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.
Windelo 54 Test Sail near Hyères – Katamarans
A walkaround at sea on “Zig Zag, a Windelo 54 near Hyères in France.
The Windelo 54 is a fast, easy to handle eco cruising catamaran, built for blue water sailing in safety and comfort.
To achieve that, Barreau and Neuman have designed slim, flared hulls to hit the performance/comfort sweet spot and developed a long list of innovations that make this yacht stand out of the crowd. It’s a real “disruptor” in the market, something of a game changer in the industry.
With a bridgedeck clearance of 90 cm, the Windelo 54 looks the part with its long bows, nacelle further aft and centralised weight which all helps the yacht’s passage through the sea.
This is a boat that surfs easily and safely with a tendency to dampen pitching that delivers performance and comfort.
With her daggerboards, she also moves well upwind. Fully retracted, you will maximise the downwind speed and make the boat safer in heavy weather.
The extra length enables the 54 to safely carry a more generous sail plan. All the sailing takes place at the forward helms with a full view of the sea forward. It’s a sheltered position that gives you good sailing feel. To reef the main, you pop up to the mast from the cockpit and all of the lines lead back to the helms including Code 0 and gennaker sheets and furling lines.
The Windelo 54 will approach True Wind Speed in lighter conditions with the wind on the beam or abaft the beam and sails well upwind thanks to those sculpted hulls and daggerboards. On our test sail we hit 9 kts of boat speed in 10kts of wind with the Code 0 up.
The aim? To continue sailing in the lightest of breezes, and to sail safely when the wind freshens.
A Bigger Space
The longer hulls allow for bigger aft cabins down below: the owner’s cabin and starboard aft cabin each have 60 cm more storage space along with space for island berths in generous sizes and facing either forwards or athwartships depending on the owner’s choices. The 54 has a 160 berth as standard in the owners suite.
They have enlarged the popular corner window for a true panoramic view.
Up top, the saloon and galley are also bigger and there is an option for an L-Shaped or a U-Shaped galley in the saloon. The L-Shaped galley allows for more seating space on the starboard side. Keen cooks will enjoy the larger U-shaped galley configuration.
Vertical windows help to keep the sun out of the covered areas and the windows have been designed to be opened wide to maximise the breeze at anchor.
One of the big innovations in these Windelo Yachts is the dual forward helms. Visibility between the saloon and forward cockpit has been improved and the whole idea is one big interconnected convivial space where the crew can interact. Sail in the breeze or switch to the windward helm for more shelter.
The location of the helm makes it easy and safe to manage all of the sailing lines as you are right by the mast. Another thing we appreciated on our test sail was the visibility when dropping and taking in the anchor. Whoever is on the helm can see the chain and anchor coming up through the nets and if you have crew helping, they are 10 metres away on the nets.
Up Top – the Saloon
The galley spills onto the forward cockpit, so whether you are cooking or sailing you are all part of one team.
If you are supporting the Middle Watch halfway across the Atlantic from midnight to 04.00 , there’s a 115×200 pilot berth, in the main saloon that will be handily close to the coffee machine.
There are 2 options aft. The standard is sliding doors that open all the way up and tuck in behind the day bed. There is also an option for a “garage door” that swing up into the roof, opening the entire width up onto the terrace. This is managed with a 2 speed electric Harken winch on the port side.
There’s a decent chart table at the foot of the forward cockpit, and to give you an idea of the space available, the dining table is good for 6 to 10 people once extended. When you are at anchor, there is an extra table, again for 6 to 12 people.
The other innovation is the davit system. While under way, this is in the “up position” with the dingy securely tucked into the davits. At anchor, the platform swings down and becomes an open terrace from which you can easily step onto the tender.
One of the advantages of this yacht is the amount of customisation that is offered on the floor plan, especially with the extra length.
Choose different trims, navigation instruments , fitting and layout of the interior space. Options include a portside cabin with two bunk beds, a desk on the starboard, customized showers with a separate toilet, U-shaped or L-shaped galley. It is down to you to work with the team to build your perfect catamaran.
The Windelo 54 is built from recycled and biosourced materials.
The companies philosophy around sustainability and ecology are one of the key things that sets this company apart from the competition and they are market leaders in this area.
They use sustainable volcanic basalt and PET – (made from recycled bottle plastic) in the hull construction. This reduces carbon emissions by nearly 50% compared with traditional GRP composite manufacturing methods.
Powered by Wind, Sun and Water
The Windelo 54 is happiest when the wind blows of course, but even when under electric propulsion you are still sailing a green machine powered by hydrogeneration, solar and wind turbines all charging 53.8kWh lithium battery bank that drives the engines.
The Windelo 54 offers a big platform for solar power generation: from 600 to 5053 W located on the coach roof and forward on the hull decks.
With 4500 W of solar panels you will completely recharge your battery bank in 12 hours and 40 minutes.
The Windelo 54 is powered by two 20kW electric engines from Bellemarine, supported by a 1120Ah 48V lithium battery bank (53,8kWh).
These brushless engines have less wear and tear than a comparable diesel engine (no belts for example) and need close to zero maintenance.
The lithium battery bank recharges from renewable energy sources first: solar power, hydrogenation, and wind power.
When that isn’t possible, there is a back up 18kW 500L diesel generator (with an option for an additional unit). These are positioned to centralise the weight in the yacht.
- • At 6 knots, the Windelo 54 has a fully electric range of nearly 3 hours and 45 minutes (allowing 22.7nm per day) which is intended to leave port, manoeuvre or motorsail along a lee-shore for example.
- • At 7 knots, the Windelo 50 has a range of nearly 2 hours and 17 minutes and roughly 15.47nm per day with an 1120Ah battery bank.
- • Also at 6 knots, the Windelo 54 has total usable range of 1100nm with use of the generator(s) which, though seldom used, will provide all the reassurance that you could even go a third of the way across the Atlantic if needed.
On the Windelo 54 the electric motors drive the folding propellers through prop shafts, which should increase robustness and reduce maintenance costs for owners.
The Windelo 54 builds on the success of her smaller sister and delivers more performance, space and comfort with all of the ECO credentials that this French manufacturer has become famous for: a true market leader. She should prove a popular choice for sailors looking for a blue water performance cruiser that delivers on comfort.
For more information on the Windelo 54 head to windelo-catamaran.com.
How much is a Windelo 54? What is the price of one of these catamarans?
At the time of writing, the price was as follows:
Adventure: from €995k Ex VAT,
Yachting: from €1075 ex VAT
Sport: from €1125 ex VAT
Who is the Team Behind Windelo?
The founders are Olivier Kaufmann (Ex -Chairman of the Executive Board of Decathlon, Orange Marine, Cabesto) and his son Gautier Kaufmann. Christophe Barreau and Frederic Neuman head up the naval architect team. Jean-Pierre Prade, one of the founders of Catana, is also involved. Didier Perrin (Syltec Consulting) brings his skills in composites and Jean-Paul Siaudeau (JPS Concept, Imoca and Ultimate) heads up the electrical systems and propulsion unit. The École des Mines d’Alès, an engineering school in the South of France is a partner on material resistance.