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Cars / Yachts

Catamarans: Fountaine Pajot and Leopard Are Taking Top Seats

Stability, huge space, low fuel consumption and an extra punch of power are what typify the yachts from Fountaine Pajot and Leopard.

Jun 17, 2022 | By John Higginson
Image: Fountaine Pajot

Fountaine Pajot Motoring

In La Rochelle, two hours’ north of Bordeaux, Fountaine Pajot hosted a three-day motor yacht event in May that focused on sea trials of all its powercat models, along with shipyard tours and entertainment.

Now with about 1,000-1,200 staff including for sister brand Dufour, Fountaine Pajot has produced over 4,000 catamarans since 1976 and has a strong history in powercats, having been among the first production cat builders to enter the motor yacht sector, in 1998.

Group Sales Director Steven Guedeu says sales of its motor yachts are increasing every year, but still make up about 20 per cent of the brand’s turnover as sailing cat demand is similarly rising.

Image: Fountaine Pajot

The Fountaine Pajot Motor Yachts range now includes the new MY4.S, which had its world premiere at Cannes last September. The 37-footer also exhibited at this year’s International Multihull Show at La Grande Motte, where it was announced as the Multihull of the Year winner in the Power Under 40’ category.

“The response to the MY4.S has been excellent,” Guedeu says. “It has been very successful, as we believe it answers a special demand.”

The MY4.S offers a cruiser option in a range that also includes the MY5 and MY6 flybridge powercats as well as the flagship Power 67. Formerly known as the MY40 and MY44 respectively, the MY5 and MY6 are now offered in a new Millesime interior as part of Fountaine Pajot’s ongoing upgrade of its interior styling.

Image: Fountaine Pajot

“The Millesime interior has elevated our motor yacht offerings,” Guedeu says. “We’ve reached a new interior level for all the Fountaine Pajot Motor Yacht models, which now matches the quality of more expensive monohull motor yachts.”

Asia Yachting represents Fountaine Pajot Motor Yachts in Hong Kong, where this year it has sold two units of the MY6 with the Millesime interior including a unit delivered earlier this year. The regional dealer also sold a new MY5 that arrived in the city last year, while an MY5 is on display at this year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show through Multihull Solutions.

Image: Fountaine Pajot

Guedeu says he sees more competition coming in the powercat sector, but says the company’s experience and expertise will maintain its position as a front-runner.

“Fountaine Pajot launched the market of the power catamaran and today Fountaine Pajot Motor Yachts remains a worldwide reference in this market. Powercats are becoming more popular, to such an extent that many new brands are getting into it, but we have a know-how and special hull designs that can’t be matched.”

Power Of Leopards

Leopard is another cruising catamaran giant, having produced over 2,500 hulls over the past two decades in Cape Town, where South African builder Robertson & Caine produces the brand’s sailing and power cats, which are certified both in Europe (CE) and the Americas (NMMA/ABYC).

Leopard, which has about 1,500 staff, has recently been upgrading its range of powercats, which traditionally outnumber the brand’s sailing cats in Asia. The 53 Powercat launched in 2020 kick-started the brand’s fourth generation of power catamarans and has been followed this year by the 46 (see Review), while the 40 will debut in 2023.

“The new generation of Leopard powercats are a breed of their own, built to compete with motor yachts,” says Kit Chotithamaporn, Leopard’s Yacht Sales Manager — Asia.

Image: Cayman Boat Charter

“The 46 Powercat was not built to replicate any of our sailing catamarans, but instead is a true motor yacht in her own right. With this yacht, we were able to take all the loved attributes of the 53 Powercat and put them onto the 46 without compromising the interior space.”

Fourth-generation features include an indoor helm station, fullsized fridge and induction hobs, while the brand continues to offer large, feature-packed flybridges. The new models — which have the option of solar panels and lithium batteries — are proving almost as popular globally as the brand’s sailing cats, which have traditionally outsold their motor yacht sisters two to one.

“In the motor yacht market, we’re confident we’ve found the ‘sweet spot. For many years the sailing range dominated Leopard sales globally, but with the new line of power catamarans, they’re quite even,” Kit says.

“In Asia, the former 43 and 51 Powercats sold well, and the trend is continuing with the new 46 and 53 Powercats. The trend should continue as the new models offer the same great performance and efficiency yet with much-improved aesthetics and luxury, which suits clients in Asia.”

Image: Leopard Catamarans

Leopard, which plans to display the 46 and 53 Powercats with its 42, 45 and 50 sailing cats at Cannes in September, prides itself on the rugged, tried-and-tested systems and fuel economy of its catamarans. For many years, most of its catamarans had to make ocean passages from Cape Town to their delivery destinations.

“Leopards can run on one engine at a time, further saving on fuel. Leopard Powercats can cruise at passage-making speeds of 6-8 knots while sipping at the fuel and offer incredible range on a single tank,” Kit says.

“The catamaran sector will continue to grow, sailing and power alike, as stability, space and consumption are at the top of a buyer’s list. The operating costs of a Leopard powercat are much lower than a monohull powerboat. Engines are half the size to achieve the same speed and the consumption throughout the RPM range is half that of a monohull.”

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