The last year has been kind to cruising-cat aficionados; most established builders have introduced new models, and some yards are showing their wares in the United States for the first time. But to me, one of the more interesting debuts is the Gemini Legacy 35, which drags a venerable and popular boat—the Gemini 105 MC—into the 21st century.
One of the best-selling (and longest-lived) cruising cats ever, the 105 MC is an honest, capable boat that nevertheless is showing its age. When builders Performance Cruising partnered with The Catamaran Company and decided to close the Annapolis factory, the molds were moved down to what is now the Marlow Hunter plant in Alachua, Florida, where the long-established builder sized up this twin-hulled cuckoo in a monohull nest and decided to build it the Hunter way. From there, it was only a short step to a re-invention of the boat.
Of course, this involved input from the entire Marlow Hunter design team, all enthused to have a new kind of boat to play with. Glenn Henderson refashioned the hulls and the deck layout; Warren Luhrs himself took charge of the cockpit design; and boat-tester Steve Pettengill and the sales team, in conjunction with Gemini Catamarans president Laura Hershfeld, daughter of original Gemini designer, Tony Smith, all took part in the remaking of this classic cat, as did Tony himself.
The Legacy looks and feels like a completely different boat. The new two- or three-cabin interior is better finished, with more wood trim and joinery, bigger ports and windows, and better headroom in the saloon. The 105 MC rig is basically a monohull mast stepped on a cat, but the Legacy’s is a true multihull spar with swept spreaders and diamond stays, no backstay and a square-topped main. The 105 MC’s centerboards have been replaced with fixed keels, which increases draft but—as far as I could tell during my test sail—does not appear to unduly impact windward ability. Gone is the single 35hp diesel with its swiveling drive leg; instead, there’s a 20hp Yanmar diesel in each hull.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the narrow beam that allows the boat to ease into slips meant for monohulls, which is still a unique selling point for the Gemini. Fans of the older design need not worry; the 105 MC is still in production and will be sold alongside the Legacy 35.
No Annapolis show is complete without a new cruising cat from Robertson & Caine, and sure enough the successor to the long-lived Leopard 46, the all-new Leopard 48, had just arrived from South Africa. This Simonis design is chunkier-looking than the Morrelli & Melvin-designed 46, but it is also eminently practical. The aggressive coachroof overhang shelters the forward cockpit, which opens into the roomy saloon. With the sliding doors open to the aft cockpit, one vast, generously ventilated living area is created, with three distinct seating areas making plenty of room for crew to socialize or tuck themselves out of the way with a book. Like the other models in the Leopard range, this one appeals to both charter operators and cruisers, and looks set to enjoy a long and fruitful lifespan.
Speaking of long lives, France’s Lagoon yard is well known for boats that sell so steadily that no one dare remove them from production. Perhaps this is why the yard now has a third boat in the 40-foot-and-under bracket—the Lagoon 39. Slotting neatly between the Lagoons 38 and 40 S2, this new VPLP-designed cat is an altogether trendier beast than its siblings. Sporting a new hull design, a rig biased toward a large foretriangle and a jaunty rise to the hardtop, this boat—along with the new Lagoon 52—ushers in a new era for Lagoon. It’s available in two-, three- or four-cabin versions to suit both private owners and the charter market.
Photos courtesy of Gemini Catamarans, Robertson & Caine, Lagoon Catamarans