Families looking for an entry-level catamaran that can sleep up to six, yet not break the bank of Monte Carlo could do well to check out the Lagoon 40, reports KEVIN GREEN.
Entry- level models have a big responsibility, as they get buyers in and perhaps one day those same buyers will move up the range, and given Lagoon currently has 12 sailing catamarans, there’s plenty to choose from. The 40, like all of these VPLP French boats, is designed from the inside out, to maximise space while having a hull robust enough to enjoy coastal cruising.
My colleague Wendy demonstrates the good handrails going forward, while Joe from TMG at the helm is near the rig; all good features of the Lagoon 40. Image Kevin Green
For this model, that launched in 2018, performance has been given more emphasis so the rig has been upgraded with the mast located further aft (thus giving a more even coverage of sail across the hull). This also creates a larger self-tacking jib for better windward abilities. Having spent some time living on these smaller Lagoons, I found several key parts of note. The spacious saloon protected by GRP lip minimises the Pacific sun and in terms of the hull, a manageable overall size for those tricky marina manoeuvres. The elevated steering console gives good vision and all sail controls are here as well, so the kids can safely enjoy the fun in the large aft cockpit. Water access is the other plus of many catamarans and the Lagoon 40 is no exception with steps on each hull and davits for the dinghy in between.
Local dealer The Multihull Group (TMG) had experienced a positive response to this first boat Australian boat (hull #87) from visitors to the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, so afterwards I jumped aboard for a sail around the Gold Coast. The inland waterways, including the Broadwater are ideal catamaran cruising grounds, so a good place to experience the Lagoon 40. Another big plus is the excellent facilities at the Boat Works yard, where I joined the yacht along with my colleague Wendy from Multihull World magazine.
The most obvious place to begin looking at any catamaran is its aft cockpit, given this area dominates most modern designs. Cockpits on cruising catamarans are heavily used places, so smart ergonomics here can make or break the deal for buyers. Acres of open space is not desirable at sea, unlike in port where catamarans are the party platforms of cruising fleets. So the modest Lagoon 40 cockpit is nicely in proportion and the dining part is sheltered below the fibreglass saloon overhang. Our review boat came with teak underfoot and the upgraded Elegance Pack for furnishings but the standard layout was fine. The transom bench added greatly to the dinette seating to create a convivial area, suitable for most weathers. Other notable points included under-bench storage and the single helm nearby.
Stepping inside the saloon, via single sliding door reveals a fairly busy area, which is understandable given there is a lot to fit in. Having the rig further back requires the compression post to be near the door which is no bad thing as it’s a good hand-hold. Around the compression post is the galley to port and lounge area on the starboard quarter, which is nicely shaded thanks to those signature upright bulkheads that are softened externally by a fibreglass lip. These upright bulkheads give sun protection and add volume. Critics say the downside is windage, so at anchor you may tend to dodge around, but the benefits are plain to see when you consider the near 2.0m plus headroom throughout.
Good galley access to the outside diners and the door plus large windows forward create good airflow on the Lagoon 40. Image Lagoon
Other amenities on the Lagoon 40 include the dinette which can seat a large family easily around its rectangular table. Regular collaborator Nauta Design has created a saloon with plenty locker space, soft close drawers and overhead cupboards. The navigation station uses the forward portside corner well, giving the skipper a large angled bulkhead for electronics, above a small chart table. The house switchboard is below, along with a slot for the VHF, and of course with clear views all round to help the navigator. Two opening forward windows, which are also suitably large, ensure good ventilation as well.
Behind, the U-shaped galley’s amenities include a single deep stainless sink, sunk into the composite worktops – which have tall, effective fiddles but spoiled by sharp corners that will bruise crew. Cooking is well taken care of, thanks to a three burner stove-oven with microwave slot above. Perishables go into a deep chest fridge and drawer one. Food can be conveniently served through the sliding window to the cockpit diners. The dark Alpi Walnut woodwork is smart but perhaps lends less light than the blonde version while the CNC machine finishing is smooth, with no gaps spotted during my walk-through. Solid metal fixings on doors and gas struts on cabinetry impressed me – something I feel earlier Lagoons were lacking.
Our review boat came with the 4+2 layout, which meant four cabins with two spacious heads; an ideal family arrangement. Alternatively, for those with chartering in mind, a 4+4 model gives four heads which is incredible for a 40 footer. As for couples, the owner’s version uses the entire port hull for a suite with two cabins in the starboard one. Cabin access is down stairs on each side of the nacelle and these stairs are removable for quick access to the escape hatches – an essential feature on seaworthy sailing catamarans.
The aft guest cabin is unadorned but spacious and those large portlights avoid feelings of confinement. Image Lagoon
In the four cabin layout, both aft cabins are the same, as are the two in the bows. More volume aft makes these cabins the largest, with the double bed given a slot to allow movement alongside it. Ample storage is available in the tall wardrobe with even a cubby space with about 1.85m headroom. This cabin is full of natural light and there’s good ventilation from skylights, portlights and an aft opening one. Other good features included slatted mattresses with memory-style foam but protruding cupboard handles can hurt occupants on their way to bed. The bow cabins use the entire hull width to maximise the mattress area and again ventilation is good along with a man-size escape hatch into the forepeak – which could also aid airflow. Cabin locker space includes a tall wardrobe and under-bed drawer; while the long rectangular portlight gives occupants panoramic views to ward off claustrophobia.
The Lagoon 40 owner’s version (not tested) uses most of the port hull so is spacious and airy. Image Lagoon
The ablutions benefit from being in the deepest part of each hull so come with a spacious separate shower cubicle and large sink-vanity between the head. Again ample ventilation and the only negative is the sharp edges on some bulkheads. Access to plumbing and seacocks is generally good throughout with hatches in various places; which reflects the fact that Lagoon has been building interiors for a long time, so there’s generally few surprises or quirks.
SIMPLE SAIL PLAN
The redesigned rig has put the mast on the coachroof and created a larger fore-triangle allowing bigger headsails and our review boat came with a cutter rig – self-tacking jib and large screecher on the bowsprit. The alloy rig is a sturdy arrangement with chunky outboard chain plates on the wire shrouds and sails are all controlled from the flybridge, apart from the screecher’s sheets that run to deck winches. The raised steering console dictates that the sail plan must be well above head height so fairly high on the hull but easily accessible by stepping up from the steering console, allowing tidying of the fully battened square-top mainsail in the lazyjacks. Alternatively, there’s a ladder at the front of the saloon. Furthest aft is the wide main track which is effectively controlled by jammers and a Harken winch, making the sail plan suitable for short-handed sailing. Similarly, the mainsheet runs to this Harken as well with another one on the starboardside of the console for the halyards. Halyards benefit from a short run out of the cabin stepped mast to the banks of jammers within arm’s length of the wheel and all lines fall neatly into a large rope back. Large diameter lines, oversized winches and jammers all are welcome, especially in heavy weather. Console controls include B&G plotter with depth sounder and the essential autopilot while the twin throttles are outboard and very prominent, so could be snagged by crew or errant lines. Ankle height engine gauges are also not ideally placed.
A larger foretriangle is created by the rig moved further aft on the Lagoon 40, which also improves the balance the sailplan.
Image TMG/Joe Fox
The tall and wide hulls create lots of volume which is intended to retain buoyancy and waterline as you increase the load. Construction is infused polyester with balsa core above the water and below the water – the latter a weight-saving change from solid GRP on previous models. This still makes for a fairly heavy boat compared to say a Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40, however the factory argue that Lagoon include items such as mooring gear and other essentials in their light displacement figure (10,880kg) while their rivals do not. At the transom, the stepped bulkheads ensure easy water access, and the davits ensure the dinghy is hoisted clear of the water when offshore. Beneath the davits is a slot for an eight man liferaft which can be quickly deployed even when inverted.
The smart design continues as you walk along the flat decks and flush hatches (with indented handrails on the coachroof for support) to the bow. The foredeck has trampolines each side of the nacelle bulkhead spine which has an indented track for the rode, however it is exposed to careless feet or loose lines so I’d prefer a hinged lid as I’ve used on other catamarans. The rode is ably controlled by a sizeable Quick capstan-windless and a second (rather small) roller is nearby as well with matching cleat. Large lockers here offer good storage as well as housing tanks and a generator plus forepeak lockers for lighter gear such as the cruising chute or fenders. Our review boat came with upgraded twin 45 HP saildrive Yanmars which are accessed via the aft deck hatches. Given the wide hulls, ample space is around them for servicing the gearbox oil, filters and impeller. The optional folding propellers were welcome on our review boat, given the drag created by this large vessel.
GOLD COAST SAIL
Our host of the day Joe Fox from TMG, guided us out of the tight marina at the Boat Works with deft touches fore and aft of the twin throttles before we motored down the winding river to the Broadwater estuary. Taking over the wheel and glancing at the plotter revealed the myriad of channels and hidden sandbanks ahead but many were revealed to the naked eye because of the elevated steering position of the Lagoon 40. Once clear, I pushed the throttles down to watch the numbers rise as the Yanmars topped-out at 9.3kts but more importantly cruised quietly at 7.0kts while spinning at 1600rpm. Motoring beyond the Gold Coast Seaway and pointing into the light breeze the main was hoisted. A major plus of the redesigned sailplan was the nearness to it from the helm, so hoisting the main was easily done, aided by the electric Harkens and lazyjacks guiding the mainsail aloft. With the big top mainsail pulling I steered us off the breeze as Joe pulled out the screecher sheet on the deck to unfurl it, and we were on our way towards the glinting towers of Surfers Paradise. Mainsail trim was easily done as there was no bimini at the helm obscuring its luff, something that would be required generally in Australia’s hot climate. The numbers on the B&G plotter screen showed boatspeed at 5.8kts and windspeed 10.1kts on a broad reach, confirming the benefit of the Incidence screecher. But when the southerly buster kicks in and you’re punching into it, the self-tacking headsail is ideal, so we unfurled it before furling the screecher, and watched how the Lagoon 40 reacted. If anything the boat preferred this angle of sail, showing 5.9 SOG in the growing 12.4kt breeze at an angle of 50 degrees, albeit in fairly flat conditions. Tacking proved fairly drama free, just requiring a half turn of the light wheel to set us on our new course. In fact this Lagoon 40 is firmly on the right course, I’d say, as a user-friendly family catamaran.