For Boat of the Year judge Ed Sherman, there wasn’t one thing in particular that sold him on the Leopard 44, the latest catamaran from the board of designers Morrelli & Melvin and the South African builders Robertson and Caine. Rather, it was what writer John McPhee once called “the pieces of the whole” that left him with the impression that the finished product—in the opinion of our panel, not only 2012’s Best Multihull but also the Import Boat of the Year—far exceeded the sum of its parts.
“I loved the owners cabin,” said Sherman. “The nice couch, the spacious head, the office—you could slip away to your own little world.”
True, but for Alvah Simon, the initial appeal wasn’t a cozy nook but the spacious topside floor plan. “There’s the aft cockpit, which was very well laid out. Then the main cabin, which, of course, is a large living area. And then there’s the forward cockpit, accessed through a very stout door. The overall ergonomics were very clean.”
Beth Leonard agreed, but for her, the most appealing feature was the raised steering station, from which the winches and sheets were readily at hand and the sight lines forward clear and unobstructed. “That pod was great,” she said. “Everything was right there and intuitive. You could reef the boat standing in one place.”
Finally, with a sailaway price of $449,000 that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars less than the competitors in its class, the impeccably rendered Leopard 44 represented good value. Game, set, and match.
-Judges saw solid construction and fine attention to detail and systems installs. The stainless-steel work was best in fleet.
-The excellent steering station offers terrific visibility and access to sheets and winches.
-The interesting layout topside and below features a dedicated owner’s stateroom/ office in the starboard hull.