The Italian Solaris 47 is intended to meet both sides of the performance-cruiser equation – and reward the discerning sailor.
- No-fuss tacking
- Excellent saloon-aft deck integration
- Amazing space
- Several layout options
Multihulls offer a heady blend of cruising and chilling. To taste this happy mix you should explore Fountaine Pajot’s new Lucia 40, the latest addition to Auckland’s Ownaship fleet.
This mid-sized cat, says Ownaship MD Simon Barker, is aimed squarely at the cruising family or a couple looking for space and performance on a safe, easily-handled platform. “She’s big and wide and stress-free for a couple – in fact, we’ve set up this particular model for single-handed sailing.
“To that end we’ve added components like an electric halyard winch – as well as automated wind direction so you can flick the auto switch and she will follow the wind and point efficiently. One person can manage her very, very easily.”
To personally explore the Lucia 40’s charms, I ventured out on to Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour on a sparkling summer’s day. And stepping aboard you can’t escape the remarkable sense of open, light-filled spaces that integrate stern and saloon – it’s a bit like walking into a modern, high-tech apartment floating on the water.
This sense of room is a little surprising on a 40-foot vessel – but then again, I guess this is a cat – and it’s well-designed. Take the large table that will accommodate eight comfortably – and that’s just in the aft saloon! A similarly expansive area is found inside the main saloon, along with a good-sized galley equipped with an oven, hob, fridge and freezer.
On our review day a bottle of wine graced the table in the aft saloon – I was keen to see whether it stayed upright under sail…
To simplify the mainsail hoist we set the autohelm (head to wind) and fingered the button for the halyard’s electric winch, stopping just short of the top to finish the job by hand – don’t want to over-tighten the halyard. Painless!
It’s a square-top, fully-battened main with a supporting triangle batten – and it places quite a load on the sail slides in the track. The electric winch is a huge help for overcoming the friction.
All sail controls lead back to the helm station – situated on an elevated area to starboard, three steps up from the saloon. A comfortable helm seat accommodates skipper and a back-seat driver. All instrumentation and engine controls are within easy view and reach.
Main hoisted we bore away on a tight reach towards North Head and unfurled the headsail. With a 10-knot northerly I opted to cut the twin 30hp Volvo Pentas. We were gliding.
The helm seat offers excellent all-round visibility, and a clear panel in the dodger/bimini overhead is perfectly located for checking the main’s general happiness. The dodger – locally manufactured – provides welcome shelter from New Zealand’s blustery south west winds. Fitted with zipped panels, it’s easily reconfigured for fine conditions, which we quickly did.
The large wheel feels solid and secure, although with small rudders and cable steering the amount of ‘feel’ is considerably less than on a monohull. Still, I know I spend a lot of time cruising on autopilot, so there’s no real issue.
But the cat’s undisputed advantage is her stability. No heeling, even in gusts when she really accelerates. In once such gust (17 knots) we hit 8.5 knots of boat speed and sliced through the Waiheke ferry’s wake. The wine bottle on the table stayed put!
Overall, my monitoring of boat speed showed us generally doing half the speed of the wind.
I tacked the cat by myself. She swings easily through the wind with no hesitation or tendency to stall. With winches and jammers at arm’s length in front of me, easing the windward jib sheet and quickly transferring it for the new tack was pretty simple. But I could have done with a few more practice tacks to reduce my oversteering…
The Lucia 40 carries full Garmin instrumentation, with large displays at the helm station and in the main saloon. The autopilot can be controlled from either. An interesting aspect of the Garmin speed display was the leeway speed, provided on a small central display.
How easily do mono sailors transition to a multihull, I wondered? “I tell the mono guys to take a chill pill and do everything really slowly,” says Barker. “Twin engines provide all the manoeuvrability you need. They quickly learn to park it comfortably in the marina with 300mm each side.
“We also make sure they don’t overload anything. Because you don’t get the same feel of a heeling monohull, you don’t realise it’s loading up. They quickly learn to reduce sail if the wind gets up.”
This cat’s fitted with twin 30hp Volvo Pentas and sail drives – larger than the standard 20hp models. They easily pushed the boat along at 6.4 knots at 2,000rpm and 7.5 knots at 2,500rpm.
With large overhead hatches, access to the engine rooms is great. The port engine room has a 6kW Onan genset for additional charging options.
Barker says the solar panels and a 1.8kW inverter adequately cater for normal use – the back-up charging option is good insurance.
As below, the Lucia 40’s topsides feature large, expansive areas, complemented by wide side decks. The area forward of the main saloon is particularly suitable for sunbathing or sitting in bean bags.
An equally appealing sunbathing spot is up on the cabin top – very clean and uncluttered – and it provides welcome access to the boom. Great for stowing the main. Also on the cabin top, aft of the mainsheet traveller, there’s plenty of room for the two large solar panels.
Up at the foredeck is a large hatch containing the anchor winch, chain and, of course, the anchor yoke – an essential part of anchoring multihulls. All hatches are neatly recessed into the deck. Each hull also has a small bow seat – ideal for watching the dolphins darting between the hulls.
Back aft you’ll find the 2.8m Southern Pacific tender with its 15hp outboard, slung between two stainless steel arms. It’s deployed/retrieved with lifting pulleys.
This cat’s available in various layouts. This version has four double cabins and two bathrooms, which Barker says is ideal for the shared ownership model, where two couples would have privacy. Other options include an owner’s suite in one hull with two double berths – with one or two bathrooms – in the other hull.
The aft double berths are very generously proportioned with full headroom and partial access round the side of the bed. Plenty of light with side and rear windows, as well as overhead hatches (with pull-out insect grills) for ventilation. Though a little narrower, the forward cabins are very comfortable double. USB outlets and 240-volt power points abound.
A light-coloured wooden trim and table, and the overall standard of finish, creates a sense of sophistication and comfort.
In the galley you’ll find a three-burner gas hob, separate oven and a microwave. The bench-top features twin sinks and a neat small chute to the rubbish bin underneath. Barker opted to increase fridge and freezer space to better cater for two families, with an additional “beer” fridge under the seat in the aft saloon.
This is an elegant, well-appointed catamaran splashed with light. A clever design that balances pragmatism and functionality with discreet style. I was impressed by her stability and sailing performance. For a cruising family or couple looking for space and performance on an easily-handled platform, it’s difficult to argue against the Lucia 40’s charms.