Customer Reviews Leopard 32

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But some years ago, a review of the Leopard 32  appeared in Practical Boat Owner. Written by the founding editor of PBO, the late  Mr Denney Dessouter, here are some extracts. The builders  of this particular are no longer in existence incidentally. Peter Nicholls’ notes are in italics

Mr Desoutter wrote in PBO:

“No lean and hungry feline, this leopard is a Tough as Steel Fat Cat. Steel construction, voluminous accommodation, spacious deck area, and shallow draft twin keels (there is a centre keel option) all these must rank high with a cruising owner, and all those characteristics are to be found in Tony Tucker’s Leopard designs,

With a beam of just over 11 feet, one would expect accommodation to be roomy, but Leopards have the additional advantage of a raised, full-width fore deck. This is not the sort of leopard one finds in nature, creeping along with a low profile. The topsides are high, and only the sunken shoulder doghouse could be called “low”, at least when viewed from without. Inside there is headroom of 6ft 6 in (in the doghouse/saloon, 5ft 10″ forward)

Not only does the raised and wide deck pay off handsomely in headroom and spaciousness below, in confers the boon of a large deck area. With only slight camber, that area makes deckwork easy and safe, whether it is a matter of handling warps, setting sails, or lifting a dinghy aboard. And for relaxation, its benefits are just as great, either to laze under a warm sun or to sleep outside under the stars, looking up through the shrouds and cross tree to the deep indigo of the night sky. Delightful!

The boat in which I sailed had antislip on the decks and with the protection of the high stanchion guard rails and wires one could move freely and securely around the boat at all times.

The one drawback with these high and wide decks is that one’s forward vision from the cockpit is restricted unless one remained standing. Personally I own a boat whose cabin top obstructs by view in the same way, though mine does not  give us the benefit of wide deck spaces and more room inside. The answer is simple enough to build an elevated helmsman’s seat for helming in restricted waters and when coming into port.

The hull plating is 4mm thick and the decks are 3mm. T section floors stiffen the bottom and support the cabin sole; there are 4 x 1 inch channel frames in way of engine beds and (for the bilge-keeled version) bilge plates inside and out. The bilge keels themselves are asymmetric section and filled with steel punchings and cement (now epoxy with lead ballast alternative) Each bilge keel weighs around a tonne. The brief scantling description above has been substantially reworked and improved by Peter Nicholls Yachtbuilders

Under sail the boat was stiff, as one might expect from her ballast and beam; in fact she was stiff enough to tempt one to carry even more sail area. When reefed (in a force 6) and sailing more upright, she was relieved of the previously excessive weather helm , and became altogether more mannerly.

I would not call her a sparkling sailer, but that would be an unfair judgement because her headsail sheets were not leading correctly and one could have wished for a better setting main. Nevertheless I can honestly say that her performance would without doubt be judged acceptable by most cruising owners.

Despite those sails, a tacking angle of 100 degrees was easily achieved, and though it broadened her to about 110 degrees under her wrongly sheeted headsail alone, the fact that she did turn easily to weather under that single sail was a point in her favour. She hove-to comfortably and ran steadily.

Going astern under power in a strong crosswind she acquitted herself creditably. Ahead, no problem of course. The engine installation was notably smooth and quiet.

Denny Desoutter,  writing in Practical Boat Owner.