BAMBA 50: Catamaran Motorsailer

Bamba 50 under sail

Yo peeps. I’m tapping this out in the wind-blown town of Lorient, France, where I spent all day yesterday browsing through a small, but very interesting boat show, Les Salons du Multicoque. This is a special presentation of multihulls, containing some very cutting-edge boats, that flops back and forth between Brittany and the Med. Ironically, one of the boats I found most interesting was this new Bamba 50, a catamaran motorsailing trawler built right near here in La Rochelle. It serves as a trenchant reminder that the “edge” in boat design can cut more ways than one.

The mast is quite tall (air draft is about 60 feet), is set well aft, and is designed to fly either one big 860-sq.ft. genoa or a 1,075-sq.ft. gennaker.

Bamba 50 profile

Check out that funky sailplan profile

The motive force of the sail augments that of the engines, two 150-hp Iveco truck diesels that are configured to run at low revs (max rpm is 2,800, and they cruise at 1,400). Carrying a smidge over 1,000 gallons of fuel, the mighty Bamba reportedly has a functional range of over 3,000 nautical miles under power alone, which, of course, can be significantly increased by simply rolling out the sail. In motorsailing mode, I was told, the leeward engine runs alone, turning just 700 rpm.

Play your cards right on this boat, and I reckon you could easily get through a full season of cruising–or maybe even all the way across the Atlantic and back–with just one trip to the fuel dock.

Accommodations, of course, are astoundingly palatial.

Bamba 50 saloon

The saloon looking forward

Bamba 50 flybridge

The spacious flybridge

Bamba 50 master stateroom

Picture windows in the master stateroom aft

Bamba 50 bunk berths

A pair of clever bunk berths in the smallest of the three guest staterooms

Bamba 50 galley

A well-appointed galley

Bamba 50 dockside

On the dock at the show

Bamba 50 at anchor

At anchor in the brochure; note the fold-down transom

What you’re looking at here is hull number one, which was built on spec. Bamba is actively seeking representation in the U.S., has worked out a design for a big Bamba (60 feet) and (thanks to several comments received at the show) is currently drawing a baby Bamba (approx. 42 feet) on the back of the proverbial napkin.

And yes, the boat is named after the song.

Some of the other cool stuff I saw at the show includes these massive submarine pens, which were right next door. The Germans built a number of these during the war to house a fleet of about 28 U-boats.

Sub pens at Lorient

Thanks to persistent Allied efforts to neutralize the threat they represented, the town of Lorient was mostly rubble by 1945, but the pens held up fairly well. I was told the walls are 5 meters thick and the roofs are 8 meters thick. On some spots on the roofs, allegedly, there are bomb craters that are two meters deep.

Of course, I also saw lots of other cool boats, including a number of super-duper French ocean-racing tris, like Foncia, Groupama, and Gitana, which weren’t even in the show, but apparently just like to hang out in Lorient.


Gitana at rest

Plus, there was a small collection of antique “Golden Oldies Multihulls,” which were part of the show. One of these was this intriguing specimen, Three Legs of Mann, which won its class in the Round Britain and Ireland back in 1974.

Three Legs of Mann

Three Legs of Mann traveler track

I’m not sure, but this may have been one of the first boats to incorporate a huge semi-circular mainsheet traveler track.

I’ll share more about the show as soon as I get that damned song out of my head.

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