BOAT REVIEW Lagoon 42 Catamaran

December 2016 Yacht Reviews
Words by Lawrence Schaffler Photos by Bryce Taylor
Build Quality
MODEL Lagoon 42 Catamaran
DESIGNER Van Peteghem-Lauriot Prevost
LOA 12.8M
ENGINE 2 x 57hp Yanmar
Sail Area 94 SqM
ACCOMMODATION Three or four-cabin versions
  • Spacious interior
  • Easy sail handling
  • Chic and stylish
  • Self-tacker on a cat is unusual but works well
  • Sheets run to aft end of cockpit
  • Cockpit great for relaxing and entertaining

The new Lagoon 42 catamaran is a fun, spacious vessel designed for easy sail handling. She’s also chic and stylish – you may be tempted to wear tails rather than togs to dinner.

Contrary to popular belief, the origin of the well-worn phrase ‘no-room-to-swing-a-cat’ doesn’t stem from some maniac’s struggles to swing a moggie by the tail in a public toilet.  The truth’s far more disturbing.
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The cat is the ‘cat o’ nine tails’ – a whip with nine individual braids, each fitted with a metal tip. It was a popular form of punishment for misbehaving sailors in the 18th and 19th centuries. If confined space prevented the whipper from working up a good sweat, he complained that there wasn’t enough room to swing a cat. Happily, the world’s navies have moved on.
Lagoon’s new 42 is a swinging cat of a different kind – not only because her extraordinary space does offer enough room to employ whips of any kind – but also because she will host plenty of swinging parties and dinners. Come Christmas Eve, I suspect she’ll be the most popular boat in the anchorage.
This 42 is the 2017 model and it’s something of coup that we have her in New Zealand at all. The design has become an instant international hit and getting one is difficult. Some 170 have already been delivered around the world – and if you want one you’ll have to wait around 12 months before the factory can begin on your order.
Still, local agent Orakei Marine has just sold a second 42, and her new owners plan to collect her in France and sail her back to New Zealand. As an aside, this self-delivery is quite a smart option. Depending on the size of the vessel, self-delivery knocks around $80,000 off the purchase price – money easily diverted to a well-deserved, extended cruising holiday through the Med, across the Atlantic and Pacific via the Panama Canal.
Sail Time
I’ve cruised in quite a few Lagoons and this one is by far the easiest to sail. Much of that is to do with the layout of the single helm station, offset to port. She really is very simple to sail short-handed. Twin, two-speed Harken electric winches play a significant part in this, and they’re only an arm’s length away.
All sheets run through clutches to these winches, so switching between halyard/reefing line/mainsheet/jib sheet is quick and fuss-free. Particularly when you leave the steering to the auto pilot. Clawing your way upwind is simplified by the self-tacker.
I confess that a self-tacker on a cat was a first for me – and I was a little dubious about it when I first climbed aboard. Cats often struggle to tack though the wind, and the common strategy is allowing the jib to backfill to help the bows around. How does a self-tacker cope with this? Very well, I’m happy to report. She didn’t hesitate at all through the tacks – smooth, sure-footed, unruffled.
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Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is the sail plan. Lagoon has moved the 42’s mast quite a long way back from where you’d expect it to be. This creates a much larger fore triangle and a relatively large jib – especially for a self-tacker – and shifts the centre-of-effort further aft.
The fully-battened, square-topped main sets nicely and together with the jib the cat performs well on all points of sail – even broad reaching, where most self-tacking jobs tend to be blanketed by the main. If you want to light a fire under the Lagoon’s tails though, you’ll want to hoist the Code 0. The 42’s fitted with a short prod and the Code 0’s quickly tacked on and hoisted as a furled sausage.
Its sheets run all the way back to the aft end of the cockpit, where you’ll find manual Harken winches either side. With the furled jib now acting as an inner stay, it’s best to furl the Code 0 when gybing rather than trying to take it around the front of the stay.
A flight of stairs leads from the helm station to a large coachroof deck, and I like this deck for a variety of reasons. First, it makes things a lot easier when stowing the main into its bag along the boom. No stretching on tippy-toes. Second, it sees a full-width traveller fitted at the aft end of the deck, so there’s plenty of opportunity to tweak the sail’s shape. The sheets for adjusting the traveller terminate at the helm station. Thirdly, the coachroof deck offers masses of space for sun-bathers.
And lastly, for the extended cruisers: a channel runs around the edges of the coachroof. It’s there to catch rainwater and some nifty plumbing sees it drain directly into the water tanks. Yes, there is a valve which allows you to divert the first bit of salt-contaminated water over the side before filling the tanks. Clever idea.
One last point about the helm station. It can be fully enclosed with clears if the weather turns sour. When it’s good, though, and the clears not needed, the sense of freedom and panoramic visibility is superb. I like the sky-window in the hardtop-bimini over the helm – a brief glance at the Windex at the top of the mast will confirm you’re not concentrating and pointing too high.
As suggested, this area is all about relaxing and entertaining – with lots of friends. There’s no shortage of settees and the cockpit table will accommodate six to eight guests for al fresco dinners. And as with most cats, the cockpit and saloon are on one level, so the space ‘flows’ seamlessly – particularly when the large sliding door separating the two areas is fully-open.
My pick is that with the cool Fusion sound system piping the beat around the vessel, the cockpit will host regular ‘dance-a-thons’. And when you need to cool off, it’s only a few steps down to the large boarding platforms at the aft end of each hull. They’re big enough to be sun-bathing spots in their own right. The cockpit also a built-in drawer fridge, so reaching for another cold one is only a step away.
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I particularly like the dinghy’s davit arrangement between the hulls, mounted on the cockpit’s aft crossbeam. I gather this design was a suggestion from a customer – one that Lagoon promptly adopted for all its vessels.
On most cats the dinghy is slung athwartships between the two pontoons, with two fixed davits and system of pulleys for lowering the dinghy into the water and raising it. This is usually a two-man operation.
With the Lagoon 42, the entire davit structure is a one-piece design. It pivots at the base and is controlled by a single rope. The davit ends are lowered to water level and attached to eyes in the dinghy. The single rope with its multiple purchase system lifts the davit structure and dinghy as one unit. Very cool.
The 42’s available as the three-cabin (owner’s version) or four-cabin (charter) vessel. This one is the three-cabin version, and sees the entire starboard pontoon devoted to the owners ‘suite’. It’s decadently spacious, with a large island double bed aft and a very large bathroom up front. This bathroom has a separate shower and electric toilet – always a luxury on a boat.
Between bed- and bathroom is the general-purpose area – a dressing room with vanity/table/writing desk, flanked by a settee, with library shelves, full-length wardrobes, drawers and lockers built into the bulkheads. It really is a ‘suite’.
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I like the ingenious door system separating the suite from the saloon. Most cats simply have stairs leading down from the saloon to the bedrooms. This one has a one-piece sliding door offering complete privacy.
Opposite, in the port hull, is a more traditional layout – two cabins, each with an ensuite. The aft cabin is bigger, and like the master suite bathroom, it has a separate shower. The front cabin, with a slightly smaller bed and a one-piece, combo bathroom with a pull-out shower in the vanity basin. Perfect for the children.
Air-conditioning is reticulated throughout the vessel – and each cabin’s setting can be independently adjusted.
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Dinner time
Like the cockpit, I suspect the 42’s saloon will become a focal point for exuberant dinners. The centre piece is the large table with surround-settees, easily able to accommodate eight guests. The nosh – and it will undoubtedly be elegant – is prepared in a split galley that extends across the entire width of the saloon, separated by the sliding door.
On the port side is a bench with a separate fridge (front loading) and freezer (top-loading), with masses of bench top space and overhead crockery lockers. The starboard bench houses a single sink, three-burner cooker and separate oven. And to underscore the cat’s stability, neither are gimballed. Set against the bulkhead above is a microwave oven.
A major part of the saloon’s appeal is the view – large windows offer 360o panoramic vistas. These views are similarly useful for whoever’s manning the nav station tucked into the forward, starboard corner of the saloon.
In bad weather you’re likely to be navigating from this nav station, and I like being able to corroborate the chartplotter’s view with what I’m seeing through the window. The best part of the nav station, though, is the little FOB that allows you to adjust the autopilot’s heading with a few finger-clicks.
This 42 is powered by twin 57hp Yanmars, an upgrade from the standard 45hp engines. They’re connected to three-blade folding props and at cruising revs (2,800 rpm) the cat does around eight knots.
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She’s light and responsive and moves easily – we saw nine knots on the speedo, beam reaching in about 14 knots of wind. And as suggested, a pleasant surprise was the ease of tacking – accentuated by the self-tacker. All in all, a pleasant, fun boat to sail, easy to handle with versatility in spades.
The new range of Lagoon catamarans – with more streamlined profiles and sharper design features – are all designated by double-digit branding – as in the 39, 42 and 52. Older models use the three-digit descriptors – the 380, 400, 450 and 560. The new double-digit models are steadily replacing the triples. Note that the 380 – Lagoon’s smallest model – was first launched in 1999 and, with more than 350 built, remains Lagoon’s most popular model and it seems there are no plans to stop production any time soon.
It will be interesting to see whether its top-rankings spot becomes threatened by the new 42. I wouldn’t bet against it.


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At first glance the boat appears to be a large centre console, although hidden beneath the console and forward area is a sizeable overnight cabin.