Four Most Popular Production Catamarans: How Do They Compare?

catamaran Comparo

Four of the most popular catamarans on the market today are Lagoon 450, Fountaine Pajot Helia 44, Bali 4.5 or Leopard 44. They are similar in length but there are significant differences between these catamarans in profile, styling, power to weight ratios, volume, and comfort. The fundamental question is: which catamaran is the best value and which sailing catamaran is right for me? Ultimately the choice is very personal. Everybody has different criteria for what a perfect boat is. However, we want to be sure that we compare apples with apples before we make that choice. We have done a price and specifications comparison of these popular 45ft catamaran models to see what the real differences are. While everybody claims that their product is the best, what are the facts?

I took the two pictures in this article during boat shows when these boats were staged next to each other.

  • The first picture is of a Lagoon 450 (45.10ft length & 25.9ft beam) and the Fountaine Pajot Helia 44 (43.5ft length & 24.3ft beam). What a difference in volume! (Click on the picture to really see the difference in size and volume). These two catamarans are both luxuriously equipped. The Lagoon is very spacious with lots of freeboard, high bridgedeck clearance, beamy hulls and a longer water line. The Helia is markedly smaller, lighter and has narrower hulls which translates into less whetted surface area and therefor, higher performance. However, from all reports, that is not neccessarily the case. For instance, look at the results of the Arc Rally for cruisers from Las Palmas to St. Lucia 2014 (see below) where all the manufacturers are featured. Both Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot fare similarly, with Lagoon showing a slight edge in these results. These are displacement hulls and they pretty much perform to thier hull speed, unless really powered up, which will allow them to displace at higher speeds.
  • The second picture shows the bows of a Bali 4.5 and Leopard 44. The difference in freeboard and bridgedeck clearance between the two catamarans is remarkable. Here the claim is that one is much less expensive than the other but these are not the same boats! The Bali uses very high tech building methods with composite cores in the hull and deck while Leopard uses Balsa core. Core-Cell foam core is a closed cell structure that will never rot or absorb water. Balsa core, on the other hand, shows its weakness when exposed to water. The Bali is also a lot lighter because of the use of modern infusion techniques. Clearly there is a lot more boat and innovation in the Bali which justifies the price difference to a large degree. Dimensions for the Leopard 44 – Lenghth 42.7ft & Beam 23.9ft. The Bali 4.5 dimensions – Length 44.88ft & Beam 24.48ft.

None of these boats are bad boats. Each has it’s application and good or not so good points but the moral of the story is: Make sure that you compare apples with apples to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck.

Bali Leopard

Bali 4.5 and Leopard 44: Big difference in freeboard and bridgedeck clearance

ARC Multi

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