Little Cat, Big Attitude

This reimagined 16-footer from Nacra Sailing is designed to put ease and speed into modern beach cat sailing.
The Nacra 500 Mk2 is available as a detuned “sport” model, but the Professional model has the all the right stuff for adults and emerging young catamaran sailors. Courtesy Nacra Sailing

If we want to start somewhere today on a path to high-performance multihull sailing, there are plenty of age-old designs from which to choose, but why go old school when you can sail the new school with the Nacra 500 Mk2, an entry into the 2023 edition of Sailing World’s Boat of the Year Awards. That “Mk2” is important here as Nacra Sailing has taken one of its timeless recreational cats and modernized it into a weapon of a beach cat or what they’re calling a “freerider.”

The Nacra 500mk2 is completely redesigned “following the latest innovations and using new technologies, the Mk2 is built to Olympic standards,” says Nacra Sailing. With additional performance upgrades available, the base boat is not a cruiser or a racer they add, “It’s a true next-gen sailing experience. And with this, a new segment in small catamaran sailing is created: high-end leisure.”

At 16 feet and 319 pounds, the Nacra 500Mk2 has been redesigned from the skegs up (no daggerboards or foils here), improving the hull shape and skeg designs for better stability and performance, which amounts to a wave-piercing bow profile, deeper skegs and a better distribution of volume for pitch balance. Nacra Sailing says the sail plan has also been updated with a more efficient radial mainsail design (“semi deck-sweeper”) and batten-tension system, as well as having the option to add a furling jib or gennaker to take it to the next level.

The new Nacra 500mk2 combines the simplicity of a beach cat with the tech of a modern Nacra performance catamaran, blending the best of both worlds into a versatile 16-foot multihull. Courtesy Nacra Sailing

The hull is a vinylester composite and the kick-up carbon-reinforced rudder blades are glass as well. The rig is aluminum and the Professional model has double trapezes as standard. With the listed price at the time of entry of €13.364 (ex. VAT), the 500 Mk2 fits in nicely price-wise with similar-sized recreational racing craft. With its ability to accommodate a wide range of sailors and combined weights, it is positioned well to be both a family freerider and recreational one-design racer with international fleets that will no doubt soon follow.

Boat of the Year testing will resume in October in Annapolis, so stay tuned for reports from our sailing sessions.

Nacra 500mk2 Key Measurements

Length 5.03m (16’5″)
Width 2.5m (8′2″)
Mast length 8.20m (26’9”)
Boat weight 145kg (319 lbs)