REVIEW: FOUNTAINE PAJOT MY 44 CATAMARAN

By: KEVIN GREEN , Photography by: KEVIN GREEN, SUPPLIED

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The power catamaran market continues to grow (and so does the competition), but as Fountaine Pajot clearly shows in its new MY 44, experience counts.

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REVIEW: FOUNTAINE PAJOT MY 44 CATAMARAN

Powercats offer acres of living space, storage and economical cruising; no wonder there’s strong market growth. Couple this with two independent and widely-separated transmission systems that promote easy handling and you can see why first-time buyers are shelling out for them. Living space is perhaps the major feature, especially on triple-level boats such as this MY44. Available with up to five cabins, it suits both owners and charterers – the latter a most interesting possibility given the take-over of Dream Yacht Charter by Fountaine Pajot last year.

The first MY44 debuted at Europe's major multihull show, La Grande Motte 2017 in southern France, where I initially boarded it for an inspection. So, when the second hull arrived in Australia, it was time to go to sea in this semi-displacement catamaran. Having sailed the entry-level MY37, it was clear that the French builder realised it was on to a good thing with these voluminous flybridge cruisers, so the MY44 is more of the same: spacious, highly livable and blessed with double digit cruising speeds. As the world's third-largest recreational catamaran builder, FP has produced an impressive list of both sailing and power catamarans that dates back to 1976 — often using well-credentialed architects such as Daniel Andrieu who penned this MY44. The French builder currently sells the MY37, the MY55, MY44 and, for 2019, the MY40 is slated. Characterised by livable layouts and good ergonomics, FP continues this with the MY44, which is aimed at the bluewater cruising market because of a vast range of about 2,000Nm in displacement mode at 8 knots (making it ideal for that Pacific voyage).

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USING THE BEAM

Aesthetics are an emotive subject, so the box-like shape of the tall MY44 was fairly confronting to me as I wandered down the pontoon in Sydney. Unlike the MY37, the MY44 extends the flybridge aft to cover the cockpit below, which from a practical point of view is good but it creates a rather top-heavy shape. However, stepping aboard using the teak swim platform, the benefits of this overhang are on show immediately by way of the sheltered aft cockpit. Here, the transom bench and spacious deck are ideal for placing a table, with the galley adjoining just through the door in the saloon. The open-plan and uncluttered saloon layout fully uses the MY44's wide beam to create plenty of usable floor space down the middle, while placing all the furnishings on each side: the starboard-side U-shaped galley, the elevated lounge forward and the main steering console also to starboard.

The well-equipped galley had a four burner gas hob, separate oven and double sinks. The only thing lacking for me was fiddles, as catamarans may not roll but they certainly jump around in a seaway. Cupboard space was at a premium and the lacquered overhead ones were a stylish touch, as was the vertical wine rack. Thanks to the tall hulls and a deep nacelle, there were four underfloor cupboards to further enhance the bluewater cruising credentials of the MY44. Another plus for the tropical owner was the enormous Samsung fridge/freezer. Stepping up to the lounge offered expansive views all around from either of the comfy couches, thanks to the tall windows that create an airy feel on the MY44. For dining, the standard coffee table can be optioned to an elevated table for eight guests. At the main helm, the double seat allows for a co-pilot, while the uncluttered layout features two Garmin screens in prime position while off to starboard the throttles and Volvo IPS joystick sit. However, well-hidden was the most important gadget on a cruiser: the autopilot, which was awkwardly placed in a recess beneath the steering wheel. My only other complaint was the lack of opening side window, which was placed further back in the lounge.

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FIVE CABINS

The MY44 is available in a three and a four-cabin layout (plus the optional conversion of the nacelle locker to become a cabin). The three-cabin owner's layout on our review boat had two double cabins on starboard and suite for the owner to port. Walking down into the port hull revealed the large owner's suite, with corridor storage containing the washing machine and main switchboard, then the main suite with king-sized bed and ablutions forward. A 65-foot monohull would struggle to have these features, so this attraction of the MY44, which is plain to see, is something to consider if you find the $1.58 million price tag steep.

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Volume and headroom is enormous in the owner's cabin — something that is so desirable for avoiding stuffiness in the tropics. Unlike the MY37, ventilation and light from the opening portlights was good. Plenty of cupboard space and even a small vanity table were other plus points. Moving forward, the moulded bathroom has a toilet-vanity with separate shower cubicle and storage lockers. Over on starboard, the hull has two guest cabins with a fairly large central bathroom, and the aft one is VIP standard thanks to its own ensuite and queen-size athwartships island bed. The more conventional forward cabin opts for a beam-wide bed only (but remains airy). Finally, the nacelle locker can be accessed from beside the main console to become the fifth cabin — ideal for teenagers, with small side windows and a large-opening skylight. Alternatively, this would be the storage or perhaps a workshop for the bluewater cruiser.

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PARTY BOAT

This is where the bang for your buck really kicks in, with fore and aft cockpits, wide side-decks in between and then the large flybridge. The phrase "party boat" sprang to mind as I sat in the forward cockpit, while at the bow an appropriately-sized vertical windlass/capstan ensured that the socialising wasn't interrupted at anchor. However, given the substantial windage of the MY44, a second bow roller and rode setup would be wise for the voyager. Walking aft, those wide side decks would benefit from some handrails, before the climb up to the flybridge — which could easily hold a separate party group under the hard-top bimini, and then be self-contained if you added the optional wetbar-grill bench ($8,000) before sealing the area off with clears. Looking aft along the flybridge is the L-shaped lounge with bench storage beneath, and at the business end the steering console nestles behind a tall sprayhood; overhead the fibreglass bimini shades the skipper (unless he opens the sun-roof). The starboard-side helm station has similar screens and controls to the main console below, so you lack nothing, including clear views all around from your elevated position.

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DESIGNED FOR POD DRIVES

Designed specifically around the IPS propulsion system, the forward-facing Volvo pod drives are both power and rudders. Hull shape is rounded with fine ends and pronounced chine that allows more volume above the waterline. Construction is infused vinylester balsa-cored topsides with solid fibreglass around the keel, while the MY44’s displacement is fairly modest at 14.9t. I was unable to measure bridgedeck clearance, but it went from a metre or so at the smooth nacelle front to half that at the stern. The vast engine room space will be welcomed by the Volvo mechanic because of its ample head space and walking room around the IPS400 and pod gearbox. Clear filter bowls, sensibly-high electrics and easy access to sea cocks were notable good points, plus a bank of four 600A AGM batteries for keeping the lights on. In the port side, a compact yet powerful 10 KVA Fischer-Panda generator came with our review boat — a necessary item for running the washing machine and for retro-fitting air conditioning.

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OFFSHORE FROM SYDNEY

Easing the MY44 off the dock was simply done with a sideways twist of the IPS joystick, and once clear and seated in the flybridge bucket seat, the drive was smooth and precise thanks to the sharp bows tracking the boat. There's no rudders to consider — only the twin forward-facing propellers that spun round to a light touch from the wheel, making it very similar to a car. The lack of rudders was only really felt in fast turns where the IPS carves a wide circle (but of course the MY44 can be spun on its axis with judicious use of the throttles alone). A surprisingly positive response came from the 300hp Volvos when I put the throttles down: they smoothly accelerated to planing speed and beyond to cruise at 17kt. Most of the breeze was deflected over the spray guard so my hat remained in place, while the shaded instruments showed a burn rate of 85 litres per hour (l/ph) at 3,200rpm. Alongside me a prospective buyer enjoyed the ride and we talked easily as the MY44 made its way through the inner part of Sydney Harbour before I put the throttles full down, which smoothly took us up to the maximum speed of 20.1kt on the calm waters, showing a fuel burn of 111 l/ph at 3,500rpm. Returning to displacement mode and eight knots (and 8 l/ph) should give you an impressive 2,000-mile range.

Talking to Multihull boss Mark Elkington as we drove around, he declared himself well pleased with the MY44 (not surprising considering he'd sold more than five to the region): "But I would probably choose the bigger 435-horsepower engines to gain that extra cruising speed and top speed of 30 knots."

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Another option worth considering for the coastal cruising family are the optional tabs to smooth the ride between 9–17 knots and slightly improve fuel economy. However, 20 knots swiftly took me through Sydney Harbour as I sat downstairs at the main console, eagerly watching the plethora of small craft on the busy waterway. Thanks to the open-plan saloon, a glance over my shoulder warned of an approaching jetboat, while the clear view forward assured me as well. Seeking some swells, I motored outside Sydney Heads to get the MY44 gently rolling among the surges, and so I felt like carrying on north to my favourite weekend anchorages in Broken Bay where the MY44's shallow draft would take me close to the beaches for quick dinghy runs ashore.

Back at the flybridge wheel: as we approached Cockatoo Island, I clicked on the IPS joystick to ease us near the quay then turned and went astern towards it. I then invited our guest to do the same – someone with no boating experience – and they did a similar manoeuvre, so intuitive is this Volvo system. The only problem with the MY44 is that it's so livable that you may not choose to even leave the dock, but when you do, prepare for a stress-free ride.

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Sea Trials: Fountain Pajot MY 44 Catamaran

SPEED (kts)

RPM

ECONOMY (L/hr)

8

1300

8

17

3200

85

20.1

3500

111

*Performance data supplied by author. Seven people and half fuel load

 

Specifications Fountaine Pajot MY 44

Priced from $1,580,000

LOA 13.40 m / 44 ft

Beam 6.61 m

Draft 1.30 m

Displacement (light) 14,900 kg

Displacement (loaded) 22,500 kg

Engine 2 x Volvo IPS 400/2 x 300 HP (std is 260HP and other option is 435 HP)

Water 2 x 350 l

Fuel 2 x 1,000 l

Builder Fountaine Pajot France

Design Andrieu Yacht Design and Andreani Design

Available from Fountaine Pajot Australia 

The full review featured in issue #506 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.  

 


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