We got our very first look at the new Leopard 45, recently launched in Cape Town, South Africa. This picture of the two Leopards in Cape Town harbor was posted on the cruisers forum yesterday amid much speculation. We unfortunately don’t know the source and cannot confirm that the 45 will definitely replace the 44, but that is the rumor. Looking at the similar size, I guess that goes without saying.
At first blush the Leopard 45 looks much like a Fountaine Pajot Helia 44 with the vertical wrap around windows in the salon. Upon closer inspection, one can see that the hull shape and size is very similar in both cats. The Leopard signature front “porch/lounge” with direct access from the salon through the opening front door is still a prominent feature and they kept the semi-raised helm station (a very popular option with cruisers), rather than a fly-bridge.
The main differences between the Leopard 44 and 45 are the newly designed salon window, and the square windows in the hulls and apparently it will have a galley forward rather than at the salon entrance. I am sure there will be a few more upgrades and changes but for now, this picture is all the info we have. This model is not even on the Leopard website yet, so we don’t have any real information or specifications. It is a little strange that this model has not been promoted at all yet. Usually the builders will try to pre-sell these boats long before the first boat is launched. Be that as it may, it looks like a fairly attractive catamaran.
I have noticed that the Leopard catamarans, built for Sunsail and Moorings, have been advertised at rock bottom prices lately. The Sunsaill 444 was advertised at $440,000 (discounted by $175,000) and the Sunsail 484 is available for $629,000 (discounted by $130,000). The Leopard 48 (private sales) was discounted to $709,000, including most options for the Miami boat show in February. In June 2016 the Leopard 48 was offered for over $158,000 discount.
So, what is the deal here? It makes one wonder if it has something to do with the recent announcement by TUI that they are selling off Sunsail and Moorings. Or is there a glut of the Leopard catamarans on the market? Either way, these are great deals no matter which way you look at it. We don’t know the new generation of Leopard catamarans very well. The Leopard / Sunsail / Moorings catamaran sales organization is a tightly controlled unit. We don’t get much information from them but one thing is for sure; the front “porch” is a hit with the charter market and frankly it is a great feature when at anchor.
How that “porch” (basically a massive wind brake) features when sailing close to the wind in a big sea, we cannot say. Apparently they have a cover for the porch that helps to reduce the resistance but the delivery crews don’t use it since the delivery from Cape Town to the BVI is an easy downwind ocean passage, so it really is not a true test for the “porch” and we have not seen any real reviews for these cats on ocean passages. I believe that they are now shipped to market anyway, so we will not get delivery crew reports. We would love to hear from anybody who has done an ocean passage on these cats.
We usually highly recommend the pre-owned Leopards (pre-“porch” design) to our brokerage clients and have, over the years, sold many of the ex-charter Leopards. Since there are so many of the same models phased-out all at once every year, owners of these cats often sell them at huge discounts just to get rid of them. They are considered to be some of the best deals on the pre-owned market!
So, we assume that the NEW Leopard 45 will be rolled out at the Annapolis boat show in October. We are excited to see the new design and upgrades. The minute we have any information, we will pass it on. Meanwhile, give us your take on the performance of the Leopard catamaran range.