Catamarans versus Monohulls

Which is better, catamarans or monohulls? This is one of the great sailing questions. No honest sailor can answer the catamarans versus monohulls question categorically. Any boat you choose is a compromise. Here we lay out pros and cons for each type. The one thing we *would* say as a rule of thumb is the smaller the boat the bigger the smile when you sail it (and vice-versa after it’s docked). But that’s for another post. When we look at pros and cons of monohulls versus catamarans, comparing one with the other, typically a pro for one is a con for another. But not always.

Here’s something we made earlier that shines a bit of light on the topic. First, a look at the pros and cons of monohull yachts:

Monohull Pros and Cons

Monohulls point higher, feel more like a sailing boat (ie. the windier it gets for a given amount of sail, the more they heel over), and are the traditional choice. For these reasons of feel monohulls tend to be the best boats on which to learn. For instance check out Sailing Virgins’ flagship, a Beneteau First 40. Nevertheless if you are taking your friends or family out for a week, monohulls don’t have the liveability of their two-hulled brethren.

Let’s have a closer look at the pros and cons of a catamaran.


Catamarans may not be able to beat upwind as well as monohulls, but get them on a reach and they will love you long time. And the square, living-room-esque layout, sitting above the water, is hard to beat when you are at anchor in a lovely little bay.

A Paragraph In Praise of Monohulls

It’s hard to beat that feeling of a perfectly trimmed boat, heeling over with the puffs, cutting high, high up against the breeze. It’s the visceral nature of sailing that is best experienced on a monohull (or a tiny cat that flies on a hull, but you can’t live on that). Regarding monohulls versus catamarans, monohulls kill it when you’re looking for the viiibe.

A Paragraph In Praise of Catamarans

Cats are generally faster, more comfortable, more spacious and very well ventilated with the living area above the water. They are a floating villa that, as long as you’re reaching, perform better than their monohull cousins.

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You can probably understand why there’s no real winner here. Nevertheless one can’t ignore the huge growth in the catamaran market over the past twenty years. We don’t have the data but anecdotally it is clear – monohulls are the best boats to learn on as the feedback is more immediate, and catamarans are the more favoured option by charterers when taking their friends and family out for a week.

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