Leopard 44 Best Boat Of The Year

Introduced to North America at the Strictly Sail Miami Show in early 2011, the Leopard 44 has received the SAIL Magazine Best Boat 2012 for the category of Cruising Multihulls under 50 feet.  Built by Robertson and Caine in South Africa, the Leopard cats have proven to be fast, sailor-friendly and robust in charter service worldwide. 

Drawing on an idea from Lagoon catamarans, the Leopard 44 has a door from the saloon to a forward lounging cockpit that should prove attractive with its comfortable seating and sun protection from the extended cabin top.  It is, we think, ideal for enjoying a sundowner at anchor.

The Leopard 44 is available in two versions, with either an owner’s suite filling the entire starboard hull and two ensuite guest cabins in the port hull or a more charter-friendly four-stateroom four-head version.  Going into service with Sunsail as the Sunsail 444 is the four-cabin version, while other charter companies (including TMM Charters) offer the owner’s layout.

Either way, the 44/444 has a raised bridge with excellent visibility and electric winches for sail trim.  Other bareboat features include generator and air conditioning, electric windlass, fully-battened stacking mainsail and furling genoa, and full Raymarine electronics.

Sunsail, 888-350-3568,

TMM, 800-633-0155,


Marine Max Jumps In

MarineMax, the largest recreational boat and yacht dealer in the United States, has jumped into the bareboat charter pond with a fleet of Dufour luxury sailboats based out of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

Chris Caswell PhotographyCalled MarineMax Vacations, the bareboat program will initially offer 15 Dufour sailboats and intends to follow that with a fleet of bareboat powerboats as well.  Aiming to appeal to a higher-end charter clientele, each of the boats will have $50,000 in upgrades that include a generator, air conditioning, and a watermaker, which sets them apart from other BVI bareboats.

Two sailing models are now available: the MarineMax 413 and the 433.  The 413 is actually the Dufour 405GL, a 40-footer with three cabins and two heads.  The 433 is the Dufour 425GL, a 42-footer with three cabins and three heads. 

Arriving later in 2012 will be two power catamarans: a 38-footer with a two-cabin/two-head layout and a 45-footer with four ensuite cabins plus a flybridge.

The fleet will be based at Hodges Creek Marina, which is in Maya Cove on the east end of Tortola and just a short taxi ride from the BVI airport on Beef Island. 

Until March 31, 2012, the company is offering 20% off bareboat charters of five days or longer when booked before January 31.

We expect this to be a serious contender, since MarineMax Vacations president Lex Raas and VP Raul Bermudez both held those positions for many years with The Moorings, and clearly understand bareboat chartering.

MarineMaxVacations, 888-461-5497,

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