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Prout Catamarans Ltd

The multihull pioneers Roland and Francis Prout, founders of Prout Catamarans, designed and built their first production cat in 1954. The company was very successful, and was a world leader for many years in innovation in cruising catamaran design as well as in production volume. In almost 50 years of production over 2000 boats were built. In later years the success of the company declined and in the year 2000 was sold, first to Quest of Canada and then in 2001 to Broadblue of the UK.

Before WWll the Prout brothers were in partnership in a boat building business with their father, Geoffrey Prout. The war interrupted business, though the brothers were inspired by the outrigger canoes they saw while on service with the RAF in the Pacific. The boat business flourished post war, producing canoes and folding dinghies, and the brothers raced canoes and kayaks to Olympic level.

In 1949 they started testing the multihull idea by lashing two canoes together. After the 1952 Olympics they made a more elaborate test with two kayaks, which was so successful that they decided to design and build a catamaran. This boat, the SHEARWATER, won every local race as well as the Burnham-on-Crouch annual regatta in 1954. The Shearwater design was developed and began to gain considerable recognition as it won races and reached sensational speeds in trials. The Shearwater was followed by the 19 ft (5.8 m) Cougar. The Cougar III was one of the first glass fibre boats produced in Britain.

The Prout brothers moved quickly to designing cruising catamarans. The first was a 19 ft (5.8 m) cruiser, based on the Cougar III hull. This was followed by larger boats.

The Prout brothers were very early users of fibreglass in catamarans, as in the Ranger line, and innovative in the development of fixed low aspect ratio keels instead of the earlier centreboards. They continued to produce trailblazing designs over many years, including the Snowgoose 35, launched in 1971. This boat had lower-windage hulls and a central nacelle, housing a diesel engine with a steerable outdrive leg. The Snowgoose 35 had its mast positioned well aft with modest mainsail and large genoa, making sail handling easy from the safety of the cockpit.

Prout catamarans, and particularly the Snowgoose line, are synonymous with safe and comfortable cruising. They have a renowned safety record and command a high price on the used boat market in every corner of the world.

In more recent years the designs were developed by Managing Director Robert Underwood and designer David Feltham.

Roland Prout died in 1997.

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