Choosing the right sport catamaran

A sport catamaran is a type of 2-hull sailboat that’s light and fast. It does not have a cabin and usually carries one to three people, for short periods. It is used for sport sailing, recreation or regattas and can also be used for sail camping or coastal racing. The more sporty versions are equipped with a trapeze to improve performance. Like the majority of sailboats today, you can find sport catamarans equipped with foils.

View sport catamarans

  • How to choose a sport catamaran?

    To choose the best sport catamaran for your needs, there are a number of key criteria to consider. Whether you’re getting into the sport or are already experienced, you will need to look into the points we mention in this guide. Your choice of sport catamaran will depend not only on your intended use and the number of practitioners, but also on the configuration with or without a trapeze, the type of sails and the type of appendages.

    The choice will mainly relate to:

    • The intended use
    • The number of practitioners
    • Configuration with or without trapeze
    • The type of sails
    • The type of appendages
  • What are the different uses for a sport catamaran?

    Choosing a sport catamaran greatly depends on the intended use. There are three main options: recreation, regatta and sail-camping.

    Recreation: Intended for a wide audience, children and beginner adults can enjoy this practice. Sport catamarans suited for recreation are fairly easy to use with basic sail settings and often no trapeze. They are often found for rent on beaches or lakes.

    Regatta: Intended for experienced practitioners. These boats are used to race on courses marked by buoys or natural obstacles with the aim of going as fast as possible. They feature advanced adjustment systems allowing the sails to be adjusted as efficiently as possible and generally include a trapeze to increase the crew’s return torque. Finally, they are increasingly equipped with foils to further improve performance.

    Sail-camping: This practice consists of sailing over several days along the coast and stopping at night on beaches. The sport catamaran is ideal for this because one can easily run aground and take advantage of the trampoline stretched between the hulls to set up a camping tent.

    Nacra Sailing recreational sport catamaran

    Laser Performance regatta sport catamaran

  • What about the number of practitioners?

    You will have the choice between single-handed sport catamarans and those which can embark several people (most of the time: 2 people).

    On the solo models, as there is only one person they must act as the helsman and take care of trimming the sails. This is why these boats are usually only equipped with a mainsail. To be able to navigate correctly, the user will need to have a good level of experience.

    Most multi-crew sport catamarans are designed to carry two adults on board and are referred to as double-handed catamarans. The sail plan is more advanced with a mainsail, jib and sometimes a spinnaker which means there are more adjustment possibilities. Recreational sport catamarans can sometimes carry three adults or two adults and two children.

    Eagle Catamarans single-handed sport catamaran

    Row&Sail GmbH double-handed sport catamaran

  • Why choose a sport catamaran equipped with a trapeze?

    Intermediate and experienced practitioners can use sport catamarans equipped with a trapeze. These are thin cables that connect the crew to the mast and allow them to hike out while standing with their feet on the hull and their body off the boat.

    The use of trapezes requires specific training, but once acquired, it can significantly improve performance. The sensations of the practitioners will also be increased tenfold by the position above the water.

    All regatta sport catamarans are fitted with one or two trapezes. When there is only one, it is normally for the trimmer while the helmsman remains seated on the hull or trampoline.

    Nacra Sailing single-trapeze sport catamaran

    Hobie Cat Europe double-trapeze sport catamaran

  • Which sails should I choose for my sport catamaran?

    Nacra Sailing asymmetric spinnaker sport catamaran

    As we have seen, the number of sailors has a huge influence on the sails that can be used, a solo sailor having difficulty handling a boat equipped with more than one sail. Many single-handed sport catamarans used for racing are only fitted with a mainsail that has a large surface area, which helps to maintain a good level of power and performance.

    In doubles, the boat will generally be equipped in addition to the mainsail with a jib and sometimes also a spinnaker, most often an asymmetrical one. In this configuration, the boat will be very powerful in all wind conditions and will offer the best performance.

  • Why choose a foiling sport catamaran?

    Eagle Catamarans foiling sport catamaran

    Today,  foils are being used for more and more sailing practices. Foiling sport catamarans represent the latest technical development in terms of performance. Foils can be of different shapes (C, L, S, T, etc.) and they are always accompanied by a rudder with foil which makes it possible to control the “flight.” 

    The use of foils significantly increases the technical level required and although there are some models intended for a wide audience, most of these boats can only be used by experienced sailors. This sophisticated equipment is also expensive to develop and produce, which is why foiling sport catamarans are more expensive than classic versions (whether they have a daggerboard or not).

  • What equipment is essential for a sport catamaran?

    The use of sport catamarans requires a lot of equipment for the boat itself as well as for the user. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

    • A trailer is needed to transport the boat and launch it.
    • Sails are essential! Mainsail, jib, spinnaker.
    • The fittings must be suitable for the sails: blocks, shackles, jammers, cleats and lines. On larger models, there are also winches.
    • A protective cover may be essential if the boat is stored outdoors.
    • For practitioners, wetsuits are often necessary to avoiding getting cold.
    • Given the high speeds possible, practitioners are increasingly wearing helmets as well as protective gear integrated into their wetsuits.
    • Neoprene gloves and booties are also recommended for more intensive use.
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