REVIEW: LAGOON 39
The Lagoon Catamarans 39 is a departure from tradition for this globally-renowned multihull maker. The changes promised ease-of-sail handling and that’s exactly what we discovered during a gale-force comparison test against the well-established 400S2.
Vicsail, the distributor of Lagoon catamarans in Australia, is quick to point out that the new 39 doesn’t replace the 400S2 or the 380 models, which remain in the Lagoon catalogue.
The 39’s rig is in line with current design trends that see most new performance multihulls sporting large fore-triangles, mostly double-headed for ease of sail handling.
The 39’s sailplan moves the centre of effort aft, and the transfer of mast and rig weight towards the stern means that the centre of buoyancy has also moved rearwards. Because there’s not the need for as much buoyancy forward the bow sections can be finer, giving better wave-piercing power and less inclination to pitch in choppy conditions.
Mast loads on the 39 are absorbed through an aft crossbeam and a rectangular compression post, situated just inside the saloon-cockpit doorway. The post is polished to a mirror finish, making it reflect the galley and saloon ambience.
The new 39 has a very similar ambience to the Lagoon 400S2, sharing that model’s Alpi woodwork, low-gloss gelcoat and white vinyl ceiling interior design. However, a raised steering station, galley and dinette are mirror-imaged from the 400S2, with these modules moved from port to starboard. The cockpit lounge is copied from the 400S2’s starboard side to the 39’s port.
The 39 has a choice of two, three or four-cabin layouts, but a maximum of two heads, even in four-cabin versions, although all have separate shower cubicles.
Lagoon’s glass-stainless steel shower doors are worthy of note, opening and closing positively in L-shaped floor and ceiling grooves.
Our evaluation Lagoon 39 was a three-cabin version in which the port hull was a dedicated owner’s suite. It’s shut off from the saloon by a lockable sliding door that seals the opening horizontally as well as vertically.
The owner’s hull incorporated a long desk and pouffe seat, two-seat lounge, king-size bed, two deck hatches (with electric fans, flyscreens and block-out blinds), two rectangular hull ports, two smaller opening ports, and ample wardrobe, cupboard and shelf space, plus a full-length mirror.
The starboard hull was laid out with a tapered double bed in the forward cabin and a queen-size in the aft cabin. Both cabins shared a central head/shower, similar to the owner’s one but without a fan on the deck hatch. The two cabins had cupboard, drawer and shelf space, plus fixed and opening hull ports and roof hatches with fans, screens and blinds.
Virtually the entire cabin sole in both hulls is formed by lift-up panels that reveal through-hull wiring and plumbing installations.
LAGOON 39 vs 400S2
The Lagoon 39 has a similar saloon to the 400S2’s but the new boat is slightly narrower in beam, so the latter has more space. That said, the 39 can seat six at its U-shaped dinette and another six can lounge around the cockpit table, so it’s not exactly cramped.
The galley is arranged so that the bench top with twin sinks butts to a sliding window that opens onto the cockpit. Thoughtfully, a front-opening fridge fits under this bench and a separate top-opening freezer is on the opposite side of the saloon-cockpit walkway.
Galley equipment includes upper and lower cupboards, three-burner stove with grill/oven, cupboard for a microwave and seven 240V outlets. All flat surfaces have fiddles and there are well-placed grab handles.
The dinette is designed with a folding-sliding seat at one end, so that it can double as a chart-table seat. In its open position the seat reveals an electrical system control panel. Battery controls are in a cupboard in the owner’s cabin.
The cockpit is separated from the saloon by an aluminium-glass door that slides into a void forward of the steering station. When the door and the sliding saloon window are opened the cockpit and saloon are blended. However, if the weather is inclement these can be shut and a teak grate and sump at the door entrance stop water invading the cosy saloon.
Getting aboard the 39 is easier in the case of a starboard berthing, because a folding swimladder partially blocks access on the port hull. Boarding alternatives are a pair of gunwale gates and a clip-on boarding ladder is provided.
CONSTRUCTION AND RIG
Cruising catamarans generally carry a lot of equipment, so Lagoons are built with weight-saving in mind. Hull, deck and bulkheads are constructed in a mould, using infusion. 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.
Like the 400S2 the 39’s Alpi woodwork is reconstituted, lightweight composite material.
The Lagoon 39 has shallow-draft stub keels that are isolated from the hull skin, so a punctured keel doesn’t mean water in the hull.
The bridge deck is high-set to reduce wave slap and impact stress on the structure, and buoyancy is designed into all Lagoon catamarans. The forward and aft compartments of each hull are sealed by watertight bulkheads.
The Lagoon 39’s twin-spreader, diamond-stayed rig is well triangulated, with cap shrouds led to plates that align with the aft crossbeams. Because the mast is stepped well aft this shroud placement doesn’t restrict boom swing.
Twin Yanmars sit in spacious enginerooms that provide great all-around access via large cockpit hatches, and the engine legs are well aft of the rudders giving an unrestricted flow over the blades when the boat is going forward. We like the fact that Lagoons have separate fuel tanks and starting batteries for the two engines.
Test day dawned bright and clear with a fiercely building northwesterly stirring up Sydney’s Pittwater. This harbour is a perfect test site in a big blow because it’s possible to vary wind strength by sailing close to or farther away from sheltering hills. By virtue of this manoeuvring we were able to vary test wind-strength between 10 and 42kts.
As testament to the strength of these boats, the Vicsail boys and girls were happy to run full rigs – albeit briefly – on both the 400S2 and the 39.
Making sail on the 39 was easy enough: unfurl a big self-tacking headsail, undo clips on a cavernous boom bag to release the square-topped main and step on a powered halyard winch button to haul it up. The job took three minutes.
Lagoon has a clever top-batten line that tensions as the sail ascends, cocking the batten into place, while most other square-tops need the batten to be inserted as the sail is readied for hoisting. All sail controls led to the two-winch helm position, making singlehanded sailing easy.
Whenever two boats are headed in the same direction it’s a race and that’s what happened between the Lagoon 400S2 and the 39. It was soon obvious that the 400S2 had the legs in wind strengths above 25kts, thanks to its lighter weight and larger sailplan. When we steered under the hills into breezes around 15kts there was very little performance difference. Both boats reached at speeds between 7 and 9kts, and made just over 6kts to windward.
THE TRADE-A-BOAT VERDICT
The Lagoon 39 catamaran adds an easily-sailed boat to the considerable Lagoon 40-foot range, that includes the lightweight 380 and the powerful 400S2. With its fool-proof sailplan, the Lagoon 39 should attract traditional powerboat people who now baulk at the rising cost of diesel.
› Value for money
› Quality fit and finish
› Generous accommodation and vast deck and sprawl space
› Variable cabin and head layouts
› Shaded cockpit
› Excellent light entry and ventilation
› Easily handled sailplan
› Windward pointing ability
› Lack of cabin-top step
› Swimladder partially blocks boarding access
LAGOON 39 SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
Square-top mainsail, Code O rig and sprit, 29hp engine upgrade, folding props, helm station covers and bimini, Premium cabin equipment level, tender davits, outboard motor bracket, shorepower and battery controller, powered winch, additional 300lt freshwater tank, holding tank, griller/oven, galley freezer, hatch fans, TV antenna, sound system with waterproof cockpit speakers, Raymarine electronics 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
LENGTH OVERALL 11.74m
BERTHS 3 double cabins (optional 2 and 4)
FUEL 2 x 200lt
WATER 300lt (optional 600lt)
MAKE 2 x Yanmar
TYPE Diesel saildrives
RATED HP 21hp (each); Volvo Penta and Yanmar 29hp optional
PROPS Fixed three-blade (three-blade folding optional)
TOTAL AREA 76m²
New Beach Road,
Rushcutters Bay, NSW, 2011
Phone: (02) 9327 2088
Fax: (02) 9362 4516
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #445, October/November 2013
Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.