French catamaran builder Outremer had a good thing going with its sporty 49-footer. The company built more than 20 of the bluewater cruisers, introduced at the European shows in 2009, and now hopes to get even more good things out of a slightly larger and revamped model styled along the lines of last year’s successful Outremer 5X, which was named Best Full-Size Multihull Over 50 Feet in Cruising World’s 2014 Boat of the Year contest.
The new Outremer 51, which I visited on the dock at Strictly Sail Miami last winter, comes from the same molds as the 49, but rounded edges on the hulls have been squared off to match the look of the 59-foot 5X. Also, about a foot’s been added to the sugar-scoop transoms, the inner walls of which have been eliminated to make boarding from a dinghy easier. The sheer of the cabin top has been redone to more closely resemble the sweep of the house on the 5X; windows that had been tilted in the 49 are now nearly vertical, and those in front are tucked back under an eyebrow that gives the boat an elegant look when viewed head-on.
Furniture in the saloon, primarily the couch surrounding the dining table, has also been redesigned to give it a straight-lined, modern look. The boat I visited had a light oak interior and white panels, which contrasted nicely with the dark wenge sole. Accommodations looked very comfortable. The version I saw, designed for a family, had a spacious owner’s hull to port, with a queen berth aft and a head and shower forward. The other hull had an upper and lower bunk in the forward cabin, a double berth aft and a shared head and shower in between. Outremer offers a couple other layouts, one with two traditional cabins in the starboard hull, and a charter version with four cabins and two heads
A wide sliding door separates the saloon from the cockpit. With the galley located on the starboard aft side of the saloon, the cook remains part of the party. A U-shaped, forward-facing couch spans the cockpit’s transom and surrounds a drop-leaf table that can be opened for dining or kept closed for entertaining.
Outremers are known as performance cats, and the 51 is certainly set up in that vein, with a rotating carbon-fiber mast and boom and a solent rig with working jib and screacher. Like its older sister, the 51 has daggerboards rather than keels, which helps upwind. All of this comes at a cost, of course. A price tag of $717,600 puts the 51 in the luxury category.
I liked that on the 51, the helmsman has options when it comes to watchkeeping and steering: One can sit warm and dry at the nav station that’s tucked into the forward starboard corner of the saloon, enjoy a little company seated at the bulkhead-mounted wheel in the cockpit, or sail dinghy-style with a tiller in hand and braced in chairs located outboard and aft on either hull. In any of these locations, I suspect the ride would be quite pleasant.
Mark Pillsbury is CW’s editor.