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Two Hobie catamarans, showing the typical Hobie
raised platform joining the two hulls, and tall mast.

A catamaran is a type of sailing vessel, consisting of two hullss joined by a frame.

Catamarans are a relatively recent design of boat for both leisure and sport sailing, although they have been used for many centuries by the Polynesian culture, as essential transport in their island economy. Catamarans have been met by a degree of scepticism from modern sailors, being used to more 'traditional' designs.

Although the principles of sailing are the same for both catamarans and monohulls there are some 'peculiarities' to sailing catamarans. For example:

Teaching for new sailors is usually carried out in monohulls as they are thought easier to learn to sail, a mixture of all the differences mentioned probably contributes to this.

Catamarans, and multihulls in general, are normally faster than single-hull boats for four reasons:

Catamarans are especially favourable in coastal waters, where the open spaces permit the boat to reach and maintain its maximum speed. Catamarans make good cruising and long distance boats: The Race (around the world, in 2001) was won by the giant catamaran Club Med skippered by Grant Dalton. It went round the earth in 62 days at an average speed of eighteen knots.

Popular small racing catamarans include:

Catamarans for ferries:

See also: multihull, Dinghy sailing, trimaran

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