Catamaran design, Benefits and Features

Catamarans are certainly not new to the boating world, in fact they date back to as early as the 5th century AD. The Paravas, a fishing community on the Southern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, are credited with their invention. Catamarans were subsequently used by the ancient Tamil Chola dynasty to conquer regions like Burma, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Catamarans made a huge impact in the early eighties when they basically overnight changed the landscape of the yacht charter industry. Large charter companies like the Moorings and Sunsail, (They subsequently merged and were owned by First Choice Travel – a British Company?) which embraced the trend by adding catamarans to their charter yacht purchase programs. I had the fortunate experience of having been heavily involved on many fronts during the eighties and nineties and built and supplied hundreds of masts and sails to this lucrative charter market. I then felt the need to get in at the cold face of the industry and joined forces with a catamaran company head quartered in Annapolis, MD and we successfully expanded the company to include charter bases in Tortola, BVI, Greece, Mallorca and the Seychelles – all exclusively with fleets of catamarans of varying sizes from 38ft – 58ft, both sail and power which were built exclusively by us.

The design and development of newer, bigger and better catamarans to fill this emerging market was proceeding at a frantic pace and several new boat yards emerged, with most of the world’s cats being built in South Africa, where our factory was based, and in France. Without having much experience to draw from, we found ourselves on a steep design learning curve, and it must be said that some unscrupulous boat builders made many expensive, some disastrous, mistakes along the way. Fortunately, I was on the forefront of this development with my involvement with some of the Worlds best catamaran designers like Simons / Voogdt, Lavranos Naval Architects and professor Gunter Hoppe. Trying to define what makes a catamaran a good design is where things get really interesting. ”What are you really trying to achieve?” should be the question before trying to answer this. Here’s the kicker, there is NO PERFECT design that does it all, as each design has some aspect of compromise, regardless of the criteria. For instance, try designing a lightweight and highly fuel-efficient yacht that has all the luxuries and amenities for long term comfortable cruising plus all the attributes one would expect from a high-end luxury cruising yacht. Achieving our goals we set out for the Horizon PC58 was an interesting design challenge, one that we embraced and made our own and by maximizing what is available to us from a design standpoint reduced the compromise considerably, and I will share with you how we went about this on our new Horizon PC58!

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