Review: Nautitech Open 40

By: Kevin Green, Photography by: Kevin Green

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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The Nautitech Open 40 is a modern cruising catamaran that may even win over monohull tragics.

There are several reasons why cruising catamarans are a strongly growing sector, as I saw for myself recently during Europe’s largest multihull show in La Grande Motte, France. Space and performance are two reasons: as a modern cat goes to windward as well as many monohulls but with acres of space on deck and inside. The new Nautitech Open 40 epitomises these features, while also being designed as an enjoyable sailing boat.

 

Nautitech Open 40

Nautitech 40 Open

Nautitech has been building cruising catamarans in France since 1994 when it was founded by French monohull builder Dufour Yachts, but following several ownership changes was acquired last year by Bavaria Yachts. Therefore it was interesting spending time with the German owners to discuss why the second largest recreational yachtbuilder made this bold move. One major reason is due to the strong growth in the catamaran cruising market, and for the French builder access to Bavaria’s technically advanced engineering means even better boats.

The Nautitech Open 40 continues the company’s relationship with Marc Lombard, one of France’s leading architects of performance boats. Lombard has reproduced the upright narrow hulls of the flagship 542 with plumb bows to maximise waterline and mini keels to reduce leeway. The decks are flat and ideal for lounging, while the saloon’s raked-back windows disguise the volume inside. The Nautitech Open 40 created a lot of interest when it debuted at Cannes last year and ever since then I’d been keen to take her for a sail, so now was my chance.

 

Open cockpit

Nautitech 40 Open cockpit

The Nautitech Open 40 sailing cat has the galley forward in the saloon, which is unusual but frees up the rear area and aft deck for entertaining while still allowing easy serving of food. There’s good sun protection aft as well with the full-length hardtop bimini which I also found to be a handy walkway when dousing the mainsail. This elongated sheltered cockpit-dinette space is maximised by having the helms outboard and this area can be enclosed in dropdown clears, while still allowing walkway space at the transom. Here, davits and stepped access to the water on each hull are the main features. Yet more lounging space is available at the bows, especially with the clever infill cushions on the Open 40’s trampoline and the teak pulpit seats offer a thrilling ride. Locker space is plentiful here as well for fenders and there’s room for a generator. Anchoring is via a 1000W windlass with wired remote and bridle for the rode, all in guttering, so nice and safe when kids are aboard.

 

Nautitech cabins

Nautitech 40 Open cabins

For many buyers layouts are a major factor, especially if it’s going to be a family cruiser, and this often dictates that the ailing catamaran will be roomy, stable and easy to sail. The Nautitech Open 40 addresses most of this and has performance inbuilt thanks to relatively slim hulls which slightly restrict accommodation (2m wide double berths), but gives plenty of bridgedeck clearance to avoid waves slapping the underside of the hull; the bane of many catamarans.

The Nautitech Open 40 hulls contain a double cabin in each, with hanging locker, storage space and book shelves plus a centralised bathroom with manual head that is shared. In addition is a three-cabin version with the port hull fully dedicated as a comfortable owner’s area. Space has been eked out cleverly with single beds forward in each hull as well. Wisely, escape hatches are in each hull and these also add natural light.

Unusually the galley is forward and shares what traditionally has been the lounge seating which is divided off in the Nautitech Open 40. The galley has a three-burner stove, inbuilt Smev oven and 200lt fridge. Also the hull passageways contain storage large enough to house a washing machine (660lt volume) or a small freezer. The swing-out storage rack is useful and tall fiddles on shelves should prevent breakages at sea. The lounge combines with the forward-facing navigation station making this boat ideally suited to couples, even though Lombard’s declared aim for the Nautitech Open 40 is both as family boat and blue-water cruiser.

 

Open 40 steering

Wheel on Nautitech 40 Open

The ‘open’ aspect could well relate to the twin steering positions which are outboard on this model creating a sporty if rather exposed helm. Usefully throttles are on both sides and commendably there’s plenty of space for chartplotters and the Yanmar rev counters are at waist height and easily readable. Helm position and the number of wheels are especially important for handling in close quarters as the bulk of a catamaran can be a handful, especially if you add windage, so seeing all four quarters is important. The outboard and low placement of the Nautitech Open 40’s twin helms provide more feeling to the steerer but at the cost of visibility. On the other hand a flybridge gives the helm station commanding views to make handling these large boats much less imposing but some of the feel is lost when steering.

The Nautitech Open 40 helms have the sail controls spaced-out to allow either two people or the lone sailor to do the work as there’s a headsail Lewmar Evo winch on each console and a third one at knee height on the starboard transom for the mainsheet. The only downside of this layout is the long halyard runs, so there’s another winch on the mast. The alloy mast is deck stepped with two spreaders and our review boat had an extensive sailplan, ideal for the varied Mediterranean conditions. The self-tacking jib and big topped mainsail are a good combination and when having to slab reef the main that large bimini is a good platform.

 

Nautitech Open 40 on the water

Nautitech 40 Open sailing cat

Negotiating my way out of La Grande Motte was a good test of the Nautitech Open 40’s handling as it’s one of the largest marinas in eastern France, so I was all eyes, you might say. A nice firm grip is available on the Carbonautica fibreglass steering wheels and the throttles on both sides are a boon, particularly walking between helms to check for the numerous jetskis that whizzed towards me.

Up on the bow my host Robin stored the fenders in the deep locker as I cleared the breakwater and pushed the throttles down reaching 7.7kts with the Yanmar 30s spinning at 3500rpm before easing off to cruise at 6kts as we searched for some wind. I was glad the Code O was optioned on this boat as the typical range of Med’ weather is wide, so to avoid the intrusive racket of engines, big sails are needed. But first the working sails, so after nipping onto the bimini to unzip the bag I hoisted the fully battened mainsail using the starboard helm electric primary winch and the lazy jacks that guided the big topped sail aloft.

Turning the boat off the wind I then reached for the headsail furler line and unwound the self-tacking jib as we ghosted along in the light airs, picking up enough speed to tack. This of course required no sail trimming because of the self-tacking heady, leaving me to concentrate on steering. Helm response was good as the proximity to the rudders requires only short linkages. The 6kt zephyrs were a stern test of the Open 40 with all that wetted area but we managed 3.5kts at 40 degrees before seeking more power.

Nautitech 40 Open sail boat

Robin and I hauled the big python-like Code 0 out and attached it to the bowsprit before hoisting it in its sock. Back at the port helm I steered and also sheeted-in the big sail, all easily done by the two of us. On the console the Raymarine showed the good news: 5.7kts SOG, so no need to wake the Yanmars as we serenely glided along.

 

HIGHS

  • Overall design
  • Performance orientated hull
  • Cockpit layout particularly good for Australia

 

LOWS

  • Helm visibility
  • Crowded saloon layout

 

Nautitech Open 40 specs

Nautitech Open 40 price: $615,000 (priced from)

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Foam-cored GRP

TYPE Sailing catamaran

LENGTH 11.98m (39ft4in) overall

BEAM 6.5m

DRAFT 1.2m

WEIGHT 7800kg (light ship)

 

CAPACITIES

FUEL 450lt

WATER 450lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL 2 x Yanmar 3YM30C marine diesel engines

TYPE Three-cylinder diesel saildrive w/folding props

RATED HP 29 at 3200 to 3600rpm (each)

DISPLACEMENT 1.115lt (each)

WEIGHT 151kg (each)

 

SAILS

SAIL AREA 64m² full-batten mainsail; 28m² self-tacking jib; 69m² gennaker; 44m² Code 0 (option)

 

MORE INFORMATION

Nautitech 40 Open sailing cat deck plans

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #468, on sale August 6, 2015. Why not subscribe today?

 


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