The Windelo 50 has recently been upgraded with a fresher, sleeker look and a further upgrade of sustainable energy.
The first of the new catamarans, a 50 Yachting, splashed in July 2023 and will be making an appearance at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September 2023.
Katamarans.com are joining the Windelo team on their delivery trip from the Windelo Base in Canet-en-Rousillion near Perpignan, capital of the capital of Pyrénées-Orientales region, to the Côte d’Azur. We can’t wait to see the new design in action firsthand!
The New Windelo 50 has had a substantial design upgrade thanks to a team effort from her naval architects (Christophe Barreau and Frederic Newman), designer (Charlotte Schiffer), and the Windelo engineering office.
The new design represents a move upmarket, with upgrades to the decks, superstructure, and roof and a reworking of the layout.
The New Windelo 50 design accommodates even more solar on a longer roof without compromising on weight thanks to the simplified composite assembly manufacturing process. And this ECO yacht now boasts a racy, stylish look.
The aft deck has been enlarged to provide a more comfortable living space, even better protected from the sun and weather.
The New Windelo 50 Yachting can now accommodate up to 5,680 W solar panels for even greater autonomy and zero emissions while motoring on her electric engines.
Launching at Cannes Yachting Festival
The Windelo team will be presenting the New Windelo 50 Yachting at the Cannes Yachting Festival from September 12 to 17. We’ll be closely covering the show and the trip to Cannes on the Katamarans network, so stay tuned for more information from the passage!
The Windelo 50 is manufactured from an innovative environmentally-friendly composite sandwich consisting of Basalt fiber and PET foam from recycled plastic bottles, reducing the boat’s carbon footprint by 47%.
Two electric motors, 5,680 W solar panels, and a hydro-generation system that recharges the battery bank every day provide up to 4 hours of autonomy using solely green energies when motoring at 6 knots.
A forward cockpit at the foot of the mast centralises all catamaran manoeuvres. The new cockpit can be completely closed, so you can sail close to the action, protected from the elements, whatever the weather. A nacelle offering incredible interior/exterior modularity allows you to make the most of your surroundings and enjoy XXL space, whatever the weather. You can transform your living room into an incredible terrace with a simple turn of the winch.
Windelo shipyard – based in Canet-en-Roussillon in Southern France, is busy building and launching a range of innovative catamarans in the performance multihull market.
The first Windelo 50 Adventure was launched in February 2021. The two other versions on Windelo 50 are Yachting and Sport. The design was upgraded in July 2023 with a newer sleeker look that accommodates even more solar
Windelo’s philosophy is to combine innovation with ecology, performance, safety, and comfort.
To do so, they teamed up with the best in the business: architects Christophe Barreau and Frédéric Neuman, well-known for designing performance cruisers. The result is a boat with impeccably designed slim well-balanced hulls that enhance performance and seaworthiness. Stable and light, they can carry a generous sail plan.
The Windelo 50 is a good-looking boat with fine entry bows and a punchy power to weight ratio. She has been inspired by decades of performance catamaran design (read our Gunboat 66 review for an example).
Many thanks to the owner’s of the first Windelo 50: “Hakuna Matata” for this owner’s review. There are some great responses in this one, very comprehensive. At the end of the interview, you will find an update on their Atlantic crossing with some information on diesel usage.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your Windelo 50? What is your plan? Long distance cruising or weekend sailing? After 10 years of chartering – on average 2 to 5 weeks a year along the Brittany and Mediterranean coasts – the time has come for us as a family to set sail for a 8-months North Atlantic tour.
Why did you choose the Windelo 50? Was there one thing overall that convinced you to purchase a 50? I’m generally passionate about design and innovation which is exactly how Windelo created the boat. By pioneering new concepts, Windelo have created a boat that is unique in terms of combining great sailing performance and quality of life aboard for the whole family.
As an entrepreneur, it was also added interest for me to sponsor the development of a new brand.
When was she launched? How was the purchase and build process? Hakuna Matata was launched Febuary 26th, and the team did a fantastic job to get her completed and launched amongst all the Covid-19 experience.
What’s the best thing about her? I love that she takes off in very light winds, and that in normal conditions we travel faster and higher than before. Plus we all enjoy her open plan which is a fantastic platform when we’re in a nice bay enjoying swimming, dinner, etc.
What would you change if anything on the design? Maybe you wouldn´t change anything? Well, I’ve ordered a Windelo 54 as the next upgrade so the design works for me. The only thing we re-worked with the yard was of the cockpit upholstery which is now way more comfortable !
Does she carry weight well, or do you have to be careful to not overload her with gear? So she’s 12.2T herself, and 14.6T with all tanks full, spares on board, our nice tender with steering console & 20CV engine, galley equipment etc. etc.
That leaves us a full 2T to carry, of which 8 crew and their kit would be about 0,5T. That’s the most people we’ll have on board so I should think we’ll always be around 1.5T below the max payload.
Since the weight distribution itself is very low and central at the mast/cockpit, the center of gravity is always well placed regardless how much you load up the various lockers.
What are the “Must Have” Options buying new in your opinion? eg sail options, water-maker, generator, solar options, carbon options etc From an electric standpoint it makes sense to get the right amount of solar panels for your equipment and life aboard. And when you do so, because the boat is so good at managing power, the induction cooking hob and electric oven are a must have.
In terms of rigging and sails, the code 0 makes a lot of sense and for our Atlantic crossing I also chose to board a 160m² Gennaker.
Does your catamaran have daggerboards or high-performance fixed fin keels? She has dagger-boards, which are absolutely vertical and used symmetrically (no adjustment at every tack).
They are located centrally in the hulls which is where they are most efficient, yet very nicely integrated down below. Many people don’t notice them in the cabins.
How have you configured the saloon and cabins? Hakuna Matata is a 3 cabin owner boat, but with some specifics. The forward port cabin is made into a full size study with a fold-out bed nonetheless. And the forward starboard cabin is a children’s bunk bed layout with bookshelves and a desk for their homework.
Both aft cabins have double beds, one of them is a even a full queen size… We’re very pleased with this layout which gives us a nice feeling of being in our own home.
What are the “Nice to Have Options”? I will say I went for the carbon mast which removes a bit of weight from the boat but is also aesthetically pleasing. I hope that’s recognised also in terms of resale potential later on.
We added a sunbed on the roof and you could get more also for the front of the boat. Every option is per say nice to have… I found that the yard will really advise you based on your schedule, your family and the size of the boat as to what really makes sense for you.
Which options did you skip? Personally I skipped the Hi-Fi sound system installation. With full 220V supply we can bring our own Bluetooth speakers or even our existing Hi-Fi system from home.
How have you set up the power system? How much solar, hydro, wind, generator back up etc. Is this sufficient for your power needs? Even though we have a sunbed on the roof we still have 3500W of solar power which is ample to provide for live on board by itself. We usually have power left over to provide to the engine battery packs.
Is she easy to maintain? Servicing engines, standing rigging etc I haven’t gone through any maintenance myself yet as she’s been based at Windelo. But I do know that the new Bellmarine engines that have been fitted don’t have any belts and only need a checkup every two years.
Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Is the running rigging complex? Do all the lines lead to the helms? All the lines come back inside the cockpit. Only the Gennaker/Code 0 halyard and reefing hooks are at the mast, but then the mast is only one step up from the cockpit. So essentially you can say everything is done from the cockpit – it really feels protected and safe.
My boys and wife like to take part in the sailing most of the time, but on night shifts it is often the case that one of us operates the boat alone and it’s never been a problem. I know the guys from the yard have delivered her single-handed too.
What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow / big seas Well there are a couple of ways she’s different. Firstly she is very sea-worthy. Her thin bows cut into the water rather than smash into it so there is no additional wash created. Then the long trampoline disperses any remaining wash.
She is so high above the water that if any water ever reaches the cockpit it is merely a splash on the windows. Secondly even if it does get wet outside, within the cockpit you can stay dry and warm, and feel very safe.
How are the forward helm positions? Good in weather? How is the visibility when docking? As I mentioned just before, yes the cockpit is a very safe environment in heavy and wet conditions. However, when you feel like it or in lighter conditions you’ll probably have the cockpit open. Then it is quite surprising how well you can feel the airflow through the boat, you actually feel the gusts and the lulls just as if you were on the top of a flybridge. So you actually do have that feel for the environment and changing conditions, which is important to us sailors.
How does she sail in light winds? Sailing on board the Windelo 50 is extremely nice. It’s a boat that accelerates well, is fast in light winds, and very stable on the water. It rises exceptionally well in the wind, and this was a huge surprise for me, as I’ve never had the opportunity to sail with retracting daggerboards. Really very enjoyable.
How does she sail close hauled? How high does she point to true? She sails nicely at 45° to the TWA. And tacking upwind is easy with he self-tacking yet big solent. She sails and tacks easily in 3 knots of true wind.
Typically, what’s your average speed on passage? What´s the top speed you have logged surfing? At what TWS do you start sailing? In force 3 to 5 which is where we typically like to sail most days we’ll consistently travel at 9,10,11 knots without too much trimming. But it is possible to push her more, and for instance in stronger conditions we regularly sail 13, 14, 15 knots.
To answer your question, so far my top speed is 19.2 knots off Mallorca. But we’ll be sailing for the next few months so stay tuned 😉.
What’s she like under power? Speed, manouevrability? With her light displacement in harbours she actually starts and stops surprisingly easily with very little engine power applied. But if you need it, electric engines provide a lot of torque so you can stop the boat or accelerate out of someone’s way very easily.
Is she easy to dock, what’s the visibility like? Visibility upfront is remarkable. And the crew stay in touch easily, then can go in and out of the cockpit from the front which creates a lot of fluidity in our coordination. It’s true a weak point is one small dead angle from the helm towards the aft staboard quarter.
Windelo are opening up this angle and of course if you’re into tech there is a back-up camera. We find that we manage without just fine but it’s there if we need it.
What is she like at anchor? There’s very smooth to and fro between galley and dining room, and the aft deck completely open to the water is a real bonus.
What’s she like when it´s raining hard? When it’s raining you can still go sailing… in your socks.
Is she comfortable down below? Cabins/saloon/galley/heads. I’m a tall guy so for me (and I know for the Windelo family too), headroom was important. The amount of space down below is impressive, and all the living areas are very bright with natural daylight pouring in.
How is the finish of the interior? Does she creak under sail? In terms of the structure, that’s one of the most impressive aspects of this boat. Let’s remember is a number one : not a single creak or noise underway – other than the flow of water against the hulls. This speaks for a strong design and high build quality of the structure itself and is probably the most important part.
I’ll be honest, the finishes of the interior weren’t quite where they needed to be initially. But we did some rework with the yard and it does meet expectations for an Adventure version. Windelo themselves have put this as the priority for the next boats, and I’m confident that when they make this a focus they can be as good on finishes as they have been on the structure. No doubt the next boats will be right first time!
What is important is that all along the way and whatever the subject they were open to feedback and rework, which is bound to happen on a number one. What counts here is the dynamic and the spirit of continuous improvement with which Gautier and his teams approach any problem.
What is your favourite spot on the boat? The forward cockpit is a key feature. We’re close to the center of gravity; it’s crazy! Now that I’ve had a taste of it, I couldn’t bear to sail a catamaran with an outside aft cockpit. In this forward cockpit, you’re well protected from spray and wind when it’s closed. And then, in calmer weather, you can open up and enjoy sailing from the outside. At the same time, because you’re open to the living quarters, you can socialize with everyone on board, the crew, and the others.
I appreciate the comfort when I’m at the helm. The Windelo is a real sailor’s boat, with particular attention given to the comfort of the crew when sailing. There’s a lot of socializing between the cockpit and the living quarters, so you can keep an eye on navigation without being cut off from life on board and the crew.
Those who aren’t navigating have nice comfortable spaces, in the living quarters, for example, with the quarter-berth or on the trampolines to enjoy the sunshine.
Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but whether day in rough conditions or at night there is no more talk of lifejackets and strapping on. Everyone – including younger kids – is safe in the cockpit, in all conditions.
Is she good for hosting guests? We have friends across the Mediterranean and in the US. We have already hosted brunches and dinners on board and will continue to do so as we visit our USA friends. The outdoor table seats 8-10 people.
What kind of modifications have you done and why? I followed the teams advice in fitting a 2nd 48V battery pack to power the engines – and I will say it made sense.
Any plans for further customisation? The yard kitted out the boat for the ARC just recently. I think that’s the end of our customisation, and now we’ll be working on the interior design for our Windelo 54.
If you were to swap her for another boat, what would that be? Or maybe you wouldn’t swap her? If anything, another Windelo.
How is the after sales service from Windelo? Obviously with one boat on the water it is not yet an industrial after sales service with service tickets etc. Personally my boat was based in Canet on the yard’s doorstep which made things very fluid and in-person.
Right now I’m in touch with the yard through Iridium – at the moment just to keep them updated on our progress towards the Canaries. On top of that I know that Windelo can remotely monitor the Boat Management System and Engines whenever there’s a 4G network.
Anything else you would add to help people thinking of buying a Windelo 50? There’s something for everyone in the family to like. Because so many of the concepts are new but also customisable, its worth viewing the boat with the family and going through the personalisation process with the sales team.
But if you want to get a first idea, I hear they also just put their configurator online.
Finally, what are your favourite 3 things about the Windelo 50 Well, we’ve talked a lot about the cockpit and the living spaces. That’s two of them. But I also like the fact that this boat comes out of the yard with significantly less CO2 footprint from the Basalt and PET structure, and innovates in the electric/hybrid propulsion very well.
This is – to my knowledge – the first sailing catamaran with a true full electric and hybrid integrated setup that has proven to work. I’m glad to be able to be the first owner of such a pioneering boat, and I’d encourage any sailor looking in this category and sensitive to environmental matters down the Windelo path.
In 2022, Hakuna Mata completed a double Atlantic crossing (there and back).
In eight months, they used only 800 litres of diesel, which includes the heating during the period spent in colder sailing zones.
The yacht left Canet-en-Roussillon on 17 October 2021, and is the first Windelo to have crossed the Atlantic (south route out, northern route back).
With more than 20,000 nautical miles and a 10-month Atlantic cruise under her belt, she proves that a transition to efficient, high-performance, eco-friendly sailing is possible for the nautical industry and positions Windelo at the forefront of this market segment.
The eco-composite structure (basalt fiber and PET foam), the electric engine, and the production of green energy (solar, hydro) have been thoroughly tested.
What was the most memorable part of the journey? The Atlantic crossing between Canada and Iceland.
“We had really bad weather and sailing conditions, with a cross sea and pyramid shaped waves, seven to eight meters high! The forward cockpit proved itself to be very practical. Protected from the wind and cold, we were dry, and barely a bucketful of water entered the space once everything was closed – and above all, the cockpit is on the boat’s center of gravity, drastically reducing our movement in troughs of eight meters.
It helped us hold out physically, and we felt better and much safer than if we were outside, even though it was really daunting.”
What was the most incredible moment? “When we entered New York by night, after a rough night’s sailing. We were enchanted by the size of the city, with illuminated buildings and advertising boards, so typical of this huge city.”
Lagoon recently passed the 500 mark for their 46 footer. This popular cruising catamaran continues to attract strong demand thanks to those ocean views from the flybridge, the open sundeck and high levels of comfort in the Interior. They have also launched an option for a furling boom.
Let’s take a look at the boat in more detail:
Naval architects VPLP have achieved a great balance between the different living spaces aboard the Lagoon 46.
With her front and aft cockpits, cooking area at the back, and a salon that is a home away from home, there are plenty of zones to hang out in.
Up top, the Flybridge has a double access port and starboard, and is another zone for relaxation as well as being the control centre when sailing.
Choose between a folding cabriolet or an automated Bimini for sun protection
Head forward, and you have the forward lounge tucked in behind the nets for sundowners.
Aft on the Lagoon 46, you can choose between classic stainless steel davits or an electrical hydraulic platform for your tender. The platform allows for easy access to the water at anchor.
Interior Comfort – a Home Away from Home
Nauta Design were in charge of developing the elegant interior. The owner’s suite is generously furnished and has an island berth. It’s spacious down here, with a sofa, desk and ample storage. The bathroom is huge with a separate shower.
The other cabins aboard are also roomy, especially the forward cabin which also has a large bed.
Up top, the saloon area runs through to the aft cockpit and is light and airy.
VPLP are known for designing boats that sail, and they have done a great job evolving the Lagoon 46 from her predecessors.
She’s a seaworthy, forgiving boat.
Boom Furler Option
Lagoon recently announced that they are offering a boom furler option on the 46.
This is a simple, robust solution designed to make the Lagoon 46 even easier to sail. One of the main advantages of the Lagoon boom furler is that the furling mandrel is not enclosed in a housing. So you can watch and control hoisting, reefing and furling manoeuvres.
The Lagoon 46 is a bestseller in the cruising catamaran segment and it is easy to see why. This is a very comfortable, seaworthy boat that has been optimised for easy sailing with many different relaxation zones to enjoy at anchor, including that iconic flybridge.
Following the successful launch of their 50 footer in 2021, Windelo are launching their second model, the Windelo 54, which builds on all of the innovations of the smaller boat.
Naval architects Christophe Barreau and Fréderic Neuman have nearly 1.2 meters more to play with in this bigger boat. Half of this is in the nacelle, which has given them the freedom to increase the comfort and 40cm have gone into the bow.
There is more performance to enjoy, more configurations to choose from, and higher levels of comfort, all achieved with the impressive eco credentials and modest carbon footprint of her smaller sister. We enjoyed a pretty extensive test sail on Zig Zag, a Windelo 54 that you can watch on the Katamarans Youtube channel (or watch the embedded video below).
The 54 sticks to the Windelo design DNA with its sleek, yet muscly look and fine bows. The French performance catamaran manufacturer is once again offering this model in Adventure, Yachting and Sport configurations.
A big thanks to Tony for helping us with this Leopard 50 Owner’s review. There are some fantastic insights here if you are looking at Leopards or any other cruising cat for that matter.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your boat, Dracarys. I’m a 52-year-old business consultant that recently became an empty nester. After selling my business in 2014 and more recently sending my two youngest children off to college, I decided that it was time for some adventure travel.
Since I consult remotely, I placed my order for my Leopard 50 sailing catamaran in October of 2020 and took delivery in September of 2021. The name, “Dracarys” (pronounced “Druh-KARR-is”), is a Game of Thrones reference, and yeah, most people don’t get it – but those who do are enthusiastic about it!
Dracarys is my first sailboat, and to date, I’ve taken her 14,000nm, including multiple trips between the Gulf side of Florida and the Chesapeake Bay, Mexico, and the Exumas. I ordered her after gaining a grand total of about three weeks of sailing experience – one week of ASA classes and two charters in the BVI. The largest boat I’d owned previously was a 23-foot wakeboarding boat.
Why did you choose the Leopard 50? Did you look at any other catamaran brands? I seriously considered several production catamaran brands: Leopard, Fountaine Pajot, Lagoon, Nautitech and Bali. Each brand has its unique features and configuration differences, each with their own appeal.
In my final analysis, the features that I valued most pre-purchase were: 1) The helm location situated between the bridge deck and the upper lounge provides excellent visibility, is easy and safe to access from the salon/cockpit, provides easy access to the deck, and allows me to easily communicate/ socialize with companions in the salon, aft cockpit, or upper lounge.
2) The forward hatch (or “front door” as we call it) allows for convenient and safe access to the foredeck and provides excellent ventilation.
3) The forward cockpit provides an additional living area at anchor, and a safe location to experience being forward in rough seas.
After a year aboard, I feel that these three features are even more valuable to me than I thought they would be. The ability to easily and quickly move between the helm and salon, and between the helm and deck is a convenience that I’d never give up. I find that I spent much less time “at the helm” than I expected I would (thank you autopilot), and the ability to easily grab a drink, use the head, adjust a fender, or run to the bow to enjoy the dolphins is a “must have” for me.
Likewise, the “front door” makes the entire forward area of the boat easily accessible. I can’t imagine having to exit the salon aft, walk along the side deck, do whatever I need to do, and then reverse that process each and every time I want or need to go forward.
Another consideration in my brand decision was, of course, build quality. I certainly have no expertise in boat construction, however, to a layman, everything on and in the Leopards feels solid. The rig, cleats, stanchions, hatches, doors, cabinetry, cushions, fixtures, etc., all felt “beefier” than the analogous items on the other brands.
One brand had caulk joints wider than my thumb throughout. On another brand, the veneer on the cabinets was already chipped and flaking at the edges on a brand new boat after just a few days of boat show traffic.
Maybe because so many Leopards are built to withstand charter use and abuse, they appear to my eye to be built to a higher standard.
Regarding size, I really struggled over the decision between the Leopard 45 and 50. I was initially intimidated by the size of the 50. But the difference in living, galley, and storage space and the knowledge that the larger boat would be more comfortable in big seas eventually won out. Thankfully, the intimidation factor disappeared after a couple of weeks and I’m extremely happy that I went with the larger of the two models.
When was she launched? She arrived in the US in August of 2021 and I took delivery in early September.
What’s the best thing about her? I’ll answer that the same as if asked about any other lady: “Everything”
What would you change if anything? I selected the four-cabin version and if given a do-over, I would select the utility room option in lieu of the fourth cabin – it’s become a de facto utility room anyway.
There are a couple minor annoyances:
1) the refrigerators/freezers have an “off” button on the front panel that sometimes accidentally gets pressed. Who wants an “off” button on their fridge?
2) Also, the boat is delivered with all galley outlets on a single 20-amp breaker, which is probably fine for charter. However, after I added an induction hotplate, microwave, Breville oven, Starlink, computers, etc., I was tripping that breaker daily. But this problem was easily and inexpensively resolved by Just Catamarans by added a few more dedicated 20-amp circuits to the galley to accommodate my power-hungry lifestyle.
3) In a “wave a magic wand” world, I would have loved to have had the option to have the starboard hull configured like the Leopard 45 owner’s version. It could be a massive owner’s suite with a sitting area apart from the salon.
What are the “Must Have” Options buying new in your opinion? eg square top mainsail, engine upgrade, folding props, Gas BBQ , A/C, heating, watermaker, bowsprit, gennaker, code 0 inverter, solar, gen set, washing machine etc…. I think the engine upgrade (to 80hp turbo-charged Yanmar 4JH80s) is a no-brainer. I’ve never felt underpowered, but I’ve sometimes wondered how the smaller engines would feel going through tight drawbridges with a strong opposing current.
For me, air conditioning is a lifestyle must-have; I’m not one to tolerate sweating in bed. In addition to staying cool (or warm), having air conditioning allows me to close all the doors, windows, and hatches to keep mosquitos and no-see-ums outside where they belong!
I kept the stock props for about 2,000 nm just so I would fully appreciate the spend for the feathering Maxprops. I absolutely love the Maxprops and would put them high on my list of must-have aftermarket options. I estimate that I’ve picked up an additional knot (or very close) under sail, and since the prop/transmission doesn’t free-wheel, there’s zero noise (or transmission wear) under sail.
A generator, lithium-ion batteries, solar panels, a water maker and washing machine are also must-haves for my lifestyle. I like the comforts of home (Condomaran?) and anything that makes providing my own utility services easier makes life better.
I opted against the square-top mainsail and I’m glad I did. I know some who have it and wish they didn’t – reportedly, it can be finicky.
What do you have in your sail locker? I currently have only the stock sails. I ordered the boat rigged for a bowsprit but didn’t purchase a sail because I had no idea which kind of sail I might want.
14,000+nm later and I’m still undecided. I get conflicting opinions from other owners, so I’m convinced it’s very much a personal preference thing – I just don’t know mine yet.
What are the “Nice to Have Options”? I’d put the faux teak option in the “nice to have” category. It looks great but comes with some drawbacks: it’s expensive, heavy, and can be hot on bare feet. I opted against the factory faux teak thinking that I’d install one of the cooler options, but I’ve found that I don’t often wish that I had it, so I doubt that I’ll move forward with it.
I think underwater lights also solidly fall into this category. Expensive, yes, but they really set the ambiance at anchor.
Which options are not worth bothering with? Many are sure to disagree, but for me, the dinghy lifting platform is one that I easily live without. It was a $50,000 upgrade at the time of my purchase, and I just didn’t see the advantage. It’s a lot of weight on the stern, and since it can accommodate more dinghy weight than the davits, a heavier dinghy choice adds even more weight.
Also, though I’ve not done it myself, I’ve often wondered how hard it is to position the dinghy on the platform chocks in rough water.
Though I didn’t order it from the factory, I was so convinced that I’d want the wireless remote helm control unit that I purchased it and installed it myself. As it turns out, I don’t think I’ve used it since the day that I tested it.
On a friend’s suggestion, I did not order any interior blinds from the factory and instead installed cellular aftermarket blinds. In my opinion, they look much nicer, and without question, they make a huge difference in keeping the interior temperature down. Pricey, but I think worth it.
How are the electrics, plumbing etc With the exception of the entire salon/galley being on a single 20-amp breaker, the electrical system is good, and I’ve had no issues. I ordered the second 3,000W 120V inverter option from the factory and then added a Victron Quattro for 5,000W of 240V inversion capability.
With an 1,800 Ah Lithium-ion battery bank, I can usually run the air condition off battery (on eco mode which works great) for the entire boat all night, depending on ambient air temperature.
I’ve had no issues at all with supply or waste plumbing. Some friends “dog bag” their toilet paper rather than flush it. I chose to gamble and not do that.
Luckily, I’ve had no problems at all (where’s the wood to knock?!). After about 10 months of nearly full-time use, I noticed a small amount of backflow into the toilet bowls, so I had to tackle the dreaded backflow valve cleaning/replacement.
It turns out that it was not a nasty job at all. Ok, maybe a little bit nasty, but still better than the Crossfit-like workout misery of putting sheets on the beds!
Is she easy to maintain? Servicing engines, standing rigging etc Maybe because so many units are produced for charter, everything is accessible. Some areas take more effort than others, but you can access everything.
I’d put myself in the “heavy DIY” category of owners – I’ve run cables throughout the boat, added lighting, installed motorized TV mounts, computer monitor swing-arms, glassed in backing for fishing rod-holder mounts (on friends’ boat).
I think I’ve been in every nook and cranny it has, even if just to see what’s there. Every space has an access panel – sometimes you just have to look carefully for it.
My height (5’7″) is sometimes a blessing and other times a curse. I can fit into small places, but sometimes I wish my arms were just a bit longer.
The engine compartments are spacious, well lit, and have safe access when underway. Some sticky-backed foam padding in key places has saved my skull more than once. Note that it took a couple of swear-word-filled events to figure that out.
The only thing that’s not easy with regard to maintenance is….cleaning! Cleaning is a never-ending job, and sometimes I think about the day that I chose the 50 over the 45! There’s a lot of boat to keep clean.
Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Easy to reach the boom? I have all lines run back to the helm with the exception of the lazy jacks, genoa halyard, and topping lift (none of which I use often), so sailing short-handed is easy.
I’m short but agile, so the boom height isn’t a big issue for me. I had a few extra steps/handholds added to the mast and I can reach the rest of the sailbag zipper (I added a string to it) from the top of the helm roof.
I recently replaced the main halyard with a stronger, less stretchy, smaller-diameter line than the stock halyard. This lets the sail drop more freely than it originally did, though I also added a downhaul that is run back to the helm as an extra measure.
What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow / big seas The most severe weather I’ve experienced so far was a on a sail from Key West to Sarasota – about 30 hours. There was a small craft advisory issued; winds and waves were at about 50-60 degrees off the nose at around 30kts and nine feet, respectively.
To me, she felt like a bulldozer running through marshmallow fluff. I don’t have the experience to know if that’s normal, but I was very pleased! There was minimal creaking and banging. Overall, the boat gave me the impression that she didn’t even notice the conditions.
How is the helm position. OK to sail short-handed? As mentioned, the helm position was an important factor for me in my buying decision. I appreciate the convenient and safe access, and the visibility is excellent.
Other than throw lines when docking, I operate the boat by myself without any problem.
The visibility is excellent for open-water navigation. The lounge seats create a bit of a blind spot to the port aft quarter, but the gap between the horizontal seat cushions and the seat backs provides enough of a visibility gap to check for traffic.
For docking, my height is a disadvantage for seeing the port bow, however, I’ve solved that problem with a fishing rod holder mounted vertically on the port bow railing that holds a boat hook.
Also, standing on an aftermarket footrest on the helm seat provides a better view forward for shorter people like me. View of the port sugar scoop from the helm is blocked by the cockpit roof, but here my size is an advantage; I don’t have to bend down quite as much to put eyes on it.
How does she sail in light winds? I’m running just the stock main and genoa – I have no light wind sails – so light wind performance isn’t fantastic. I’m looking forward to adding some light wind sails soon.
How does she sail close hauled? What TWA or AWA is the sweet spot in 12 knts of breeze for example? My sail trimming skills are…developing, so my answers to “how does she sail” questions probably reflect more on the operator than the boat. With my current sails, I’m not likely to pinch in light winds.
I usually have tide and/or daylight conditions I’m trying to optimize at my destination, and I plan my routes assuming 5kts VMG – if I’m not making that, I turn on an engine. The 14,000 miles I’ve put on her are about 60% sailing, 40% motor/motorsailing (I’m not a sailing purist).
The last photos I took show me making 7.7kts through the water in 20kts of apparent wind at 40 degrees AWA, and 8.4kts through water 70 degrees AWA in the same wind, calm sea state.
What’s she like under power? Speed, manouevrability? With a 26.5’ beam, she pirouettes in place within her own length – it’s like driving a zero-turning-radius lawnmower. Underway and using rudders, the helm is very responsive; when I want to turn, she turns. I was initially intimidated by her size and seriously considering adding a bow thruster to assist with docking, however, after just a bit of practice, I feel that having one is totally unnecessary.
With the 80HP engine upgrade, I have yet to feel underpowered.
Is she easy to dock, what’s the visibility like? Do you have a bow thruster? I previously mentioned my height challenge with seeing the port bow and my rod-holder solution (along with someone calling out distance to the dock). There is maybe a time or two that I might have used a bow thruster if I had one – those “You want me to dock THERE?!” situations – but in general I think it’s unnecessary.
The differential thrust from the engines and the amply-sized rudders give me a very positive feel of control while docking. Note that I hired a training captain for my first two weeks of operation who ran me through the docking exercise grinder, and I’m glad he did.
What is she like at anchor? Does she sit well? That forward cockpit looks good for a sundowner. When rigged for a bowsprit, the bridle must fit under the bobstays. Necessarily, this creates an obtuse angle where the legs of the bridle combine to the portion of the bridle that leads to the anchor chain (think of a Y that looks closer to a T if you were viewing the boat from the anchor location.) This geometry allows the boat to pivot in place nearly forty-five degrees in each direction off center; so about ninety degrees of pivot even in light wind.
Note that this is pivot/yaw, and not swing, but it makes you feel like you’re swinging. It’s a bit annoying but I understand the necessity of the bridle design. For longer stays in a location, I solved this yaw problem with a Mantus bridle that I attach to the bow cleats (not the cleats on the crossmember between the hulls).
The forward cockpit is great spot for dinner for two, but for me, the best place for a sundowner is on the upper lounge which supplies a three hundred sixty-degree view!
What type of anchor/weight/chain length did you go for? I chose a Rocna 40kg (88lb) anchor – I think it’s the largest/heaviest anchor that fits without modifications to the anchor roller/mount area. For chain, I went with 240 feet of Maggi 10mm. Why a random number like 240 feet? Because that’s what was available.
What kind of dinghy/power unit did you go for? I chose a Highfield Classic 360 with the FCT steering console and seat, powered by a Yamaha 25HP 4-stroke with power tilt. I opted for the davits rather than the lifting platform and this dinghy configuration is within the load limit.
Is she comfortable down below? Cabins/saloon/galley/heads. My smaller stature is an advantage for getting comfortable on any boat. Nonetheless, I think the Leopard 50 is spacious and thoughtfully laid out. The cabins live well, the galley layout is great, and the nav desk makes a great workstation.
The owner’s head is reasonably spacious, but a little tight for two people to use to the sink area at the same time.
Some other brands have a separate toilet room and double sinks, which would be great, but every boat is a compromise.
What configuration is Dracarys? Owners? Did you go for the utility room? I have the four-cabin version. If given a do-over, I’d get the utility room option.
Where’s your favourite spot on the boat? Up top on the lounge? Aft? Forward cockpit? Do you use the flybridge while under way in calmer conditions? I have a few favorite spots. I probably spend the most time at the nav desk when not underway. I chose to not order the optional television at the nav desk. The space to accommodate the TV and electric mount is created by moving the nav desk six or eight inches aft. This pinches the space between the nav desk and the companionway railing a bit too much for my liking.
Without the TV option, the space between the desk and railing allows for a swiveling and reclining office chair (not a high-back “executive” chair – just regular back). There are non-skid feet available on Amazon that I installed on the chair in lieu of the casters. This chair and a long, heavy-duty swing mount for a computer monitor makes for a comfortable workstation.
I definitely enjoy the upper lounge while underway as well as the bow seats. I’ve been known to tether myself to a bow seat in bigger seas so that I could dip my toes as I “ride the bull”.
Maybe an uncommon spot where I spend a significant amount of time while underway in milder conditions is on top, directly in front of the mast. Standing there, just leaning back against the mast offers a great view and I really feel connected with both the boat and the environment there.
How is the finish of the interior? Does she creak under sail? How is the storage on the boat? I’m very pleased with the interior finish. The casework is well-constructed, covered with thick and textured Formica that has showed absolutely no wear with over a year of near constant use. The caulk joints are very thin, especially compared to some other brands. My dad always said, “Caulk covers incompetence.” The thin caulk joints on this point tell me that the manufacturing tolerances are tight.
Noise under sail is minimal. There is no noticeable creaking, however, the pins that hold the sliding salon door and sliding window in position have just enough play in their receivers that it creates a faint clicking with side-to-side motion. The fact that that is the most noticeable noise while underway is indicative of how quiet the boat is otherwise.
Occasionally, some gooseneck or boom vang squeaking noise gets transmitted down the compression post into the salon, but not often.
Is she good for hosting guests? How is the galley layout? Nav station? Are there enough fridges/freezers Hosting is a dream. I’ve comfortably sat dinner for eight at the salon table utilizing the two movable stools placed at the open end of the table. Swinging my monitor out of the way, I was able to seat another at the nav desk.
The galley layout allows for two people to cook with only beginner-level dance skills required to navigate around each other. I opted to not order the built-in ice maker because it consumes a tremendous amount of what would otherwise be cabinet space.
I’m very happy with this choice. I have a countertop ice-maker that easily keeps up with the needs of four guests. I located it on the counter area just forward of the compression post (left of the sink) and hid the power cord by running it through a grommet that I installed in the counter.
The other reason I like this solution is that if the ice-maker fails, I have a backup unit on hand (they’re only $100.) I can’t have a backup on hand for the built-in unit and not having ice is just not an option!
How do you manage power consumption vs power use when at anchor or sailing? Do you have a gen set for example? The Leopard 50, when outfit for long-term cruising and the comforts of home, is a power hog.
As I’m writing this, I’ve been at anchor for five days. The weather has been perfect and I haven’t needed, or even wanted to run the A/C. Otherwise, living my normal power-hungry life of induction cooking, laundry, computers, etc., my Victron system is showing my daily power consumption is between 13 and 18kWh, of which my solar array has provided 4-5kWh each day (Florida in December).
With that daily deficit, and starting with around 25,000kWh in lithium ion battery power (six 300Ah batteries at full charge), I can get by running my 9kW generator every other day. The generator provides far more power than my charging system can handle, so I also use the generator time to run my water heaters which keep the water hot enough for a hot shower for about twenty-four hours after they’ve shut off.
Note that running high draw systems like air conditioning and/or water heaters off of battery requires running the generator daily.
Under sail, the same conditions exist apart from motor-sailing (or pure motoring) which uses the closed loop on the engine to heat the water in the water heaters.
At a dock with shore power, turn everything on baby! It’s like living at home.
What kind of modifications have you done and why? The majority of my aftermarket modifications have been comfort and livability related. I’ve done things like add a motorized television mount to the owner’s cabin ceiling, installed color changing LED light strips, and added Starlink (what a game changer!), and added shelves in the unused space over companionways.
Any plans for further customisation? Not at this time, but I won’t surprise myself if that changes.
If you were to swap her for another boat, what would that be? Or maybe you wouldn’t swap her? I can’t think of another sailboat, anywhere in the same price range that I’d prefer. Maybe when my long-distance passage-making itch is scratched, I could see myself in 50-55’ motor yacht. I like the Absolute Navetta line.
How was the buying process with Leopard or their dealer? The buying process was uncomplicated and, for the most part, smooth. There’s an options changes “lock out” date that wasn’t communicated to me up front, so that created a tiny amount of stress, but all ended well. No question that I’d buy again.
How is the after sales service from Leopard or their dealers? Have you had to fix much? There’s always something with boats. For a low-volume production item this complex and one with so many systems, I’m astonished at how few problems I’ve had and their insignificance.
I had a cabin door latch that wasn’t installed correctly and a lazarette catch that was broken on delivery. There were a few other minor items that needed addressed when it arrived in the US from the factory, but all were addressed promptly by the dealer before handover.
Warranty claims were previously handled by the salespersons, who let’s face it, have other priorities. Leopard has recently implemented a dedicated department for warranty claims and I can’t praise them enough for it. I just recently realized that my AC chiller unit was installed such that that zinc was inaccessible. I paid to have the unit moved an
inch or two and was promptly reimbursed by Leopard.
Anything else you would add to help people thinking of buying a Leopard 50? If, like me, you’re intimidated by the size of the L50, don’t be. It handles easily both under both sail and power, and the extra space and comfort in bigger seas is amazing!
Follow Sailing Dracarys
Thanks, once again, to Tony for this fantastic review. I’d mark this one down as one of the top responses we have had in our owner’s review section, it’s full of insights and tips on the Leopard 50.
Many thanks to SV Lickety, an HH50, for sharing their thoughts on their beautiful catamaran.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your HH50 catamaran. We are two beginner sailors, this is our first boat. We live aboard with our two dogs, Ella and Essy. We plan to see as much of the world as we can.
Why did you choose the HH50? Was it the finish, the performance or the upwind performance for example? We wanted a boat that is both comfortable and has good performance. We want the best of both sides.
When was she launched? How was the build process? January 2021. The build process happened during covid with no delays. It was transparent at every step. Excellent communication.
What’s the best thing about her? Everything about this boat is the best. It’s truly exceptional, beyond our expectations.
If there was one thing that you would change, what would that be? Or wouldn’t you change anything? A performance boat, at this level, takes skill to sail. We love the challenge. She expects us to be good. Be ready to become a good sailor on this boat. She requires it. No lazy sailors allowed!
Does she carry weight well, or do you have to be careful to not overload her with gear? We don’t overload her. It’s our preference. Other owners carry more than we do. She can handle a lot. We just prefer not to. We do have plenty of toys, though!
What are the “Must Have” Options buying new in your opinion? eg Sails, watermaker, generator, solar, carbon options, push button sheet controls There is never enough solar or red wine. Load up on both! All electric galley is a no-brainer.
What are the “Nice to Have Options”? I LOVE our real teak deck in the cockpit. It’s more of a ‘must’ than a ‘ nice’. Sea Deck on the top decks might be a nice addition. It’s not simple to add it later as I assumed.
Which options did you “pass” on? We have the extra length on our longeron for an additional foresail. We held off getting the sail until we had more experience. That was a good decision. We now have a better idea of what we need up there.
How are the electrics, plumbing etc. Can you give us an idea of how you set your power system up, amount of solar, hydrogeneration, lithium batteries etc We have 2400w of solar, three 180amp at 24v lithium batteries.
Is she easy to maintain? Servicing engines, standing rigging etc She is easier to maintain than expected. That said, she’s a boat and we do work hard to keep her perfect.
Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Is the running rigging complex? Do all the lines lead back to the helms, for example? Can you give us an idea of your sail plan. Self tacking jib or overlapping for example. We have 3 foresails. (We plan to purchase one more.) We started with a self tacking jib, an overlapping solent, and a light wind reacher. Two people can easily sail her. It’s possible to single hand her if necessary but much easier with two.
What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow / big seas We have sailed her in a wide range of conditions over the last year and 4 months. We have run from hurricanes, crossed from Virginia to the Bahamas, gone around Hatteras three times. We just crossed the Atlantic in her, sailing in some big weather that most of the boats around us ran from. We saw winds consistently over 40KT in 4M waves. She performed beautifully, dancing through it. (We were double reefed and had the jib out.) I don’t recommend anyone pushing their boat beyond their skill level but once you gain the skills, this boat won’t be the thing that holds you back. Only you will be.
How are the helm positions. Good in weather? How is the visibility when docking? The helms are incredible. The prime seats on the boat. Easy to dock and drive from. Originally I didn’t understand having two helms, now I swear by them.
How does she sail in light winds? She likes wind. On a close reach she sails at about half wind speed. Less on other angles. Hence we want another, larger, foresail.
How does she sail close hauled? How high does she point to true in a good sea state? She points at 30 degrees in ideal conditions.
Typically, what’s your average speed on passage? What´s the top speed you have logged surfing? Average 8. Top 20.
What’s she like under power? Speed, manouevrability? She maneuvers well under power. We have two 38s so we motor at 6 for the most efficient fuel use.
Is she easy to dock? She is light and can be squirrely in big wind. Oh, get a bow thruster and all is easy.
What is she like at anchor? We love to be on anchor for the privacy. Our anchor and rode have held us in many different conditions without fail.
What’s she like when it´s raining hard? Our cockpit gets some dripping in heavy rain. The rest of the boat is always dry.
Is she comfortable down below? Cabins/saloon/galley/heads. Can you give us an idea of the configuration you went for? We have the owners version. The amount of storage is huge. Comfort is high. Our shower is large. Our two guest cabins have their own heads, share a comfortable sized shower that is accessible from each of their own private entry.
How is the finish of the interior? Does she creak under sail? No creaks under sail. This all-carbon boat is built like a rock.
What is your favourite spot on the boat? The helm. On top of the world!
Is she good for hosting guests? She is a party boat. The stereo, lighting, layout is great for having guests. Everyone who comes on agrees with a WOW! as they enter.
What kind of modifications have you done and why? To keep costs down we didn’t do a lot of modifications. The M&M design doesn’t really need it.
Any plans for further customisation? We might do a removable enclosure on our cockpit.
If you were to swap her for another boat, what would that be? Or maybe you wouldn’t swap her? Probably won’t need to swap. This boat is perfect for us. But if she ever starts to bore us I do have my eye on that HH60!
How is the after sales service from HH? Unmatchable after service. The people who work for HH are the best.
How would you rate the Value for Money of an HH50, bearing in mind future re-sale potential, quality, price and so on. Unmatchable. Period. My husband is a numbers guy. We don’t buy anything that isn’t a good investment. How many boats are a good investment?!
Where do we put the HH OC50 on Katamarans? This Morrelli & Melvin designed yacht is a sister to their high performance yacht, the HH50 and is the first model to come out of the Ocean Series line.
E-Glass and Fixed Keels
The main difference is in how she is built. HH use e-glass on this boat with carbon reinforcements in high load areas. The daggerboards have been switched for winged fixed keels and instead of a carbon composite mast, boom and rigging, she has alloy (there is an option to go carbon). The hull shape is the same, with an ample interior, and luxurious fittings.
This keeps the cost down and makes her more robust: she’s been designed with circumnavigating couples in mind who are looking for a boat that is simpler to sail short-handed and will take a knock or two. Instead of the twin helms on the HH50, the OC50 has a single helm station with all of the lines running back. This boat sits between the Kinetic KC54 and 50 foot cruising catamarans like the FP Saba 50
The St Francis 50 was designed by legendary South African boat builder Duncan Lethbridge (now sadly no longer with us). This is one of those classic catamaran designs that has steadily evolved over the years. The newest version, the Mk II, is one of the best long distance cruisers around. Other notable South African designs include the Voyage 480, the Kinetic 62 and the Knysna 500.
The new model is built with resin- infused molding, Corecell foam core and the plenty of carbon fiber in high-stress areas. This classic is now both lighter and stiffer. The best got better as they claim on their marketing material, and it is a believable claim.
The whole concept has been designed to provide a comfortable platform on the water in a safe businesslike package that is no slouch through the waves, something that the South Africans seem to excel at, with the likes of Balance (higher up the price range) and Leopard (more in the production boat category). And the quality of the finish is a step above production boats like the Nautitech 47 and the Lagoons.
Sunreef are famous for producing big, sleek, luxurious sailing and power cats – welcome to the “Baby” of the range: the Sunreef 50.
This yacht from the Polish superyacht builder is a clever move to appeal to sailing couples looking to sail oceans—or head to their favourite cruising grounds—without the need for a crew. They are targeting a similar market to Privilege.
This 50 footer has all the high end spec and design of their larger yachts such as the generous use of teak, luxurious cabins and opulent master suite. You can extend the aft cockpit with a hydraulic platform if you want, or head up to the wet bar and sun beds on the fly-bridge. It’s a fully customisable, top end luxury catamaran.
They call this the Compact Luxury Catamaran. She features many of the characteristics of her larger 60 and 80 ft sisters in 2 50ft hulls and you can sail her without crew. Think of the cash you’ll save!
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.