By Andrew Cross

New designs dazzle with innovation Multihull designers are an amazingly creative bunch, always looking to the future instead of clinging to the past. The crop of new designs in build this fall is no exception. From South Africa to the U.S. to Australia, catamarans are leading the evolutionary wave.


The new 66-footer from Gunboat is a flat-out performance cruiser that has the capability of sailing at speeds usually reserved for the high end of the racing scene. Twenty knots is not out of the question in the right conditions.

The first 66 was designed for a triple circumnavigator who was tired of making 150-mile days and looking for more. The new 66 delivers 280 to 350 miles a day in trade wind conditions, which will enable the owner to cross oceans twice as fast as before and will allow him to visit more great destinations on his fourth circumnavigation.

Built in South Africa, the 66 has hulls designed by Morrelli & Melvin with lots of input from Gunboat’s founder Peter Johnstone. In the last 10 years, Gunboats have sailed nearly two million sea miles, so Johnstone and his crew have a lot of experience to draw upon. The rig is cutting edge modern and the sail plan is designed to give the boat the horsepower to really fly. With deep daggerboards, the 66 will behave very nicely upwind, too. The 66 has ample bridgedeck clearance, so wave slapping is reduced to the absolute minimum.

The all carbon and epoxy construction, built to round-the-world-racing standards, has proven to be exceptionally durable, quiet and safe. The ride of a Gunboat can be described as “on the water” rather than through it. Many are surprised by how smooth, responsive and comfortable these light cats are in the roughest of seas. The 66’s interior has a huge saloon with a raised galley, dinette and inside nav station. The boat is built on a semi-custom basis, so you can configure sleeping cabins to suit your needs, but the standard plan shows two large double cabins forward and two smaller guest or kids’ cabins aft. Check the 66 and its sister ships out at


Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin are on a roll. Their designs—from little A Cats to the giant BMW Oracle trimaran that won the America’s Cup last winter—have been setting the standard. And now they have contributed significantly to the new America’s Cup 72 cat rule that will prevail through Cup 34 in 2013.

On the cruising side, the new M&M 65 is an attractive world cruiser with reverse angle wave piercing bows and teardrop-shaped hulls that make the boat very stable in a seaway and fast. From the sensible but powerful cruising rig that can be handled by a solo watchkeeper to the advanced energy system built around solar energy and the new Mastervolt Lithium Ion batteries, the boat is set up for long distance cruising and living aboard. M&M have partnered with West Coast builders Westerly Marine to offer the M&M 65 on a semi-custom basis. 

The Moxie 61 “Tosca”



The new 61-foot cruising cat from Moxie Yachts in South Africa is a distinct design that will stand out in any anchorage. Most noticeable is the aft-stepped mast and huge fore triangle. The relatively small mainsail flies from a tall, all-carbon fiber wing mast. The headsails are all on roller furling units, so you can sail with a small jib, the 100 percent Solent, the reacher or a free-flying asymmetrical spinnaker. All of these, except the spinnaker, can be controlled from the cockpit. The hulls have narrow entries and daggerboards for enhanced upwind performance.

The second innovation you will notice is the full beam coach roof. The designers—VPLP from France—have done away with side decks, so you climb to the coach roof to go forward. This opens a huge amount of interior volume so the galley can be a real kitchen that is separate from the living and eating areas. The living spaces flow through two round doorways to the cockpit or patio aft. With the saloon spanning the full beam, the sleeping cabins are below decks. The standard layout has three double cabins with en suite heads and crew quarters. The Moxie 61 is new and completely unique. Learn more about it at


Holding nothing back, the designers at SMG Multihull South Africa, a company that is managed by its Austrian owners, offer the unique and innovative SMG 50plus as a fast, comfortable performance cruising catamaran. The cat sports an A-mast instead of the standard single spar. The A-mast is mounted atop the outboard hulls; all sails are on roller furling systems, including the mainsail, which has no boom and is trimmed like a genoa. The deck layout is somewhat unique, with the open cockpit forward of the cabin house.

You will see this on Gunboats and Atlantic cats. All lines and sheets run to the cockpit so the helmsman can operate the boat singlehanded. The interior has the dinette and nav station in the raised cabin and the galley and sleeping cabins in the two hulls. There is no aft cockpit, so all outdoor living will be forward. SMG offers the 50plus with a diesel-electric power package, an advanced hybrid system that will reduce the boat’s energy footprint. For more information on the unique SMG 50plus, visit


The new Knysna 480, also built in South Africa, follows in the wake of the successful K 440. Designed by Angelo Lavranos, the new 480-foot catamaran has quite a different look than many of the cats out there today.

The bow and stern are sharply angled forward, visible chines run the length of the hull above the waterline, and the cabintop extends aft to become the hard bimini top over the open cockpit. Because of the way the bimini was designed, the steering station is basically a man hold.

From the helmsman’s seat, you can look out over the cabintop for a full 360-degree view. The steering position has a little hardtop of its own so you can sit at the helm somewhat out of the sun. The aft cockpit is huge. The boat can be set up for chartering, so storage space has been allocated for diving gear, iceboxes and fishing gear.

The rig itself is simplicity, with a high roach, full-battened mainsail and fractional jib. You can add a roller furling reacher and a spinnaker if you are looking for downwind performance. The interior can be configured for the “owner’s” version or the “charter” version. And you can have the boat with the galley in the saloon or positioned down in one hull. For more on the new Knysna 480, visit


As the name indicates, this is not a plain vanilla cruising cat. The Radical Bay 8000 is a radical take on how to rig a cruising catamaran.

The “biplane” rig has been experimented with for years and has worked well on boats designed to break speed records. That’s not exactly the brief for a home-built 26-foot family cat, but the rig does simplify the sail plan by eliminating stays and flying the sails on freestanding carbon tubes with fixed booms.

On deck, the boat has a cockpit in each hull and either a rigid bridgedeck between them or just simple netting. The boat is steered with tillers that are linked. Daggerboards in both hulls will enhance windward performance. The port hull has the head aft, the below decks seating and table amidships, and a single berth forward. The starboard hull has the galley amidships with a double berth aft and a single berth forward.

The Radical 8000 was designed to be home built, either from the raw plans or kit supplied by the designers. For less than $30,000 (not counting the 1500 hours it takes to build it), the boat is a very affordable and fun little cruising cat, with an unusual but useful rig. For more information on the design, visit (do not omit the .au…trust us).

The boat is now being built commercially by Radical Catamarans in Virginia. For more information on how to buy a finished Radical Bay 8000, go to

About Multihulls Quarterly

This article was originally published in 2011 and is being used with permission by Multihulls Quarterly and Blue Water Sailing.