Unveiled at the Miami International Boat Show in February and making its European debut at the International Multihull Show in France in late April, the new Leopard 46 Powercat is the second of what will be three new-generation models in the South African-built power catamaran series. The first, the 53, was launched at the 2020 Miami show, while the new 40 will make its debut there next year.
The new family is a departure from the powercats that were earlier converted from its sailing cat line. The conversion didn’t work nearly as well as a clean-slate design, so the company hired Dutch studio Simonis Voogd to create the new family.
The Leopard line is owned by THL Marine, which also owns The Moorings and Sunsail charter fleets, and is built by Cape Town-based Robertson & Caine, which has a long history in producing sailing and power cats.
Built for Entertaining
As the middle child of the growing family, the 46 PC will arrive in Hong Kong this summer with further hulls set for Malaysia and the Philippines. It has the same layout as its larger 53ft sibling, but owners won’t be sacrificing that much in terms of liveability.
I had a chance to tour both Leopards and while the 53 clearly has a 13-inch wider beam and larger bow and stern areas, the 46’s interior space doesn’t feel like much of a downgrade compared to the 53.
Although the cockpit is a little smaller than on the 53, it’s still big enough to host a group of eight comfortably due to the solid teak table and large wraparound lounge in the centre. It also offers a good view of the stern, which has a hydraulic platform for launching and retrieving the tender. It remains at main-deck height when the boat is running.
The two side passages to the bow are wide, with a high stainless rail. Also in the cockpit is the stairway — again, wide — up to the flybridge. This is a great social area and features a three-person helm bench seat in the starboard corner, while directly behind is a cooking station with an electric grill, sink and fridge.
On the opposite side is a C-shaped sofa with another teak table that seats up to eight, with loungers in front and behind that area. Drink holders are embedded into the armrests. The hardtop offers shade and a mini-windshield along the front provides protection from wind when the boat is running.
Inside, the fit and finish are strong, neutral colours keep the look universal and contemporary, and there’s a charter-boat sensibility to the layout, which means it’s designed to be used much more than a conventional private yacht, without too many gee-whiz features.
Still, there are nice residential details like a door that leads to the front of the boat, a rarity on this size of powercat. Another is the large galley aft, which has a full-sized fridge, freezer and icemaker, two-burner cooktop, microwave and convection oven, and good counter surface, made even more pleasant by the inflow of natural light from the long windows along the sides.
There’s also a separate food-prep area just opposite on the starboard cabinet that is typically used as a desk. This side also has a dishwasher, with storage in the drawers and cabinets. This food-prep space is a nice touch, particularly since the 46 is designed for socialising with large groups.
The saloon is long, open and airy, with good headroom. Inset LED lighting on the ceiling and along the walls offer ambient lighting at night. Stairs run down to the staterooms on either side, while forward are a large C-shaped sofa and a coffee table to port plus a two-seater to starboard. The 46 I toured had the optional lower helm station forward of the starboard couch, offering excellent visibility.
At the rear are sliding doors that link the aft cockpit to the saloon for an indoor/outdoor connection that extends the length of the main deck, from the aft cockpit to the sun loungers on the bow.
Having both doors at opposite ends also creates a breezy crossflow that keeps the boat cool at night via natural ventilation, so owners don’t have to run the air-conditioning and generator, for a quiet and fume-free sleeping experience.
For accommodation, owners can choose a four-cabin layout or three cabins including a large master suite on the starboard side. The three-cabin layout — which features on the hull for Asia — is also a game-changer for Leopard.
Anyone who has ever spent time on a large cat knows there’s a bit of an attitude adjustment with being inside a long, narrow stateroom, but the Leopard design team did a great job with the master suite.
The rear berth extends from bulkhead to bulkhead, with a desk/vanity positioned in front, storage and then the head — with two large sinks — situated in front of the toilet. An unusually large shower stall gives the area a true luxury feel.
The other two cabins have space-saving configurations, with the rear having a double bed looking forward and the forward cabin’s bed facing the window. This design is mirrored on the starboard side for the four-cabin version.
Powerful & Practical
Engine options include twin 370hp Yanmar diesels that give the boat a top speed of over 24 knots. The hulls have a draft of just over 3ft and are designed for rough-water running, with a video of the 46 Powercat showing it decisively handling 2-3ft seas.
One of the highlights of this boat for owner/operators is the design of the engine spaces. They’re separate and offer excellent access to the Yanmars for routine maintenance like changing oil, coolant and filters, as well as accessing the main systems. Since Leopard used to position its engines under the staterooms, this new configuration is a big leap forward for the brand.
Typically, the middle child is seen as one that gets overshadowed by larger siblings, but the new Leopard 46 will hold its own with any big cat and its class. If you want a turnkey boat designed around practical amenities, smart use of space and a hull for rough water, this boat should be on your shortlist.
This article first appeared on Yacht Style.
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