The larger Catana designs were given a rehaul relatively recently: the Catana 53 is the latest model that has been upgraded to a boxier, more muscly look. This boat feels huge when you compare it to other 50 footers like the St Francis 50 from South Africa. The first Catana model to get the new make-over was the 59 back in 2013. Then came a 62 footer, the 70 and finally the 53. They have now launched the Ocean Class (50) with its single raised helm.
The company that builds these famous performance cruising cats is the same manufacturer behind the successful Bali range, and the volume charter brand seems to be soaking up more of the company´s resources. Yachts like the Bali 4.3 have been highly successful in taking market share from Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot.
Nevertheless, with the Catana 53, this French manufacturer have once again come up with an impressive, fast, long distance passage maker for couples who are looking to tick off regular 200+ mile days. This yacht competes against the likes of the Atlantic 57 but will appeal to people looking for more comfort down below.
With those daggerboards, she´s fast upwind – you should see 8 knots in 15 knots of wind, and with less leeway than you would get in a fixed keel cat. Head downwind, and speeds in the mid teens are consistently attainable in the right conditions. Images credit Catana.com, Rowan Gormley
The trademark Catana aft helms will not be to everyone’s liking, but there’s one thing that you can’t dispute: this configuration opens up the aft cockpit and saloon into one huge living space all tucked under a bimini. In rough weather on passage, you will more than likely be inside anyway, sitting at the ample forward facing nav station / control centre. And this Catana looks like it can cross oceans with its reverse bows, high bridge deck, curved daggerboards and clean wide sidedecks with flush hatches. Long distance cruisers will do well to prioritise a back up auto-pilot for redundancy.
A seaworthy, bluewater cruiser- an evolutionary design from a performance cruising catamaran manufacturer that has been on top of their game for decades.
Fast, light and strong, this cat is also very comfortable. It sits somewhere between an Outremer and a cruising cat, more at the performance end of the scale.
There is a huge living space on the main deck when you have those sliding doors open.
The boom is tucked in low next to the saloon roof – the center of effort of the mainsail is low and it´s easy to reach the boom.
The curved daggerboards follow the shape of the hulls and give you more space down below. Plus they give the boat lift at speed.
We love those forward windows that open right up. The ventilation on this boat at anchor is fantastic.
We also love the galley with the island. Save some budget for the wine fridge.
Overall, she has a high quality finish.
This is a big, wide boat. Moving around the marina steering from those aft helms can be intimidating – you are a long way from the opposite bow, although visibility is good through the saloon windows.
If your auto-pilot fails on a long passage, you are going to be spending a lot of time at those unprotected helms. One solution is to have a back-up autopilot of course (it’s not a bad idea to have this kind of redundancy on any blue water catamaran).
This is a performance cat, so the hulls are slender when you compare them to cruising cats: your living space down below is smaller, particularly in the forward cabins and in the heads. But I have to say that Catana have struck a good balance here compared to other performance cruising cats we have seen. It´s closer to a Balance than an Outremer.
When you are manoeuvringaround the marina, the opposite bow seems a long way away. Visibility through the boat is excellent, but even so, you may find yourself hopping up to the side deck to check the distances. The helm seats feel more tucked in on the 53 compared to their smaller boats though. I think it’s those tall sides by the helm seats.
All the advantages of this helm position are plain to see: sailing feel (as you are close to the rudders and the water), the telltales on the sails are in plain view and it’s easy to communicate with people in the cockpit. Plus, as you are right at the back of the boat, it’s no effort to keep track of where everyone is on this boat. Docking her is also a breeze.
If things turn nasty, those on watch are best off heading inside with the sliding glass doors closed and the heating on.
Electric winches are positioned close to each wheel, and all lines lead aft to them. In traditional Catana fashion, the mainsail is controlled by a double-ended sheet across the transom – there is no need for a traveler.
The boom is nicely tucked in low above the bimini top, keeping the centre of effort of the mainsail low. It also means it’s easy to get to the sail and the gooseneck.
You be able to average 9 to 10 knots consistently on this boat on long passages. The 53 is set up for a couple with all the lines leading back aft. She’s a forgiving boat and handles well. On a beam reach in a decent breeze, these yachts fly.
The Catana 53 is powered by twin 75 HP Volvos. At full speed ahead (3000 RPM) she’ll clock over 9 knots. Cruise at 2200 RPM and you will punch through the water at just over 7 knots.
Or alternate the engines and motor along at 6 knots and conserve your fuel.
Catana 53s are built with foam coring and vinylester resin infused into the hulls, decks and bulkheads, with added carbon fiber and Twaron cloth where needed to increase strength and stiffness. She clocks in at just 14.5 tonnes light displacement and can soak up quite a bit of weight.
The most popular configuration is the Owner’s version. In the port hull, you can set her up with two single bunks or a double in the aft cabin and a double berth forward. Each cabin has an en-suite shower with a shared head. The starboard hull is the owner’s domain, with a roomy island queen berth aft, a dressing and storage area amidships, and a head and shower forward.
There´s space for a crew cabin in the forepeak (we’ve seen one with bunkbeds in here or they can be used for storage, for dive equipment and a compressor, for example, or sails.
The aft cockpit has a roomy table to port that seats six, with a daybed on the starboard side and a sofa along the aft beam. There’s another sofa just inside the saloon on the port side. With the sliding doors open, it all opens up into one interconnected space.
Forward, there’s a substantial nav desk / control centre on the port side.
The galley wraps around in a big U on the starboard side of the saloon- this is a boat that is going to appeal to chefs.
And with the optional wine fridge, you’ll have something nice to wash down all of those culinary delights with. Topping it off is a big island with work surface.
The other option is the Family layout, with a fourth double cabin forward in the starboard hull and a shared head like the opposite hull.
The Catana 53 is catamaran that gives you a great trade off between performance and comfort. Catanas have always built pretty fast cats, but on earlier models you had to compromise on the living space. With the 53, thanks to that huge main deck area and the clever use of space in the hulls, you get a big dollop of both.
How much is a Catana 53? What is the price of one of these catamarans?
The price is heavily dependent on the options you go for, like any yacht, but €1.2 to €1.3 million plus taxes gets you in the ball park.
Will Catana relaunch their smaller models?
We wish we knew! We’d love to see a 47 and a 42 in the newer, boxier style. They may extend the Ocean Class range with its single raised helm, but personally speaking, I’d like to see some options with the traditional twin aft helms as well. Or maybe a swing helm like the new Outremers? They could just continue focusing on the Bali range for the smaller boats though, I hope not.
Who Designed the Catana 53?
Some pretty famous multihull designers have helped Catana get to where they have got today. In the early years, Australian Multihull legend Lock Crowther had a big hand in the early boats like the 40, the 44 and the 48. Then the crack team of Christophe Barreau and Frédéric Neuman took over and launched a whole series of classic boats. For the 53, Catana brought the design in house, but they used Marc Lombard as a key consultant. He shaped the hulls and was the architect behind the Catana 70, which belongs to the same family of designs.
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