The Leopard 50 replaced the Leopard 48, a very successful production boat. This is no evolution, but an entirely re-thought design. She’s two foot longer with a bigger beam. There used to be 2 options: the fly version (they call it a lounge, hence the name: 50L). And the 50P: (the P stands for performance).
Just the Lounge
Now, they only produce the Lounge version which has a higher boom and a lounge behind the helm for sundowners at anchor. She clocks in at a similar size to the McConaghy MC50 CAT (also with a flybridge) but you won´t need to dig as deep into your budget for a Leopard.
Leopards have a reputation for being tough boats- they have to be with all that charter action. And they are sea-worthy too. Most of them are transported on their own bottoms from South Africa to the rest of the world.
The 50 is a vacuum-bagged and resin-infused E-glass hull with a balsa core. Carbon fiber adds stiffness without adding on the pounds, and the keels are filled with closed-cell poly foam. Designer Simonis was instructed to maximise visibility, which means fewer structural elements. To achieve that, carbon-infused ring frames are used instead of wood or composite bulkheads.
The 50 has the Leopard signature forward cockpit. While that might not make it the prettiest boat in the bay, it’s a fantastic space, reached through a door from the saloon: perfect for a sundowner at anchor with a breeze. Robertson and Caine first launched the forward cockpit with watertight door with the Morrelli & Melvin-designed Leopard 44. Alex Simonis and Simonis Voogd Yacht Design then took over the design pencils, and the idea has proved popular with buyers. The Leopard 50 will also be sold for charter as the Moorings 5000.
- The living space. It´s HUGE.
- Leopard’s are seaworthy boats. Most of them are delivered from South Africa on their own bottoms.
- The forward cockpit – always a favourite for sundowners.
- When the wind is up, these boats sail well.
- Leopards aren’t known for their sleek profiles. The 50 looks more balanced than some of their other models, but still. Owners won’t care what you say as they are lounging around at anchor, however.
- Performance drops off quickly in lighter winds. That’s not unique to a Leopard though.
- All that living space means that these cats have more windage than most.
- High boom can make accessing the mainsail tricky in a seaway.
- Sight lines from the helm
Huge Living Space
The aft cockpit is big with large sofas and an aft seatback. South Africans love their barbeques (or braais), so there’s a decent grill to cook your fish and steaks on. She has wide side decks with plenty of places to clip on and flush hatches.
A second forward-facing dining space is just inside the saloon to port. The table is foldable and can be lowered for coffee, or it can spread wide for dinner. Stainless handrails by the stairs look slick.
And on the 50L of course you have that flybridge / lounge with a comfortable wrap around sofa and a table. There’s also a spot to soak up some rays.
The skipper is well looked after too, with a well designed work station that is set up for short-handed sailing. With no less than 3 electric winches and Spinlock stoppers for halyards and sheets which tidy away neatly into a canvas. Sail handling is made easy by with all control lines led back to three powerful winches close to the wheel and there is plenty of room for someone else to lend a hand.
Visibility is good forward and to starboard, less so to port.
That extra length and beam makes a big difference when you head down below. A popular option is to configure the Leopard 50 with up to five spacious cabins.The owner’s suite is aft to starboard with a dressing area and an en-suite shower-room. The guest cabins are pretty impressive too, with walk-around berths in each.
Up to 6 Cabins
Leopard will configure you up to six cabins and six private heads if you want. Most owners go for more space in their cabin with a working area and dressing/vanity space.
The galley has a work-space to starboard, with a four-burner hob on a Force 10 oven and a Vitrifrigo fridge aft. There’s an L-shaped work-space with sink and another fridge under it. With her nav station to port, she’s very tidy in the saloon.
With all that space, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that the 50 moves like a condomaran. Well, she shifts rather nicely with a square-topped main and a short bowsprit to carry a lighter wind sails (a recommended option). With all that kit, you’ll have plenty of wind power.
You won’t match a monohull or performance cat with dagger boards like the Catana 47 going upwind (55 to 60 degrees to the wind is more likely at a clip). If you want to head higher, you’ll need to stick the leeward engine on.
Leopard 50 Polar Diagram from Simonis Voogd
Talking of power, the Leopard 50 comes with 2x Yanmar 57hp diesels which are easy to access. If you’ve gone for the generator option that is also easy to get to in a deck locker.
There’s an option to upgrade to 2x 80hp Yanmars, which will push you along at around 9 knots at 2,500 rpm. Back off a bit and you can do 7-8 knots comfortably, or power on one engine to save fuel at 6 knots.
Instead of davits, the Leopard 50 has a hydraulic swimming platform aft that takes a 10ft tender.
Don’t be put off by her profile, as you get a lot of benefit from all of that extra space. She’s nippy, spacious and seaworthy – a sure success for Robertson & Caine from South Africa. If you are interested in other boats of a similar size from this part of the world then take a look at our Knysna 500 SE Review which will give you a step up on the finish quality.