The story of the evolution of the power catamaran can be broken down to a simple act of marital duty. it was the 1940's and Ray Leger loved to fish off of the California coast with his wife Evelyn. Ray had been a carpenter and capitalized on the booming Southern California housing market after World War 2, later using his skills and equipment to construct fishing boats. Evelyn would routinely suffer from seasickness, a problem that Ray needed to solve in order to keep fishing. Knowing that a catamaran offered greater stability, Ray set out to build one with outboard motors. The first one, an 18-foot cabin cruiser, was outfitted with twin 33hp outboards. By the 1960's, construction had moved to fiberglass hulls and the popularity quickly soared.
Today, power catamarans are among the fastest growing segments in the marine industry, as are sailing catamarans. A recent report shows that the global catamaran market as a whole is worth over $4 billion and has an annual growth rate of over 6%. That's nearly double what the average CAGR (compound annual growth rate) is for the boating industry in total.
The transition to power cats really came from charter customers in the Caribbean that would vacation on sailing cats in the BVI's for weeks at a time. The catamarans offered greater stability, but also an incredible amount of space on board thanks to the wider beams. But people on vacation enjoying the trip would end up using the small engines most of the time as sailing comes with a certain amount of effort. Now it's common to see power catmarans in charter in the Caribbean, as well as privately owned boats behind someone's house.
As more boaters get exposed to the benefits of power catamarans, the number of builders has grown as well. Power cat brands like Aquila Boats, as an example, weren't around in the early 2000's, but are now a common boat to see all over Florida or the Northeast. Prestige Yachts also just released their very first power cat into the market, the M48. Trying to claim that one power catamaran builder is the "best" among all of the others is a tough decision as there are many factors. If judged by number of units sold over the last 10 years, then Leopard is the best power catamaran builder in the industry. Looking at boats sold globally in the MLS over the last decade, Leopard Catamarans sold 40% more vessels than the second leading power cat builder, Fountain Pajot. Other notable power cat brands that led in overall sales were Endeavor, Lagoon, and Aquila.
(Below: On the extreme luxury power catamaran market, the Sunreef 80 is among the best.)
Video by: @NautiStyles
While the number of boats sold into the marketplace is a sign of strength in a builder, it also may not necessarily equate to 'being the best power catamaran' in terms of quality. Like with monohulls, there are varying degrees of both quality and price when it comes to the subsects of the power cat industry. Both Sunreef and Horizon Yachts have expanded into large luxury power cats that, even when more than 10 years old, can still command more than $2 million as an asking price.
One way to tell if the catamaran you're buying is well-recognized for its quality is to look at some of the recent award winners. Many of the editors of multi-hull focused magazines are experts in this category and have real-life experiences on dozens of different models. Here are a few notable ones:
- Fountaine Pajot MY4.S won the 2022 Multi-Hull of the Year Award for its category (36.1' and reaches 22 knots!)
- The Aquila 54 won 2021 Multi-hull of the Year
- The Leopard 53 Power Cat won 2020 Multi-Hull of the Year
- The Lagoon 55 won the 2021 British Yachting Awards
(Below: The new Fountaine Pajot MY4.S offers a new 'sport top' style for the longtime catamaran builder.)
Whether you're purchasing a new or pre-owned power catamaran, its resale value is of the utmost importance. Nothing can stifle your enthusiasm when you are trying to sell your existing yacht only to have it sit on the market for a long time while diminishing in value. If this is of concern to you, the best advice is to stick with the more mainstream, reputable catamaran builders. Boats with odd layouts, underpowered engines, outlandish decor, and other out-of-the-norm equipment can cause your boat to sit on the market longer than anticipated.
The market demand has also improved in recent years. Over the last decade, power catamarans took roughly 330 days to sell. Almost a full year! Since 2020, however, that amount of time has decreased by 19%. Among the builders that sold within 100 days of hitting the market, Aquila, Endeavor, Fountaine Pajot, Leopard, and Robertson & Caine were prominent.
(Below: The Aquila 54 Power Catamaran has a tri-deck design with a beam of over 25-feet.)
At United Yacht Sales, we have over 250 experienced yacht brokers worldwide. Many have years of real hands-on experience with power catamarans, sailing cats, sailboats, and other similar vessels. We can assist you in the sale of your current yacht, or represent you in the purchase of a new one. Call us today at 1-772-463-3131 and we will connect you with the right sales professional that perfectly sits your needs and situation.
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