There no doubt to me that catamarans will play a larger part in the future of sailing and especially cruising than they have in the past. Even in racing, the America’s Cup is now catamarans. I see daily once monohull clients switching to catamarans. The numbers back this trend up too. Multihulls have increased from 20% to 30% of sales in Fort Lauderdale. I see this number reaching 50% within 10 years based on what is being manufactured and exhibited at boat shows. The once Beneteau, Bavaria dominated charter fleets are Lagoons and Leopards. Sailors choose catamarans for speed, draft, stability, etcetera characteristics. Which of these characteristics are most important and what will the catamarans of the future look like? In the following post, I outline three key features.
1. Space Focus: The most successful designs will not be geared towards high performance but instead space – both interior and exterior. Space and specifically interior space has always sold yachts. Not only do performance designs include added complexity, but in my experience passagemaking, catamarans for all the hype often do not end up that much faster than monohulls. Performance catamarans have their place within niche markets and could be successes despite their performance orientations, not because of them. Instead I look for designs that make smart tradeoffs between performance and space to succeed – space first, then performance.
2. Galley Up: Catamarans with galleys in the saloon will draw preference. With a galley up layout, the chef can be part of the entertainment and easily access the cockpit. Each hull is solely sleeping related which leads to complete privacy and simplicity. This open arrangement of space will dominate interior design.
3. Size will be 45 to 55: While square footage-wise monohulls compare to 10′ shorter catamarans (a 40′ catamaran is equivalent to a 50′ monohull), clients will be purchasing the same size catamaran. New yacht sales from the last 3 years carry this trend out. Instead of transitioning from 50-foot monohulls to 40-foot catamarans, clients switch to 50-foot cats. When they upgrade, they are increasing width instead of length. The optimal cruising vehicle of the future may well be a 45 – 55 foot catamaran instead of the same length monohull. The goal is a largest yacht that you do not need a professional crew to sail.
As catamarans continue to gain market share in the sailing space, they will exhibit a secondary focus on performance, have galleys located in the bridgedeck area, and be of similar lengths to monohulls. The biggest obstacles to catamaran popularity are marinas and canals with narrow slips and yards with inadequate travel lifts to handle the larger beams of catamarans. In the never ending search for interior accommodations on cruising yachts, width seems to be the new length. For information about current catamaran models, see the curious website Catamaran Reviews