You may have noticed that when it comes to cruising catamaran builders like Fountaine Pajot, 40 is the new 50. In recent years, the French builder has come to realise that cruising on two hulls has a real appeal to couples and small families.
Multihulls have several big advantages over monohulls when it comes to layout and luxury (see 6 of the best comfy catamarans). But many boaters aren’t looking to berth, maintain or pay for the 50-plus footers that have been steadily rolling out of the factories. Wisely, cat builders have come to focus on entry-level models that have a broader appeal. The challenge, of course, has been how to pack more into less and still retain decent sailing characteristics and comfortable accommodations. When it comes to 40-footers that have the comfort and appeal of a 50-footer, the latest entry is the Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40.
Fountaine Pajot designer Berret-Racoupeau has done a fine job of working within a small footprint and drawing a cat that is neither too beamy nor too tall. The new cat’s profile has a sleek coachroof that angles down in the front to produce the visual effect of movement even at the dock. She looks aggressive and raring to go. The windows have been made larger to bring more light to the interior. Now, anyone wrestling with mal de mer can keep an eye on the horizon even from the inside. And as for performance, the fine entry of the hulls will help upwind sailing, since cats can be real dogs when going to weather.
Hands down, the most notable exterior feature on the Lucia 40 is the 130-square-foot cockpit where most people congregate at anchor or underway. Coming aboard via the wide swim steps at the transoms is easy due to added grab rails, and it’s only a couple of steps up to a cockpit that rivals ones on models four feet longer. Here, the dinette to port seats eight while the transom seat and starboard lounge can accommodate more when there’s a visiting crowd. A composite Bimini protects the whole area from the elements, while adding handholds to steady oneself when moving about.
The elevated helm is to starboard, with access from the deck as well as from the cockpit. The double seat will work for the helmsman and a companion, and when it’s time to manage the mainsail, there’s easy access to the coachroof. The helm area is also large enough for two to work simultaneously; one to steer and consult the Raymarine plotter and another to manage the winches and rope clutches.
The molded helm station is open to the side so it’s easy to step out onto the deck and hand off lines when docking starboard-to. Visibility is somewhat compromised, which is typical of most cat designs. Sightlines forward to starboard are good, the forward port corner is a challenge, and the hard Bimini blocks the view of the transoms unless you duck.
The foredeck hides two lockers under a sunpad, one for the water tank and the other for the Quick vertical windlass and line stowage. This lounge is in addition to the standard trampoline, which fortunately, has had the middle strut removed so nothing gets in the way of a good snooze in the netting.
It would be good to add a step and handhold near the mast for quick access from the foredeck to the cabintop, so you don’t have to go all the way back to the steps at the helm station.The coachroof is high and it’s not easy to make that transition, especially when the decks are wet and slippery.
Twin 20 HP Volvo Penta diesels are standard and the engine rooms are quite spacious with good access to the machinery from the aft deck. Inside, there’s a shelf to hold batteries and the port engine room can accommodate an optional Northern Light genset. Our test boat had upgraded 30 HP engines that provided a good turn of speed at 6.7 knots at 2400 RPM. The extra bit of horsepower will come in handy when motoring to weather in choppy conditions.
The saloon is on the same levels as the cockpit and is surprisingly spacious for a boat of only 40 feet. Step through the sliding glass door into a living room where six can gather around an L-shaped settee that also creates a seat for the angled nav station.
The galley spans the main deck so the cook isn’t buried in a hull. The basics include Vitrifrigo refrigeration drawers next to the door to starboard, a sink by the aft window that opens to the cockpit, and an Eno stovetop that actually offers three burners rather than the standard two. The countertop space and galley stowage is limited but the separate counter-height oven is a nice touch.
There’s a large skylight that brings in natural light but there are no opening overhead hatches even at the stove, and in the tropics, this will be one hot cat. The only ventilation comes from two forward opening windows and the door. You’d better hope the breeze comes from the right direction on a sultry night at the dock.
Fountaine Pajot offers two interior configurations; Maestro and Quatuor with options of four layouts (three or four cabins, and two to four heads). Our test boat was the owner’s version, where the master suite takes up the entire starboard hull and includes a walk-around island berth aft and a small desk amidships. Large lockers provide ample stowage and one can also accommodate an optional washer/dryer.
The toilet is in its own compartment, while the sink is large and the shower is enormous. Oddly, there is no door to separate the head from the stateroom. Clearly, the French have a different concept of privacy.
There are no bow cabins on the Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 because the entire interior was shifted forward to make room for the main sleeping accommodation and that extra large cockpit aft. It’s really no loss, as the bow spaces can still be used for stowage and few people enjoy sleeping in those bunks, anyway.
We had very light winds on Biscayne Bay, the kind that challenge boats and sailors. Nevertheless, we reached 3.6 knots of boat speed in 4.5 knots of wind at 60 degrees apparent wind angle. A Code 0 would have been great for our downwind leg but it hadn’t been finished yet, so we settled in at 1.7 knots of speed in 2.1 knots of wind at 120 degrees under main and jib.
With just over 1,000 square feet of sail area between the genoa and the mainsail, the 20,000-pound model will do well in a breeze of at least 10 knots and I expect it will be a delight with a lightweight gennaker and the optional bowsprit attach point.
With a base price significantly cheaper than the larger models, the Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 brings a catamaran within reach of a larger boating audience. In the world of multihulls, these new smaller models are poised to make serious inroads into the mainstream couples market where the bulk of pleasure cruising lies.
For more information, visit Fountaine Pajot.
Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 specifications
Draft (hull) 3'11"
Sail Area 1,022 sq. ft.
Displacement 19,600 lbs
Fuel capacity 140 gal.
Water capacity 80 gal.