Catamania! Who would have thought multihulls would undermine monohulls?


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bee-catamaniaWho would have guessed a few years ago that catamarans would literally gobble up market share to the monohull world? Yet that is exactly what it is. Data in hand, ten years ago the world boating market saw monohulls dominating with about eighty percent versus twenty percent for multihulls. Today we are up to sixty/forty.

An impressive growth also because it is global: one only has to walk around the docks at any world boat show, from Cannes to Annapolis via Genoa, Dusseldorf or Paris, to realize the amount of catamarans present. Above all, models of every size, type and dimension.

That’s right, because “Catamania” touches not only the world of cruising, but also the world of sport dinghies and racing. Let’s start with the most striking case: what kind of boats have replaced monohulls in what is the equivalent of automotive Formula 1 in the sailing world, namely the America’s Cup? Catamarans, of course.

But the other major world circuits (such as the GC32, Extreme 40, M32 or the smaller Class A) also feature multihulls, with or without foils. The reason is, in our opinion, quite simple: in a world that goes faster and faster, the new generations precisely seek speed even when they go to sea! It is also no coincidence that the last boat to make its debut as an Olympic Class at this year’s Rio Games was the Nacra 17.

We tried to analyze the reasons behind this explosion of catamarans. The answers are manifold and are not just about on-board spaces. Of course, for the same length with a monohull, the habitability can be estimated at 30% more. And not only because of the square that takes advantage of the increased beam compared to the models of a few years ago. The design of the hulls, wider and often with an edge running the length of the hull that further increases interior space, also contributes to this goal.

Then there is the issue of “levels.” Externally, for example, the presence of increasingly large flying bridges has made it possible to accommodate real raised cockpits in addition to the wheelhouse, making the aft one an extension of the saloon (also because it is increasingly sheltered right from the fly). Still on the subject of cockpits, there are a growing number of models that have created true transformable lounges at the bow instead of simple sundecks or classic nets. Increased privacy on board for now impossible on a monohull.

Agreed, catamarans boil less than a monohull, and this is an incontrovertible fact. They are also less sensitive to rudder, forcing more attention to know when it is appropriate, for example, to reduce sail. The advantages, however, even in navigation are there. One over all: we are talking about a more stable boat, especially at carrying gaits, but also when dropping anchor in the roadstead.

Aesthetic discussion aside (monohull purists beat hard on this point), the other criticism many bring to catamarans is that of price. Here, however, one has to make a somewhat different argument from what one does when evaluating a monohull, more akin to what one does when evaluating … a house! We’re not kidding: it’s true that catamarans cost at least 30 percent more than a monohull, but if we relate the price to the livable square meters we have available, the economic difference is no longer so obvious. Does the berth cost more, too? Yes, that’s true, but in recent years there are plenty of ports, including in Italy, that have “launched” ad hoc discounted rates for catamaran owners.





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