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by John Curnow, Editor, 10 Aug 2019 07:00 UTC
Fountaine Pajot's new Astréa 42 sailing on Sydney Harbour © John Curnow

It is always important to keep the eyes out of the boat when sailing. Alas, we won't have to be peering at the horizon to get a handle on this one. The notion started when I saw how many vessels Travelopia Yachts had ordered for their cruising fleets under their brands, The Moorings, Sunsail, and Footloose.

The $130M investment is certainly large enough to see for all. Think of it like the loom from a distant city, the welcoming beacon from a known lighthouse, or the brewing clouds that tell you only one thing. Amongst those to do well from this will be Jeanneau, Beneteau, and Lagoon, so the Groupé is bound to be well happy with the lion's share of that little pie. Robertson and Caine also get a serious look in.

Taking it all in, and subsequently surveying your chart, I reckon build slots for certain new boats could be almost as elusive as pens (slips) at the best marinas, space to anchor at some gorgeous and popular bay, or finding that you're the only one at a great haven, only to see a stick on the horizon, bearing straight down on you!

Alas, if a new craft of a particular flavour is on your radar, then maybe now might be the time to lock in a build slot. Just saying... Certainly talking with many of the factory representatives present at the recent Sydney International Boat Show backed up this notion. Seeing the team from Groupé Beneteau, who were representing their brands Beneteau, Lagoon, and newcomer, Excess, was terrific, as always, but it also provided for good insights into the whole scheme of things.

There are all new designs almost everywhere inside the Groupé. Case in point would have to be new Lagoon 46. She has been penned by VPLP, who have expertise in both multihull and monohulls. Indeed, stylistically, the new Lagoon takes a lot of her leads from the famous racer, Comanche. Perhaps not so much in terms of outright pace, but that serious chine to step the hull out looks just like the aircraft carrier. Especially when up close or straight ahead.

Yes the Lagoon 46 uses it purely for space, whereas the supermaxi uses hers for form stability. However, when you consider that the same famous firm is behind both of them, then it is not that great a stretch. Add in that Comanche was designed to go to a serious angle of heel (around 25 degrees), and effectively become like a cat flying one hull at that point, then you'll kind of get where I am coming from. Don't worry, you won't see an airborne Lagoon 46, nor one resplendent with 5m daggerboards, for the similarity is based around completely different objectives.

However, just as if she was paying homage to her famous racer distant cousin, she is far lighter, way cooler, and a lot funkier than many of predecessors. And yep, that is a really good thing. Lagoon may not have had to worry about anything given their resounding popularity, but this new model is bound to reset the paradigm - well and truly in their favour.

Representing Lagoon at the show was Guillaume Andrebe, and in speaking with him we learned that at the 46's debut in Düsseldorf in February they secured around 280 orders for the boat. That now sits at 400, which means you are talking 2021 delivery. Interestingly, the previous model, the 450, has sold a massive 1000 units to date, and will be kept in production until the end of the 2021 European Summer. It would be fair to say that Lagoon will

The all-new designs also extend to sister brand, Excess, which has just revealed some of the most detailed images of their vessels. With the larger 'Pulse' rigs, they certainly look like they are set to take on a sportier mantra to match their outboard helming position. Anyone looking to buy into the Groupé's brands may do well to consider these, as they still some slots available for 2020 delivery.

Nautitech have refreshed and re-invigorated the 46 Open and Fly, and these will be on display at Cannes next month. Cosmetically, the coachhouse is now grey, which is certainly noticeable, but it is with the interior spaces that have an ultra-modern appeal where you'll really notice it. Yet it's an even taller rig and lower boom that speak more to her continuing to be the sporting leader in the performance/cruiser category. Her increased power with class leading mass/displacement ratio will ensure she is an effortless passage maker.

Ensign Ship Brokers have a good video for you to watch. Nautitech were very much an early pioneer of things like reverse bows, and stepped hulls for volume above the waterline. The focus was always on fine entries, slippery hull forms, the lowest possible mass without sacrificing strength, and a real embodiment of the pleasure of sailing. The genius of naval architect Marc Lombard is never hard to miss.

When the French manufacturer was acquired by Bavaria, the new owner did not want to alter this equation at all, and merely added some refinement to their interior spaces, and some well-known efficiencies. Like many a builder, a lot of customers take delivery of their craft at the factory, and Jason Chipp from Ensign Ship Brokers is often away with clients doing one week (or longer) handovers whilst they sail the Atlantic, the Med or even Caribbean.

So if the industry data had got me started on all of this, then certainly I was motivated to create the piece you're reading now when Kevin Knight sent me the details of the Scape 40 Sport. She was penned by another renowned firm, in Simonis-Voogd, and also came with a noteworthy price tag of just USD435k for the well-specced South African product.

Apart from the interesting bridge deck configuration with U-shaped helming position, the thing that really caught my eye was the placement of the saildrive units, right in the centre of buoyancy. If that not did tell you of her performance aspirations, nothing would...

Her narrow, wave-piercing hulls and bridge deck are vac-bagged foam sandwich, and there are no interior liners. Her bulkheads and cabinetry are integrated into the hull construction, both vertically and horizontally, and all of the above stands for lightest possible mass, strength and stiffness. Kevin tells me, "This is the perfect private/leisure catamaran that puts the thrill in sailing."

Multihull Solutions showed off Fountaine Pajot's multi-award winning Astréa 42 and Salona 47 at the Sydney show, with yet more orders, especially for European collection, being placed. The aft entertaining space on the Astréa 42 is utterly delightful, and certainly one of the reasons that boat in particular is doing so well in the sale stakes.

A few other stand out features of that model are her reverse, or dreadnought bows, which in combination with her reverse sheer give her a thoroughly modern look. The latter also affords significant headroom in her hulls. She also has one of the best Owner's Heads going around. All in all, there are incredible options for the configuration of your vessel. You can learn about all of that in our video review, and also written commentary, where you can things like her flush mounted deck hatches to minimize trip hazards, and amiable sail to weight ratio.

Now we were speaking of Jeanneau earlier, and it was wonderful to see the factory's regional team at the Sydney International Boat Show, as well. Perhaps even more wonderful was my turn on board the brilliant, Marc Lombard penned, Sun Odyssey 410. It is clever, safety conscious, spacious, with a slippery wetted surface area that requires just 40hp to march along nicely at over seven knots.

Now why's that important? Simply put, this vessel came with the Performance rig, and when the puffs arrived on our completely benign day, you could feel just how promptly she turned that into real boat speed. Nice. Given that's when many a vessel struggles to get out of her own hole, I reckon it is a must have addition.

I was talking with one buyer at her official launch, and not all that long ago he had got into a Sun Odyssey 349, but definitely has his eyes on one of these. Can not say I blame him...

Today you will find that we have information for you about nine years for a wonderful circumnavigation, ARC Europe, galley storage with Jeanneau, 3Di from North Sails, exploring the Caribbean, climate change and reef systems, World ARC, Mission Ocean in Cuba, Jeanne Socrates, electric tenders, Tahiti, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the Sail-WorldCruising home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow, Editor

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