12 Best Catamaran Sailboats

Best Catamaran Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

November 18, 2020

The appeal of the catamaran sailboats in terms of speed, stability, and the ability to embark on long-range cruising has made them hugely popular with today's sailors. But what are the best catamaran sailboats?

Even though catamaran sailboats have become increasingly popular in the last few years, they have a truly rich legacy as one of the most sought after vessels for bluewater cruising.

Thanks to their incredibly wide beams and bigger daft, catamarans have become remarkably favorable for sailors looking to go for long-distance voyages, overnight cruising, and day sailing.

And if space is paramount for you when out there on the water, a catamaran sailboat is the only way to go as they offer extraordinary space to allow you to spend more time on the water with friends and family.

But even with all these amazing features, you're probably still wondering; what are the best catamaran sailboats?

Like their monohull counterparts, choosing the best catamaran sailboat can be quite overwhelming since there are lots of them out there. They come in a wide variety of designs and sizes ranging from small catamarans to huge ones.

The best catamaran sailboats can easily clock 250-mile voyages, offer incredible performance, and have layouts that can be easily optimized for individuals, charter markets, and great accommodation. In essence, the best catamaran sailboats offer respectable performance and offer good load-carrying ability.

That being said, here are some of the best catamaran sailboats that you can get your hands on.

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Best Catamarans

Manta 42

Even though many multihulls are no longer built in the United States these days, the Manta 42 is a true American-built catamaran that brings good living and good value into one package. Designed cleverly for easy handling, this American built catamaran is a great choice for a liveaboard cruiser for sailors looking to go for long-distance voyages. Thanks to its trademark high bows and an enormously curved incorporated forward crossbeam, this catamaran is easily recognizable even from a distance.

It is designed with a uniquely fixed crossbeam, which is very different from conventional aluminum cross beams that support the tension of the forestay. This fixed crossbeam allows for a little bit of movement thereby helping in absorbing enormous twisting forces of the bows. As such, you have to keep in mind that there may be resultant stress crack particularly in the bow area of the vessel.

All in all, the Manta 42 is a superb offshore cruising catamaran that offers a good sail-area-to-displacement ratio as well as plenty of space and accommodation. The cockpit area is refined, luxurious, and is designed with additional stainless pushpit contraptions to help in holding objects such as wind vanes, dinghies, and solar panels. The boat's quality in terms of performance and stability is the benchmark of what a catamaran should be.

Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

Recently named the "Boat of the Year" for 2019 by Cruising World Magazine and Sail Magazine, the Elba 45 is the latest model in the incredible line of Fountaine Pajot catamarans. This boat was designed to replace the outgoing Helia 44 and stands to be one of the most popular catamarans with Fountain Pajot having sold over 100 Elba 45 hulls long before even the first one emerged from production.

This French-built cat brings to the fore a well-thought-out, safe, and dependable features with 10% less drag, efficient motoring, top-notch performance, and high speeds. It's also designed with fixed stub keels and slightly aft-raked bows, which are all essential in enhancing windward performance; something that most catamarans struggle with.

To improve on safety, the keels of this amazing catamaran sailboat are glued into a particularly designed recess in the hulls. This is to ensure that there are no keel bolts that can rip out and put the boat in danger if the boat gets grounded or in the event of a collision. The rig is also ICW friendly and is a true representation of a standard catamaran setup.

This is, without a doubt, a modern-looking cruising catamaran that has a low-profile lounging space on its deck, high topsides and bows as well as a more pronounced reverse sheer that's essential in minimizing the bulk of the windows while creating additional and useful volume below. This is a true catamaran that occupies a sweet spot for those looking to sail along the bay or for those adventurous sailors looking to set sail for more ambitious offshore cruising plans.

Leopard 48

With its fine design, straightforward systems, and easy handling, the Leopard 48 has everything it needs to be ranked among the distinguished category of the best catamaran sailboats. This is an excellent multihull that is structured with advanced materials, designs, and innovations that are meant to be fun, spacious, and comfortable.

Designed in South Africa by Simonis-Voogd, is probably the best design in the Leopard family of catamarans. Its two hulls are vacuum-bagged using balsa core to offer maximum firmness while ensuring that the weight is on the minimum. This is done by articulately regulating the level of resin in the layup. With such types of hull shapes, this catamaran sailboat is very fast and can consistently clock 12 knots of speed against the currents.

The boat is also designed with shallow keels as they're filled with closed-cell polyurethane foam that's of great importance in increasing buoyancy and preventing water ingress. To enhance the safety of the vessel, the stern and bow both have bulkheads that are essential in keeping out that water if the sailboat is involved in a collision.

The hulls of this boat are deep and narrow, particularly below the waterline. They also curve higher up to practically reduce the wetted surface area while offering enough deck space and plenty of room for accommodations. Its cockpit is another excellent feature thanks to its lavish spaces that give you the chance of kicking back and relaxing.

This boat is designed to offer superior livability, quick and easy to handle features, as well as enough space for friends and family. It is designed with beautiful lines and immense practicality for those who want to go on long cruising voyages.

Antares 44i

While many people often believe that voluminous cruising catamarans should be used as charter boats, the Antares 44i brings a very different perspective altogether. Designed in Argentina as a complete bluewater catamaran, this is a boat that's specifically built for private boat owners looking for a sturdy and well-equipped bluewater cruiser. This is an absolutely gorgeous catamaran that has a fully-equipped cockpit just to ensure that you can safely operate it even when shorthanded.

Like most catamarans, the Antares 44i is designed with features that allow for long-distance voyages. It comes with a minimum bridge deck clearance of 30 inches, which is essential in mitigating bridge deck slap. The helm station is designed to offer excellent visibility over the coach roof without having to perch the helmsman high above the cockpit.

If you're planning to make those long-distance cruising to exotic places, you'll appreciate this boat's layout. The galley is put down in the port hull so that it doesn't compromise the size of the galley and the saloon. The forward-facing navigation station is up there with the best and is up to offshore standards. And that's not all; the Antares 44i comes with good mounting points for electronics, a large table, comfortable seats, and provides brilliant visibility outside.

This boat is perfectly suited for extended offshore cruising and is a great reminder for anyone who thinks that all catamarans are charter boats and all offshore boats are monohulls.

Dolphin 42

Designed by Philipe Pouvreau in northern Brazil, the Dolphin Ocema 42 is a truly unique catamaran sailboat that goes against the conventional norm of catamarans. It is equipped with daggerboards, which are essential in enabling it to point higher on the wind while reducing the wetted surface when running or anchoring in shallow surfaces. This, however, requires a higher level of expertise in sailing. This is because lifting the daggerboards higher up will expose the rudders while the daggerboards can also interfere with the hulls in the event that the vessel runs aground.

But even with that, the Dolphin 42 balances incredible performance and cruising comfort in a very compact package; something that is not very easy in bluewater cruising. That's why it's designed using a foam core to make it lightweight by reducing weight wherever possible. This vessel will most likely never let you down if you want to circumnavigate the bluewater on a high-performance boat that is safe and comfortable.

So if you've been looking for a real sailing catamaran that doubles up as a very comfortable liveaboard sailboat, look no further than the Dolphin 42.

Catana 50

Regarded as the best built and most stylish cruising multihull, the Catana 50 is a very huge catamaran sailboat. Measuring about 50 feet long with a beam of about 26 feet, this is an amazing catamaran that will test your sailing skills as a single sailor or if you're planning to sail shorthanded.

This boat is designed with a rig that gives you the option of using either a screecher or a self-tending jib. This may seem complex since the sheets are led to winches near each wheel while all other controls lead to a centerline winch that's located in the cockpit. But even with that, this sailboat can be easily tacked once on the course.

This is a real performance-oriented catamaran with efficient hulls and rigs allowing for top speed. This vessel is also designed with a long waterline and a subtle underwater shape at the bow to help in increasing volume while minimizing wave drag. The stern platforms can help in stretching the waterline length while also providing easy access from a dock or a dinghy. The board trunks are also very strong and sturdy to protect the integrity of the hulls if a collision occurs.

In essence, this is a very modern catamaran that's designed to safely make long-distance passages with ease. It is subdued in terms of styling but this doesn't mean that it falls short as far as performance is concerned.

Atlantic 42

Designed in 1993, the A42 has cultivated a legion of fiercely loyal fans thanks to its efficiency and aesthetic. This is the smallest of the Atlantic cruising catamaran line and is hugely popular with sailors thanks to its ease of handling, ocean-going capabilities, and superb use of space. From the forward cockpit, pilothouse to the sleeping cabins, and brilliant galleys everything about this cat is a true classic.

Unlike most catamarans, the Atlantic 42 is designed with a waist-high cockpit that's located forward of the pilothouse just behind the mast. It brings forth a solid construction thanks to the large metal girder-like bearers that run across the bulkheads. This helps the vessel in having the utmost strength, better air circulation under the engine, and a high level of flexibility as far as the size of the engine and its positioning is concerned.

Initially, the boat's style and its outlook were considered conservative but it soon became clear that it is built of high-quality materials and to last. The internal construction of the boat is impressive, to say the least. The exterior looks very beautiful and perhaps much more beautiful than most boats today. Its large aft cabin accommodation is a top drawer while the space separating en suite heads and shower compartments are considered a bonus.

Bahia 46

If you were to board the French-built Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46, you'll agree that the high-quality of workmanship, layout, and efficient use of space is quite exciting, to say the least. This cat remains very popular among sailors thanks to its easy handling features and incredible performance under the sails. Well, this may not come as a surprise to many of us given that the Fountain Pajot is known for building some of the most remarkable cruising catamarans out there that it can be quite overwhelming to narrow down to a single vessel, but the Bahia 46 simply stands out.

This vessel is designed with hulls that are broader than those of many other catamarans. It's also designed with centerboards and daggerboards that are meant to enhance its performance. These are essential in minimizing draft while ensuring reliability, generous bilge, and in helping to protect the rudders and propellers.

This boat is big enough to manage any type of serious offshore sailing. This is one of the best cruising catamarans for anyone looking for the right vessel for long-distance sailing. This vessel has a very more generous rig than most cruising catamarans, which is essential in enhancing its performance. The six-post Bimini is very strong and clean and can perfectly hold dinghies.

In terms of its look, the Bahia 36 is designed with gorgeous lines with the deck and hulls sculpted with lines that add a touch of elegance to the overall look of an already excellent catamaran sailboat.

Gemini 105MC

Whether you're looking for a comfortable catamaran vessel to take you for a weekend sailing trip or a long sabbatical vacation on the oceans, the Gemini 105MC is a very satisfactory liveaboard catamaran vessel that offers spacious accommodation, thoughtful design, and a stable cruising platform for anyone who wants to have some good time on the water.

Designed by the legendary Tony Smith, this is somewhat a sailing cottage. Like a land cottage, it is cozy, comfortable, and very safe. This is essentially a 35 feet catamaran that offers great value for any sailing looking for a reasonably-priced catamaran sailboat for the weekend or holiday cruising.

This boat is designed with incredibly slim hulls, which are teardrop-shaped with flat bottoms and smaller wetted surface area. This is to ensure that drag is minimized and to lead to more leeway under sail. Each of the boat's hull is designed with a kick-up centerboard is of great importance in enhancing the vessel's windward pointing capability. This boat also has its rudders raised to enable it to seamlessly cruise in shallow waters where most vessels would otherwise run aground.

The eccentric narrow beam, which measures about 40% of the boat's length, is very different from today's 50%. However, its low center helps in keeping its stable, upright, and of course, safe.

Lagoon 450 F

If you're looking for a catamaran sailboat that offers prestige at its peak, look no further than the Lagoon 450. This cat is widely known for offering an all-around comfort without compromising its beauty, spaciousness, class, and elegance. This is an elaborate French catamaran that brings to the table fantastic craftsmanship while leaving nothing to chance.

This is a very safe 45 feet catamaran that's not just comfortable but also very luxurious. The deck layout is centered on an amazing flybridge, which has been redesigned and redefined to offer both the traditional and modern outlook. You can very easily access the bridge, engine controls, steering station in a matter of seconds. As a result, this boat is efficiently designed to give you the ultimate control of almost every situation while on the water.

The spacious and luxurious interior of this boat is worth experiencing. The cabins and saloons are perfectly lit. We're talking about four to six cabins, eight to twelve berths, and up to four bathrooms. In essence, this boat can comfortably sleep eight to twelve people. This boat is designed to offer ultra-modern accommodations and amenities that come with little but amazing touches; all designed to make your life inside the catamaran enjoyable.

Gunboat 62

An original performance catamaran cruiser from the iconic Gunboat manufacturer, the Gunboat 62 has truly cemented its place as one of the best catamaran sailboats to ever grace the oceans. Honestly speaking, this cat-inspired a whole range of other incredible boats including HH66 Catamaran and the Balance 526.

This is a boat that can perform admirably well in storms with a speed of over 35 knots despite being built using epoxy and E-glass with carbon-fiber structural components. It's designed with a distinct angular outline than most catamaran sailboats of its size and category. This is a vessel that was built for people looking to add more stuff and more gear for their voyages. In other words, you can have all the gear and equipment on this boat and still outperform a racing monohull of the same size.

Thanks to its lightweight feature, this vessel can sail upwind at speeds of over 17 knots and pinch up to 30 degrees. Just for comparison, the Gunboat 62 can tack through 95 degrees and still outperform the best racing monohulls. This boat is designed with a comfortable helm seat that offers 360-degree visibility as well as plenty of storage space, a functional working surface, and a luxurious cabin. Like many performance catamarans, the Gunboat 62 can attain about 20 knots if the conditions are right.

Privilege 615

Combining elegance, comfort, and style, the Privilege 615 is a lovely catamaran sailboat that seems to be always ready for a long offshore voyage. The roots of this incredible cat can be traced back to the 1980s when Philippe Jeantot opened up a boat-building company in France. As one of the best productions from the company, the privilege 615 sports a flybridge that comes complete with twin wheels, a sprawling sunbed, and other excellent features that will make your bluewater cruising a breeze.

Whether you want the charter version or a privately-owned version, the Privilege 615 is one of the most versatile catamaran sailboats. Step inside this vessel and you'll instantly notice the quality of the wood finish and the elegance of design. The advanced navigation station is not only ultra-modern but is perfectly stationed at a dedicated corner where you can control everything while still having a conversation with your friends and family.

This boat comes with multiple sleeping configurations to ensure that you and your guests can live aboard the boat for months on end. Although the boat appears like some sort of maze on the inside, you'll easily get used to it when you enter the forward section. That's not all; this boat has gorgeous lines that make the exterior beautiful just like the interior. Its sleek profile, incredible volume, and versatile interior make it one of the best catamaran sailboats out there.

There you have it; these are the best catamaran sailboats out there. It doesn't matter the one you choose, these cats will make your day out on the water and will serve you just right for your offshore voyages or for day sailing along the bays.

12 Best Catamaran Sailboats

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