In 1991, John Robertson and Jerry Caine started a boatyard at Woodstock in the suburbs of Cape Town, in South Africa.
Leopard Catamarans were born from the charter market: Robertson & Cain was briefed to design and build specially designed yachts for The Moorings: a global charter company.
6 years later, the company branched out into developing catamarans for Private use, and in 2000 the Leopard brand was born.
Lex Raas jumped ship from the Beneteau and became operational director
accelerating the growth of the company.
The History of Leopard Catamarans: a Timeline
- 1997 – Leopard 45
- 1998 – Leopard 38
- 2000 – Leopard 47
- 2001 – Leopard 42
- 2003 – Leopard 62
- 2004 – Leopard 40, 43
- 2006 Leopard 46
- 2009 Leopard 38
- 2010 Leopard 39, 44
- 2012 Leopard 48, 58
- 2014 Leopard 40
- 2016 Leopard 45
- 2018 Leopard 50
- 2020 Leopard 42
1997 Leopard 45
The first Leopard Catamaran model was the first 45. Shown here is “Wolf Pack”. The earlier designs have a lower bridgedeck than the later boats. This is a strong, sturdy boat, but it is susceptible to slamming going upwind in waves.
1998 Leopard 38
An example includes “Ant Legs”. The 38 was redesigned by Morelli and Melvin in 2009. The first 38 was the second model out of the south African yard. This blog gives a great summary of the boat: SV Rover.
Leopard 47 2000
Basically a 45 with lengthened sterns. The extra length allows the 47 to soak up more as cruising weight is added. Very seaworthy, strong boat although you will experience more slap with that lower bridgedeck.
2001 Leopard 42 (Moorings 4200)
Designed by South Africans Simonis-Voogd who are the architects behind Kinetic Catamarans. They continued along the same sleeker lines for this tough cruising boat. The mainsheet traveller is overhead on the trademark wing arch at the aft end of the cockpit.
Leopard 62 2003 (Moorings 6200)
The 62 was pitched against the up and coming Sunreefs – large luxury yachts with flybridges which were starting to become popular at the time. This 60 footer has plenty of living space.
Leopard 40 (2004)
Designed by Morrelli and Melvin, the 40 remains one of the most popular leopard Catamarans on the second hand market. The hulls have chines to increase the living space while maintaining a good speed through the water. This catamaran had a hard top bimini as standard.
Leopard 42 2004 (Moorings 4200), Leopard 43
A comfortable and decent passage maker that can be sailed short-handed. The bridgedeck is low, so some reports of slamming going into the weather.
The 43 is an evolution of the Leopard 42, built by Robertson and Caine.
If you watch sailing channels on Youtube, you may have come across this yacht on the “Gone with the Wynns” channel. They had a 2005 Leopard 43 which they sold in 2022.
The next boat? An HH Catamaran. I guess the sailing channel is going well!
Built from 2004 to 2007. 74 Units built.
Leopard 46 2006
Designed by Morrelli and Melvin with the familiar cat like eyes when seen from the side. The hulls are narrow at the waterline- then flare to a chine above the water to maximise living space (an old Catana trick).
Built with vacuum-bagged E-glass over balsa core.
Leopard 38 (2009)
Morrelli and Melvin next turned their design pens to the 38, available in 3 or 4 cabin layout. The designers continued with their mission of increasing the bridgedeck clearance on the 38, reducing the wave slap issues of earlier models. Also known as the Sunsail 384. This isn’t the prettiest design, in my opinion, but is a very capable boat.
Leopard 39 2010
Easily recognisable as a Morrelli and Melvin design, the Leopard 39 was an evolution of the Leopard 38 with a single level bimini over the cockpit, and a hard top over the helm. The 39 was in production until 2014.
Leopard 44 2010 (Sunsail 444)
The overhanging roof over the new forward cockpit is not to everyone’s taste, but it is a popular feature with owners.
Once again designed by Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin, this boat is famous for introducing the forward cockpit to the cruising catamaran market. Perhaps it was their Gunboat designs that inspired them?
Let’s just say that Leopard haven’t looked back since they introduced this new space forward. It’s very popular with charter customers and private owners alike.
Leopard 48 2012 (Moorings 4800)
Following on from the 46, the Leopard 48 really went to town on the forward cockpit with a boxy new design. The hulls are vacuum-bagged with a balsa core. Not the sleekest design, but this cat maxes out on living space.
Leopard 58 2012 (Moorings 5800)
The Leopard 58 comes with a huge covered flybridge and that forward cockpit which you can access directly from the saloon. The high helm does limit the amount of sailing feel you are going to get. This boat is all about the living space.
Leopard 40 2014
The Leopard 40 is not the prettiest design that Leopard have launched, let’s be honest, as at this length the overhang on the forward cockpit starts to dominate the profile. But it does have a decent bridge-deck clearance giving a comfortable ride in a confused sea, even close hauled. The 40 feels bigger than it is.
Leopard 45 2016
Development on the exterior styling, forward cockpit, and interior, the 45 is more angular than her predecessor and prettier than the 40.
Leopard 50 2018
A complete upgrade from the 48, the Leopard 50 manages to look pretty sleek despite that forward cockpit overhang. A seaworthy boat with a huge amount of living space that performs well when the wind is up.
Read our Full Leopard 50 Review
Leopard 42 2020
Like the 50, the 42 manages to look sleek, even with her boxy design and the forward cockpit overhang. Designed by Simonis Voogd. Construction is foam-cored vacuum infusion covered with a single nacelle mould. SA/D is 22, D/L is 179.
if you enjoyed that summary of Leopard, take a look at some of our other catamaran histories:
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