TESTED: FOUNTAINE PAJOT SANYA 57
The Fountaine Pajot Sanya 57 is a cat that purrs, thanks to a luxury build and a very practical nature. Kevin Green reports.
An afternoon’s sail on the first Sanya 57 to reach Australia proved a pleasurable affair – straight out of French builder Fountaine Pajot’s brochure in fact. Olivier Racoupeau’s design brief seeks to cater to a "hedonistic public", and with plenty of lounging space throughout the big new cat hits the water with pleasure firmly in mind.
Along with Lagoon and Robertson & Caine, Fountaine Pajot is one of the world’s big three catamaran builders. The La Rochelle-based company has been in business since 1976 and credits more than 2200 builds to its name. However, it will jostle for position in a competitive market where similar-sized offerings from Outremer, Sunreef and the performance-orientated Catana 59 prowl for business, so the Sanya has to put on a good show.
Another challenge for this boat is the wide market segmentation. Decadent owners, blue-water cruisers and the charter scene – the latter a traditionally strong area for the Fountaine Pajot partnership – all demand big variations on the central theme.
As a successor to the well-proven 60-foot Eleuthera, the Sanya has to fulfil a lot of expectations, but Australian distributor Multihull Solutions is so confident in this model they jumped at the chance of importing hull number five as a stock boat. That’s $1.72 million worth of confidence for you.
Initial impressions of the Sanya show pleasing aesthetics with evenly spaced lines. The low-slung saloon and stern fibreglass bimini running parallel to the gunwales belies the voluminous hulls. Like many continental cats there’s an abundance of upright lines to the Sanya’s shape – vertical saloon sides maximise volume (but cause more windage, especially at anchor).
Boarding via the stepped transom reveals an enormous alfresco entertaining deck. An eight-seater teak table and wetbar are sheltered by the overhead fibreglass bimini. The 25m² cockpit is totally dedicated to living, including a wraparound lounge adjoining the outboard sunpad – so expect to be the popular party boat at any anchorage you pull into. Guests can also bake on the flybridge lounge and yet more seating nestles topside on the port cockpit; where some skippers might prefer a second helm for tight berthing situations. Crew and guest numbers won’t exactly be a problem offshore either as the Sanya has a European CE rating for 14 people offshore and a crowd pleasing 30 inshore.
Catering to such numbers has been well thought out with that large semi-flybridge under the boom plus the portside seating area too. This leaves all the sail handling and steering gear on starboard; reached by stepping up a sheltered tunnel to the elevated binnacle which sits across from the winches controlling all the running rigging. An overhead canvas cover supported by sturdy stainless steel arches protects the steerer, while a plastic inspection window gives a view of the mainsail.
Separating the sail controls from the steering has its pluses and minuses. The steerer can’t trim but the trimmer has ample room to operate all the Antal W60 winches and jammer bank for halyards. Both headsails and mainsail can be controlled from this position, an efficient layout that worked well during our sail test; leaving only a single winch portside to control the gennaker. The mainsheet has good control of the long boom, being right at the end of the spar and running off a wide track, allowing lots of twist on the fully battened mainsail.
The cavernous interior uses the wide 8.88m beam well and as this is a 57-foot catamaran there’s stacks of sleeping room. A maximum of six berths are available between the hulls, while the galley-up and adjoining lounge is well proportioned and leaves clear walking space. Our review boat – the owner’s version – came with five cabins; dedicating most of the portside hull to a large master suite.
The saloon owes more to an opulent shoreside apartment than nautical living – a lack of fiddles is one downside to this – but it does mean the interior is spaciously laid out, with single-level access to the stern deck alfresco eating area.
The Isabelle Racoupeau-designed interior has the lounge adjoining the large sliding external doors with galley opposite, while the forward bulkhead houses flip-out navigation gear plus a large flatscreen television. The ambience is cool chic with dark-oak coloured cloth furnishings contrasting nicely with light wenge and cherry woods.
Chefs should have little to complain about in the practical galley with the essentials – four-burner stove/oven, double sinks and household-sized refrigeration – neatly housed in the L-shaped area. Other white goods include microwave and dishwasher, while the composite work surfaces allow enough room for food preparation. Ventilation is a wee bit limited being restricted to smallish, round overhead hatches with two smaller ones forward, and artificial lighting coming from mostly halogen bulbs rather than the more efficient LED, which I would have expected on a yacht of this calibre.
Stepping down into the owner’s portside hull is a pleasant experience thanks to the ample head space and wide corridors that lead to the main stateroom aft or the smaller guest suite forward. Turning aft reveals a stylish owner’s cabin with athwartships queen-sized island bed and similarly laid-out bathroom. Ample floor space allows for a chair at the desk while opposite is a two-person couch adjoining a bedside locker and clothing stored in the tall wardrobe.
Natural light is adequate throughout from smallish portlights and overhead hatches, although more ventilation would be good. Walking forward along the corridor to the guest cabin, the smaller suite is functional and similarly laid out to the main, while up front on the review boat lay empty space but this can have a single bunk.
The three-cabin starboard hull can be entered from two corridors. Both fore and aft cabins have queen-sized beds and the middle cabin a three-quarter bunk. All have en suites and sufficient storage and again, the bow section can be used as single crew bunk; though blue-water sailors may prefer a collision bulkhead to be fitted.
The Sanya 57 has a fairly conservative windward sail area compared to most of her competitors, so in lighter conditions the gennaker would be needed to move the 21-tonne hull. The deck-stepped, two-spreader Marechal rig has twin forestays, sturdy diamond inner stays and large-diameter spars including a big gooseneck (that could withstand inadvertent gybes).
All halyards and lines are in gutters and with twin shrouds terminating at meaty chainplates fixed well outboard, there’s good deck space for trotting forward and stretching out on the trampolines. The fore-triangle has twin headsails, an inner furling genoa and outer gennaker located on a GRP bowsprit, ensuring good separation. Sail handling is good on the Sanya thanks to the easy saloon-top access to the fully battened mainsail that nestles in lazy jacks and conventional slab reefing is fuss free.
With a catamaran of this size and complexity weight is always a challenge but Fountaine Pajot’s racing background has meant it was always keen to keep this in check. And as one of the early adopters of expensive foam-core vacuum bagging infusion, the company is well versed in this important area; thus the Sanya at 21 tonnes (light) is no member of the chub club – competitors Lagoon 560 weighs 28 tonnes as does the Sunreef 58.
Hull volumes are fairly high ensuring buoyancy under load. Cats respond particularly badly to overloading – losing performance rapidly – so the full ends of Racoupeau’s design, combined with the inboard shaftdrive engines, is intended to ensure even trim fore and aft. Minimised hull rocker should further add to the stability and reduce pitching. Between-hull water clearance is adequate, but even better is the actual hydro-dynamic shape arching the underside to greater width as it joins the hulls, resulting in a smooth structure intended to minimise wave slap, often a curse of cats going to windward.
An unusual feature is the enclosed dinghy shelf on the transom (with sunpad above) which can take a 4m tender with 25hp motor. A downside of this neat design is the proximity to the water. Inshore sailors will find the electric davit and general setup useful but blue-water voyagers may find lumpy seas damage this area and the dinghy.
The standard engines are a pair of Volvo Penta 75s, but our review boat came with the optional 110hp D3 motors with folding props. The upgraded engines were among approximately $250,000 of optional extras. Other inclusions consisted of Garmin navigation gear, cockpit teak, electric heads, icemaker, and 1200W and 5000W inverters. For power generation $19,000 worth of solar panels were included on the bimini, with a water generator available as well. Stored power is via a bank of 420amp AGM batteries but surprisingly no generator set was fitted; a necessity for running simultaneous white goods, air-conditioning and ancillary high-amp gear. A 7kW unit is offered in the options list.
ON THE WATER
Frequent light airs in the tropics and indeed through much of the Pacific region requires sailboats to perform efficiently or be so over-canvased that crew find it tedious to manage. Alternatively, lots of noisy engine hours and diesel are chalked up. So my light-wind sail of the Sanya 57 was revealing and the results were fairly good. At 120 degrees off the wind the big girl managed 5.2kts SOG in the fickle 8.2-knot breeze that caressed Sydney Harbour. The large gennaker was needed for this of course and my host for the day, Keith Logan from Multihull Solutions, managed to walk it around the forestay for an uneventful gybe while the electric Antals quickly trimmed it.
With the breeze rising a tad I unfurled the genoa to go to windward. On this point of sail at 40 degrees the Sanya skipped along at 6.1kts as the pressure rose to 9.8kts. From my elevated perch at the steering wheel there were good views all around – a useful safety factor on a cat this big – and I could also see both sails’ telltales with the overhead bimini window allowing me to check the trim of the mainsail. Actual trimming required a crewman to operate the winches. Tacking went without drama or much loss of speed as the big cat spun through 110 degrees, with little effort expended on the hydraulic steering.
With our afternoon coming to an end the headsail was quickly wound in on the electric winch,
the main halyard released dropping the mainsail neatly into the lazy jacks, while the wide saloon roof easily allowed crew to tidy the Mylar sail. Starting the motor brought barely a sound, or judder for that matter, to the cockpit and I motored down the harbour on a single 110hp engine reaching 8.9kts.
- Stylish and practical yacht
- Good use of interior and deck space
- Quality components used throughout
- Low-slung and restricted dinghy shelf
- Lack of deck handholds
SPECIFICATIONS: FOUNTAINE PAJOT SANYA 57
LENGTH OVERALL 17.26m (57ft)
BEAM 8.88m (29.3ft)
WEIGHT 21,000kg (light ship)
CABINS 5 (owner’s version) or 6
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Volvo Penta D3-110 (75hp standard)
TYPE Five-cylinder turbo-diesel saildrive
RATED HP 110 (each) at 3000rpm
DISPLACEMENT 2.4lt (each)
AREA Genoa 52m² (performance option 62m²); mainsail 89m² (performance option 108m²)
33-45 Parkyn Parade,
Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557
Phone: (07) 5452 5164
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #438, April 2013
Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.