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The New Cat Class

We explore the differences in powercat design and review 12 new models.

February 20, 2020
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Lagoon Seventy 8
One of the big benefits of a power catamaran like this Lagoon Seventy 8 is usable square footage inside and outside. Courtesy Lagoon

Power catamarans have always had hardcore fans, and we could all argue for the umpteenth time about whether powercats are better than monohulls. Yawn. The truth is, there’s a relatively small but dedicated group of powercat lovers who will never agree with the monohull crowd. Trying to persuade one or the other to change their minds is akin to locking Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow in a room and saying, “Go.”

A more interesting debate is about what, in any particular catamaran’s design, triggers such dedication. I say particular because one of the great judgmental errors naysayers make is lumping all multihull boats into the same category. Nobody would say all monohulls are alike, yet powercats are often painted with an exceedingly broad brush and then dismissed or embraced on the whole.

Truth be told, whether you’re considering a 40-foot center-console cat with quadruple outboards or an 80-foot cat cruiser with the elegance of a Trumpy, the ability of a designer to take advantage of the twin-hull platform is often the key to the design’s success—or lack thereof.

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Amasea 84

Amasea Yachts 84

Amasea Yachts is building this aluminum trideck powercat with a reinforced hull for high-latitude cruising. Power will be twin 1,920 hp MTU diesels. Projected cruise speed is 11 knots. The builder says there is enough dry and cold stowage to cruise nonstop for up to six weeks. The Amasea 84 has 5,887 square feet of deck space over its three levels and accommodates 20 guests and crew. Courtesy Amasea Yachts
Invincible 35

Invincible 35

Invincible is best known for its high-performing monohull center-consoles, but the 35 is the builder’s third powercat. There are also 37- and 40-footers. The builder says its semi-symmetric hull design helps the vessel perform like a monohull, leaning into—not out of—turns as many catamarans will do. The builder offers a variety of twin- and quad-outboard power options. Courtesy Invincible Boat Co.
Horizon PC60

Horizon PC60

The Horizon PC60’s power is 705 hp Cummins QSM11 ­diesels. The PC60 we got aboard cruised at 18 knots, for a range of 540 nautical miles. At 9 knots, range is 1,500 nm. The PC60 can have an open bridge or a sky lounge. There are four staterooms, with a main-deck master. The boat has an infused solid-fiberglass hull bottom with Divinycell-cored sides. A collision bulkhead enhances safety. Courtesy Horizon Power Catamarans

“The design work on a cat is far more involved than on a monohull,” says Larry Graf, who started off his design career by creating Glacier Bay powercats and, today, designs and builds Aspen Power Catamarans. “With a monohull, you design from the centerline out, then mirror it on the computer and pow—you have a full hull. A typical monohull hull can be done in three to five days. But for a cat, the best shapes are often asymmetric, so each hull has two halves that are not the same.”

And the hull is just the beginning of a cat’s story. Is it easier to design an interior that fits into one hull or into two separate hulls plus a center deck level? That cats have more complexity on the inside is a no-brainer.

However, having the two separate hulls also provides advantages. One is privacy on a level that can’t be matched in any monohull, if a cat’s designer works with the shape of the boat.

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McConaghy 59p

McConaghy 59p

The McConaghy 59p is the first model in a new range of multihulls from McConaghy Boats, with six more models from 50 to 90 feet length overall. The forward-leaning superstructure and raked flybridge arch give the 59 an aggressive profile. Layout options include a main-deck master stateroom and two crew cabins, or three to four staterooms belowdecks. Three interior-decor options called Sweden, Hong Kong and Bermuda offer owners several fabric and wood choices, varying the look from cool and modern to warm and tropical. Courtesy McConaghy
World Cat 400DC-X

World Cat 400DC-X

This cat should run like a cheetah. Twin 425 hp outboards are expected to give the World Cat 400DC-X a 40-knot top hop. A single-level main deck makes for safe transit, and there is 200 square feet of deck space including the cockpit (with a grill), bridge deck and foredeck. The 400DC-X can be equipped for cruising, fishing and diving. A berth in the portside hull is 74 inches by 46 inches. Courtesy World Cat
Leopard 53

Leopard 53

The Leopard 53 will have twin 370 hp Yanmar diesels with a projected 25-knot top-end speed. Cruise speed is expected to be 17.5 knots with a range of 463 nautical miles on a 562-gallon fuel capacity. The galley is aft, and settees are forward to port and starboard in an open floor plan. Belowdecks can include three or four staterooms. The ­foredeck, flybridge and cockpit offer three alfresco spaces. Courtesy Leopard

The key to harnessing this privacy advantage is the ability to separate staterooms not just with thin bulkheads but instead with entire hulls, or at the very least with head compartments and companionways. In part, this ability contributes to the popularity of powercats in the charter market.

Lex Raas—president of charter and special initiatives at MarineMax, which launched the ­Aquila line for charter in 2012 with the Sino Eagle Group—says the Aquila 48 illustrates how privacy can be done right on a catamaran.

“The privacy advantage specifically is that the port hull is a full owner’s cabin,” he says. “There are no shared ­bulkheads. And on the starboard-side, there are two absolutely equal ­cabins with equal heads and showers ­between them. You can take two couples with you, and nobody feels that they’re getting the short end of the stick.”

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The elimination of shared bulkheads increases privacy quite a bit on that Aquila, but examples become even more stark as you consider larger yachts. One of Sunreef’s newest offerings, the 80 Sunreef Power, for ­example, can have six staterooms—all separated by full heads or companionways, with no two staterooms sharing a common bulkhead.

Fountaine Pajot MY 40

Fountaine Pajot MY 40

Sliding doors lead from the Fountaine Pajot MY 40’s 134-square-foot cockpit with L-shaped seating to the salon with an aft galley. Forward to port are a settee and two chairs with a helm station across. Power is twin 300 or 370 hp Volvo Penta IPS diesels. A 183-square-foot flybridge with a helm, table and seating for six, and an 86-square-foot foredeck lounge create convivial alfresco zones. Courtesy Fountaine Pajot
Corona 85

Corona 85

The Corona 85’s large spaces start in the ­full-beam (30-foot) ­master stateroom, made even larger by two foldout balconies. In total, there is room for 10 guests plus five crew. The flybridge has room for a hot tub, a dining table for eight, two L-shaped lounges, and a helm on centerline under a louver-style hardtop. The garage accommodates a 26-foot tender plus four PWC. The 85’s 4-foot-6-inch draft makes it Bahamas-friendly. A beach club has a transformer platform for water access, and there are chaise lounges. There’s more tanning space on the foredeck. Courtesy Corona Yachts
Silent-Yachts 55

Silent-Yachts 55

One of the hallmarks of the Silent-Yachts 55 is the ability to run on pure electric, diesel-electric or traditional diesel propulsion. The yacht has 32 solar panels making up a 527-square-foot, 10 kW array. The panels convert around 22 percent of the energy collected into electricity. The builder recently updated the 55 with 250 kW e-motors and increased battery capacity by 90 kW to 210 kW. Courtesy Silent-Yachts

The ability to have more staterooms that are more private is in large part a function of beam on a cat, designers say.

“Beam is gained for the whole length of the boat, and the cross-deck provides a huge space,” says Mathias Maurios, a naval architect at VPLP Design in Paris, a firm known for designing twin-hulled yachts. “And while, yes, the individual hulls are narrower than a single monohull body, on the whole, usable space is larger than with a monohull. The width allows for more of the valuable interior and deck space.”

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Maurios points to the Lagoon Seventy 8 as an example. “The staterooms are the size of the cabins in a much larger motoryacht,” he says.

The other big advantages many cats can claim relate to seakeeping, speed and efficiency. Again, no two powercats are alike, but a close look at specific models is illuminating. As we reported in Yachting’s review of the Lagoon Seventy 8, for example, at a 10-knot cruise, the boat has 4,000 nautical-mile transatlantic range—a boast that few engine-driven yachts of the same length overall can make. Smaller cats can also have extreme ranges for their size; consider that the Fountaine Pajot MY 44 can reportedly cruise more than 1,000 ­nautical miles between pit stops.

“Speed, stability and comfort are the prime words illustrating catamarans,” Maurios says, “and we’ve always believed that multihulls are ideal.”

Aquila 70

Aquila 70

Aquila has a 70-foot flagship coming. The yacht’s sleek profile is an achievement because many cats have a linear look. The curved superstructure and knife-shaped hullside glass enhance the look. The 70 can have an open or enclosed flybridge, and there is foredeck access on centerline. Layouts range from three to six staterooms, plus crew’s ­quarters. The galley and formal dining are on the main deck. Courtesy Aquila
Insetta 45

Insetta 45

The Insetta 45 is flexible. Owners can have twin or quad outboards from 300 to 627 hp apiece, or twin 370 hp ­Yanmar diesels. At a 30-knot cruise with the diesels, range is 1,000 nm. The 45 is made cruise-friendly with cockpit seating in the port and starboard corners, or ready to fish with livewells, outriggers and a T-top with an upper helm. There is also a full berth and head in the air-conditioned cabin. Courtesy Insetta
Lagoon Sixty 7

Lagoon Sixty 7

The Lagoon Sixty 7 has a versatile layout. The galley can be down to port, opening up the main deck to formal dining for eight or more, also to port. There are two ­settees to starboard offering seating for ­additional guests. The galley can also be placed in the center of the salon. In this setup, there is U-shaped seating to port. Big family? The Sixty 7 can be ordered with four to six staterooms. Doors through the salon lead to a sunken foredeck lounge as well as chaise longues. Power is twin 340 or 440 hp diesels with steering stations on the main deck and  ­flybridge. Nicolas Claris/Lagoon

When ­designed for speed instead of efficiency, cats enjoy a different sort of advantage. Consider the Freeman 42LR, a quad-engine, ­62-knot center-console. That boat gets close to 1 nmpg when cruising at just under 50 knots. And because the vessel has a compression tunnel—air gets compressed between the hulls at high speed, ­creating a cushion that softens the blows when striking waves—it can maintain that pace in conditions that would make most monohulls rather uncomfortable, to say the least.

What about those disadvantages the cat haters often point to? The unusual handling characteristics, the need for wider slips to match wider beams, the nontraditional looks and higher initial cost—sure, there are trade-offs. Then again, every vessel has some level of compromise.

So, let the pundit debates rage on. But remember: Power catamarans are just as different and distinct from one to the next as monohulls are, and smart design is the key to harnessing the advantages of the form.

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