I’m writing to you from a café at Montpellier airport. I just got here after having spent two whole days in La Grande Motte walking through all the exciting boats at the International Multihull Boatshow.
My absolutely primary reason for attending the show was to — for the first time ever! — join a sea trial on an Outremer 45.
The weather was, however, quite bad. During the first day, there was over thirty knots of wind, amplified by frequent showers of rain — so they canceled the sea trial. Apparently, the insurers of the boat show had set some wind limits, and the Outremer people were not allowed to undock/dock in the boat show area with the aforementioned thirty knots blowing.
“Too bad, since it’s great sailing weather,” one of the Outremer people said to me with a broad smile.
The small and humble sailor within me felt slightly unconvinced, but I smiled politely back.
On the second day, unfortunately, the weather wasn’t much better. Instead of too much wind, there wasn’t any wind at all. Just rain and leftover swell from the night.
We waited for an hour or so while the Outremer skippers were looking at their mobile weather apps and discussing the situation with each other in French.
“We’re not going today either?” another prospective customer asked.
“Doesn’t look so,” they said. “Later today is good, after 4 pm,” they suggested.
“Well, we’re already on our flights home then,” the other customer said, with a smirk.
To no avail. No sea trials for us, and I still didn’t get to experience sailing an Outremer catamaran. (Maybe next time?)
I did see a lot of other interesting boats, though, and here are some short notes on those. In the order of appearance, as they say in the movies. That is, in the order I walked by and checked them out.
For going really fast — while undoubtedly also enjoying cool Scandinavian comfort —, the Danish Dragonfly 40 is an extraordinarily inspired boat!
They had the Ultimate version at the show. With a weight between 5.8 – 9.0 tons (dry – max), and with 113 m2 of upwind (main + genoa), or 215 m2 of downwind (main + gennaker) sail area, it should be absolutely flying.
“But we’re two adults and four children?” I asked. “Will we fit inside it?”
“Absolutely!” the friendly Danish Dragonfly representative answered. “There are two cabins, in the bow and the stern, and additionally you can convert the sofas to beds.”
The Outremer 45 doesn’t really need an introduction, I think, since it is one of the most famous performance catamarans out there. And one of the most sought after. The next available build slot for a new Outremer 45: sometimes in 2026. Quite incredible, really.
The boat they had at the show was fresh out of the factory and it was stunning! Certainly a good candidate for the dreamboat. Not as fast as the Dragonfly, but much more spacious, and with better sleeping arrangements for the somewhat larger families.
The Outremer 45 is a big boat, but if, if you want just a bit more space without losing any of the performance, big brother Outremer 51 comes to the rescue.
The Outremer 51 is one meter longer, forty-two centimeters wider, and 2.5 – 3.0 tonnes heavier than the 45. The two boats do feel surprisingly similar in some respects, but walking around inside, the 51 is noticeably just “a bit more” of the good. (Somewhat like the Hanse 418 compared to the 388, in fact!).
Where the cabins in the 45 appear a bit optimized (or even compromised), you get exactly the airiness and roominess you want on the 51. And on this specific boat, they had wonderful bunk beds that would be perfect for our children!
“That’s pretty!” M send a reply to my text message.
I had been posting pictures of the boats to our sailing whatsapp group, and the Marsaudon ORC42 finally caught both M’s and Little L’s attention.
The ORC42 ticked a lot of my boxes. I liked the design philosophy of focusing on what is needed (to make a great boat for performant sailing and cruising), and leaving the rest ashore. In a world of compromises, and compared to the Outremers, for instance, a decisive step away from luxury towards going fast.
My biggest issue with this boat, however, was that it didn’t have steering wheels, only tillers. It’s not their fault, obviously, and tillers might well be objectively much better for steering the boat. For me, though, it’s something of an idée fixe that I prefer the wheels, and it would be a step too far in the wrong direction (within my own mind), to have a boat this size without at least one of them (preferably two).
Neel 43 & 47
It would be wrong to say that the Neels are more apartments than boats as they are actually very well-performing sailboats. But it is sort of incredulous (“Inconceivable!” I hear Vizzini shouting in one of my favorite movies) how spacious they feel. A Neel 47 has 93 m2 of living space. Living space! It’s the size of a normal three-room apartment for Pete’s sake!
What I do like the most about the Neels is that they are so freshly different from the standard catamarans (and the even more standard monohulls). In their marketing material, at least, they seem to have found a way to combine ample space with good performance.
The last, but not least, of the interesting catamarans was the new C-Catamarans C-Cat 48. They had hull #1 on show, and it was sincerely intriguing.
Also, they had the heater running and it was warm inside. Something we northern latitude sailors appreciate more than much!
The C-Cat is definitely a cool performance cat, with a surprisingly fresh and beautifully finished interior. A good contender to the Outremer 45, for sure. (And you might get a delivery slot a couple of years earlier.)
I saw a few other boats as well (the Windelo 54 one of them!), but more about that in my next posts.
Overall, forking out somewhere in the rough neighborhood of seven hundred thousand to one million (!) euros plus VAT, there were quite a few performance catamarans that would fit our family quite nicely — actually wonderfully so!
The delivery times, however, were not very encouraging, and it will be interesting to see how that will pan out.
In our decision-making, it’s not a viable option to be without a boat for the next few seasons, so I think it is more likely that we’ll have to find something on the second-hand market.
Boat financing is also a bit of a struggle in Finland at the moment (less so in other parts of Europe).
When we bought the Hanse 388, Handelsbanken provided decently priced ten-year agreements. They closed down that part of their business in Finland, though, and at the moment there aren’t any good alternatives. The few Finnish financing companies offering sailboat financing give just five-to-six year options.
I think there would be a business opportunity to realize that a properly cared-for Outremer 45 (for example) doesn’t lose all of its value in five-to-six years since its launch.
Anyway, absolutely beautiful boats, a lot of them.
In my real life, I visit Yachtworld every day to look for second-hand boats that would fit within our budget using the current (poor) Finnish financing.
Performance catamarans: none. Bigger Hanse yachts: a few!