Sailboat Preview: Neel 52

With its racy, modern silhouette and Lombard-designed hull, the Neel 52 is a trifecta of power, speed and elegance.
Overhead of Neel 52
The Neel 52 is a well-proportioned, fast and voluminous trimaran offering a vast range of sailing possibilities. Courtesy Neel Trimarans

In the wake of the Neel 43, which was a finalist in our 2023 Boat of the Year contest, Neel Trimarans premiered the Neel 52 for the US audience at the Miami International Boat Show this past February. Penned by naval architect Marc Lombard, the Neel 52 is conceived for fast cruising, borrowing ­performance attributes from the Neel 47 and 43.

With an average cruising speed of 10 knots, the boat makes it possible to achieve 200 nautical miles in a 24-hour period underway, ­according to the builder, adding that speeds from 15 to 18 knots are possible when the breeze kicks in. The weight is centered to limit pitching, and the center hull design is optimized to facilitate tacking and ­minimize drag, leaving the side amas only lightly in ­contact with the water’s surface. With rigging derived directly from racing trimarans, and a sail area around 183 square feet per ton, the boat has full cruising speeds as much as two times faster than conventional multihulls, according to the builder. 

The build employs ­vacuum-infused composite sandwich construction with triaxial fiber reinforcements. PVC and PET foams are used in the sandwich core, as opposed to balsa, which can be more susceptible to water infiltration. 

The 52-footer offers a variety of options for sailing preferences, from leisure cruising to competitive racing to charter. The boat is available in a four-, five- or six-stateroom layout, with options for an owner stateroom on one level or a larger saloon. Crew quarters are also flexible. 

According to the builder, the goal is to keep the sailing “looser” for better performance, with a rudder design maneuvered by custom steering lines to improve responsiveness. The sail plan includes a mainsail with three reefs, a staysail on a rolling furler, and an asymmetric spinnaker for downwind sailing. Two rigging options—conventional and high-performance—are available.

Noteworthy features include what Neel calls a “cockloon,” which is an interior/exterior living space created by the opening between the cockpit and the saloon. The full-beam cockpit has multiple seating configurations that can be rearranged for personal preference. The ergonomic helm station has a triple seat and is accessible from the cockpit or deck via side steps. 

Side steps leading to the coachroof allow access to the mast, boom and sun-lounging area, and handrails are strategically positioned for safety underway. 

The open-plan living space includes a forward-facing ­galley and chart table. Staterooms are accessed via private stairways. From what we could tell while we were aboard in Miami, the panoramic views from the saloon should be stunning.