The new 55 has arrived!
In January 2020, Outremer announced a new addition to their range of performance cruising multihulls: the new Outremer 55. This review takes a look at the information that has been released so far on this exciting new boat. This yacht represents the next step up from catamarans like the Voyage 480 and the Nautitech 48. The Outremer 55 sco0ped the Multihull of the year award (2020) at the British Yachting Awards.
Outremer is responding to the competition which has really heated up in the past couple of years with brands like Balance Catamarans and Kinetic targeting the fast long distance cruising segment with boats that combine performance and speed. Outremer look like they have moved the dial on the comfort front with this new design compared to the 45 and 51.
Images credit: Outremer.
The new boat has been designed by VPLP – the same architects behind the larger 5X and the Gunboat 68, the flagship of Outremer´s sister company. She clocks in at just 13.5 tonnes light. For a comparison, a Catana 53 weighs around 14.5 tonnes lightship, so that’s one tonne less and it’s 2 foot longer.
Outremer are closely following their design philosophy of producing boats that get you to your destination fast, and that will do so safely and comfortably even when sailed short-handed. This new boat is one of their prettiest designs yet and sits between the 51 and the 5X
The new Outremer 55 has twin aft helms, or rather “mid helms” as they sit somewhere between the bulkhead location and the kind of traditional aft helms you´ll find on other catamaran brands like Catana. It reminds me of Hudson Yacht´s HH66 Catamaran – a great solution to the protection versus sailing feel dilemma. There is an option for tillers, but Outremer are working for good feedback off the standard helms.
One of the draw backs of the helm position of the current boats, in my opinion, is that they are pretty exposed. In fact the whole aft cockpit looks like it would be pretty exposed in a blow with a long thin bimini to reduce weight.
On the new 55, they have come up with a new solution which I rather like. Both helms pivot through 3 positions. The wheel can be upright, or pivoted outboard for real sailing feel on the smart looking helm seats. If the weather turns nasty, you can pivot them into the aft cockpit and tuck in underneath a more substantial fixed bimini.
A Catamaran for Sailors
This being a sailor´s boat, there´s a small cut away to help you see your sail shape and the visibility looks good through the salon windows even when the helm is in the down position. It´s a neat solution, kind of like a doubled up version of the helm you see on a Balance 526 but with more sailing feel. And you get to see your sail shape easily on both tacks.
In true Outremer fashion, all the running rigging comes back to the helm station, controlled by winches set low for comfort and ease of use. She´s set up for short-handed or even single-handed sailing.
The centre piece of the new design is a new island galley on the aft port side of the saloon. You can extend it by folding the side up. To starboard is a big sofa that wraps around an extendable table that will telescope down to make a coffee table. I am guessing there will also be an option for a night berth conversion here. The windows forward in the saloon open fully giving you the kind of ventilation I have only really seen on some of the newer Fountaine Pajot cats.
Big Interconnected Space
When you slide the doors open, you are left with a huge convivial space with a table running along the sofa on the aft beam which telescopes down to make a day bed. The sofa on the starboard side doubles up as a helm seat when you have the wheel pivoted down under the bimini. It’s the Open Concept squared.
And just to underline that this is a sailor´s cat, even though they have upped their game on the comfort stakes, there is a great looking central nav station/control hub forward in the salon with great views all around
Down below, the hulls are slender: this is an Outremer after all, and they have prioritised speed through the water over cabin space. But these berths will be comfortable is the 51 if anything to go by, especially if you are in the starboard hull of the owner´s version
We´re expecting this boat to move. Although Outremer have drifted towards the comfort end of the scale on this design, they have achieved this through clever design while maintaining the performance that the French manufacturer is famous for.
Tune Her Up with Carbon
There´s an optional carbon rig that carries 104 sq metres of mainsail and a 48 sq metre self tacking solent. The sheets for the jib come back to the top of the coachroof, which means there is lots of space for lounging about on the foredeck.
She comes with fully retractable daggerboards, of course, like all Outremers, so she will point high close to the wind and you’ll be able to minimise the drag going downwind and slide down big waves if you get caught in a storm. With boards fully raised, the draft is only 1.2m.
One of the big ideas behind this boat is to keep you sailing for longer so that you don´t need to switch the engines on. The hull shape should allow you to match the windspeed up to 12 knots. So even in 5 knots of wind, you should still be sailing. And this boat will have 2.3kW of solar on the bimini, which means you should be able to power all of your gear like your watermakers and dishwashers without needing a generator.
Watch this space, Outremer are officially launching this boat at La Grande Motte in 2021. The first boat hit the water for sea trials in November/December 2020.