I have two links below about catamaran safety in big seas from Yachting World by extremely reputable sailors Skip Novak and Nigel Irons. They are both legends of the sport and I have huge respect for them. I found both articles interesting, informative but a little conflicting in areas. If you are interested in this please read *both* articles and I would love to hear your thoughts.
Skip, despite his title, seems to be saying that you could be in for trouble if you are in big seas in a performance catamaran but that up until that point in time it is easier onboard handling sails on a catamaran. "Sail handling is a dream, compared with grappling with sails tangled up in the lifelines on the foredeck of a monohull heeled at 20°." He goes on to say that "Monohull keel failures, which seem to occur with alarming frequency, often leave holes in the boat – she floats, but survival until rescue can be a more desperate situation. In ocean racing terms at least, when you add up speed, safety and comfort it seems multihulls are a more intelligent approach."
Nigel seems to be saying the complete opposite, pointing out that "Performance cruisers with fine bows should be able to surf downwind in all but the most extreme weather, often travelling safely at speeds of 20 knots or more for periods of, say, 10-15 seconds. But in the same conditions a stubbier, bluff-bowed charter catamaran would soon start feeling dangerous if the crew were pushing too hard under these conditions.
In my limited experience so far it is incredible how safe I feel onboard in much much larger conditions. For one, I'm making better decisions in all circumstances because I have had a better sleep. Also like Skip says in his article we have a huge area to make sail changes which is much safer. "Reefing early," as we have all heard. Would love to hear everyones thoughts.