, stretched their wildly successful 49-footer to create the Outremer 51. They also added some hard angles to the transoms and coachroof, and incorporated owner feedback to improve livability.

outremer 51

Outremer has an almost cult-like following among bluewater cruisers and is known as a cat that makes tracks.



For experienced sailors undaunted by size, the new 51 was designed to be crewed by a couple despite its vast on-deck acreage. Everything about the design, sailing characteristics, deck hardware, and redundancies allows two people to sail her easily even if they’re not spring chickens.

After building 20 hulls of the former model, it was time for a facelift. The addition of two feet is mostly gained in the sugarscoop transoms that are now hard-angled and easier to board from a dock or dinghy. Three steps up you’ll encounter Outremer’s trademark carbon-fiber tillers (one on each side) and the space-pod white chair mounted to the deck. Owners swear by these pods, stating they can spend hours on watch, seeing the rush of the waves just below and feeling secure while ensconcsed in fiberglass chairs that look like something from the Jetsons cartoons of the 1960s.

The tillers are not the only steering option. There’s also a full helm station with a wheel on the starboard bulkhead. From here visibility forward is quite good, so that’s where I would be when close-quarters maneuvering. But don’t discount the tillers as an affectation, they also function as redundant steering options and emergency tillers if something goes awry with the wheel. That’s a nice feature on a go-far boat where you may have to hand-steer for days before reaching repair facilities.

Between the Barreau-Neuman design, the sandwhich construction (the boat displaces just under 22,000 pounds dry), and the rig, speed is a top priority. The rotating carbon-fiber mast and solent rig (with a working jib and downwind reaching sail) mean the sailplan is large but easy to manage even short-handed. The daggerboards, operated with winches in the cockpit, ensure upwind performance that’s better than on most cats. Speeds in excess of 20 knots have been recorded and a promotional photo of the 51 shows a man wakeboarding in the wake. Not bad, but I have to wonder how they got him started from a dead stop.

The Outremer has a sleeker profile than its predecessor, due mostly to emulating the styling of the 59’ 5X that sits above it in the line. The coachroof has been given a bit of a brow, the angles are sharper and the windows that used to be slanted are now vertical, which cuts down on the amount of solar heat transferred to the interior. Overall, the boat looks a bit more aggressive but also more modern.

The cockpit is dominated by a large, forward-facing U-shaped settee that wraps around a table with drop-down leaves so it can seat a crowd. With the addition of deck chairs, 10 would dine comfortably. There’s plenty of space for solar panels on the hard-top that covers most of the cockpit. For even better power management, more panels may be mounted atop the dinghy davits aft.

A large sliding door leads to the saloon, where there’s another settee, this time aft-facing and L-shaped with two additional ottoman seating cushions stowed below the table. To starboard is a large, forward-facing nav station so you can navigate or steer via the autopilot in climate-controlled comfort. Just aft of the nav desk is a compact galley that serves both the saloon and cockpit so the chef is still part of the festivities. Two-drawer refrigeration is to port and above the steps that lead to the owner’s cabin.

outremer

The nav desk is expansive, and any cruiser will most definitely appreciate it even if charts will still be laid out on the saloon table.



The owner version of the layout has a large master suite in the port hull with a queen berth aft and a dedicated head occupying most of the forward end of the hull. Stowage options are many and are well laid out. The starboard hull has two cabins and a shared head that divides the sink and head from the dedicated shower stall. The forward cabin may be configured with a double berth or upper and lower bunks depending on family needs. An optional bunk room may be squeezed into the owner’s hull as well. The vessel may also be configured with four double cabins.

The owner couple I met could not have been happier with their migration from a large ocean-going monohull to this catamaran, and they aren’t intimidated in the least by the cat’s size. They enjoy fast passages and plenty of privacy even with the grandkids aboard. Now that’s a reason to sing the praises of performance cruising cats.

Other Choices: Another catamaran known for its speedy attitude (and also a French build) is the Catana 53. If you want to up the comfort quotient and are less worried about making every possible knot, the Fountaine Pajot Saba 50 is an option to consider.

For more information visit Outremer.

See Outremer listings.
Specifications
Length51'0"
Beam24'5"
Draft (hull)3'1"/7'9"
Sail Area1,346 sq. ft.
Displacement21,825 lbs
Fuel capacity90 gal.
Water capacity100 gal.

Written by: Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.
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