Cruising Catamarans On Test – with surprising results!

Posted: 9th December 2011

Written by some of the most highly respected sailors and boating journalists, Yachting World compares the Lagoon 400, Fountaine Pajot Lipari 41 & Broadblue 435. Read on to gain these invaluable insights.

Could you love a catamaran?

By Yachting World Magazine – December 2011 edition.

Catamarans have a lot going for them. They’re stable, fast, spacious, shoal-draught and beach-friendly, and above all they provide a comfortable platform. And they are becoming very popular indeed in live-aboard, long-distance cruising circles.

There are 32 cruising catamarans taking part in this year’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. We couldn’t ignore this craze any longer and wanted to find out once and for all what a production catamaran has to offer. We chose three popular, affordable family catamarans in the 40-45ft bracket and took them on a three-day test around the south of England.

The results were quite surprising. Perhaps we were too ready to be sold the dream, but while catamarans have obvious benefits, they come with an array of compromises that will be up to the individual to weigh up. The first thing you have to say about cruising catamarans is that they offer an unparalleled living platform for their length.

But cats bring with them a host of preconceived theories and worries such as how they will cope in bad weather, where you can moor them and the expense involved, plus the disconnection from the sailing experience monohull sailors know and love. We addressed all these issues during our test.

We took our three popular cruising catamarans on a three-day cruise: sailing, motoring, cooking, eating, anchoring and sleeping aboard. The test team included Yachting World’s David Glenn, Elaine Bunting, Matthew Sheahan, Harriett Robinson and me, Toby Hodges. We were joined by multihull sailor Brian Thompson and multihull designer Nigel Irens, plus the agents and owners of the three test boats.

We sailed the boats from the Hamble River in Southampton, west to Poole, spent the following day testing them outside and inside one of the biggest natural harbours in Europe – an ideal place to assess the shoal draught virtues of these vessels – before returning to Southampton on the third day.

During the second day’s circumnavigation of Brownsea Island the boats joined in tight formation for a photoshoot. Only a few feet apart from each other, doing seven knots in 2m of water, it naturally progressed into a race, giving us a chance to compare the boats’ handling and agility.

Taking the plunge:

What drives people to buy a multihull in the first place? Because once they have sampled two hulls, owners don’t tend to look back.

Click here to read the full story and catamaran comparisons – you may be surprised at what you find out!

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