Leopard 43 PC

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Leopard 43

Power cats have come of age and the Leopard 43 is right at the forefront. Described by its owners as the ideal family cruising boat with excessive amounts of space, unrivalled stability, and amazing performance, it seems the designer and builders have got it right.  Barry Thompson, a dedicated power cat fan checks out the first Leopard L43PC in New Zealand.

Power cats are no longer looked at as just a sailing version without a mast. Designers have perfected just about every aspect of the power cat and they continue to get better and better. One of these is the Leopard L43PC, built in South Africa by Robertson & Caine with exterior design by Simonis Voogd Design.

The Léopard 43PC is offered in two layouts, as the three cabin Owner’s version as well as a four cabin charter version, under the name Moorings 4300, with virtually all other living spaces the same for both.

The Leopard 43 didn’t just happen. It evolved from the successful Leopard L51PC when designer Alexander Simonis was asked to produce an L51PC on a ‘diet’. Simonis explains that firstly the smaller vessel needed to work to an even lower running trim than the L51PC and to achieve the upward force generated in the stern the aft sections had to become more significant.

“This was done by moving the volume distribution further back than on the 51 and making it wider in the aft sections. However, the danger here is that if we became too wide, the wave resistance would go up too much and the result would be a significant drop in speed”, says Simonis.

The solution was making the tunnel and transom widths much closer. The amount of area lost in the front exceeds that which is lost at the back while the overall beam hasn’t increased. The L43PC gets close to the speeds the 51, despite being over 2m shorter and having 100 hp less.

The keels have been done away with, replaced by small skegs which allow the boat to be beached and stored on the hard. The bows are a very fine-entry, the ski-shape forward and the nacelle is high for the size of the boat. The deep U-sections of the forward half of the hulls, which generate a very deadening hull form to counteract pitching, contribute to a well-balanced trim and increase the boat’s capabilities going through a choppy sea. The aft third is hollowed out in the form of a tunnel to allow space for the propeller and improve the angle of the prop shaft, to a very efficient 8°.

Another plus is the stepped hull design, which adds interior volume above the waterline, allowing for roomier accommodations in the hulls without sacrificing performance.

While I had very calm conditions on Auckland Harbour for the review, the boat was delivered to Auckland from Tauranga in a reasonably feisty sea and the owner is very complimentary about how well it was handling, especially around Cape Colville.

“It surprised me and the more the weather cut up, the better the boat seemed to like it. We ran at around 18 knots, a speed that I would never have even considered in my previous 47ft flybridge cruiser. Very impressive!”, says the owner.

I found the L43PC to be incredibly stable and even when we did experience a ferry wake the twin hulls ride across like on rails. In a full speed tight turn, the boat sits level and runs a reasonably tight radius without dropping any speed and with no heel. Certainly a very easy and pleasant boat to drive.

SLIPPERY ON THE WATER

The L43PC is 13m overall with a maximum beam of 6.72m, with a displacement of 13891 kg. Standard power is a pair of 320hp Yanmar 8LV320s, which give a maximum speed of 24.5 knots (light displacement) and cruise of 18 knots. With narrower hulls and less wetted surface below the waterline, the Leopard 43PC maintains exceptional fuel efficiency. There’s no doubt this is a slippery boat through the water with a maximum range @ 6.5 knots of around 1400nm. That’s enough to cross the Tasman or get to Fiji, with the latter being somewhere the owner intends to cruise to in the future. The L43PC carries 1000 litres of fuel and 780 litres of water.

CAT FAN

I have always been a power cat fan, ever since I started racing offshore power cats, that took driver Glen Urquhart and me to a world championship win. When power cats or tunnel hulls as they were known, arrived on the offshore racing scene, they changed it overnight. They signalled an almost immediate demise of the monohull. However, when it came to recreational boating, the power cat was a lot slower to emerge as a serious alternative to the conventional monohull. Cats were for sailing and the move into power has been a gradual transition, although in the past few years that has gained momentum. Now when you go to a boat show, power cats are everywhere, both from local custom designers to stock boats from as wide as Europe, Taiwan, Australia and South Africa.

It was at the recent Auckland On Water Boat Show that I came across the Leopard L43PC, the first one imported into New Zealand. Australia embraced the power cat a lot earlier than Kiwis, with six Leopard L43PCs sold.

FIRST IMPRESSION

The first impression is one of space, as you would expect in any power cat, but the Leopard seems to have a little more. From the cockpit through to the forward screen and through onto the foredeck, the boat has that incredible feeling of volume. High profile windows all round, soft tone fabrics and light coloured Alabaster Oak laminated timber panelling accentuate the openness and generate a spacious feel.

This also flows right through to the accommodation areas in the hulls, where long side windows and high ceilings contribute to the airy and cosy atmosphere. With either three or four cabins, the L43PC is a perfect catamaran for family cruising.

There are two steering stations, a secondary position in the saloon, with the main driving area on the open flybridge. The facia is large enough for a couple of MFDs, although our boat was fitted with only one 12″ screen and flanked by all the rest of the controls, switches and displays necessary to run the boat.

Soon to be added were a full set of clears around the bridge, which will turn this into much more usable space in the colder climes. It’s a great entertainment space with a U shaped settee with fixed table and optional bbq/wet bar area to port. A unique feature of the L43PC is the twin sun pad areas, one ahead of the helm on the saloon roof and the other on the upper deck area aft.

An open tread staircase connects the flybridge to the cockpit where again the focus is on having a great time relaxing in an elegant environment, where plenty of seating forms the basis of the layout. There’s a massive U shape port side settee with fixed dining table, plus a sun lounger to starboard aft of the flybridge staircase.

When you slide open the aft bulkhead windows, the saloon and cockpit morph into one. Add some full clears around the outside and you have a massive ‘inside’ space. There is easy access to the extra wide side decks and also the generous boarding platforms. The owner has plans to extend the platform between the hulls to maximise the space available.

SPACE PLUS

The saloon, like all areas in the boat, is roomy, functional and extremely well designed, making maximum use of every available space. The galley is forward facing with a gas oven and hob, with maximum provision for storage, such as coffee machine, Corian surfaces, plus fridge/freezer combo drawers aft. Opposite is an L shaped settee with drop down table that converts to become another double berth.

Again Leopard has thought of how best to use all the space and via a door in the predominately solid perspex forward bulkhead, provide convenient access through to another sun lounging deck. There’s also a very neat access panel covering the internal anchor system, which means no anchoring rode or chain over the deck. Deep storage lockers fill the remaining spaces above the wing deck.

The second helm station, situated forward on the port side of the saloon, has an optional autopilot and engine controls, so if you want to drive from inside, this small, yet handy station lets you do so. Something I would certainly tick in the options list.

3 OR 4 CABINS

The thing that makes the Leopard 43 such a great charter boat is it’s four cabins, two bathroom option, which is what you will find in the Moorings 4300. Our boat had the Owner’s Version, with the three-cabin layout which sees the entire starboard hull dedicated as the master stateroom. There’s a sliding companionway door that shuts off the space and offers complete privacy. Forward is the head and walk-in shower area and aft the full beam (well width of the hull) berth. Separating the two is a changing area, with vanity, hanging lockers and storage.

The port side hull has a similar aft double berth arrangement but utilises the central area for the bathroom, hanging lockers. The third cabin is situated forward and is large enough for a double berth.

LAST WORD

I left the owner to have the last word, “The Leopard L43PC ticked all the boxes for us, and it is an ideal boat for our family and us, with plenty of space, stability, amazing handling and all within our budget. We are more than pleased with it and look forward to spending this summer cruising the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Islands. For brightness and ventilation, there is nothing like it”.

  • Boat Design Name: Leopard L43PC
  • Year Launched: 2018              
  • Builder: Robertson & Caine             
  • Designer: Alexander Simonis
  • LOA: 13.0m                                         
  • LWL: 12.44m                       
  • Beam: 6.72m               
  • Displ (Dry): 13891 kgs          
  • Max Speed: 23.6 knots
  • Construction: GRP
  • Fuel Cap: 1000 litres            
  • Water Cap: 780 litres           
  • Engines Make: 2x Yanmar 8LV320 @ 320hp   
  • Drive Train: Shaft               
  • Generator: 25kVA Fischer Panda
  • Anchor Winch: Lewmar
  • MFD: Raymarine                             
  • Entertainment: Fusion 
  • Certification: CE

FUEL & PERFORMANCE DATA

LEOPARD L43PC

Fuel capacity:

1000

litres

RPM

Knots

L/h

L/NM

Range  (NM)

1000

6.5

4

0.620

1400

1500

8.4

11

1.400

640

2000

10.0

26

2.600

340

2500

14.0

45.2

3.300

270

2800

16.5

56

3.400

260

3000

18.5

68

3.700

240

3200

20.5

76.5

3.800

230

3500

22.3

106

4.800

180

3750

24.5

126

5.400

170

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