The sea offers the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of moving safely at high speed. This concept has been in Catana’s DNA from the very beginning.
The Catana reaches incredible speeds at the slightest breath of wind. Pointing ahead, before the wind, reaching up to 29 knots. An incredible feat for a recreational boat: you literally feel as though you are flying. With 45 to 50 knots of wind, two reefs in the mainsail and a few turns of the genoa to reduce the sail area, you surf along, at one with the boat.
Downwind or close-hauled, or even with a headwind, these boats can sustain an incredible speed: Catana catamarans are the stuff of legends. These boats are thoroughbreds, and some of the fastest recreational catamarans in the world. Whether Catana’s boat owners simply adore the sea, are tempted by an adventurous ocean voyage or a trip around the world, or are looking for new thrills, they fulfil their dreams with the constant reassurance of maximum safety.
It is not very difficult to build a fast boat. All you need to do is design a functionally efficient boat with a minimal level of comfort. Racing vessels built this way are famously uncomfortable. Designing a safe, high-performance ocean-going vessel while providing maximum comfort for its owner, however, is a much more complex task.
Few boatbuilders can provide long-distance sailors with such vessels – with generators, desalination equipment, a washing machine, microwave, solar panels and other equipment – without reducing seaworthiness or performance. Performance, safety and top-of-the-range comfort form the trilogy that epitomises the Catana brand and underpin the construction and design of each individual model.
The famous Catana daggerboards are moulded in the Catana workshops and can be moved down and up as required, making them the defining characteristic of the range. Sailing close-hauled without slipping off course is easy, a feat that other catamarans would struggle to achieve. These boats can accelerate without forcing down the bows. Steering a better course when sailing close-hauled also increases safety, giving you the chance to “escape” more quickly if a squall blows up, without having to reduce the sail area.
This innovation, designed by Catana, is certainly our most revolutionary creation. It is hardly surprising that other boat builders have tried to followed suit.
The daggerboards also improve stability. In the event of crosswinds, raising the daggerboards enables the boat to glide along easily, thus avoiding the “trip” risk, and again ensuring safety. Conversely, lowering the daggerboards makes it possible to sail close-hauled almost as well as in a monohull, proving once and for all that catamarans can do this, and do it at much higher speeds. Even in light winds, a Catana can sail at speeds one-third faster that any equivalent monohull. As the daggerboards are flexible, they can be raised easily when the boat is before the wind – just as simply as when sailing a dinghy. This in turn reduces the wet area and therefore the drag.
New types of daggerboard may emerge after a whole series of trials, when developing a new model of boat. The curved daggerboards are similar to those found on racing vessels. This is the first time that they have ever been fitted on a cruising catamaran. Again, the Catana shipyard is the leader in its field.
The advantage of this shape is that, at a certain speed, it functions like a hydrofoil, offering more lift and so reducing the wet area of the boat. Again, we firmly believe that speed is meaningless without comfort. This is one of the major assets of Catana’s high-performance catamarans. Windsurfing is undoubtedly faster but will quickly leave you feel cramped and tired. On a Catana, this never happens. Catana enthusiasts love sailing at high speeds but have no desire to get hurt. These are people who relish life!
The vertical section of the bows is tulip shaped with a bell-shaped tip. In heavy weather, the tulip shape of the floaters and the bulb-shaped section underneath the waterline increase the volume of the submerged hull, diminishing pitching movements. The narrow entry hulls guarantee great performance on calm seas. The slight incline of the bows adds stability by lessening the rolling of the boat. The special design of the bows has a positive effect on the general movement of the boat. Yet again Catana continues to evolve and innovate. Thanks to recent research on hydrodynamics, Catana has been able to design a new model of boat. This has a completely different type of bow: reversed, with more volume, the same form throughout and a slightly less pronounced tulip shape. Progress, for Catana, means being open to new ideas.
Like all of the sections of the boat located underneath the waterline, the hull is part of the “underside”. The aerodynamic shape of Catana catamarans reduces the “rocking chair” effect all too common in monohulls. Leading to ever-greater speed. Keeping you on course and moving fast.
Headroom under the nacelle:
The ocean is rarely as smooth as glass. When the sea rises up, the waves knock against the nacelle of the typical catamaran. What does a skipper instinctively do in this situation? He reduces the trim. But reducing and lowering the sails is not necessary on Catana catamarans, which have the advantage of sitting high above the water. With this amount of headroom under the nacelle contributing to the boat’s static and dynamic stability, the helmsman can maintain the sail easily.
Some naval architects still design slimline boats. As a rule, however, the wider the surface of a boat, the better it sits in the water and the greater the strength of manageable wind in its sails. In the case of very high masts with hoisted sails, the hulls seem very narrow. The comparative width of the Catana, however, means it can “right itself” (i.e. the mast has the strength to raise the hull) quickly, decreasing listing. Their excellent beam/length ratio ensures Catana catamarans offer unique static and dynamic stability.
All Catana boats are individual and unique. Each has its own special style. Essentially this is a question of weight distribution when designing the interior fittings. Purely in terms of dynamics, the actual weight of a boat is calculated based on the squared distance to its centre of gravity, which is situated near to the base of the mast. Evidently, not all mass can be placed at the centre, starting with the engines, which must be at the back, and the anchor, which is at the front. Heavy equipment – such as the fuel tanks, anchor chain and battery fleet – are either placed at the foot of the mast or as close as possible to the centre of gravity. This distribution of weight ensures stability, reduces pitching movements and also increases speed.
Lamination is carried out in building A of the Catana shipyard where the boats are moulded. A layer of gelcoat is applied to each section, followed by successive layers of different materials: yellow Twaron, white fibreglass and black carbon fibre.
The sandwich core material, which is made of foam, is then placed on top of the other layers. This is then covered by a final layer of fibreglass and carbon fibre. The Catana’s main partitions are constructed of a foam sandwich and carbon fibre on both sides.
They are fully laminated around the hulls and the deck. The hull/deck joint is also glued and completely laminated. The entirety of the hull/deck of the Catana is therefore an exceptionally rigid and completely watertight monoblock structure.
Using a foam sandwich for the entire structure ensures not only stability and rigidity, but also decreases the weight of the boat considerably.
These technologies were originally developed for the aeronautical industry. The goal is always to lighten the load. So that sailors can tackle any weather and any sea conditions, over a long period of time.
What is this innovation and what are the benefits for Catana catamarans?
A brief technical explanation: fibreglass, carbon fibre and aramid (Twaron) are the basic construction materials used, but these are soft materials like basic fibres. An aggregate needs to be created to achieve the rigidity required for facing the elements. We therefore apply a resin, made of vinylester and polyester.
In traditional construction methods, the fibres are layered and then impregnated with resin using a roller. Unfortunately, this technique uses excess resin, only some of which is absorbed. The remainder adds unnecessary weight to the structure.
By contrast, infusion allows the fibres to absorb precisely the correct amount of resin. How is this achieved? The materials glued together on the mould are placed underneath a watertight tarpaulin. On one side, there are supply pipes from the casks of resin; on the other side, further pipes remove the air from underneath the tarpaulin using vacuum extraction. This vacuum draws in the resin and distributes it over the tarpaulin, automatically impregnating the materials.
This procedure reduces the weight of a Catana by an average of 15% to 20%. The final result: overall structural resistance, optimised weight, and once again… increased speed.
Carbon fibre is a material with exceptional technical properties. The drawing office at the Catana shipyard has conducted a detailed analysis to identify the exact sections where carbon fibre would lighten the boat. Carbon fibre is much more rigid than fibreglass, thus making it possible to reduce the layers of material.
This contributes further to reducing the weight of the boat. The roof, all of the main partitions, the floor plates, the omega rails, the hull reinforcements and structural supports on a Catana are therefore all made of carbon fibre. Lightness, as is well known, is of extreme importance in boatbuilding. But the rigidity of the material is of equal significance. This holds the composite structure together and transfers the power of the wind, avoiding dead time or dispersion. In contrast, a badly constructed boat can be “weak”, insofar as it does not react in time to the wind’s movements.
Thanks to carbon fibre, this is not the case with Catana catamarans, which are as ultra-responsive as ever.
The sea can be full of hazards, from mooring buoys to tree trunks ripped from the coastline in a storm, bits of wreckage, bulky waste or even stray whales being swept along. Not to mention the everyday risk of colliding with another boat that is badly lit – or not lit at all.
At ten knots or more, the hull can be destroyed by the slightest impact. It was therefore essential to find a way to reinforce it. Twaron Impact is the perfect solution. It is made of aramid fibre, similar to Kevlar, normally used to manufacture soldiers’ helmets and bullet-proof vests.
Aramid fibre is ten times more resistant to perforation and three times more resistant to traction than traditional fibreglass. In addition to the carbon-fibre reinforcements, it helps the hull to stand up to collisions and impacts.
So Catana owners no longer need to fear unexpected collisions and can therefore sail at speed with complete peace of mind.
The Catana joinery workshop is in Building B of the shipyard where all the interior fittings are constructed. These are made to measure, according to client specifications, by a team of experienced joiners and cabinetmakers. Like the partitions and hulls, these are also made from foam sandwich.
What effect does this have? Their outer layer is of maple, oak or another kind of wood, while the interior is made of foam, thus considerably lightening the structure.
By how much? Since we have always worked with foam and so cannot compare our method to traditional joinery, it is hard to say exactly.
We estimate, however, that there is a weight reduction of around 35%. Catana is currently testing a new prototype for fittings with only two layers of foam sandwich, making them even lighter. Here too, it is a matter of compensating for the weight of the equipment on board, like the generator, desalination equipment, washing machine and freezer.
What’s more, Catana can also congratulate itself on helping to reduce deforestation!
There is a law that dates back to the very earliest days of sailing. For a boat to move quickly, it needs a tall mast; this in turn needs the largest possible sail area, located where the wind is most stable: at the top.
If the sails are to function properly, they must be attached to the most rigid support possible. Yet this same support needs a very small mass since the weight is now placed high above the boat.
A mast constructed from carbon fibre optimises weight while increasing the stability and performance of the boat. It has the advantage of being both light and rigid, and so can increase speed.
The sails, as all seagoers know, are the engine of the boat. The Catana sail plan is especially ingenious. It is made up of two headsails and a mainsail, as well as the spinnaker (sail running downwind).
Sails made from Spectra sailcloth are more rigid and resistant than the traditional Dacron fabric, which can often lose its shape. Its greater strength makes all the difference. Most of the mainsail, for its part, is “gaffed” because it is not bias-cut like most traditional sails. Thus, it can catch the wind more effectively, which adds strength at the top of the mast. As a result the boat sails even faster.
All manoeuvres are controlled from the cockpit, which improves the ease and speed of tasks such as hoisting the mainsail or other sails, or reefing. This also means the boat can be steered single-handed or with a small crew. Not to mention the total safety this layout offers, essential when there are children on board.
The Catana manoeuvres easily at speed. The organisation of space on these boats is exceptional. The instruments and the manoeuvres they control can all be accessed from the cockpit with the toerails, lifelines and handrails designed for easy, unrestricted movement. The equipment on the deck has been arranged to facilitate movement; it is no longer necessary to rush to the foot of the mast or to crawl to the front of the boat to reef or to hoist a sail. Similarly, the genoa is roller furling. Tacking, reefing and handling the daggerboards are easier and, again, can be done from the cockpit. All of these manoeuvres can be carried out using electric winches, helping to avoid an awkward stumble in heavy weather or when sailing single handed.
The intelligence of the Catana range, which makes them the outstanding boats they are, is the fruit of the labours of the first designers who aimed to create the boat of their dreams. But is also thanks to our astute and discerning clients. Indirectly, they help us to improve. The result is a boat that can be sailed single handed, with the helmsman confident in the knowledge of being able to get back to harbour safely. Racing ahead of its competitors, Catana has been focusing on ergonomic issues for over 15 years.
The mainsail takes only an instant to emerge from its lazy bag; then it is the turn of the genoa, and the sails are in place. The sail area is reduced by reefing, always automatically, giving an impression of total lightness. The electric winch also facilitates handling and is much less tiring for the crew compared with the traditional crank. Sailing is child’s play on a boat like this, even single-handed!
Rudders and steering system:
The boat responds to the pressure of the sea. If there is too much pressure, it becomes more difficult to operate the steering system. A precision system has been installed on all Catanas, with highly balanced rudders. These turn easily, making the steering system easy to operate in all weather and sea conditions. This system also increases speed. The boat moves more quickly because there is complete control of the steering system.
Catanas are equipped with a mechanical steering system with a synchronisation valve to improve what sailors call its ‘touch’. The outsized rudders are guided by spherical polyacetal bearings in aluminium sockets (as on all ocean racing vessels). This is yet another feature that enhances the sense of speed.
Catana has been using folding propellers in its range for some time now. When the propeller is disengaged the blades fold up automatically due to the weight of the water, reducing the boat’s resistance once it is under sail. They no longer act as brakes that slow down the speed of the boat.
The unique performance of the Catana range allows their satisfied owners to sail the trade winds and the seven seas without stopping, other than to stock up on supplies, and with no need for the engines. This is all thanks to the ability of this exciting sailing boat to beat into the wind, a feat that other catamarans can only dream of. Sometimes, however, the sea is as smooth as a millpond, without a breath of wind for two days in a row. On days like these, any helmsman is glad to turn on the engines. No question of slowing down, even if the sails are slack.
When required, the two diesel engines ensure a high cruising speed. The boat can also operate on just one engine, extending engine life and range and thus increasing safety. The size of the fuel tanks avoids the need to refuel at the first port of call. When mooring the boat in a harbour, the engine in each of the hulls means the boat can be rotated by putting one engine in forward gear and one in reverse. The engines make less noise than the waves lapping against the hulls thanks to the extremely efficient sound insulation in the engine rooms.