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In its guise as the ‘own brand’ cata­ma­ran of Sun­sail and the Moor­ings, Leop­ard has been ex­traor­di­nar­ily suc­cess­ful. The Cape Town yard of Robertson and Caine has turned out over 1,500 cata­ma­rans and al­most all of them have been sailed to their new homes around the globe – a phe­nom­e­nal call­ing card, when you think about all those South At­lantic miles.

The new 50 re­places the pop­u­lar 48, up­dat­ing it with a host of fea­tures that have proved pop­u­lar in the smaller mod­els. From the out­side, the boat has been restyled rather than re­designed. The top­sides have been jazzed up with a stripe of smoked glass that con­ceals big­ger port­lights. The coachroof is more an­gu­lar and square. This has the ad­van­tage of in­creas­ing the win­dow area in the sa­loon, in­clud­ing a full-length sky­light.

Leop­ard makes a point of put­ting the ta­ble and seat­ing at the back of the sa­loon and the gal­ley at the front. The logic is to con­nect in­door and out­door so­cial spa­ces – some­thing that is en­hanced by the slid­ing door and win­dows at the aft end. This leaves enough space for an­other unique fea­ture among its se­ries cata­ma­rans: a weath­er­tight door out of the front of the sa­loon into the for­ward cock­pit.

But the real ace in the Leop­ard 50’s fea­ture list is the op­tion of hav­ing a true fly­bridge on the hard­top over the cock­pit. This comes com­plete with a lounge area, ta­ble and sunbed plus fur­ther choices for speak­ers and a shade awning. This adds weight high up and raises the boom, so for those in search of bet­ter sail­ing per­for­mance, there is also a clas­sic hard­top ver­sion, the 50P. The ‘lounge’ ver­sion can still man­age 40° off the true wind, and the po­lars pre­dict a top speed of just over 12 knots. The key dif­fer­ence for the mar­ket over the 48 is its abil­ity to of­fer five cab­ins with crew quar­ters, al­low­ing four cab­ins to be sold.

The other key changes have taken place “un­der the bon­net”, as naval ar­chi­tect Alexan­der Si­mo­nis of Si­mo­nis Voogd puts it. Car­bon-in­fused ring frames have been used to make the boat stiffer in key ar­eas, mak­ing the more open-plan lay­out pos­si­ble with­out adding too much weight. It is a tech­nique that was suc­cess­fully pi­o­neered on larger rac­ing cats.

Stepped hulls help keep the beam but en­try nar­row at wa­ter­line level

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