Why A Catamaran?

In any gathering of sailors, you'll find monohull and catamaran advocates who are ready to tell you why their chosen design is the best. Mono vs. cat is one of the hottest sailing topics, with partisans debating everything from aesthetics and tradition to sailing performance and personal comfort.

Is a catamaran right for you? Every type of boat has its merits, and what you need and want will not be the same as anyone else. So let's look at the case for cats.

More Volume and Better Living Space

Catamarans are the hands-down winner for interior volume and living space. With two hulls for staterooms and heads, there’s plenty of private space for families and sailing with guests. You can use living quarters down below for extra storage if you don't need it for the crew or convert it to a work area.

The bridge deck on a catamaran makes for a wide-open galley and living space, and a huge cockpit. With a full-size galley, broad countertops and loads of cabinetry, you won't miss your home kitchen. Add in the forward cockpit pioneered by Leopard; you have unparalleled space for living, entertaining and relaxing.

Monohulls get a slight edge for cargo and weight carrying. Catamarans don't carry heavy ballast to stay upright, and their hulls are more sensitive to overloading. Still, cruising catamarans can carry more than enough cargo and provisions, even for the longest voyages.


Ease and Comfort Under Sail

Sailing a catamaran is a very different experience from sailing a monohull. While both are fun and exciting in their own way, there's one major difference: catamarans don't heel. Sure, you may get a slight movement when the wind pipes up, and your cat digs in for speed, but it will not heel hard and spill the drinks or clear the countertops.

Modern cruising cats are easy to sail. Sail controls on a Leopard are simple and easily accessible from the helm station, and you can sail without leaving the cockpit unless you’re using off-the-wind sails like spinnakers or code sails.

For ease and comfort, you can't beat multihulls for stability.


Sailing Performance

Monohull performance is quite good upwind, and they can often outpoint a multihull. But once you're off the wind, even a little, a catamaran really shines. Sailing fast across and off the wind is where you feel the difference. Since catamarans are generally lighter than similar-sized monohulls, you can get more power with less sail area and more speed with less work.

While monos get the edge sailing upwind, a well-trimmed catamaran can keep pace with the monohull by sailing a little faster and further off the wind. It's not how close to the wind that determines the upwind speed in the end, but how quickly you get to the next mark.

And the speed on a catamaran is almost effortless, with barely any heel. 


Room for Renewable Power

With a large saloon roof and a hard dodger over the cockpit, catamarans offer loads of space to install solar panels for massive amounts of renewable charging. It’s not challenging to install enough charge power to fully meet the boat’s needs as long as there’s sunshine.

The advantage over monohulls in this area can’t be overstated. Finding enough solar charging space on a single hull is an enormous challenge. There just isn’t as much open space on a monohull where solar panels won’t be in the way or unsightly. And many solar installation tricks - like rail mounted, fold-away panels - don’t work under sail.

With a balanced battery bank and plenty of solar panels, your catamaran can stay at anchor or under sail almost indefinitely without running a generator.


Backup and Reliability

Two hulls mean two engines and two rudders.

Whether it’s a windless day or anything else that keeps you from sailing, you occasionally need an engine to keep moving. If the single engine on a monohull stalls out, moving the boat on a windless day or in close quarters is nearly impossible. 

And if necessary, you can steer a catamaran with just one of its rudders.


Come to a Boat Show and See!

So, is a catamaran right for you? The internet can only tell you so much, and if you drop the "mono vs. cat" question in an online sailing forum, you'll only make it worse. Fortunately, it's boat show season, and Leopard has a full calendar planned.

The best way to learn the differences between a monohull and a catamaran is to attend a show and see for yourself. Look at some monohulls first to get a sense of what they offer. Then stop by the Leopard display, and we'll show what catamaran sailing is all about.

Leopard Catamarans


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