She has it all to make us love navigation
YACHT CLASS N°8 (March-april-may 2017)
Lagoon Catamarans - Groupe Bénéteau
With this twenty-two metre unit launched in 2016, Lagoon has gone far in its quest for excellence. The tenors of architecture, design and all other trades were all invited to participate to the brand flagship and to make her a model of perfection, immediately praised by a dozen firm orders after her debut at the autumn fairs.
Text : Emmanuel de Toma - Photos : Nicolas Claris & Emmanuel de Toma
The first glance is always the strictest when judging a sailboat, so let's not hesitate to say that such a high freeboard leaves speechless. Especially since the pontoons of the Coconut Grove Marina, in Miami, our meeting point for this sea trial, are particularly low on water. This shimmering wall made of an immaculate gel-coat, discreetly underlined by four beaches in smoked glass, is clearly reminiscent of a mega-yacht whose proportions cannot be appreciated without some recoil. Slightly inverted bows, a moderate hogged sheer, a saloon enclosed by high bay windows and extending into the cockpit sheltered by an elaborated long roof… all of this topped by a flybridge close in size to an upper deck. With so much audacity, this yacht could have looked like a tiered cake if it were not for the intervention of an exceptional designer. After a long and successful career at Ford, Volkswagen and Renault, Patrick Le Quément, the father of Twingo, threw himself heart and soul in yachting. In collaboration with the architecture studio VPLP, he studied then integrated the universe of the future Lagoon before expressing his art of lines and curves to confirm his vision of the SEVENTY 7 : a strong character rather than a classic beauty. "We wanted from the very beginning to turn this catamaran into a boat where design naturally fits without looking like an outsider. First, her architecture had to be valued by her proportions since in design all starts with balanced proportions. We wanted to avoid the manipulation we call "putting lipstick on a pig" in my former car designer jargon…" This is when Yannick Leroux, the project manager who coordinated during 18 months the gestation of the flagship, stepped in : "the architect ensures the boat is sound and properly built, but also marine and seaworthy.
In short, he has to make sure the project remains a boat during its development". On the drawing board side, Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, co-founder of VPLP, remains true to his famous incisive speech and identifies the limits between design and architecture : "the designer does not care if it floats or moves forward". Equally blunt, Marc Van Peteghem explains in two words the SEVENTY's philosophy : "Life on board is the starting point". We will see that this "starting point" always remained on sight but in the meantime, as we board for the tropical waters of Miami, the main question remains : how can this giant sail ? With two John Deer "marinized" by Nanni. Twin 230 horsepower. Nothing but the best !
Such a cavalry, associated with two propellers placed at about 9 metres apart and backed up by a bow thruster, ensures relaxed manoeuvring. Out of the Coconut Grove marina, the catamaran covers at 8 knots the channel to Biscayne Bay.
Regarding acoustic, the engine remains rather audible on the cockpit, but once in the saloon, the rumbling becomes distant and we can only praise the absence of vibrations. In the cabins, you have to listen carefully to distinguish a distant purr. This introduction is redolent of the attention given to both the design and the construction of this Lagoon. Let's head back to the open air and then to the flybridge. The spiral staircase, which had received some critics during the initial presentation, was revised and amply secured. Up there, skipper and crew reign. Three men are required to helm and handle up to 800 m2 of sail area. But, for the time being, as the wind blows at 25 knots, we will merely rely on a staysail with one reef in the mainsail. Hard not to acknowledge the cleverness of this flybridge that features on its front bulwark five large electric winches (Harken) and two helms with the essential electronic console and engine instruments. In addition to a fantastic view on the sails and the boat, plus all the manoeuvres at hand, three quarters of this upper deck is dedicated to the happiness of passengers. The icing on the cake ! Cushions, sofas, table, kitchen and plancha for a divine farniente at altitude, far from the spray and protected from the midday sun by a mainly glazed hardtop. Note that only the sheets of the asymmetrical spinnaker are driven by deck pulleys.
As soon as the sail is hoisted, a tumultuous wake forms behind the downwind hull. There is no knife-blade hull here, since she must be able to carry about seventy tons and assume her arrangements. However, the speedo flirts with 10 knots in only fifteen seconds on a close-hauled full and by a real wind oscillating between 24 and 26 knots. At the helm, the skipper jubilates : "look, everything is before our eyes, everything is within reach. Nothing can escape us and the sea view is as breathtaking as it is reassuring." Before adding with a sorry smile : "The only trouble is that you need binoculars to look at the masthead". It is true that the flybridge requires a very high boom hence a longer mast to hoist the 205m2 square top mainsail, which results in a 36 m air draft. Created by Sparcraft, this aluminum mast goes through the saloon roof to sit on a transverse beam on the bottom of the gull-wing shaped bridge deck. As for the rigging, Marc Van Peteghem underlines that "SEVENTY 7 enjoys the advantages of the recessed rigging now adopted on all Lagoons to favour performance and an excellent maneuverability, important on a large and powerful unit". Designed by undisputed masters of offshore racing multihulls, this catamaran does not intend to be a record-breaker. As Vincent Lauriot-Prévost simply summarized : "she can sail". After 9,000 miles, the skipper Nicolas Rousseau will definitely not contradict him (see box). She can undoubtedly claim an average of 10 to 12 knots in cruising, in addition to a valuable ability to tack. Finally, the upwind angle is correct for a catamaran, thanks to the fins fitted under the keels and to the perfectly cut Incidence sails. But let's remember the word of the architect : "life on board is the starting point".
To this end, the living volumes were skilfully optimized. Large and wide hulls, a stepped gull-wing shaped bridge deck, a prominent deckhouse ... all within the limits commanded by an essential elegance. This results in 200m2 of cleverly laid-out living areas. Let's start with the cockpit or rather this huge aft beach that extends over the sea thanks to the two sumptuous teak stairs framing the tender platform. A large bay window leads to the saloon. Shall we not say "living room" instead ? The saloon is on starboard ; the dining room on port side ; on its centre is the bar while a forward navigation area features two screens, two discreet throttles and an equally discreet joystick that will act as an helm during unlikely days of bad weather. All is bathed in a delicious atmosphere of soft light and noble and polished materials. There, the interior designer, Massimo Gino of Nauta Design, did wonders. The furniture in brushed gray oak veneers, leather upholstery and partitions in fabrics are in perfect harmony with the warm tones of the Wenge floors. Nothing fancy nor excessive in this interior. Just good taste and great ideas, such as this glazed door opening onto the vast forward cockpit, a dream refuge in sweet trade winds... This luxury continues on the two guest cabins with their stunning sea view from the queen bed. Each room also has an office and a four-star bathroom. On our three cabins layout, the kitchen and the crew cabin occupy half of the aft port side hull. Shall we precise that this unit prone to long journeys also features a dining room table for eight to ten guests and a suitable kitchen ? On board, every detail was designed to make life easy in an elegant setting. In terms of hedonism, let's finally open the door of the owner's cabin. This is undoubtedly the culmination of this symphony in major pleasure. A 20 m2 carpeted and luminous dream cabin with a five-star dressing and bathroom. It also presents an unique feature that the Bordeaux-based shipyard can be proud of : an entire section of the plating opens, thanks to a remote control, to create at the foot of the bed a large teak beach, just sixty centimeters above the blue streams ... Needless to say that all the precautions and technologies were called to the bedside of this audacious coquetry. So, when the door is open, all the screens, from the flybridge to the cabin control station, display a massive warning. As for the closing device, it can compete with the safes of the Banque de France.
Undoubtedly, the shipyard Lagoon, created in 1986, offers with this unit a successful jewel, as can attest the many "coup de cœur" she created during the Miami Boat Show.
9 000 nautical miles
At 34 year-old, Nicolas Rousseau is Lagoon delivery coordinator. This is why he was in charge of the preparation of the boat and her conveyance from Bordeaux to Cannes and then from Cannes to Miami. He shared with us the highlights of this 9000 miles offshore journey: "Usually, we are three permanent crew members to go to Cannes, but it seems valuable to me to bring along the largest number of people involved in the conception of the SEVENTY 7. We were ten, including some executives, a carpenter, an electrician and a plumbing specialist here to validate or improve some technical details during this test run. To our great satisfaction, only a few things needed to be rectified, such as securing of the flybridge staircase with a new access ramp and consolidation of the fittings fastening. The ocean was calm on this trip. Things first got serious during the crossing of the Mediterranean from Cannes to Gibraltar. With 45 knots of east wind, we scudded at 12 or 13 knots under genoa or staysail. The Atlantic was then cooperative until the approach of Miami where we faced winds above 50 knots and three-metre high waves. The boat was naturally shaken but there were no major concerns. I even appreciated her surprising structure rigidity. In conclusion, this catamaran has earned my utmost confidence and despite her weigh and volume, she can start fast in light winds. This is the essential quality of good sailboats. Obviously, we did not have the adrenaline rush caused by racing multihulls but this is not her vocation. We still reached once 19 knots with a start in rush!"
- Overall length : 23,28 m
- Lengh of waterline : 22,60 m
- Max beam : 11 m
- Draft : 1,90 m
- Air draught : 36,60 m
- Unladen displacement : 56,8 t
- Mainsail à corne : 205 m²
- Mainsail lattée : 192 m²
- Genoa: 130,40 m²
- Staysail : 81 m²
- Code 0 : 208 m²
- Asymmetric spi : 458 m²
- Engine : 2 x 230 ch.
- Fuel : 2 800 l
- Water : 1 600 l
- Versions : 3, 4 ou 5 cabines
- Price : 4 340 147 euros HT
- Naval architect : VPLP Design
- Outside styling : Patrick Le Quément
- Interior designer : Nauta Design
- Builder : Lagoon Catamarans Groupe Bénéteau (Bordeaux)