Designing the next model in a successful new range of boats can be an unnerving task. And the Project Brief for creating the Leopard 46 PC was unequivocal: This new power catamaran had to offer the very best comfort and performance compared to the best of its competitors.
Anthony Key is an industry leader in yacht design, and he was generous enough to give us the inside scoop on the newest Leopard Catamaran, The Leopard 46 Powercat.
One of the non-negotiable requirements of the Leopard 46PC was that it had to have a dedicated engine room with access from external deck hatches. This is to prevent noise, vibration and odors from permeating the accommodation areas. Also, a simple straight-drive engine/gearbox installation was specified, to avoid the complication, cost, and poor accessibility of a V-drive gearbox and drivetrain. However, a drawback of a straight drive engine/gearbox configuration is its length, and therein lies a significant challenge in designing the Leopard 46 PC.
Figuring the reconfiguring
On a larger powerboat, this is not an issue, the length of the drivetrain is a smaller proportion of the overall length of the boat. So we set about finding ways to liberate more living space. We reduced the overall length required by the accommodation space by rotating the forward cabin bunks 90 degrees and mounting them on the bridgedeck. It sounds simple, but it did require a great deal of altering to keep the bunk height at a comfortable level, in conjunction with keeping the hull windows at a level to allow owners to lie in bed while seeing out comfortably. Because the bunks are out of the hull, they aren't influenced by the narrowness of the bow and the forward bulkhead could be moved as far forward as practical.
How did the changes pan out?
The effort spent on evolving and refining the layout resulted in spacious and comfortable cabins, especially for a 46ft vessel. With the four-cabin layout, cabins each have an en-suite head compartment featuring a separate shower area. The three-cabin layout replaces the two starboard cabins with a highly spacious owner suite, including a large heads unit with a separate shower stall and double hand basins.
What other exciting updates can we expect?
In the saloon, there are now three main areas. Seating at the forward end with the aft saloon split into two: galley on the port side, and a newly dedicated “galley server station” on the starboard side, which is used for galley storage and also houses the optional wine cooler/freezer/icemaker, combined with a dedicated drink locker. The chef stays to port and the host to starboard. The fridge/freezer is centrally positioned for easy access from either the cockpit or the galley.
As with all our powerboats, the flybridge is protected from the elements by a composite-molded hardtop, which has a newly incorporated “spoiler” along its aft end to reduce excessive turbulence from entering the aft flybridge sundeck when underway.
Can we expect any styling updates?
The styling of the new Leopard 46 PC follows two guidelines: the first is that the new boat must attract attention at a boat show but still be recognizable as a Leopard Catamaran. The second is that “less is more”, or interpreting the words of Coco Chanel, “A design isn’t complete until there is nothing left to remove.” The styling of the Leopard 46 PC is understated, elegant and straightforward. As the second model in a newly styled range, it was essential to create a new DNA thread that can extend to future models. The vertical coachroof windows are not a new concept, but they offer superior visibility, space utilization, and maximum protection from the elements. The vertical windows also allow for a simple, neat installation of the forward saloon door.
Did you recruit any outside help with the interior styling?
The interior finishes and styling are the product of a new collaboration between our design team and Ali Beetge of Lijn Architectural Interiors. We have introduced further details and finishes that help to lift the interior design to the next level. In keeping with the exterior, the interior is elegant and straightforward but not overly formal.
A great deal of attention has been put into the lighting to illuminate the living areas evenly, avoiding dark spots and reducing glare. The main lighting utilizes the latest continuous LED strip lights, hidden behind pelmets, relying on light reflected off adjacent ceiling panels. Where required, there are deep recessed LED spotlights to provide additional illumination. Care was taken to ensure that all LEDs are in the same “temperature” range, which determines the hue of the lighting.
Splashing in Cape Town November 2021, World Premiere in Miami February 2022
The Leopard 46 PC stands proudly as the second in a new range of powercats that have benefitted from almost 30 years of accumulated design experience, as well as an injection of new thinking.
Robertson & Caine