Yacht Class n°16 (march-april-may 2019)
With the Série 7, the Vendee-based Privilège Marine, now part of Hanse group, joins the closed club of luxury catamaran manufacturers for offshore sailors with performance as the main thread. Thanks to Marc Lombard’s expertise, up to the interior design by Franck Darnet, everything seems appropriate and well thought out.
Written by Christophe Varène – Photos : Jim Scheiner, Choose your Boat
When in presence of an exceptional person, the Hindus usually bow and greet him with a simple word, full of respect and spirituality: “Namaste !”. In the port of Les Sables d’Olonne, in front of Privilège Marine, a splendid and impressive catamaran reigns in majesty, her name on the transom: “Namaste”. Yes, we can only bow to this Série 7, Privilège’s flasghip. Her lines are handsome, when others are more massive, and the deep grey of her hulls, refined by the long horizontal portholes, contrasts with the white streamlined superstructures. The expertise and experience of Marc Lombard’s architectural firm shine through this unit, and we can’t help to think that she has magnified the assets of the Privilège 745, the brand’s emblematic model launched in 2006, and its eight units. Nothing revolutionary, but subtle touches to improve what could be improved and in particular, regarding the exterior design, a larger glass surface on the nacelle and slightly longer transoms for an increased lift and easy boarding.
Coup de foudre !
Time has finally come to embark on this Série 7, which was experiencing that day some sort of rebirth. Namaste is actually no newcomer – she was delivered in 2017 – but this mid-October outing was like a fresh start. After her launch, the American owner – a sign that yachtsmen across the Atlantic appreciate the quality of work of the French shipyards – conveyed his brand new catamaran to Bermuda to serve as a VIP boat during the America’s Cup 2018, won by New-Zealand… Shortly after, the sailboat was struck by lightning and suffered extensive damages. Who better than Privilège to take care of a Privilege? She then came back to France for a major restoration. And if everything was refurbished according to the original design and configuration, the main changes came from the installation of two more powerful and coupled generators (their load percentages are managed by a computer that switches to one or both according to needs and capacities), and the ballasting of fuel and water tanks to balance the weights. After several months of work, the emotion was real when she exited the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, where Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and his vice-champion Mark Slats had just received a tremendous welcome after completing the Golden Globe Race. And for the occasion, several employees of the yard had embarked, under the command of Christian, professional conveyor, who knows Namaste and the yard very well.
A trial in light winds
If there is always a small residual swell in the Bay of Biscay, the wind conditions were rather light during our trial. Anyhow, the mainsail was hoisted at the first opportunity. For this manoeuvre, one of the two Antal electric winches (XT 70) was called for the halyard, and the sail, neatly folded on the wide boom, deployed its 160 m2, before unrolling the 104 m2 genoa. At 60° off the wind, with an apparent 7.2 knots, the Serie 7 proved her gliding ability, and approached 5 knots of speed, which was respectable considering her 44 t of displacement. During a delivery voyage, under two reefs and staysail, in 25 knots of wind, she had several peaks at 20 knots! Considering our sea conditions, it is hard to talk about real steering sensations. Rarely is it the case with catamaran anyway. The flybridge helmstation is located amidships and offers a perfect 360° visibility on both the sea and the sails thanks to nice bimini windows. A very generous instrumentation – screens, dials and joysticks of all kinds – allows the monitoring of all the vessel data. The salon also features the same equipment in the salon, minus the steering wheel. As the sky was desperately blue and cloudless, the engines were used on the way back. With 2 x 200 hp, her cruising speed is around 7.5 knots. She can reach 11 knots, but this speed should be used in moderation, as her consumption then rises to 40 l/h per engine: with her 3 000 l fuel tanks, she then has a 400 miles range, which can easily be extended.
An indisputable assessment: quality
Before inspecting the interiors of this Privilège Série 7, let’s have a walk on the deck to appreciate how easy it is to circulate, even if the flush portholes were replaced during the refit. The forward nacelle, between the two hulls, is safer and more practical than a simple trampoline when sailing or anchoring. On our way aft, we enjoyed the slatted deck for its aestheticism and softness, not to mention the manufacturing quality we noticed by looking at the flight of stairs at the end of the catwalk: four steps give access to the cockpit, two others to the hydraulic platform hosting a superb Carbon Craft waterjet tender, and finally four more steps lead to the transom beach. A beautiful spiral staircase leads up to the flybridge, where we discovered a friendly area with a lounge, an outdoor galley and a fantastic… jacuzzi. The perfect place at sunset to enjoy a cocktail and the sea view, delicately massaged by bubble-jets. An image of happiness…
One deck lower, the cockpit, protected by the long flybridge hardtop, is fitted out with abundant seats, varnished table and coffee table, plus concealed floor storage. A double sliding glazed door leads to the salon, whose structure in light curves creates a welcoming and cosy atmosphere. On starboard, the large chart table looks like the screen of an Airbus, while on port side a long black bar will be perfect to receive the guests. Forward, there are comfortable banquettes around a table that can become a “day bed” when in low position. In general, the design, created by Franck Darnet’s studio, is characterized by sober lines and elegant contrasts between satin bleached oak and black Hi-Macs worktops, a combination of acrylic, minerals and natural pigments, all flooded with light thanks to numerous portholes.
Hats off to the master !
Once inside the starboard hull, we discover aft a large guest cabin with a central bed, pleasantly bright thanks to the openings in the deck, transom and hull. The corridor leading to the bow, features a washing machine, tumble dryer and switch panel. It leads to a large and naturally bright galley and then to the crew quarters (two cabins, two shower rooms and a small lounge). The other hull has a similar aft layout, but its central part is fitted out with a third guest cabin with two single beds. Finally, it was high time to discover the master suite, which was definitely worth waiting for, as this place, occupying the forward part of both the nacelle and the port hull, is superb. Immediately, it exudes a feeling of luxury, calm and voluptuous pleasure with, in particular, the central king-size bed that reigns in majesty underneath eight portholes. It’s like sleeping under the stars, only comfortably lying down and protected. If everything seemed perfect on this Privilège Série 7, the discovery of this timeless place concluded our visit in a blaze of glory. It’s hard to leave her, except to cast off.
Even more dynamism
Since Privilège has joined Hanse Group in May 2017, the relaunch of the Vendée-based shipyard, driven by Gilles Wagner, has gained even more momentum, as evidenced by the new developments announced since then: the power Euphorie 5 we already tested in our columns, plus the sailing Privilège 510 Signature (successor to the Série 5) and 580 Signature. The development program is thus fully directed towards catamaran, with the Feeling brand put aside, not only to surf on the multihulls wave (see our dossier in this issue), but also to avoid direct competition with Hanse, Moody and Delher. Everyone is thus totally engaged in this new adventure.