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Old 07-08-2014, 07:51   #1
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Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

Spent two days at the Sydney Boat show last weekend, most of my time was taken up on the Leopard 48, impressed by the solid feel and the general look of a craft well built, lifted several floor hatches to inspect the interior of the hulls and fittings everything again nicely finished and secured.
I liked the the well thought easy access to the batteries, the electrical control panel etc, a large fibreglas bimini cover nicely finished over the steering station rather than the usual fabric, and solid supports, the seat at the steering station would take three people, or the two of us and our dog as would the Helia 44. I also liked the large steering station panel nicely angled for easy viewing plenty of space for several instruments, however one black mark was at the helm one could not see the front port bow due to the large roof that extends over the outside front seating position, this foreward outside seating area is quite a point of difference as one can access this area from the saloon interior via a door then step up and through to the trampoline, ala Gunboat, somewhat anyway. I think the outside stern seating area is excellent, (the Helia 44 is just as good, both will completly protect seated people from the elements by that wonderful roof (however a very large roof to clean) I estimate about twice the size of my Lagoon 400. The davit system is quite different it is simply a frame hinged at the bottom between the hull access steps that swing up and locks away, the dinghy hangs down from the top of the frame. The galley area lacked storage space in my view, no draws just minimal cupboards, otherwise nicely finished, in this area the Helia 44 galley was a standout and significantly better. The port hull comes with two heads no choice same as the Helier 44, does not suit us, sooner have a hanging locker where the third head is. I am close to ordering one or the other very difficult choice, both about $A1m nicely set up with all the goodies gen set air, updated navigation etc. both about a year wait from order, which would hopefully give me enough time to find a good home for our lovely Lagoon 400. Main dislikes on the Helia 44 is the steering station very small instrument panel hard to read lower instruments, really don't like the fact that when at the wheel one cannot reach the winches, one has leave the wheel to manage the winches, on my L400 I can control everything from the wheel, likewise the Leopard 48, maybe after owning one for a while one would get used to that setup, we feel the beds in the Helia 44 would be easier to make, and she who must be obeyed just loved the very long windows as wide as the bed behind the pillowcases. Did not like the bimini if you stand you cannot see, and the supports felt flimsy. Cannot comment on the sailing ability they are both cruisers from what I have read they both seem to sail well, as a point of interest the Leopard had just been sailed from Cape Town on it's delivery voyage no question it looked like it had just come off the showroom floor. I think the Helia 44 is a sharper looking craft, that's not to say the Leopard 48 is ugly just a bit of a different look with that roof eyebrow extending over the front seating area. As always just my thoughts. Regards Peter
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:06   #2
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

Not trying to influence, just comment. I've decided to go with the Leopard 48. Differences, as I see:
- The biggest for me is the quality
- Finishes on FP's are a definite step down from the RC's. We say the FP has an "IKEA" feel.
- Though colors are a smaller factor, we like the RC colors better.
- Our research shows that FP's are creaky. FP says they've fixed this but research doesn't back that up.
- I did a sea trial on the Leopard 48 and the experienced delivery captain said it was a great sailing boat, and best in the fleet of RC's.
- The third head is a plus for us for the entertainment/guest value.
- Agree on the better operation set up for Leopard 48 with accessible lines at helm.
- The front cockpit is a big plus for us.


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Old 07-08-2014, 16:36   #3
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

The Leopard 48 was one of the boats that my wife and I seriously considered before we decided on the Helia 44. Of course everything is subjective, but since it's only going to be the two of us on the boat, we felt L48 was bigger than what we needed/wanted. We actually liked the interior colors of the Helia better (R&C hadn't made the switch to the new interior color scheme yet) and the Helia has more than enough room for our purposes. However, I agree with you there are a few things about the Helia that could be improved.

We are actually working with a company to do our electronics install and are evaluating having them install the speed/depth and wind displays up at the bulkhead by the winches. I've seen this on another Helia and think the displays would be much easier to read, but the drawback is it would be much harder (I've been told they'd have to remove a cabinet) to get access to the displays if they need work in the future. We are also planning on custom building a hard top bimini over the helm as our greater concern was the longevity of the soft top as we cruise in the tropics.

That being said, both the Helia and L48 are great boats and it all comes down to your preferences and what's important to you. Enjoy making your decision!
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Old 07-08-2014, 17:03   #4
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

For the record

It is no wonder you felt the bimini on the Helia was flimsy, as it is yet to be installed.

We are scooting up the coast at 10Kn right now, and we have yet to hear any creaking at all. Yes, I concede the Orana was terrible in this regard, but so far the Helia is quiet as a mouse.

We have absolutely no problem reading the displays at the helm. 99% on autopilot and I can read the displays and use the winches at the same time.

As an additional comment this is the most stable boat I have ever sailed. I just had a shave and a shower whilst the boat was running 10Kn in 1.5m seas.
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Old 07-08-2014, 18:54   #5
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

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Originally Posted by cwjohm View Post
For the record

It is no wonder you felt the bimini on the Helia was flimsy, as it is yet to be installed.
I should have mentioned the I was also at the Sanchuary Cove Boat show this year and my reference was the bimini on the display Helia 44 there and that was installed, I stand when manuevering in to a tight mooring, the Helia bimini I found blocked one's view to the front, unless one stoops, just annoying things, I feel the bimini design could be improved.
We have absolutely no problem reading the displays at the helm. 99% on autopilot and I can read the displays and use the winches at the same time.
I imagine one would not have problems under autopilot in good conditions I would prefer to have everything within reach, under less favourable conditions, such as a failed auto pilot rough weather, it then may be a problem trying to steer and reef a sail at the same time short handed which I always am. I guess I always consider what one can do if the electronic aids fail.
As an additional comment this is the most stable boat I have ever sailed. I just had a shave and a shower whilst the boat was running 10Kn in 1.5m seas.
Good to read your report I think the Helia is a very attractive cat, if it wasen't for the steering station design with the remote winches I would have one ordered now, however still pondering.
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Old 07-08-2014, 19:21   #6
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

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Originally Posted by StarryHorizons View Post
The Leopard 48 was one of the boats that my wife and I seriously considered before we decided on the Helia 44. Of course everything is subjective, but since it's only going to be the two of us on the boat, we felt L48 was bigger than what we needed/wanted. We actually liked the interior colors of the Helia better (R&C hadn't made the switch to the new interior color scheme yet) and the Helia has more than enough room for our purposes. However, I agree with you there are a few things about the Helia that could be improved.

We are actually working with a company to do our electronics install and are evaluating having them install the speed/depth and wind displays up at the bulkhead by the winches. I've seen this on another Helia and think the displays would be much easier to read, but the drawback is it would be much harder (I've been told they'd have to remove a cabinet) to get access to the displays if they need work in the future. We are also planning on custom building a hard top bimini over the helm as our greater concern was the longevity of the soft top as we cruise in the tropics.

That being said, both the Helia and L48 are great boats and it all comes down to your preferences and what's important to you. Enjoy making your decision!
Yes I agree I also asked myself whilst walking around the Leopard 48 will it be too big for just two of us, whilst I think we could handle it the Helia 44 is a nice upgrade to the Lagoon 400, I did consider the Lagoon 450 however the upper level steering station is not for us, too cold in Melbourne waters, another reason we need first class biini's and clears to protect us from the cold south westerlies. I also looked at what modificatios I could do to the steering station and the problem I have with the remote winches, I finally came to the conclusion that it was all too hard, for me that is, however if you get the relocation sorted I and I imagine other Helia owners would be most interested in the result. I guess the appeal of the Leopard is they have done a really nice job of the steering station with easy arms length access to all vital controls. Maybe the Leopard 44 could be the right compromise for us, but I do like the Helia 44 it's a bit of a glamour, plus I quite like the new couler scheme, more pondering required.
Regards Peter
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Old 07-08-2014, 19:28   #7
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

One of the Leopard 48 owners posted some nice videos online of his Leopard 48:







Enjoy!

Peter Wiersema / for new and pre owned Leopards
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Old 07-08-2014, 19:41   #8
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

As far as not being able to see the bow so easily on the 48 (same issue on the Leopard 44 too) - we've chartered them a few times and never had a problem with it. You get used to where it is. If it was really an issue, you could always have a camera installed and tied into the raymarine unit.

If size is an issue, the Leopard 44 is very similar with minor differences that probably wouldn't matter much.

Last weekend we visited a friend who sailed his Leopard 48 up from Ft Lauderale a few weeks earlier. Great looking boat with all extras he added. Well laid out and the front cockpit really is great to have.
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Old 07-08-2014, 20:01   #9
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

I'm confused as to why the OP would compare any 44' cat to a 48'. That is a huge difference. I step from the Helia to the Salina 48' at work and it feels much, much larger. Saloon seems huge, berths and heads much larger, cockpit and lounge area over the dinghy davits etc. Was there a Saba 50 at the show? That would be a closer comparison to the 48' Leopard in terms of dimension. Good luck with your search either way.


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Old 07-08-2014, 21:33   #10
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

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Originally Posted by Rubikoop View Post
I'm confused as to why the OP would compare any 44' cat to a 48'. That is a huge difference. I step from the Helia to the Salina 48' at work and it feels much, much larger. Saloon seems huge, berths and heads much larger, cockpit and lounge area over the dinghy davits etc. Was there a Saba 50 at the show? That would be a closer comparison to the 48' Leopard in terms of dimension. Good luck with your search either way.


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Fair comment, I was really comparing the features of both rather than the size, funnily enough the L48 really did not strike us as overwelmingly big, for example I thought the hulls on my Lagoon 400 were if anything higher off the water than the L48 but may be wrong. No Saba 50 at the show but their was a 60 odd foot Catana, now that was big.
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Old 07-08-2014, 22:14   #11
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

Did anyone get to look at the Privilege 650 at the show? Have only seen photo's but it looks massive. Interested in the finish differences between FP and Privilege
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Old 08-08-2014, 00:02   #12
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

We looked at all three boats with great interest. Spent the most time on the Helia, but the woodwork & finish on the Priveledge is simply magnificent. Biiiiggg boat.

There was only the Leopard 48, Helia 44 & Priveledge 65 as well as Outremer 49, and the Seawinds 1160Lite and 1250.

Can you expand on why the "remote" winches concern you? As I understand it, with boat on AP you have no difficulties winching as you wish. On tacking, you hit the AP tacking button and head over to the lee sheet to winch the genoa. What is the issue?

I was not happy with a few things I saw, such as (safety issue) no catwalk to the furler & secondary anchor roller. The last transom step is fairly meagre in size as a swim/dive platform and could be better for dinghy access. And a few other bits 'n pieces....

The leopard has 500 square feet more sail than the Helia, so might be a handful for a couple to manage on a dark and stormy night?
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Old 08-08-2014, 03:18   #13
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

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Did anyone get to look at the Privilege 650 at the show? Have only seen photo's but it looks massive. Interested in the finish differences between FP and Privilege
I saw it (the Priv) there, but didn't look over it, Priv have a reputation as a quality builder overall though.
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:39   #14
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Re: Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

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We looked at all three boats with great interest. Spent the most time on the Helia, but the woodwork & finish on the Priveledge is simply magnificent. Biiiiggg boat.

There was only the Leopard 48, Helia 44 & Priveledge 65 as well as Outremer 49, and the Seawinds 1160Lite and 1250.

Can you expand on why the "remote" winches concern you? As I understand it, with boat on AP you have no difficulties winching as you wish. On tacking, you hit the AP tacking button and head over to the lee sheet to winch the genoa. What is the issue?

I was not happy with a few things I saw, such as (safety issue) no catwalk to the furler & secondary anchor roller. The last transom step is fairly meagre in size as a swim/dive platform and could be better for dinghy access. And a few other bits 'n pieces....

The leopard has 500 square feet more sail than the Helia, so might be a handful for a couple to manage on a dark and stormy night?
Well I am happy to expand, what you say is quite correct, in good conditions one would have the auto pilot on, when ready to tack one would stroll around the wheel pedestal to the winch bulkhead and activate the appropriate electric winch to wind in the sheet on to the new track, then stroll back and enjoy the ride. Having owned two twin engine aircraft and flown for the last 30 odd years under instrument rules I had to do a renewal every 12 months, part of that renewal included a flying test and a instrument approach via what is known as an ILS approach, under this test you were not allowed to use the auto pilot, and the pesky test officer always at the most inconvenient time would shut one engine down simulating a engine failure, one had to maintain tight tolerances during the approach to land with only one engine providing asymmetric power corrected by control input and then at the minima carry out a go around on that one engine whilst still maintaining tight track and climb tolerances, not a big deal if one was current, so what the heck as all that got to do with the above subject, well aviation does not rely on a perfect world. For me I would much prefer to have all the vital functions within hands reach without having to leave the wheel. On my Lagoon 400 when raising the square top main it nearly always caught on the lazy jacks unless I very carefully guide the craft into wind with one hand on the wheel whilst activating the electric winch to raise the main at the same time, this procedure I would think could be difficult with the H44 setup, the auto pilot on a rough day won't always hold a true enough line for this exercise, as a side note I solved this annoying problem by having a line tied to one of the lazy jacks looped around one of the shrouds back to the steering station, when I start raising the main I simply pull on my line which spreads the lazy jack providing a bigger gap for the main to slide through, very agricultural but it works. So, we do like the H44 but for the above reasons the remote winches are a problem for me, of course with an active competent crew mate no problems at all, unfortunately I have to do all the work.
Regards Peter
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:16   #15
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Leopard 48 versus Helia 44 Sydney Boat Show

PeterP if you wish to plan around the conditions you describe; Why wouldn't you just add another set of controls for the winches at the helm?
I see a single handed no autopilot tack going like this (with the switch location modification). Helm over, step up to free current working sheet from winch, load up the other winch with sheet, step back to helm and push the button(s) and trim on new tack.

Or spec the new boat with Harken Rewind winches and never leave the helm. :-) http://www.harken.com/article.aspx?id=15645



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