Re: 2026 Downwind Circumnavigation Boat Choice: Amel 50 sloop or Amel 55 ketch?

Joerg Esdorn

Fred, I've owned my 55 since 2016 and covered some 14000 miles in the Med and the North Atlantic.  I've also test sailed the 50 in very light airs.  I will try to give you my unbiased opinion.  I like the 50 - the cockpit is great, better than on any of the prior Amels, including the 55.  The salon is more comfortable and livable at anchor and in harbor than on the 55 and any of the prior Amels.  At sea, you likely miss the sea berth of the 55, the better chart table and the linear galley and open layout of the 50 are less advantageous.  However, 95% of a circumnavigation is spent at anchor and owners of Oysters - which have a similar layout - don't complain about being uncomfortable at sea.  You will also miss the extra storage of the 55 both on and below deck.

From a sailing perspective, I think the 50 will be a bit faster upwind but about the same speed on most other angles of sail as the 55.  The 55 is deceptively fast on a reach even in very light airs.  The sloop rig is easier to handle than the ketch rig of the 55 – every tack and jibe I have to deal with the mizzen in addition to the main and jib.  Downwind on the 55 the mizzen blankets the main if you’re sailing very deep (160 degrees TWA or more) so you will want to take it down or take down the main, for example if you have the Parasailor or asymmetric spinnaker up.  On the 50, in those cases you will take down the main so I’m not sure it’s a big difference.  I personally like to play with the sails and there’s more to play with on the 55!  

There are other differences that are important.  The Amel drive of the 55 is quite a bit quieter than the standard prop on the 50 - the prop does its thing much removed from the hull.  When I tested the 50, the difference was quite noticeable, particularly in the aft cabin where you will sleep on the 50.  On the other hand, it’s a pain in the neck having to service the Amel drive every 800 hours.  The skeg of the 55 makes for a very solid rudder although orcas have also managed to eat up the skegged rudder of a Super Maramu.  On the positive side, the double rudders of the 50 should improve control under autopilot downwind or on a reach in heavy air.  


I hope this is helpful.  I’d be happy to discuss more on the phone if you’d like.

Joerg Esdorn
A55 #53 Kincsem
Currently in La Rochelle

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