After we finished our tour of the Northeast, we had captain Richard sail the boat down to Annapolis where we would fly in for the show. This show was cancelled last year so it promised to be well attended and a freaking blast for those of us who have a sailing problem. It didn’t disappoint. The docks were swarmed, and everyone was so excited to be there. We spent days visiting with friends and meeting manufacturers and dealers of all sorts of boats and gear. This is continuing education if you are a committed sailor/cruiser/racer so don’t miss one of these if you can make it. If you have never been but you have an interest, then come see what the fun is all about!
During this time of Covid, and the first two years of ownership of our current Leopard 50, we were forced to cruise based on borders and testing regimens. A pain for sure. Heading to the Northeast into lighter wind areas (out of the Tradewinds) meant lots of motoring. Along this route up north we hatched a plan to “maybe” switch boats (yet again, we’ve had 15) to a performance cat which would sail at wind speed and teach us about this exciting type of sailing – which is all about making your own wind and wind angle. (More on that later) I re-read the book “Catamarans” by Greggor Tarjan and the plan came together. The more we thought about it the more excited we got. There were basically 4 boats on our list that we thought would be the right size, space, speed, comfort and of course we were looking for quality and best in class systems. The boats were the Balance 526 or 58, Outremer 55, HH50 and the Kinetic 54. We had kept this quiet as not to tip anyone off that we were serious about this and of course didn’t want to tell Leopard we were switching brands, as we loved our two leopards so much. This was actually hard for us. Every boat has its purpose and our Leopards served us well, but an all-carbon boat that weighed a third less was a horse of a different color.
Narrowing it Down
We spent the first three days of the Annapolis show investigating the boats and talking to owners and manufacturers. We interviewed all our resources we have built up over the years from boat builders to designers, naval architects, and yacht brokers. This was about the most fun we can have imagining building a “Supercat” and how you would outfit it and use it. Of course, these boats are all about reducing weight so our list of options did raise some eyebrows. Actual conversation: “So I know this boat is weight sensitive so how do we offset the fact that we will have a generator, washer and dryer, scuba compressor and 48 bottles of Rose?” Okay that guy almost pointed me back to the Leopard display. In reality, we will have these things as comfort and toys are part of our DNA so this pointed us to a larger ALL carbon boat which could handle the payload and have every bit of weight saved before we loaded it. In the end, after evaluating all the great boats listed here the Kinetic 54 won the contest for us for many reasons.
It was Probably Over Before it Started
You could say that we had thought the KC54 was in the lead all along and we really went to the show to determine if there was something better. And for me, part of that struggle was something “less expensive”, as this Kinetic is the most expensive of that group. We are huge fans of Simonis-Voogd Design which had been the designer of our two previous cats – the Leopard 48 and Leopard 50. This firm designs boats to “sail” and most Leopard owners realize this before or after they buy one, and we all appreciate the forward cockpit, high bridge deck clearance and handling characteristics. The KC54 has all those attributes the designers are famous for, and meld that with all carbon construction, a yard that has been building carbon Supercats for 20+ years, and the yard owners’ desire to build the “best in class” Carbon Cats, and that all sealed the deal. We had already had several Zoom calls with the owner and designer leading up to the show and had followed the progress of the 54 while under construction. You might even say this plan was hatched as Lennie and I test sailed our Leopard 50 in Cape Town with Alex Simonis almost three years ago. He saw our excitement in sailing with extreme conditions and he knew we had another build coming our way, so when the KC54 was first conceptualized he spilled the beans to us early. It was in the back of our minds for 2+ years.