Contents of Report
The Leopard 43 PC has the onboard space and layout that many have come to expect from catamarans, which seems to suggest an island-hopping itinerary with friends and family, but make no mistake, these boats are oceangoing cruisers.
She is ideal for the bareboat charter trade.
Robertson and Caine, the largest boatbuilder in South Africa, had formed a partnership with the Moorings in 1994 to manufacture sailboat catamarans for its charter fleet. In 2000, the Leopard brand sail cats started.
Leopard built its first power catamaran in 2007, the 47PC, and quickly followed with the 37PC. The boats sold under the Leopard brand are for private owners, and the evolution of powercat design from the Leopard 37PC to the Leopard 39PC to the 43PC is evident in many features.
The South African builder has long made a habit of delivering boats on its own bottom from Cape Town to the Caribbean and beyond. Leopard Catamarans and the Moorings are both owned by Travelopia, which is owned by global investment firm KKR.
We boarded the boat from the dock to one of the boat’s two swim platforms, one located at the aft end of each hull. The port side swim platform has a reboarding ladder that is hinged and folds intact onto the swim deck, and is designed to be grabbed and deployed from in the water.
The space between the swim platforms is reserved for tender stowage, and there is a tubular stainless davit (optional, $4,635) affixed to stainless steel vertical pillars that extend from the aft deck to the flying bridge overhang. The davit is operated by cables attached to a winch in the overhead and controlled by a switch in the overhead on centerline.
Up a couple of steps from the swim platform, there’s a wide aft deck that stretches between the aft bulwarks. Shore power hookups are on the port side. In this platform are hatches to port, which lead to a compartment that contains the 9 kW Northern Lights genset, and to starboard, a hatch leads to stowage space.
Sturdy stainless steel posts support the flying bridge overhang, which shades the aft deck, and has 6’7” (2.01 m) of headroom clearance. Canvas/isinglass curtains ($1,391), stowed in covers, are snapped to the overhead all around the aft deck and can be unrolled to provide shade or shelter as required.
Seating. There’s a molded U-shaped settee with fabric-covered seat cushions ($2,936) situated around a composite dining table on two fixed pedestals. The aft section of the settee has a backrest that is designed to flip forward, creating an aft-facing seat looking out to the area where guests and children would likely swim at anchor. There’s a bench seat opposite.
Catamarans generally have deck space galore for their LOA, thanks to the large beam measurement, and the Leopard 43 PC is no exception. Her side decks are 29” (73.66 cm) wide at their narrowest point. But even more than just good footing on this stable platform, the side decks have a tall, 1 ½” (3.81 cm) diameter tubular bowrail, and grab handles along the house top to facilitate safe movement around the boat.
One aspect of the Leopard 43 PC that we found particularly appealing is the direct access on the centerline to the foredeck from the salon and galley. On a pleasant evening at anchor, the foredeck is a terrific spot to take in the sea breeze, and the forward door prevents the entire family from needing to traipse around the superstructure on the side decks, wide and pleasant as they are.
Another advantage to this door is ventilation, to the degree where it can make the air conditioning, and therefore the genset, are unnecessary.
The foredeck measures 7’ (2.13 m) fore and aft, and scuppers provide drainage all around. Just forward of the wide, flat, vertical forward windows, which are made of tempered glass, the aft section is elevated and is shaded by a brow and sections of bulkhead to either side. It is designed for cushions when not underway for laying out.
This aft section has hatches where the water tanks, stowage, the windlass, and ground tackle are concealed. The foredeck has small benches at each forward corner, welded into the corner of the all-around bowrail. There’s a toe rail all around as well, and cleats are mounted to it to either side of each bow and along the forward edge of the foredeck, precluding the need for fairleads and also mitigating a trip hazard for those getting around.
Access to the flying bridge is from a set of stairs on the aft deck outboard and then make a 90-degree right turn so climbers emerge onto the flying bridge facing aft. The flying bridge on the Leopard 43 PC is definitely a gathering spot for the entire crew and has the most open space for social gathering.
With a substantial hardtop with 6’9” (2.06 m) headroom covering much of the upper deck, the space is protected and can even be enclosed by curtains all around.
The helm is to starboard forward, with a bench seat. Opposite is a U-shaped settee with cocktail table, with an al fresco galley with sink aft.
There’s a sun pad on the forward rooftop measuring 6’3” by 5’2” (1.91 m by 1.58 m). It extends beyond the flying bridge surround, and it has a grab rail all around it, as well as grabrails on the raised section of the surround to either side. This should only be used when the boat is at rest.
The helm console is situated forward and to starboard on the flying bridge. The remote microphone to the Raymarine VHF is mounted on the port side of the console. On the helm dash, the wheel is to starboard and has a compass mounted above on the top of the console.
To port of the wheel is a wide shelf with a fiddle to keep binoculars and other odds and ends in position. There’s a bank of switches at the top port side of the console. A Fusion stereo control head and covered USB and 12-volt receptacles are on the dash. There are two Raymarine Multifunction displays flush-mounted on the helm dash as well, and an autopilot control is positioned right above the wheel.
To starboard of the wheel, we find another fiddled shelf, a Yanmar engine display, the engine throttle and shift control, as well as engine start-stops mounted on the inboard side of the bridge surround. A pair of large beverage holders are positioned down low, aft of the engine control binnacle.
The salon and galley basically share the interior main deck space evenly, with the navigation station and the electrical panel rounding out the open space that allows easy movement by several people at a time.
The main deck salon and galley area can be entered from the foredeck or the aft deck. There’s an L-shaped lounge with a folding leaf dining table on a high-low pedestal so it can be lowered and used with a filler cushion to create an additional berth for guests. The aft bulkhead here is made up of a sliding glass door to starboard that offers access from the cockpit. Two glass windows abaft the salon settee slide to port to open up much of the aft bulkhead to the cockpit.
Three boxes in the sole have removable lids and offer additional stowage for provisions and gear. To port and starboard amidships are the companionway stairs to the accommodations on the lower deck within each hull.
Inside the cabin on the port side is the navigation station which faces forward. It has a throttle-and-shift binnacle mounted on a flat chart table. An autopilot control head, mounted on the forward bulkhead is within relatively easy reach.
In shorthanded docking, the captain can use the binnacle to move the boat into position and then get forward quickly to manage the tie-up. For this procedure, it would help if the door opened to starboard, instead of to port, for going forward. The chart table has a locker beneath the lid to stow cruising guides and navigation gear.
A stool stows out of the way in its corner and also contains stowage under its removable top cushion. We’d like to see a little padding on the polished stainless safety railing that serves as a backrest.
The electrical panels are contained in a locker with a tinted-glass door. In this panel are inverter controls, the VHF main unit, engine and genset controls, panels for 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC system, air-conditioning controls, and the control head for the Fusion stereo.
The galley is located at the starboard forward end of the salon and features an L-shaped Corian counter with lockers beneath. There’s an underhung stainless sink with a single-lever stainless faucet. The large forward window has a rectangular opening port set into it, and the galley is closed by the door to the foredeck. On the starboard side, the counter has a three-burner gas cooktop equipped with sea rails, and an oven.
Staterooms: Cat vs. Monohull
Perhaps the hardest for thing for boaters used to monohull cruisers to get their head around is the very different shape of the staterooms in a catamaran. Typically a 43’ (13.11 m) cruiser will have two staterooms and one or two heads. Generally, the master is forward in the bow, and the guest stateroom is under the bridge deck amidships, usually with a stand-up entrance and a crawl in bed or beds. The master is narrow at the head and wider aft where the head is, but not quite as wide as the maximum beam. The guest stateroom is often full-beam, which might be 13’ to 15’ (3.96 m to 4.57 m), generally.
On the Leopard 43 PC, the staterooms are just a little over 6’ (1.83 m) wide, making them narrower than either stateroom in a typical monohull of similar length. But, in the case of the master stateroom on our test boat, there is quite a bit of deck space between the bed and the head. This turns out to be far more room than we find at the foot of a bed in a forward cabin of this size of a monohull. Virtually none have a vanity/desk, much less one as big as that on the Leopard 43 PC. Plus there is much more deck space for changing clothes and moving around. And, the heads are about the same size.
The guest stateroom in our test boat had full headroom, unlike the typical 43’ (13.11 m) monohull guest stateroom. What’s more, there is a third stateroom that few 43’ monohulls have. At the end of the day, this cat has the same or more actual square footage of accommodation space as we find in a typical 43’ monohull.
Starboard Master Suite
A set of four molded stairs lead down the companionway to the master suite. On our test boat, this owner’s stateroom takes up the entire starboard hull of this catamaran, and consists of a sleeping compartment with the berth aft, a dressing area amidships, and a head forward.
The sleeping compartment in the master suite is aft and features a crawl-in berth. The space avoids a cave-like feel with an elongated hullside window outboard, an integral, framed opening portlight, and another opening portlight aft. An electric fan situated at the foot of the berth helps ventilate the space even more, and there’s an overhead hatch that can be opened for ventilation, and also serves as an escape route.
There are two LED reading lamps over the head of the berth and the inboard side of the berth has a pair of shelves along the berth for stowing odds and ends. We’d like to see electrical outlets and USB ports here for cell phones and iPads.
The amidships dressing area has 6’2” (1.88 m) of headroom and is finished in laminate with solid-wood trim, and has a sole finished in laminate. The area has a dressing table or desk with stowage bins beneath lids, a fold-up vanity mirror, and a stool that stows underneath. There’s a hanging locker and a locker with shelves, as well as a chest of drawers.
Because the companionway to the stateroom is open wide at the top, the sliding door has a large panel to cover it, but it all slides out of the way unobtrusively, and slides into position where it can be locked, both open and closed.
The head compartment is at the forward end of the amidships dressing area and has 6’4” (1.93 m) of headroom. The compartment has a door that swings in. The marine toilet is outboard as we enter and there’s a hullside window with an integral framed portlight for ventilation.
Inboard is a vanity with Corian top, a sink, stowage, a shaving mirror and in the locker beneath, the holder for the toilet-paper roll on the back of the door. A dedicated trashcan is hinged on the bottom.
The shower has a glass door with stainless hinges and a European style wand spray nozzle with single-lever mixer. The shower sump has an automatic drainage system. At the forward end of the shower compartment is a hatch in the bulkhead that offers access to a washer-dryer combo unit.
Because Leopard is using so much of the onboard volume for accommodations, those who are new to catamarans may be surprised to discover the engine spaces are just inches away from the staterooms – and directly below the aft beds.
Aft Port Guest Stateroom
The aft guest stateroom has a berth situated in a crawl-in compartment identical to that in the master. There’s a hullside window with opening portlight built in, as well as an opening portlight aft and a hatch overhead. A pair of shelves with lipped edges run the length of the berth on the inboard side. Again, electrical outlets and USB ports would be welcome.
The guest head compartment has an opening portlight, mirrored medicine cabinet, a sink with offset faucet, a separate, glass-enclosed shower with European-style shower wand, and a manual-flush freshwater head. It is used by both portside cabins and doubles as a day head for the vessel.
Available Four-Stateroom Layout
The available four-stateroom layout (as seen in the layout above) has shared heads amidships in either hull, between the fore and aft staterooms, just like the port hull on the three-stateroom layout. The forward berth in the port hull is open to the forward guest double stateroom, while the starboard forward berth is for crew or a kid (or a nimble adult), and is accessible through a hatch in the foredeck. They are also useful as stowage.
The Leopard 43 PC has a LOA of 42’8” (13 m), a beam of 22’1” (6.73 m), and a draft of 3’1” (0.94 m) powered with a pair of 320-hp Yanmar 8LV320 diesels matched to 21.65 x 20.27 (550 mm x 515 mm) props. With an empty weight of 30,700 lbs. (13,925 kg) and a half load of fuel, no water, 50 lbs. (23 kg) of equipment, and three people on board, our test boat had an estimated test weight of 32,097 lbs. (14,559 kg).
During our test, she had a top speed of 24 knots at 3730 rpm. At 1500 rpm, she had a cruising speed of 8.3 knots and a fuel burn of 2.8 gph (10.4 lph) for a fuel economy of 3.0 nmpg (1.47 kpl) and a range of 713.7 nautical miles (1,321 km).
Fast Cruise. This catamaran offers a range of useful speeds and some boaters may want to go a little faster to get from place to place with limited cruising time. In that case, a fast cruise of 16.7 knots at 2800 rpm had a fuel burn of 15.6 gph (58.9 lph) for a fuel economy of 1.1 nmpg (0.52 lph) and a range of 254.4 nautical miles (471 kph).
From a standing stop, the boat got on plane in 4.2 seconds and went from zero to 20 mph in 6.4 seconds.
The Leopard 43 PC is sporty in her acceleration and responsiveness to the throttle. That said, she is a bit resistant to the helm at slow speeds, until we got the water flowing past those rudders a bit. She had a flat running attitude in tight turns that may take some getting used to for monohull veterans, but it is proper and doesn’t ever give the unsteady or vulnerable feeling that it does in a monohull.
We took our test boat into a tight turn at 19 knots and she made the 360 rotation in 40 seconds and only bled off a knot and a half of speed. This means that there’s no need to accelerate into the turn as many monohull drivers may be inclined. We were at a loss for rough conditions so we took her through the wake of our test boat a few times. When taking the waves on the sharp entry forward, the boat asks the driver to accelerate through the waves, rather than throttling back, and our test boat had no sneeze effect to speak of, in the conditions we created.
Because it’s a catamaran, the props are very far apart, so the differential thrust is extremely responsive, countering misgivings someone might have about the response to the rudders. We would not want to be spinning this wheel to try to get into a slip since it’s relatively hard to turn (this is not fingertip control) and also it requires 5.5 turns to go from lock-to-lock.
Best to use the steering indicator on the Raymarine autopilot control head above the wheel on the helm dash, turn the wheel to set the rudders to straight ahead, and use the throttle and shift levers to back her down. The Leopard 43 PC is a pussycat, very easygoing and responsive to the controls.
Base price is $499,000.
Some Options to Consider
- • Northern Lights 9 kW genset ($30,130)
- • Air conditioning, two 16,000-BTU system ($16,010)
- • Solar panels, 70 watts each (multiple options starting at ($3,708)
- • Watermaker and water treatment system ($25,718)
- • Washer/dryer ($2,089)
- • Electric grill on flybridge ($1,530)
- • Composite teak decking on aft deck, foredeck, transom steps, and flying bridge ($15,451)
The Leopard 43 PC has shown how a design can evolve from generation to generation, with new features that remedy problems that arose with earlier designs. The designer Alex Simonis says the interior volume of the 43 PC is 30% larger than the previous model.
The oceangoing capability of this model is belied by its 264-gallon (999 L) fuel capacity, and delivery crews carry a substantial amount of extra fuel (more than the boat’s tank capacity) for deliveries from Cape Town to the Caribbean.
While there are those who will say the interior is relatively sterile, we would suggest that it’s a clean canvas to better show the personality of her owner.
Because the boats are primarily built for charter, the simple and robust systems should serve owner-cruisers well.
While it has been challenging to find dock space for a boat with a 22’1” (6.73 m) beam in the past, catamarans are considered to be a fast-growing segment globally and new marinas are being built to accommodate them.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Leopard 43 PC (2018-) is 27.6 mph (44.4 kph), burning 33.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 124.9 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Leopard 43 PC (2018-) is 19.2 mph (30.9 kph), and the boat gets 1.2 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.51 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 293 miles (471.54 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 320-hp Yanmar 8LV320.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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