A catamaran (/ˌkætəməˈræn/) (informally, a "cat") is a multi-hulled watercraft featuring two parallel hulls of equal size. It is a geometry-stabilized craft, deriving its stability from its wide beam, rather than from a ballasted keel as with a monohull boat. Catamarans typically have less hull volume, smaller displacement, and shallower draft (draught) than monohulls of comparable length. The two hulls combined also often have a smaller hydrodynamic resistance than comparable monohulls, requiring less propulsive power from either sails or motors. The catamaran's wider stance on the water can reduce both heeling and wave-induced motion, as compared with a monohull, and can give reduced wakes.
Catamarans range in size from small sailing or rowing vessels to large naval ships and roll-on/roll-off car ferries. The structure connecting a catamaran's two hulls ranges from a simple frame strung with webbing to support the crew to a bridging superstructure incorporating extensive cabin and/or cargo space.
The word "catamaran" is derived from the Tamil word, kattumaram (கட்டமரம்), which means "logs bound together" and is a type of single-hulled raft made of three to seven tree trunks lashed together. The term has evolved in English usage to refer to double-hulled vessels.
Catamaran-type vessels were an early technology of the Austronesian peoples. Early researchers like Heine-Geldern (1932) and Hornell (1943) once believed that catamarans evolved from outrigger canoes, but modern authors specializing in Austronesian cultures like Doran (1981) and Mahdi (1988) now believe it to be the opposite.
This would also explain why older Austronesian populations in Island Southeast Asia tend to favor double outrigger canoes, as it keeps the boats stable when tacking. But they still have small regions where catamarans and single-outrigger canoes are still used. In contrast, more distant outlying descendant populations in Oceania, Madagascar, and the Comoros, retained the double-hull and the single outrigger canoe types, but the technology for double outriggers never reached them (although it exists in western Melanesia). To deal with the problem of the instability of the boat when the outrigger faces leeward when tacking, they instead developed the shunting technique in sailing, in conjunction with reversible single-outriggers.
Later that century, the American Nathanael Herreshoff constructed a double-hulled sailing boat of his own design (US Pat. No. 189,459). The craft, Amaryllis, raced at her maiden regatta on June 22, 1876, and performed exceedingly well. Her debut demonstrated the distinct performance advantages afforded to catamarans over the standard monohulls. It was as a result of this event, the Centennial Regatta of the New York Yacht Club, that catamarans were barred from regular sailing classes, and this remained the case until the 1970s. On June 6, 1882, three catamarans from the Southern Yacht Club of New Orleans raced a 15 nm course on Lake Pontchartrain and the winning boat in the catamaran class, Nip and Tuck, beat the fastest sloop's time by over five minutes.
In the mid-twentieth century, beachcats became a widespread category of sailing catamarans, owing to their ease of launching and mass production. In California, a maker of surfboards, Hobie Alter, produced the 250-pound (110 kg) Hobie 14 in 1967, and two years later the larger and even more successful Hobie 16. As of 2016, the Hobie 16 was still being produced with more than 100,000 having been manufactured.
Catamarans were introduced to Olympic sailing in 1976. The two-handed Tornado catamaran was selected for the multihull discipline in the Olympic Games from 1976 through 2008. It was redesigned in 2000. The foiling Nacra 17 was used in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which were held in 2021; after the 2015 adoption of the Nacra 15 as a Youth World Championships class and as a new class for the Youth Olympic Games.
Catamarans have two distinct primary performance characteristics that distinguish them from displacement monohull vessels: lower resistance to passage through the water and greater stability (initial resistance to capsize). Choosing between a monohull and catamaran configuration includes considerations of carrying capacity, speed, and efficiency.
SWATH reduces wave-generating resistance by moving displacement volume below the waterline, using a pair of tubular, submarine-like hulls, connected by pylons to the bridge deck with a narrow waterline cross-section. The submerged hulls are minimally affected by waves. The SWATH form was invented by Canadian Frederick G. Creed, who presented his idea in 1938 and was later awarded a British patent for it in 1946. It was first used in the 1960s and 1970s as an evolution of catamaran design for use as oceanographic research vessels or submarine rescue ships. In 1990, the US Navy commissioned the construction of a SWATH ship to test the configuration.
Wave-piercing catamarans (strictly speaking they are trimarans, with a central hull and two outriggers) employ a low-buoyancy bow on each hull that is pointed at the water line and rises aft, up to a level, to allow each hull to pierce waves, rather than ride over them. This allows higher speeds through waves than for a conventional catamaran. They are distinguished from SWATH catamarans, in that the buoyant part of the hull is not tubular. The spanning bridge deck may be configured with some of the characteristics of a normal V-hull, which allows it to penetrate the crests of waves.
A catamaran configuration fills a niche where speed and sea-kindliness is favored over bulk capacity. In larger vessels, this niche favors car ferries and military vessels for patrol or operation in the littoral zone.
Recreational and sport catamarans typically are designed to have a crew of two and be launched and landed from a beach. Most have a trampoline on the bridging structure, a rotating mast and full-length battens on the mainsail. Performance versions often have trapezes to allow the crew to hike out and counterbalance capsize forces during strong winds on certain points of sail.
On San Francisco Bay, the 2013 America's Cup was sailed in 72-foot (22 m) long AC72 catamarans (craft set by the rules for the 2013 America's Cup). Each yacht employed hydrofoils and a wing sail. The regatta was won 9-8 by Oracle Team USA against the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, in fifteen matches because Oracle Team USA had started the regatta with a two-point penalty.
Yachting has seen the development of multihulls over 100 feet (30 m) in length. "The Race" helped precipitate this trend; it was a circumnavigation challenge which departed from Barcelona, Spain, on New Year's Eve, 2000. Because of the prize money and prestige associated with this event, four new catamarans (and two highly modified ones) over 100 feet (30 m) in length were built to compete. The largest, PlayStation, owned by Steve Fossett, was 125 feet (38 m) long and had a mast which was 147 feet (45 m) above the water. Virtually all of the new mega-cats were built of pre-preg carbon fiber for strength and the lowest possible weight. The top speeds of these boats can approach 50 knots (58 mph; 93 km/h). The Race was won by the 33.50 m (109.9 ft)-long catamaran Club Med skippered by Grant Dalton. It went round the globe in 62 days at an average speed of 18 knots (21 mph; 33 km/h).
Powered cruising catamarans share many of the amenities found in a sail cruising catamaran. The saloon typically spans two hulls wherein are found the staterooms and engine compartments. As with sailing catamarans, this configuration minimizes boat motion in a seaway.
The Swiss-registered wave-piercing catamaran, Tûranor PlanetSolar, which was launched in March 2010, is the world's largest solar powered boat. It completed a circumnavigation of the globe in 2012.
The 1970s saw the introduction of catamarans as high-speed ferries, as pioneered by Westermoen Hydrofoil in Mandal, Norway, which launched the Westamaran design in 1973. The Stena Voyager was an example of a large, fast ferry, typically traveling at a speed of 46 miles per hour (74 km/h), although it was capable of over 70 miles per hour (110 km/h).
The first warship to be propelled by a steam engine, named Demologos or Fulton and built in the United States during the War of 1812, was a catamaran with a paddle wheel between her hulls.
In the early 20th Century several catamarans were built as submarine salvage ships: SMS Vulkan and SMS Cyclop of Germany, Kommuna of Russia, and Kanguro of Spain, all designed to lift stricken submarines by means of huge cranes above a moon pool between the hulls. Two Cold War-era submarine rescue ships, USS Pigeon and USS Ortolan of the US Navy, were also catamarans, but did not have the moon pool feature.
The use of catamarans as high-speed naval transport was pioneered by HMAS Jervis Bay, which was in service with the Royal Australian Navy between 1999 and 2001. The US Military Sealift Command now operates several Expeditionary Fast Transport catamarans owned by the US Navy; they are used for high speed transport of military cargo, and to get into shallow ports.
The Makar-class is a class of two large catamaran-hull survey ships built for the Indian Navy. As of 2012, one vessel, INS Makar (J31), was in service and the second was under construction.
A sailing catamaran is a multihull vessel that is characterized by having two separate hulls, which are generally similar or identical in size. Because of their dual-hull design, they offer more space and will lay on the water like a raft, for less heeling when enjoying sailing on the open waters. These boats were originally crafted in the South Pacific as a way to navigate the shallow waters with increased stability, for transporting passengers and goods between various islands. They became popular for sailing in the 1960s and 70s and are now one of the most common sailing vessels available. 041b061a72