When the Outremer design team sat down to brainstorm their next performance cruising catamaran concept, they didn’t have to turn far for inspiration. With a 35 year history building high performance cruising catamarans and winner three times for European Boat of the Year for their Outremer 49, Outremer 5X and Outremer 4X, performance and cruising is part of their DNA. But look outside their window at the Gunboat shipyard, owned by the same parent company Grand Large Yachting, one of the most iconic high performance catamarans of our generation rolls off the production line, the Gunboat 68.
However Outremer have always been about providing the balance between comfort for families and couples to go cruising around the world, multiple times if they choose. Therefore performance was considered a much needed necessity to achieve this for any genuine sailor, while comfort and space was essential for long period at sea.
And unlike the Gunboat where there is no consideration for cost and performance is at all costs, the Outremer is aimed to be the best ratio value for money for sailors wanting some performance. To achieve this Outremer have borrowed a few construction techniques from Gunboat and looked at any other technology improvement that help achieve that goal.
The outcome was the Outremer 55 ... beautiful blend of form and function, with volume and space not seen before on a performance catamaran of this calibre. The sense of space is felt most through the shared saloon and cockpit that has been opened up into one giant living area. This open space has been made possible due to improvements in the composite structure with significant carbon fibre reinforcement. There is also greater headroom and larger windows than ever before. 2.05m of head room through the cabins and companionways without any obstructions into the cabins which has never been offered before on an Outremer.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Designed by VPLP, who are arguably the strongest leader of multihull designs in the world, they used CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) to optimise hull shape and prediction performance. The CFD was developed for previous Americas Cup designs and also used in the design of the Gunboat 68, where the performance was between 2-3% accuracy of what was predicted one year earlier.
These technological developments have lead to a strong improvement in multihull design and so the Outremer 55 hull design takes a departure from previous hull designs. Traditional hull shapes meant the faster the catamaran goes, the more they sit on their transoms and so the rocker design has changed from water flowing off cleanly to a straighter stern with more buoyancy and stability to provide greater acceleration. But it’s important to put into context that the Outremer 55 is not aimed at racing but instead to provide the needed performance to race from bad weather. Or, being able to sail to windward efficiently when you need to, which ultimately prevents the time sailing to windward in a lower performance boat. Of course daggerboards are standard to provide the necessary pointing ability for efficient up wind sailing.
It’s also important to keep the boat light. One important point when sailing around the world is to define the payload that you need which can be carried by different types of hulls. The lighter the boat the more payload you get. Outremer were one of the very first to move to resin infusion and have been like that for 20 years and all decisions made with regards to the construction and optional extra decisions, the weight is always considered and calculated.
In all areas of the interior, you can face forward or gain 360° visibility from the galley, saloon lounge and cockpit. This is important to provide you good safe visibility of what is ahead or around you. Something not common on larger catamarans.
The island galley is unique as you can walk around and you can fit an extra fridge, freezer, dishwasher, ice maker as you can access from each side of the island. The aft part of the island is a lift able bar where you can sit for lunch with the stool in the upright position, facing forward.
Large island bench provides additional galley storage.
The cabins are comfortable with water views.
Equally the saloon table has stools and lounges positioned so you can lie down and turn you head only 90° to see forward. The forward deck features foldaway lounge cushions with large opening windows providing access inside. This has been offered before on other cats but not on boats with as high performance.
Focus has been put on natural ventilation to avoid the need for air conditioning with the configuration of bulkheads and working on how the air will flow through the boat with various hatches not only above on the deck, but also on the inboard side of the hulls that can be left open when at anchor without risk of flooding.
Office space with single berths which can be folded out of the way. This space can also be a utility room, double cabin or walk in wardrobe.
There are various layouts available, but each provide two large cabins in the sterns with variations on the forward cabins and always two bathrooms / heads. The ‘My Free Space’ concept provides five distinctively different optional layouts for the port forward cabin area, from the standard double cabin with hanging lockers, to a single and bunk bed with office, twin bunk with internal toilet for crew, utility work shop room and finally large separate walk-in wardrobe.
HELM & HARDWARD
An important element of an Outremer is to get pleasure from sailing and pleasure from steering, with many owners coming from monohulls that have very good feeling on the helm, which is something the Outremer seeks to achieve.
Steering from the double bench seat with a backrest you can enjoy finger tip steering, enjoy a sunset and listen to some music while sailing with your partner. Or to avoid the sun move the helm under the protection of the cockpit roof and looking through the 360° view and avoiding ugly dodgers. When docking the helm is moved into a vertical position so you can stand up with the best visibility with an upright ledge to sit against with steering console. The navigation chartplotter fits into a pod under the cockpit roof, with other multifunctional displays located on the bulkhead.
Cockpit furniture is convertible to your needs.
The winches are located after and set lower than on previous models to provide easy access for those not as tall as some. Most items are located on the port side to control the boat there with remote buttons for these winches, while the starboard side has both sheets for the genoa on the starboard side. The traveller is accessed with a line driver with remote control from the helm station. Furlers and daggerboard lines are all run through dedicated trenches on the deck to keep the deck uncluttered and neat.
RIG & SAILS
The standard rig is aluminium however many owners have chosen the carbon rig for enhanced performance and also reefing downwind thangs to the rotating ability of the carbon mast. This is because the friction on the batten cars is reduced as the rig turns towards the apparent wind direction, which also allows you to run with the waves rather than having to turn up into the waves to reef. The carbon rig saves 230kgs aloft which lowers the centre of gravity on the boat improving the smooth ride. You also only have one spreader rather than two with a simpler overall design.
There is a 48sqm self tacking jib which sheets back to the coach roof so it doesn’t interrupt those lounging on the deck and is manageable. This higher cut jib also eliminates blind spots from the saloon or cockpit. There is a 104sqm mainsail which is smaller for this size of boat to keep it manageable. As it the boat is so light it’s not so important to have huge rigs and huge sails. This also means you need fewer crew to manage.
The choice of extra sails largely revolves around if you want to add a staysail with removable stay, allowing you to sail to windward in higher winds and stormy conditions. If you want a stay sail you probably want a genoa for better performance in light winds and if you have a genoa there is no point having a Code 0, but rather a gennaker. If you have a gennaker you will probably also have a down wind symmetrical spinnaker.
If instead you choose the standard self tacker without the optional stay sail, you will probably have a Code 0 and a Code D is a popular sail which is halfway between a gennaker and a spinnaker, being a large downwind sail and furling.
The extras sail package and lower weight all work in harmony to produce some impressive boat speeds for a very comfortable cruising catamaran. Pushing the boat in stronger gusts it accelerated to a top speed of 19kts, however it was the more moderate conditions that we were most interested in ... that is, the conditions you prefer to actually go sailing in. And the boat didn’t disappoint achieving regularly 80% of the wind strength with 12.9kts of boat speed in 16kts of true wind as shown below. That is champagne sailing!
Sailing comfortably at 80% of wind strength.
ELECTRICS & ENGINES
Spacious nav station with great forward vision.
2.4 KW of solar is possible on the Outremer 55 due to its large cockpit roof combined with solar on the davits over the dinghy. All boats usually are packaged with lithium batteries which also provides greater storage capacity. Volvo 60hp motors are standard to provide 7kts of motoring speed with just a single motor or 8kts with both motors in cruising mode. The engine rooms are also wider than previous models providing greater accessibility.