Multihulls Special 2021: Leopard powering on
One of the household names in cruising catamarans, Leopard recently launched its new entry-level sailing cat a year after debuting its flagship powercat.
The Leopard 42 premiered at Palm Beach in late March
Leopard is one of the household names in cruising catamarans and this year marked the Palm Beach International Boat Show in late March with the premiere of the Leopard 42, its new entry-level sailing catamaran that made its Asia-Pacific debut at the Sanctuary Cove show in late May.
Over the past two decades, about 2,500 ‘Leopards’ have been built exclusively by Robertson & Caine in South Africa, a figure that includes charter cats for the brand’s sister companies, The Moorings and Sunsail.
The Leopard 42 has an upper lounge like its big sisters
Covid aside, recent annual production in Cape Town has averaged 190-200 boats per year, with sailing cats making up about 70 per cent of that figure, although Leopard’s long-standing production of powercats for both private owners and charter has made it a global leader in the sector.
Its current powercat range comprises the 43 PC, with over 130 units produced since 2015, and the flagship 53 PC, which debuted at last year’s Miami International Boat Show and has already sold over 55 units.
The new flagship succeeded the 51 PC, which established itself as the most popular powercat in its class, with 137 hulls built since 2013.
“Leopard is the leading catamaran brand in the US market and the world leader in power catamarans,” says Kit Chotithamaporn, Leopard’s Yacht Sales Manager – Asia. “The success of the new 53 PC has been incredible. It’s a completely new design and interior, much larger and three tonnes heavier than the 51PC, but achieves the same performance with the same engines.”
The Leopard 53 PC’s strong global sales include multiple orders in Asia
The popularity of privately owned Leopard catamarans has increased through Covid, although the travel restrictions have had a direct hit on the demand for charter cats.
“We’ve seen a boom in [private] yacht sales in 2020 and 2021. After all, what better way to social distance and stay safe than being on a boat,” says Kit, who’s based in Phuket.
The Leopard 45 is among the brand’s three sailing cats
“But even though the number of Leopard orders for private customers increased during Covid, the production for our Moorings and Sunsail fleets decreased, resulting in an overall reduction in 2020 and 2021. We expect to return to pre-Covid levels in 2022.”
Leopard has a long-standing presence in Asia, where the brand sells more privately owned powercats than sailing models, although the overall split is about 50/50 when also considering The Moorings fleet.
An upper lounge was introduced on the Leopard 45 in 2020
“In Asia, the most popular Leopard models are still the powercats as they offer great performance yet are very fuel efficient, and the amount of space inside and out is hard to beat,” Kit says.
Even through the Covid era, impressive sales across Asia have included three 53 PCs, one of which was handed over in April to an owner from Japan who’s ‘sailing’ her all the way from Cape Town to Thailand, where he also has a residence.
The Leopard 42 had its Asia-Pacific debut at Sanctuary Cove in May
New units of the 43 PC have recently been delivered to Hong Kong and Phuket. Sailing-catamaran sales have included a new Leopard 42 and a 50 to China, and a 45 to Korea.
The Leopard 42, available with three or four en-suite cabins, succeeds the 40 but notable differences include the introduction of an ‘upper lounge’, a feature added last year to the 45, whose exterior has been redesigned to match its smaller and bigger sisters.
The cockpit on the new Leopard 42
Meanwhile, the new interior styling first seen on the 53 PC and now featuring on the 42 is being rolled out on the other models.
“The Leopard 42 has been very well received. Even prior to the launch, sales were doing well, with 30 boats contracted, and deliveries are now pushed into the summer of 2022,” says Kit, who expects Leopard to announce two new models by the end of this year.
Successor to the most popular powercat of all time, the Leopard 53 PC is over 30 per cent bigger than the 51 PC, with the same engines.