Catamarans are exciting and fast sailboats that offer some great features. With so many types and brands to choose from, it’s hard to find which is worth your investment. So, what are the top performance cruising catamarans?
The best performance cruising catamarans are the Manta 42, Dolphin 42, Leopard 48, and Fountaine Pajot Elba 45. The McConaghy MC50, Privilege 435, and Nautitech 441 are also impressive models. The best offer optimal performance and can sail a 250-mile voyage easily.
Have you just begun your catamaran research but don’t know which to buy? Are you looking for a performance cruising catamaran that’s worth the investment? Let’s take a closer look at 20 performance cruising catamarans and what makes them the best.
The Top 20 Performance Cruising Catamarans
Catamarans are racing ships that have slowly been making waves in the cruising world. The design focuses on lightness and simplicity. Combined, these two elements ensure a faster ship and make them great for long distances.
The multiple hulls on the catamarans offer optimal water displacement, allowing them to glide through the water with much less trouble than single-hull boats. Because of their design, a catamaran’s performance will vary depending on the conditions you sail them through. The ocean and wind will play a significant role in how fast your catamaran will go as well as how smooth the ride will be.
When comparing catamarans for speed, there are four numbers you’ll want to consider:
- Bruce Number: The speed potential based on the power (sail-area) to weight ratio of the boat
- Texel Rating (TR): A formula that will calculate how long it takes to sail any distance
- Kelsall Sailing Performance (KSP): Potential speed of a vessel
- Base Speed: The average speed of a boat over 24 hours of sailing
These numbers signify a cat’s performance so that you can pick the one that best suit your needs, whether you’re looking for a fast catamaran or not.
In addition to speed, your catamaran should have everything you need to be comfortable on your voyages. There should be plenty of living space for you and your crew or family members. When choosing the best catamaran for your needs, consider how much gear you will have with you on any given trip and if the ship you’re looking at has enough space for all of it.
The Manta 42 is a favorite of many sailors. Its beautiful design has a high bow and an incorporated curved crossbeam, the latter being unique and making the ship easy to spot from far distances and onshore.
Typically, aluminum crossbeams are used, and they allow for more movement in the bows. Since the Manta 42 doesn’t use aluminum ones, the ship is more susceptible to cracks in the bow caused by stress. However, the width of the Manta 42 makes the ship stable on the water, and the narrow hulls make it great for slicing through the water with speed and agility.
The Dolphin 42 has the best balance of performance and cruising comfort. What is truly special about these boats is that they come equipped with daggerboards. These bad ass features allow the ship to pull into just about any anchorage, including the shallow ones.
The Dolphin is made with a foam core, which is designed to make the entire ship lighter. However, this doesn’t compromise the performance of the boat. It makes it perfect for cruising through the ocean with high-performance levels.
One thing to keep in mind is those convenient daggerboards. If the ship were to run aground, the hull integrity could be compromised. And if the daggerboards are removed or lifted, they will expose the rudders underneath. These features don’t ruin the ship’s functionality, but it’s important to note them just in case.
The Leopard 48 is a catamaran that you’ll definitely want to see. The design uses some of the best techniques to ensure optimal speed, weight, and cruising performance. The hulls are narrow — like most catamarans — and are built to reduce the amount of water that flows on the deck. It also reduces the amount of sea spray along the sides.
The Leopard 48 has two bulkheads (one in the bow and the other in the stern) designed to keep water out of the ship in an accident. It’s designed for long journeys, and the vessel comes with everything you could want for everyday living.
Fountaine Pajot Elba 45
The Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 is a fantastic powerhouse ship with luxury at its core. The living quarters of this catamaran are impressive and are sure to provide you with every comfort you could possibly want, no matter how long you sail it for.
The designers considered everything when designing this ship. They’ve simplified the prep work for the sails, making it easier than ever to get underway. The build of the Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 makes it fast when sailing or when under power.
The McConaghy MC50 is on the smaller side of catamarans in the McConaghy brand, but that shouldn’t disqualify it. This ship was designed with wide-open concepts and high bows. There’s no doubt it’s made for luxury but can hold its own in performance and speed departments.
Even with its luxury items (such as its full washing machine), this ship moves through the water gently. While it’s clearly designed for comfort, it’s still a relatively fast boat. However, there is a downside to the layout of the boat. The helms are much more exposed than other catamarans, which could be a potential safety hazard.
The Privilege 435 is a catamaran designed to go long distances. It uses a heavy displacement so that the ship glides through the water with ease. The vessel is also built with a low-slung structure to help prevent winds.
A slight drawback could be the heat buildup caused by the sun seeping in through the windows, as there aren’t any outside shades or ways to block the sun except for the internal shades. The other downside to this catamaran is that the Privilege’s bridge deck has low clearance. Other than that, the ship is an excellent option for those looking for a well-built cat.
The Nautitech 441 is another impressive catamaran to consider. The interior is slightly smaller than some others we have gone over, but don’t let that fool you. This boat is full of great features to make your trip comfortable and successful.
For example, the Nautitech 441 is equipped with a rain gutter situated around the entire coachroof. This gives you the option to collect the water for your freshwater tanks, or you can simply let it drain off the boat through the Y-shaped valve.
It’s a fast little boat that can use either the sails or fuel to reach 9 knots in moderate conditions. That’s not bad if you’re looking for a comfortable, decent-sized cruising ship with a bit of a kick.
ICE Cat 61
The ICE Cat 61 is a catamaran designed and developed in Italy. The ship uses a carbon mast and is very easy to use.
The ship’s size and the power-to-weight ratio allow for reaching top speeds that isn’t possible with a monohull. The living areas are also large and are perfect for entertaining, making the ICE Cat 61 a great option to consider when shopping for your new catamaran.
The unique aspect of the Lagoon 440 is the engine. It doesn’t not have to run on diesel fuel because Lagoon offers a fully electric version. This is great for those who are looking for a more eco-friendly way to run their boat. This catamaran uses two electric motors, which are mounted on each hull of the ship, but the best part is that these engines are almost entirely silent.
The inside is just as luxurious as the engine is, designed with families in mind and for long-distance journeys. It’s a ship that would handle itself perfectly in deeper waters and even in harsh winds.
The Antares 44i is a well-designed catamaran that is meant for long-distance journeys like most catamarans are. The layout is engineered to give you the best views throughout your trip, and the cockpit is fully equipped in the event you’re sailing single handed.
The motors are installed in a discrete location and are almost completely silent, allowing for outstanding performance without sacrificing your comforts. There’s tons of storage available as well for all of the gear that comes with sailing.
The Catana 50 has a well-built design that is meant for high speeds and effective sailing. The daggerboards help the hulls cut through the water with little trouble. There is also excellent storage for your gear located throughout the boat.
What is genuinely superior in this catamaran is the ability it holds to turn itself around with ease and speed. There is no struggle to reverse the ship and maneuver it around the dock. Walking around on the boat is easy enough, but the cockpit setup and helm are situated awkwardly, so it requires a bit of walk around to use all of the ship’s controls.
The Voyage 44 is a performance cruising catamaran that is well-built for a bargain price. It’s something that you just can’t beat when looking for a new yacht because this ship has everything you could ask for.
It’s designed with day cruising in mind, but that won’t limit it to short distances. What’s also great about this boat is the amount of seating it offers, fitting 32 people comfortably. The ship is functional, and the layout is designed to make traveling onboard the vessel as simple and straightforward as possible.
The Atlantic 42 is a fan favorite. This loyal following stems from the Atlantic’s look and effectiveness, and consumers seem to love how easy this ship is to sail and how capable it is for deep ocean sailing.
The size of the Atlantic 42 is something fans of this catamaran love. It might look small from the outside, but the inside layout is well done and feels spacious. The cockpit location in front of the mainmast takes advantage of the rest of the ship’s structure, making it a more flexible design than some other catamarans available.
The Outremer 45 is designed a bit differently from other catamarans because the hulls are narrower than usual. This helps make the Outremer 45 a fast ship, but it’s done for safety reasons as well. The narrower hulls will prevent the vessel from skidding on the water as much as other catamarans. It also reduces any pitching you might experience from flying through the water at top speeds.
The interior is smaller than many other boats in this article, but the design doesn’t sacrifice your comfort. The cabin has an open concept to easily pull the outdoor seating into the indoor living space, meaning it’s perfect for entertaining and comfortable living.
The Bahia 46 is on the bigger side by catamaran standards. It’s designed by the brand Fountaine Pajot, which has been building catamarans for years. In fact, Fountaine Pajot is one of the leading brands in cruising catamarans.
The foam core’s overall design, the high bridge deck clearance, and the low center of gravity make this ship an excellent option for deep ocean sailing. It will hold its own on rough waters as well, and there’s also plenty of space for entertaining on the inside of the ship.
The Prout 45 is an excellent catamaran to consider if you plan to sail with a limited crew. The positioning of the mainsail and the mast make it simple to use and easy to reach. Also, the mainsail itself is smaller than other ships and easy to handle.
The interior isn’t like some of the newer models. In new catamarans, the concept is more open and free-flowing between inside and outside. In the Prout 45, things are more traditional but still comfortable. Don’t worry; you still have plenty of room to entertain and plot your voyage.
The Gemini 105MC is a unique catamaran. That’s because instead of being designed solely by the builder, it’s a collective effort from the builder and many sailors who used the vessel. They wrote in their suggestions to improve the Gemini, and the builder used the most relevant ones to build the newer models.
If you’re looking for a ship for a cross-ocean voyage, you may want to consider another catamaran. Due to the ship’s size and weight, it’s less likely to make it across the ocean. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great ship, and this vessel is perfect for sailing near the coast.
The Gunboat 62 is the first catamaran of this brand. The Gunboat 62 is an older model, but it’s still considered one of the fastest. These ships were also the first to introduce luxury to performance cruising.
The interior is slightly outdated, and technology has advanced since the brand launched these ships. However, this boat’s overall performance is unmatched, though there also isn’t as much space available for storage.
The Marsaudon TS5 is one of the fastest catamarans available. It’s designed with panoramic views from the interior, and the ship speeds up quickly due to its lightweight design and shape.
The ship can be challenging to maneuver, which makes it better suited for experienced sailors. While the interior still has plenty of luxuries, it can be considered bare. The designers want to keep the ship light to increase its speed, meaning some comforts have been sacrificed, such as space in the living quarters.
The Unlimited C53 is a fast racing catamaran with all the comforts of a cruising ship. The design uses a new technique of connecting the two hulls at 1.3m above the waterline. This is unheard of in most catamarans, and this feature minimizes how the ship handles rougher seas.
The ship uses all of the necessary tanks and equipment to keep the boat balanced on the water. Perfect weight displacement throughout the vessel makes it ideal for racing and long-distance sailing. The interior is also spacious and provides all of the comforts you could need.
In the end, the best performance cruising cat for you is going to come down to your personal preferences and what you want in a boat. Each catamaran on this list is going to provide you the best features you could ever imagine in a ship. Hopefully, the reviews of the top 20 performance cruising catamarans will help you find your dream boat!