What are differences between  performance cruisers and ordinary cruisers like Bavaria, Jeanneau or Beneteau Oceanis that you normally find for sail charter? The main difference: Performance cruisers are 10-30% faster than cruisers, even faster than 10 foot larger cruisers.  (Note; if you compare size of different yachts you should look at hull length, not LOA (Length Over All) which includes anchor or bowsprit hanging out in bow).

A performance cruiser has same living space and comfort as cruiser, but at the data sheet you most probably only find difference in weight (Cruiser is 10-20% heavier due to less advanced lamination)  – at the same time performance means more speed.. Why?

You should find following at a Performance Cruiser - at Elan 450 you find them all:

  • More sail area and better shape and quality (triradial cut and laminated sails)
  • Performance sails for reaching, code zero and gennaker and carbon pole (or fixed bowsprit)
  • Full batten main (more efficient and easier to trim, same efficient shape when reefed)
  • Tall performance mast, coned in top and keel stepped which allows much tighter rigging
  • Tight rigging with compact wire (Dyform) or rod with minimum of flex and easy to trim
  • Head sail furler below deck (closing gap to deck and more sail area)
  • Efficient back stay tensioner (hydraulic), when used; mast is curved and changes the shape of sails
  • Efficient mainsheet system (German 2x system with traveller in cockpit)
  • Large winches and clutches (Spinlock XX power clutches to halyards)
  • High quality halyards and sheets (in spectra)
  • Performance keel in lead (deep and efficient shape, lead bulb, low gravidity and drag)
  • Retractable bow thruster and folding propeller (minimum drag when sailing)
  • Efficient ruder (twin rudders or deep single rudder)
  • Strong and light hull (advanced building technique by vacuum infused lamination, laminated bulkheads, strong and sophisticated grid at bottom structure)
  • Efficient shape of the hull (this difference has been narrowed last years by new designs, but still a difference)
  • Low and centred weight of water tanks and batteries

Meaning a performance cruiser is much lighter, more efficient sails, much higher righting momentum, stronger construction and equipment to handle heavy loads more efficient and better rudder control.  Simply, performance means speed but also a more sophisticated and expensive construction of hull, keel, rig, sails and other equipment.

It’s all about money.. A performance cruiser is 50-100% more expensive versus a charter cruiser.
 
At the market for charter (rental) in the Med, I should say 90% are cruisers, typical you will find Bavaria, Jeanneau, Oceanis (Beneteau), Impression (Elan). Then it might be 5-7% catamarans in the Med, but only about 3% (or less?) performance cruisers.
Typical brands of performance cruisers are: X-Yachts, Elan Performance, Grand Soleil, First (Beneteau) and Dehler.
Dufour which mostly make cruisers also have an E serie of Performace cruisers.
Hanse is in between, they have tall coned mast but stepped on deck (not keel stepped of size 31 - 50 foot), T-keel but cast iron and not lead. And they don't have german 2x sheeting with traveler in cockpit.