Home Technical Sailing Videos Leopard 45: A Comprehensive Review

Leopard 45: A Comprehensive Review

written by Terysa July 1, 2019

The Leopard 45 is a great sized catamaran for cruisers, and is as popular as the rest of the Leopard range amongst charterers and liveaboard owners.

Leopard almost need no introduction. The South African boat builder has been producing catamarans for many years, and have a proven track record of building good quality production cats that are popular options for both the charter fleet and cruisers.

There are several good tours of this boat on YouTube, and so we are focussing our efforts on a review rather than a simple walkaround. As such, we have divided our analysis into five categories, each worth 10 points.

You, too, can score this boat based on your personal opinion- find out how to do so at the end of this post.

Safety and Design

This category looks at the safety and practical design of this Leopard 45. We consider the following factors:

  • Liferaft position
  • Helm position
  • Visibility
  • Safety features
  • Practicality while on watch and underway

The locker which houses the liferaft lifts up and slides out, depositing the liferaft onto the aft deck. This was not a feature we were aware of at the time of filming, but have been since educated on- so apologies for not making mention of this in the video.

The helm position has good visibility, well connected to the cockpit with a hard top bimini overhead. The only issue was a lack of any kind of barrier between the helm position and the side deck, apart from an arm rest. We’d want a more robust and complete barrier for the purposes of safety on watch.

We were happy with the grab rails and attachment points, and the flush lockers and hatches on the decks make moving around quite safe.

We also have a question about how quickly the forward facing cockpit would drain in the event of large waves over the bows. (Leopard claim 45 seconds- but what happens if the swell period is 20 seconds?) There’s also a cover you can put over the forward cockpit that will prevent water from entering it to begin with- but this obscures your view from the inside navigation station (where, presumably, you’ll want to be if you’re in weather that’s rough enough to warrant the cover).

We’re scoring this boat a 7/10 for Safety and Design.

Build Quality

Let’s move on to the next category, which is build quality. We look at the following as part of our assessment:

  • Hull construction
  • Joinery
  • Fittings and latches
  • Engine bay
  • Steering mechanism
  • Overall robustness

The steering mechanism was robust and the rudder stock was well braced. However, there was no self expanding foam in the conduits to reduce the chance of flooding in the event of water ingress or engine bay breach- with unskegged propellors and a sail drive, this is something that is a real possibility if you hit an underwater object with enough force.

The door to the forward facing cockpit was almost half an inch thick with a good rubber gasket and sturdy handles.

Inside the interior joinery was of good quality, although there’s room for improvement: the latches felt a little flimsier than on comparable models from other catamarans, and the drawer inserts were white melamine. The finish on some of the edges of the cabinetry was a little haphazard, although there were solid edgings on the high traffic areas. We believe that the veneers were alpi, rather than real wood (that’s what they appeared to be, but we’ve had no confirmation). We found the build quality to be above average, but not as high as we would have liked, and certainly not as high as older Leopards we’ve been on.

For build quality, we’re giving it a 6/10.

Interior Design

This category takes into account everything that makes a catamaran comfortable and pleasurable to live on. We look at:

  • Aesthetics
  • Comfort
  • Guest accommodation
  • Ventilation
  • Shower access
  • Headroom
  • Berth size
  • Galley
  • General layout and liveability

This is a big category, taking into account a lot of different aspects of living onboard.

One of Leopard’s signature features is the forward facing cockpit. Combined with the large aft cockpit, which has a big table and is well laid out, there’s plenty of seating options. The forward cockpit would be particularly pleasant at anchor where you would find it receives all the breeze, and would therefore likely be the most comfortable area to sit and relax. Certainly, it’s an incredibly popular feature and many other manufacturers are now incorporating a dedicated forward seating area into their designs.

Inside, the layout is a little different to most other production catamarans: the galley is situated forward, and the saloon aft. There’s also a forward facing navigation station, a feature that is occasionally forgotten about in modern catamarans but one we consider to be very important for keeping watch overnight (and during the day for that matter!).

The model we viewed does not have island berths in the aft cabins, although apparently this is changing for future builds. The interior aesthetic is light coloured veneer with grey bench-tops and accents, with plenty of natural sunlight and ventilation. Overall, it’s a lovely space.

Our score for Interior Design is 7/10.

Performance

  • Length: 13.72 metres
  • Beam: 7.36
  • Draught: 1.5 metres
  • Weight: 14,500 kg

We couldn’t find a polar diagram for the 45, so here’s a polar for the 46; we can assume performance will be similar.

Maximum speed is 12-14 knots at 110 degrees, and she can’t point higher than 55 degrees.

We’re therefore awarding her a 4/10, like most other non-performance production catamarans we’ve so far reviewed.

Value For Money

Base price is €459,000 and fully specc’d to a high blue water cruising standard the price is more likely to be €559,000.

The value for money is average, and we’re awarding this category a 5/10.

Our total score is 29/50.

While we liked certain aspects of the Leopard 45, we know this isn’t the boat for us (a fact that seems to have created a bit of an outcry amongst ardent Leopard owners!). The forward facing cockpit is not to our liking; we’d quite like a forward facing seating area, but not a deep cockpit that could fill with water while underway in rough seas. We don’t expect to have to deal with that sort of weather often, but we know that there are a couple of long passages in our future that may be more to windward and also where the weather can be a little inclement (ie, the passages between the Pacific islands of Tonga and Fiji and New Zealand). However, we really like the older, pre 2011 Leopards, and have not ruled out that option if we end up buying from the used market.

Submit Your Scores!

Now, YOU can submit your scores, which you can do via this link!

Simply tick the box of the catamaran you wish to score (only videos we’ve already released will be available), then use the sliders to score each category, then click the VOTE button. Easy! (But if you need further instructions, you can find them here).

Make sure you leave a comment with your score and thoughts so we can keep the conversation going!

Cheers,

Nick & Terysa


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