One of the most popular cruising vessels is cruising catamarans. Cruising catamarans are popular thanks to their stability and space, but some sailors have concerns about cruising catamarans’ speed. So, how fast are cruising catamarans?
Sailing cruising catamarans can travel at an average of 9-15 knots and max out around 35 kts. Power Cruising catamarans have a maximum speed of 70 knots but averages around 20-25 kts. How fast a catamaran can go also depends on the load it is carrying, its structural design, and its engine power.
This article explores details of what affects a cruising catamaran’s speed. It also considers how fast sailing and power cruising catamarans can go, along with some of the most rapid cruising catamaran models available today.
How Is a Cruising Catamaran’s Speed Measured?
To better understand a cruising catamaran’s speed, it is essential to consider how a boat’s speed is measured. Boat speed is measured in knots, which is one nautical mile per hour, (or 1.15 mph). One nautical mile is approximately 1.15 land miles.
The speed of a catamaran is calculated by a GPS tracker that records the distance sailed every hour.
How Fast Are Sailing Cruising Catamarans?
The wind powers sailing cruising catamarans – their speed depends on the speed of the wind. If there is a lot of wind, more wind equals higher a faster boat. However, if there is little to no wind, the catamaran won’t move very fast or very far.
At about 14-16 knots of wind speed, sailing catamarans can average 9-12 knots. Some high-end sailing catamarans can be even faster. For instance, the Gunboat 62 Tribe can sail up to 36.6 knots when the wind is between 35-45 knots.
How Fast Are Power Cruising Catamarans?
Unlike sailing catamarans, power catamarans do not rely on the wind to move. Instead, they are powered by fuel (usually diesel). This means that they can travel faster than sailing catamarans and that their speed is more reliable.
Under light loads the Power catamarans can travel at between 20-25 knots. When the load is higher, power catamarans speed drops to 15-20 knots.
Some high-end catamarans, such as the Freeman 47, can reach up to 70 knots.
What Affects the Speed of a Cruising Catamaran?
There are several features of a cruising catamaran that impact its speed. These include:
- The type of hull. The less the hull is submerged into the water, the faster the catamaran will go. When they are submerged, hulls create drag which slows the velocity of the boat.
- The beam/length ratio. When a catamaran has a higher surface area (stable base), it can better withstand stronger winds, therefore allowing it utilize more of the wind before needing to reduce sail area.
- The material used to construct and reinforce the vessel. When areas of the catamaran are filled with foam, it decreases the catamaran’s weight while ensuring that stability is maintained. As a result, the catamaran has a lighter weight, making it faster.
- The type of propellers. Propellers are an essential part of a vessel as they act as brakes, which are necessary to slow down and stop a boat. However, many modern cruising catamarans have folding propellers that reduce the boat’s water resistance when the engine is turned off. As a result, the catamaran can travel faster under sail.
- The engines. The higher the horsepower of the catamaran’s engine, the faster it can go. Most newer catamarans have two engines which makes them faster than the older, one-engined counterparts.
- The load of the catamaran. Each catamaran has a load-carrying capacity. If the amount of weight the catamaran has onboard exceeds this capacity, it will “sit” lower in the water and significantly slow down the catamaran’s speed.
- The sail trim and reef. When sail area is reduced (called reefing), the catamaran slows down (in most situations). Properly trimming the sails will also enhance performance.
In addition, catamarans will be faster downwind. Going downwind removes the headwind and will many times allow you to surf with the waves.
Why Should You Look for a Faster Cruising Catamaran?
The old adage is that “slow and steady” wins the race. However, when it comes to cruising catamarans, many sailors believe the faster, the better. Faster catamarans are preferred because they:
- Allow the crew to quickly move the catamaran out of bad weather conditions, protect the vessel and passengers on board.
- Allow the captain to more predictably calculate Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA).
- A shorter time spent in bad patches of sea making big ocean crossings safer and more enjoyable.
What Are the Fastest Cruising Catamaran Models?
Some catamarans have been recognized and won awards for their speed. Some of these models are explored below.
Freeman 47 (Power)
Freeman catamarans are symmetrical catamarans that have especially been designed to carry a heavy load without sacrificing speed. Released in 2020, the Freeman 47 has quad 450R Mercury outboards that allow it to travel at 70 knots.
In addition to the outboards, many features of the Freeman 47 allow it to move faster. It has a fuel capacity of 1000 gallons (3785 liters) and a maximum power of 1800 HP.
If you’re interested in purchasing or finding out more about the Freeman 47, register your interest on Freemanboatworks.com.
Glider SS18 (Power)
The Glider SS18 is a power catamaran that was launched in 2017, after eight years of development. It is powered by 300 BHP supercharged engines that allow it to travel for up to 50 knots. It also has a built-in Stability Control System (SCS), ensuring that the catamaran remains stable and comfortable, even when traveling at top speed.
To buy or get a quotation for the Glider SS18, visit glideryachts.com.
ICE Cat 61 (Sail)
The Ice Cat 61 is a luxury catamaran. At 61 feet (18.60 meters) long, it is a large catamaran that has been designed with both speed and stability in mind. While its average cruising speed is 12 knots, it can achieve up to 25 knots.
The ICE Cat 61 has been designed with carbon and glass fiber – materials that allow the boat to be lighter. It has two engines with 55 HP each and a fuel capacity of 206 gallons (780 liters).
If you’re interested in an ICE Cat 61, you can learn more at iceyachts.it.
Gunboat 68 (Sail)
At 68 feet (20.8 meters) long, the Gunboat 68 makes for an impressive sight on the open ocean. It averages 20 knots but can reach 30 knots depending on the amount of wind power.
The Gunboat 68 has been designed by VPLP, also known as the ‘fastest naval architects in the world.’ It has been designed with large sails, long daggerboards, and material that has lighter weight. This vessel also has retractable rudders, which reduce the boat’s drag.
To find out more about the Gunboat 68 or register interest in purchasing one, visit Gunboat.com.
A catamaran’s speed depends on its design, its load, its type, and on a variety of other factors. However, on average, most sailing catamarans can achieve between 9-15 knots, while power catamarans can, on average, achieve between 20-25 knots. If you are looking to splurge for the best on the market, some power catamarans can reach 50-70 knots.
If you’re looking to buy a cruising catamaran, make sure you use the information you have gained to assess the speed of the catamaran you are considering. A faster catamaran can make for safer and more exciting sailing. Ultimately, it will make your cruising experience more enjoyable and satisfying.