Just back from a week coaching a new owner of the latest Lagoon 52.
Since seeing them enter the BVI scene a few months ago I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the new approach that Lagoon were taking with the location and proportions of this catamaran’s rig.
It seemed to me that moving the mast back to allow for a tall, skinny main and large self-tacking jib was just an effort to make the boat easier — not better — to sail. But I wanted to reserve judgement until I’d had the chance to actually sail one — especially since the renowned firm of VPLP designed the boat!
Now, I can give my verdict and … I surprised myself by giving the new direction a definite ‘thumbs-up’!With its purposeful, almost aggressive looks, new geometry rig and spacecraft like hatches to the two aft cabins, this cat got attention wherever we went.
Even getting under way, the view and accessibility to all of the sail plan controls from the helm station was impressive. With hydraulic steering, electronic throttles and power everything from a commandingly tall fly bridge, this cat had more of big ship feel than any 52′ boat I’ve sailed. The latest B&G electronic instruments added to a general air of sophistication.
Just forward of the swing wheel was a spacious area reminiscent of the cramped ‘pit’ on the monohull race boats that I crewed on in my youth. But the self-tacking jib track just ahead of the mast gave away what I thought to be her true purpose: easy sailing, with the emphasis the on a big easy-to-handle jib rather than a trickier low aspect fully-battened main.
The high aspect main was, predictably, much easier to raise. But before unfurling the big jib, the first thing I noticed was that the usual tendency of cats to round up into the wind under main alone was minimal—much more akin to the way a bare-headed monohull behaves. No need to have the windward engine on at this stage to counteract the usual weather helm experienced with some other big main/small jib cats.
Tacking was also predictable in that it was easier thanks to the self-tacking jib. The only lines left to adjust were the mainsheet and traveller. But the surprise, again, was that the usual tendency to ‘round up’ until achieving good boat speed was minimal thanks to that small main/big jib combo. And having no forward/aft control of the jib sheet lead was mitigated by a relatively high-clewed sail that was not so susceptible to fairlead position.
Gybes had to be handled a bit more carefully than usual to avoid the noise and impact damage of a heavily loaded ‘smack’ against the stops on either side of the athwartships track. The way we did it was to sheet in the jib during the gybe — just like the mainsail. We still got a bit of a smack noise but it was manageable in the breezes we encountered and I was later told that Lagoon are retrofitting heavier gauge stopper pins to handle this issue. It would have been nice to have control lines on the jib track to make gybes smoother…and to facilitate heaving-to without having to manually move the stops in advance. But this is a small quibble on a boat that’s primarily designed for the bareboat charter market.
With a necessarily tall rig to get above the fly-bridge bimini, the top of the main was placed at a level where it was able to catch higher velocity wind undisturbed by the sea beneath so I found that performance was very creditable for a 26 ton, 6-cabin cruiser.
After a taste of this boat I’m eager to sail it again in stronger breezes …and try a version with its optional asymmetrical spinnaker and square top main!