LAGOON CATAMARAN 400 S2 BOAT TEST
After three years and some 250 sales globally, the Lagoon 400 has been given an interior makeover but the exterior, rig and sail plan are retained. Allan Whiting swaps his customary one-hull orientation for two and came away impressed.
When we checked out the Lagoon 400 in 2011 it had a square-top mainsail option and we figured that would probably constitute the boat's mid-life upgrade. We were part-correct, because the new version that's just been launched in Europe looks externally the same: almost plumb bows, portside steering station, vertical cabin windows and square-top main. The optional main suits the somewhat cubist lines of the Lagoon 400 very well, reinforcing the rectangular theme of its hull, ports and cabin.
However, the 'square' theme has now been extended to a completely redesigned interior and the 2013 boat is known as the Lagoon 400 S2, following the nomenclature used on the previous Lagoon 410 S2 and the Lagoon 380 S2 mid-life-upgrade models.
Nauta Design has redone the entertainment and accommodation hardware, drawing the rectangular theme inside the hulls and saloon, with finish in Alpi grey oak and Milano floor laminate. The impression in the saloon and cabins is of a modern apartment, not a boat, and this is heightened by the fact that the mast compression post is now encased, not exposed as on the 400.
The saloon cupboards, benches and table are now square-edged and the galley has homelike, overhead cupboards. Previously, the microwave sat above the oven/griller, but has now been moved to the portside of the saloon, above the top-opening fridge.
A new settee serves as table seating and the starboard end doubles as a navigation seat at the enlarged chart table. The electrical control panel, optional chartplotter and steering joystick are in the chart table area.
The Lagoon 400 S2 has enhanced cabin space, with widened double berths in all cabin versions. The owner's cabin takes up the starboard hull as before but the furniture has changed to include a couch and a desk.
As with the Lagoon 400 the S2 can be specified with a choice of three or four-cabin layouts. Three-cabin owner's versions have double cabins in the port hull, with a choice of one or two bathrooms and four-cabin boats have a choice of one or two bathrooms in each hull.
Cockpit lounging is relaxed, with easy sliding-door and sliding-window access to the saloon and galley. There's no step between cockpit and saloon. An optional generator sits under a settee and there's a drinks fridge nearby. Broad stairways and platforms on each transom lead logically to the water.
A portside steering station is graced with three halyard and sheet winches - optionally powered - and can be open-air or covered with zip-on covers that protect the helmsperson from inclement weather. Also an option, the boat can be steered from the saloon via autopilot.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The profile of the Lagoon 400 S2 is cubist, thanks to its vertical bows and coach house windows, but this shape maximises interior space and keeps sunlight out of the saloon during the heat of the day.
The architects Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prevost designed the Lagoon 400 S2 with symmetrical hull shapes, for even water-flow on both sides. Cruising catamarans generally carry a lot of equipment, so Lagoons are built with weight-saving components in structures and furniture. The S2's Alpi woodwork, for example, is reconstituted, lightweight composite material.
Hull, deck and bulkheads are built in a mould, using infusion to draw the resin through strand and laminate layering. The process uses less resin than traditional wet layups, saving money and weight. An anti-osmosis barrier is created by the use of vinylester resin.
The Lagoon 400 S2 has shallow-draft keels that are isolated from the hull skin; therefore a punctured keel doesn't mean water in the hull. The keels are slightly deeper than the rudder blades, so a soft grounding is a safe process too.
The bridgedeck is high-set to reduce wave slap and impact stress on the structure. Buoyancy is designed into all Lagoon catamarans and the boats comply with Europe's CE standards for the unsinkability of multihulls. The forward and aft compartments of each hull are sealed by watertight bulkheads.
All this is topped by a twin-spreader rig, with useful 84m² sail plan. Roached or square-top mainsails are fully battened and drop into a zippered bag, guided by lazy jacks. The headsail rolls onto a furler. Optional kit includes asymmetric spinnakers and gennakers.
Twin Volvo Penta or Yanmar engines are installed well aft in the hulls and there is excellent access around them via deck hatches. These aft hatches also give access to the steering cables, cranks and rods, as well as the autopilot rams.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Cats take up a lot of berthing room, but their manoeuvrability minimises the access corridors they need. The Lagoon test boat was moored in a tight slot, at the base of two finger wharves, only a metre or so fore and aft of menacing anchors on other boats' bowrollers. A monohull would have needed a bowthruster to extricate itself from where the Lagoon was secured.
With a bowline left attached to the dock the cat's twin engines worked in forward and reverse co-operation to move the stern section out, after which the bowline was dropped and the Lagoon reversed straight out of a passage that wasn't much wider than its beam.
We motored out of Rushcutters Bay's d'Albora Marina into a rising nor'easter and employed one of the two powered control-station winches to haul up the square-topped mainsail. The genoa unfurled and was sheeted in on the other winch.
We checked halyard tension in both sails, cleared the main halyard from the first winch and poked the cat's bows into the wind. It happily managed around 35 degrees apparent and sliced along, averaging half wind speed in pressure that ranged from 8kts to around 12kts.
Cats aren't renowned for their adroitness when tacking, but the Lagoon spun through the wind's eye quite briskly, even with wind speed at the lower end of the range. With two powered winches at the helm station the Lagoon was easy to control singlehanded and using the autopilot to steer the boat through 90 degrees would make the job even easier.
Capable as the Lagoon was on the wind, it felt more at home with sheets eased and rewarded the direction change with a speed increase up to 7kts.
The helm had typical catamaran feel, with some heaviness and lacked the 'touch' of a good monohull setup. However, the cruising life is less demanding than around-the-cans manoeuvring and most owners let their autopilots do most of the work. We also noted the absence of drinkholders, but there's not the same need on a boat that doesn't heel!
Progress is rapid in mid-strength breezes and it's possible to eat up sea miles without any crew stress.
Despite the perceived bulk of a cruising cat, widely-spaced engines make manoeuvring in all but a beam-on gale quite relaxed.
[LAGOON 400 S2 HYBRID?]
We were favourably impressed by the Lagoon 420 Hybrid model that we tested back in 2008, but reliability issues with the twin electric motors and regeneration system sidelined this development. However, we understand that a redesigned.
Hybrid Lagoon may be announced in late 2012 or early 2013, employing the latest technology.
Regeneration, motor and battery technology has improved in the past four years, making a hybrid a lower-cost and more efficient proposition.
The Lagoon 400 packed a lot of boat into its 40-foot LOA and the S2 version has an enhanced, homely feel about it. With modern sail-handling kit and electronic aids the Lagoon 400 S2 might attract traditional powerboat people, who now baulk at the rising cost of diesel.
LAGOON 400 S2
PRICE AS TESTED
Square-top mainsail, helm station (covers, bimini, seat and storage), davits and winch, LED nav lights, shorepower, two 140amp/h batteries, two powered winches, cockpit fridge, additional freshwater tank, holding tanks, griller/oven, double-insulated engine compartments, indirect lighting in saloon and cabins, portholes in aft cabins, sound system with waterproof cockpit speakers, Raymarine i70 navigation pack, pulpits with teak seats, and anchor and mooring equipment
MATERIAL: FRP hulls and decks (balsa-core composite above the waterline and solid FRP below)
TYPE: Sail catamaran
LENGTH OVERALL: 11.97m
PEOPLE (NIGHT): 6 (optional 8)
WATER: 300lt (optional 600lt)
MAINSAIL: Fully-battened (square-top optional)
HEADSAIL: Furling genoa (asymmetric spinnaker and gennaker options)
TOTAL AREA: 84m²
MAKE: 2 x Yanmar
TYPE: Diesel saildrive
RATED HP: 2 x 30hp (40hp Volvo Penta and Yanmar optional)
PROPS: Fixed three-blade (three-blade folding optional)
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 433, Nov-Dec 2012. Photos: Allan Whiting; Supplied.
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