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Old 22-06-2022, 01:12   #1
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New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

As an owner of an older performance cruising cat, designed in the early 90s for owner operators and liveaboards with the conservative build materials and technologies of that era, Iím very curious about the current crop of production performance cruising catamarans. They look to me to be heavy and powerful - very different than our classic performance cruising cat from 30 years earlier. This provides much greater accommodation space, but I believe at the cost of managing a much more powerful boat. Is this a good thing for cruising couples?

Our boat has skinny hulls with lots of volume up front (rounded bows), moderate rocker (max hull depth 80cm), relatively low prismatic coefficient (volume is concentrated in the middle third), is relatively narrow (44% overall beam to length), has small accommodation spaces, and a relatively small rig. She sails very easily but in open water needs to be throttled back to stay comfortable (7-10 knots is generally good). Mid-teens are OK reaching and downwind, but in big waves that can result in surfs to the high 20s. Maximum speed weíve seen in flat water is 24 knots, two sail reaching with an offshore breeze, and our windward hullís waterline was 20cm up. All time maximum was 29.5 knots. The polars Iíve seen for the boat donít even go into the 20s.

All that is to contrast with new design cats in the same size range, that is 50-60 feet, 15.5-17m. And also to older designs from guys like Schionning, whose boats even back in the day were wide and powerful. These new boats have polars well into the 20s, much higher prismatic coefficients, and are generally much larger boats all over. I expect that theyíre more comfortable at higher speeds in seas due to the added displacement. Certainly, except for the Seawind, they have quite a lot of carrying capacity. Again I ask, for a couple cruising, is the added power a good thing?

2003 Outremer 55L - 16.4m LOA, 7.3m BOA, 0.8/2.4m draft, 19.2m mast, 122m^2 sail area, 7550kg lightship, 11,300kg loaded. And remember, this is an E-glass and vinyl ester build, no exotics anywhere except for foam core furniture, bulkheads and floors.

2020 Outremer 55 - 16.7m LOA, 8.3m BOA, 1.3/2.3m draft, 22m mast, 152/172m^2 sail area, 13,500kg lightship, 18,500kg loaded

2021 Seawind 1600 - 16.1m LOA, 8.1m BOA, 0.6/2.6m draft, 22m mast, 144.5m^2 sail area, 13,600kg loaded (positively lightweight compared to the two others)

2022 HH55 - 16.7m LOA, 8.1m BOA, 1.3/3.3m draft, 24m mast, 195m^2 sail area, 14,700kg lightship, 19,633kg loaded
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Old 22-06-2022, 03:26   #2
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

Having designed a couple of small cats, I reckon it is because we want more stuff.

Not me - because I can't afford a big boat - larger boats need larger gear, and larger gear gets pricey really quickly. It's the square cube rule that scares me. So for me the problem is to keep the weight down and keep the costs down.

(The square cube rule is really important in engineering. If you take a 2x2x2 box and double every dimension you end up with a 4x4x4 box. It is not twice the volume (and weight) but 8 times - 2 cubed. The surface area is squared but the weight is cubed. But for engineering purposes the stability goes up by the fourth power - weight times beam - so you have to engineer the beams, mast and rig to be 16 times stronger and that is going to cost a lot. Keep her smaller and keep her cheaper and balance the stability gains from going big with the problems of cost)

But productions builders don't build for the common person anymore. Boats used to be built for the regular guy/gal, so we got lots of little 28 footers that grew. Each market segment gets saturated with good quality secondhand boats - so they need to go bigger.

I am amazed with Yotube channels like Sail life by Mads (a great guy and I watch it religously) but man, does he put some stuff on his 38ft boat. I am old enough to remember when a fridge was amazing on a boat - my mum's cat had an Engel and it was big news. Now it is nothing - you need more, and more and more, just more stuff.

Rant over - so after you work out what you want on the boat, you do a weight study. This could be THE most important part of designing a boat. You need to work out exactly what will go on the boat, where it is, how much it will weigh and the centre of mass of everything BEFORE you start drawing lines.

So we keep on adding necessities and complexities, and they weigh lots. I (and I guess you too) have a 1980s mind set. I like a warm dry bunk, 200 litres of water, a small fridge, light motors and 100 litres of fuel, a computer with AIS and charts and a nice rowable dinghy (with a 3.3hp as well). About 1000kg payload does our family fine. If you have a 2022 mentality, then you need much more and you need bigger hulls to float it along.

I can hike unsupported for a week with what I carry on my back - so almost any boat is luxurious. My wife and I sleep in the back of our car camper which is 1.8 x 1.6m and we like camping by kayak. So our 1990s inspired 4000kg 11.6m cat is way over the top for us and we can live on her in great comfort for years. But if we needed all the stuff that Mads puts on Athena I would need a bigger boat.

So our modern boats are heavier with more voluminous hulls to carry the weight, and the rigs get bigger (and more expensive) to make them go, and the costs go up and up. If you can think "Less is more" then your 1990 style cat is a great choice.
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Old 22-06-2022, 04:52   #3
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

The heavier boat with a bigger rig may be just as fast, but it likely won't be as responsive to sail. And it'll cost more to run over time. However, for cruising, it may be more practical for many people, as it'll carry added weight better.
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Old 22-06-2022, 11:48   #4
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

I'm in the next size bracket down. I'm 48' with a Schionning Waterline. I watch La Vagabonde who sail a 48' Outremer which is about 40% heavier than us for the same/similar length but it is considered a modern performance cat where ours is a generation older.

Occasionally, they film the plotter display and it's always a bit of a surprise that they are not doing as well as I would have thought for the boats reputation so I'm not sure that modern designs have much or any significant performance benifit over the last generation. I think modern designs are largely cosmetic. Looking at the hulls below the waterline they are all quite similar.

I think there is a trend/necessity to add comfort to increase sales, to achieve this you might either increase design talent, the use of expensive materials, or weight, it is easier and cheaper to add weight, but if you're a performance brand you need to demonstrate performance so you need to add more sail area or find some way to reduce drag.

I did read an analysis of boats in the ARC's crossing oceans, it wasn't an in-depth or technical report just an observation from a sailer put on a spreadsheet with some bias for emphasis. It showed results V's length for catamarans and it did seem to indicate that length matters as much as performance. You would need to interview all the sailers to find out why. To see if they slowed the smaller boats more or altered course to make life more comfortable or if they were sailing hard but the motion of the boat slowed them. Either way both are relevant results for cruisers.
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Old 22-06-2022, 12:17   #5
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

@Dave_S

One thing I noticed at the last book show I went to in Miami was just how much was below the waterline on the new boats.

It’s always a good way to see how much of a pig a boat is. Just check out how much of it is above the water and how much is below.

I couldn’t believe how much boat was below the waterline on most of these new Catamarans. So the rig has to be enormous to power that along. Even then, I don’t think there’s any performance.

A very poor design spiral. But they’re making money off of them. So I guess that’s what counts. Not everyone is into good performing boats. Just a few of us.
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Old 22-06-2022, 12:53   #6
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

I was watching an older Outremer Cup a few years ago and it appeared the older Danson designed Outremer had significantly more motion than the newer models, mainly pitching. Possibly because they are lighter? Have finer entryís and exits? Or maybe both?
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Old 22-06-2022, 12:55   #7
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

The new, bigger, heavier, designs, in my opinion are not really about increasing the performance. They are about increasing the luxury and comfort of the wealthy, new boat, buyers that abound now. (some of the more extreme examples might be trying to attract the rich guy who wants to brag about his boat's performance as well as being a boat which would attract his wife, who has never had a wrinkled pair of boating pants and doesn't want to now, either.)

You get it, these folks have a luxurious and comfortable condo or home ashore, and they expect the same in their boat, everything perfect, beautiful, and clean. Everything in its place and no clutter, no muss, and no counters with fiddles. Light, bright, and level. ("Leaning over is such a bother!"). Go look at photos of $3,000,000 condos. That is what they want in a boat.

AND, there is money to be made selling these things.

So that is what will be built.

fxykty, I know from your many posts that you are interested in sailing, performance sailing. Your focus is there, not perfectly pressed white capri pants. You might put up with some inconvenience and effort for the sport of sailing, those folks could not be bothered. That is why their boats are the way they are.
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Old 22-06-2022, 13:13   #8
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

Could you recommend any particular cat models/designs to consider with a budget around 150k? Is it possible to find anything in that price range?
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Old 22-06-2022, 13:42   #9
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

And can anyone a good, lightweight trouser press for capri pants? We have an older, performance oriented catamaran, but my wife likes trousers without wrinkles. We had a travel iron, but that didn't work well with our inverter.

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Old 22-06-2022, 14:15   #10
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
The new, bigger, heavier, designs, in my opinion are not really about increasing the performance. They are about increasing the luxury and comfort of the wealthy, new boat, buyers that abound now. (some of the more extreme examples might be trying to attract the rich guy who wants to brag about his boat's performance as well as being a boat which would attract his wife, who has never had a wrinkled pair of boating pants and doesn't want to now, either.)

You get it, these folks have a luxurious and comfortable condo or home ashore, and they expect the same in their boat, everything perfect, beautiful, and clean. Everything in its place and no clutter, no muss, and no counters with fiddles. Light, bright, and level. ("Leaning over is such a bother!"). Go look at photos of $3,000,000 condos. That is what they want in a boat.

AND, there is money to be made selling these things.

So that is what will be built.

fxykty, I know from your many posts that you are interested in sailing, performance sailing. Your focus is there, not perfectly pressed white capri pants. You might put up with some inconvenience and effort for the sport of sailing, those folks could not be bothered. That is why their boats are the way they are.

I agree with this. From my perspective many of the past designs and builds were TOO LIGHT. That resulted in poorer quality and longevity plus look at the Lagoon bulkhead flex issues! Light may equal speed but it is often not synonymous with comfort and overall longevity.
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Old 22-06-2022, 14:41   #11
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

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I agree with this. From my perspective many of the past designs and builds were TOO LIGHT. That resulted in poorer quality and longevity plus look at the Lagoon bulkhead flex issues! Light may equal speed but it is often not synonymous with comfort and overall longevity.


This post is wrong in so many ways.
Light does not mean weak and heavy does not mean strong. The Lagoon is a heavy cat yet has had structural problems. Ours is a very lightweight build yet has had no structural problems. A lightweight cat built out of most probably expensive materials that have a high strength to weight ratio will probably be stronger than a heavy cat built out of inexpensive materials with a low strength to weight ratio.
The lightweight cat will be able to propel itself with a shorter mast, less sail area and much lighter sailing gear. This means the lighter cat will have less sailing loads on it plus it will sail on top of the waves rather through the waves which means less stress on the structure.
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Old 22-06-2022, 14:58   #12
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

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Originally Posted by smj View Post
I was watching an older Outremer Cup a few years ago and it appeared the older Danson designed Outremer had significantly more motion than the newer models, mainly pitching. Possibly because they are lighter? Have finer entryís and exits? Or maybe both?

I expect it is the much finer stern sections. Our bows are very full and underwater the run from the bow knuckle to max depth is straight. However, our sterns are very narrow - less than 30cm width where the sterns kiss the water. Newer boats carry max waterline beam pretty much all the way aft.

They are also way lighter with smaller rigs. In less than 8 knots upwind weíre under powered with our self tacking jib. That can lead to pitching when the boat isnít fully powered up.
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Old 22-06-2022, 15:03   #13
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWave View Post
I agree with this. From my perspective many of the past designs and builds were TOO LIGHT. That resulted in poorer quality and longevity plus look at the Lagoon bulkhead flex issues! Light may equal speed but it is often not synonymous with comfort and overall longevity.

Weíre not talking about charter oriented catamarans here. The question is about the seeming modern design trend with performance cruising cats to go (relatively) high displacement and high power, unlike earlier design trends to lightweight and much less power.

Regarding comfort, a lighter boat that sails on top of the water is less comfortable at speed in bigger seas. A heavier boat will plow through the water and that smooths things out. We jitterbug, while other boats waltz.
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Old 22-06-2022, 15:05   #14
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by toolbar View Post
And can anyone a good, lightweight trouser press for capri pants? We have an older, performance oriented catamaran, but my wife likes trousers without wrinkles. We had a travel iron, but that didn't work well with our inverter.

Paul

Hang while damp. Can also put under under your mattress, but that could lead to mould.

How about changing material to polyester?
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Old 22-06-2022, 15:10   #15
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Re: New design performance catamarans are heavy - why is that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
Weíre not talking about charter oriented catamarans here. The question is about the seeming modern design trend with performance cruising cats to go (relatively) high displacement and high power, unlike earlier design trends to lightweight and much less power.

Regarding comfort, a lighter boat that sails on top of the water is less comfortable at speed in bigger seas. A heavier boat will plow through the water and that smooths things out. We jitterbug, while other boats waltz.


I think comfort is a personal choice as we much prefer the jitterbug over the waltz! Also the waltz brings on the uncomfortable and unnerving bridgedeck pounding.
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